on the fiddle

I was listening to Wogan on Radio 2 this morning.  Okay… my girlfriend was listening to it, I was hovering nearby making toast.  But anyway, Seth Lakeman was being interviewed.  He also performed a few of his songs – including another spectacular rendition of Kitty Jay.  Well, it took me back to the times we played together, and then to the songs I was writing around that time.  This is a site that is documenting the creation of my new album. In fact it is currently documenting the creation of two albums.  I find it interesting to reflect on the intervening years.  What has changed in my approach to crafting a song?

In those heady days of the early noughties I felt I had the world in the palm of my hands.  I wanted to create lush soundscapes, beautiful walls of sparkle.  I wanted to take your breath away.  I wrote from the heart, but I did write the lyrics in a slightly cryptic manner – I wanted to take you with me, but I wanted you to have to hear, to listen, to think.

So, what’s changed?  What are my songs about today?  Hmmmm.  Well, I want to create lush walls of sound. I want to take your breath away.  I write from the heart.  But today, I don’t so strongly feel the need to hide behind the lyrics.  I am who I am.  I say what I say.  I feel my music has come on in leaps and bounds.  I am producing music that surprises me.  Music that can hold its own with anything out there.  But the most important thing is that the music ebbs and flows.

I have been working on the latest Eleventh Hour song today.  Bill and I have a winning formula.  I tend to write the music and Bill tends to write the words (with a little overlap here and there).  When it comes to this album the ability to concentrate on the music has been a revelation.  I have produced a collection of songs that I feel are up there with the best.  I have been able to create emotions and stories with sound.  And I have been so lucky to have Bill as the other half of The Eleventh Hour.  He is the best lyricist I have worked with bar none.  Okay, he’s the only lyricist I’ve worked with ’cause I’ve always written the words myself before – but I mean that I read his lyrics and I just think “wow”.   Seriously good stuff.  He’s up there with the best of them!  So, I listened to our ‘album so far’ through today and it just blew me away.  My music and his words are the perfect fit.  The album flowed by and in a split second it was gone.  Half an hour of the most intriguing, intricate, exciting music I’ve heard in a long time.  And it’s mine!!! Ha ha.

So, as I was saying… I was working on the latest song today.  I’ve pretty much mixed it.  It has a beautiful ending.  A real “heart fluttering” ending.  An ending which probably places the song at the end of the album.  The final track.  I was mixing the song, mixing in Bill’s contribution of multiple layers of chimes and whooshing sounds… and the song became something else.  Not just a song that we’ve created… from nothing.  No.  The song became its own entity – right before my ears.  A truly gorgeous massage of sound, swirling, rising, falling and dying.  Music has to die.  The perfect end to what is shaping up to be my perfect album.

Anyway… I buttered the toast, Seth played Kitty Jay, and I raised a cup of tea to him.  We have both come a long way in those years.  A life in music is one of trials and tribulations.  Of great ups and depressing downs.  But one thing always remains a constant.  Music is you. You are your music.  Everything life throws at you becomes your music.  There is no spoon.  But there is always a guitar.  People may ask what ‘inspires’ you to write a song.  But that isn’t the right question.  The question should be “to what extent does the song write you?”.  It’s a loop.  Chicken and egg.  All the clichés.  My life is laid bare via music.  The new song will be posted soon.  Don’t you guys let me down.