A blast from the past – Dorian Gray

One of my most popular songs, even after all these years, concerns a man who wanted eternal youth. But, of course, nothing comes for free. Have a listen for yourself.


In another episode right out of an old diary, I bumped into the singer of one of my old bands last week. He’s still rocking, I never doubted it for a second, and his current band is called ‘Secrets & Lies’. Mighty fine punk rock. Google them!

Don’t stay in the water for too long!

Good evening my friends.  Long time no type.  I have been beavering away on a new song… a song that is currently sounding fantastic even though it is far from finished.  This is a kind of polar opposite to the previous song – Rust – in that this one is taking some time.  Or rather I’m taking time on it.  Short doses… here and there… periods of time that when combined will probably add up to no more than a standard song.  But I’m dipping in and out… in a similar manner to the way in which I wrote an old track called Dorian Gray.  That particular song took many years of toes in the water to complete.  This one will be much (much!) quicker to get the hell out of that bath tub… but it has definite echoes of Mr Gray.  I’m hoping the painting hidden in my house will still give me the Devil’s luck as that original song, Dorian Gray, has turned out to be my most popular song.  Unexpectedly so.  But I do enjoy a tale of the unexpected.

Ad Libitum

I was just checking one of the sites I use to host my music.  Confession of the Whole School songs have been listened to over 14,000 times.  That’s not bad is it? And that’s just the number of ‘streamed’ plays from a single site!  Anyway…  ha ha! … if only I could translate that success into 14,000 album sales!  That would make me a very happy man!  Ha ha!  Anyway… I’m glad people continue to enjoy my music.

The independent release of my music has been quite liberating.  For you see… there was a time when the holy grail was getting signed to a “major label” – that was all you could really strive for.  99.9% of bands would fail.  Now… 100% of bands can get their music to the masses.  And for all the downsides… (a trillion crap bands!), there is now the chance to be true to yourself as a songwriter and just do what you want.  I have only ever done what I want… and in the past that has sometimes got me into trouble.  People would often think I was a control freak.  But I’m not sure that being a control freak is necessarily a bad thing… in fact it’s an attribute that is positively sought after these days!  Anyway… having my own studio has enabled me to be the master – in control of songwriting, performance, production and art direction.  I love it.

The main aim for me is to make sure my music always has something interesting to communicate.  My latest album, ‘The Galton Detail’, was the quickest album I’ve ever recorded.  I abandoned my usual quest for ‘detail’, and just tried to let the songs ‘flow’ out of me.  That sounds sexual… but it isn’t meant in that way.  I just realised that sometimes people don’t necessarily care how long I have taken to write a song.  I can layer all the detail in the world into a song and yet people will only really assess it in one way.  Is it good or bad?  So…  I thought, “what the hell?, why not just bang an album out without dwelling on it?”. And that’s what I did.

… and just to piss on my own fireworks, my most played song at the moment is apparently ‘Dorian Gray’ from my ‘All Monsters and Dust’ album… a song that took years to complete! Ha ha!  Always good when a monologue is destroyed in the final paragraph.  Ha ha!  Anyway… there was no real point to this post.  I just wanted to say thank you all for being involved with my quest to keep thrusting music into the atmosphere.  I feel swamped by the sheer amount of music that is out there and I’m sure some of you do too.  The internet has changed the music industry and the by-product is an awful lot more crap to have to wade through.  I’m just trying to keep the standards up.  And I’m still on a break (WE WERE ON A BREAK!!!… oh, I watch too much Friends! Ha ha!).  No, I’m still on a break.  Watching films and listening to music.  I’m trying to write a few more reviews too.  I just know that a lot of people out there need to have an opinion from someone as opinionated and as amazingly knowledgeable (and humble) as me.  Speak again soon.

the impossible became the possible

So… after yesterday’s rant about the unrecordable vocal, I came home today and decided to tackle it head on.  I marched straight into the studio, loaded the ‘pain in the arse’™ up and stood in front of the microphone.  Now… you’ve got to picture the scene.  Remember when Tyson bit Holyfield’s ear off? , well… it was similar to that.  Except no Tyson, no Hollyfield and no ear biting.  But the spirit was there.  I hit record and just sang it – one take.  And you know what… it sounds absolutely cracking!  I have it!  I have recorded the unrecordable vocal.  Unfortunately, as the song is a wild and wonderful epic there are still another couple of minutes to fill with words.  Words which I have yet to write.  But I have a good idea for lyrical content now.  I thought I had the name for the song but yesterday’s entry on this site has made me rethink.  “Dorian Gray” would be a cool name for the song.  I shall set about the task of completing this monster of a song.  If only you all knew just how long this song has been gathering dust.  To finish it would be like saying goodbye to a piece of me!

A music recommendation for you.  I’ve been listening to “The Wild Hunt” by “The Tallest Man on Earth“.  An awesome album.  This guy has an ear for a melody.  Great vocals and great guitar playing.  There is still something to be said for a good tune and it’s good to know there are people out there flying the flag!  Sometimes I feel so alone, ha ha.  The production of his album is interesting.  It is raw in the extreme… but the songs shine.  I suggest you youtube “King of Spain“.  And then remember who turned you onto it!

a lost song… a lost soul

Okay fellow confessioners, let me tell you what’s currently on my mind. I have a song. It is a great song. It has been years in the making. It is catchy, intelligent, powerful and is just a really epic song. It was started so long ago that musical genres have come and gone since I laid down the first beats. The song has eaten emo and spat out its quivering soul. It devoured the Arctic Monkeys for breakfast and still had room for 3 Shredded Wheat! This song is seriously good. But here’s the problem… it is my ‘unsingable’ ™ song.  So that is my question… does every singer/band have their own ‘unsingable’ ™ song???

Here’s how it goes… Every couple of months I load this particular song up in my studio and take a stab at singing it.  And every time without fail I end up in a sweaty heap on the floor with a throat like sandpaper.  This song beats me!  It knows my weaknesses and pounds the living daylights out of me.  But I wrote it!!!  It’s all my fault!  It shouldn’t be difficult, it’s just a song.  Maybe it’s the knowledge that if I get it right – this song will probably be the best song on the album.  Hmmm.  No, I don’t buy into that at all.  The problem is more likely the sheer speed the lyrics have to be sung at and the lack of gaps for breath!  I just can’t get any air when I’m singing this thing.  I think I need to enter one of those reality shows… Operastar UK; Britain’s got no talent; Pop star, you know the sort of thing!  They always seem to have breathing exercises for the troops.

Do you know what makes it even worse?  The fact that when I’m not actually recording, I can sing it perfectly.  Now this really winds me up.  No word of a lie, when that red light isn’t on – it’s like I’m a Jeff Buckley or a Thom Yorke.  With the red light on however I’m more like Worzel Gummidge! (google it).  Come on… be honest now… do any of you musicians/singers out there have this very same problem?  Come on… there must be one of you???  Just raise a hand.  No, raise your fist and yell!

Then to cap it all off, I actually do have a vocal take already on the track.  It was the ‘guide vocal’.  Let me explain a guide vocal to those of you not on the ‘in the know’ bus.  A guide vocal is when the singer of the band sings the song in the studio just so that there is a version of the vocals caught on tape.  This then allows the other band members to know where they are in the song and generally makes everything a little easier for all concerned.  Then, at a later time, the singer re-records the vocals properly.  Hence you have a pristine final version which usually has  no resemblance to the pitchy, rushed, sung whilst nursing a hangover ‘guide vocal’ take.

So… I have actually sung this damn song through before – and it sounds pretty good.  But I just want to make it great.  Make it perfect.  But I’m currently stuck with the guide vocal.  And I can’t move on.  Nothing comes close to the bleedin’ guide vocal!  Arrrghhhh.  Perhaps I could actually get a Girl Guide to sing the guide vocal.  Maybe that would help?  Or maybe just having a guide dog in the studio while I try and catch the perfect vocal take?  Seriously,  this would be like Van Gogh cleaning his brushes on an old rag – and then realising that the paint on the rag has formed the most beautiful image.  An image he struggles to recapture for real on a canvas… but can never quite attain it.  Would it drive him mad?  Mad enough to remove an ear?  In fact, maybe that’s what happened.  Hmmmm, I should be a history teacher!!!

So I’m sitting here typing this… in a pool of sweat.  The song is laughing at me.  And it’s such a great song.  I know it, and the song knows it.  And this has been going on for years!  This song sits on the studio hard drive.  Just sits there.  I’m getting older, and all the while the song is sitting there chuckling.  If the song had a face it would have a constant smirk!  I’m going about my everyday life getting older, writing other songs – but never completely moving on because this song is sitting in the wings… in the shadows… haunting me!  If I hadn’t already named this song I would be tempted to call it “Dorian Gray”.  In fact, I may well just do that anyway.  I will keep coming back to this song because it has a hook in me.  I cannot escape it.  I know it is a classic song.  But so far it’s a classic song that not another soul in the world has ever heard.  And there is the argument that says that perhaps that is the way it should stay.  A lost song.  A lost soul.