This is a strange song which I rediscovered half recorded and finished.
Possibly inspired by a real incident, probably influenced by 10CC, certainly not one of those ditties that you can simply strum, I suspect this song began with the smallest of ideas, a simple guitar effect (guitar effect, guitar effect). Must have been out to lunch.
Poor technique means slow songs are a challenge for me. But this tune about loneliness feels right for a freezing February. Please Please Me was apparently a slow song sped up to become a classic. Looking For a Light tries the opposite. It’s based on a far faster tune originally written in the 1980s slowed right down. Some way short of The Beatles’ standards to say the very least but I quite like the result.
1976 was the year of punk which means that 2016 is the, gulp, 40th anniversary. Way too many musicians have died too young and the great Joe Strummer, voted greatest human being for seemingly years on end by readers of the New Musical Express, is no exception. Do you remember where you were when you heard that he’d died? This song started out as a song about, would you believe, ‘girl power’, which shows how old it is, reworked and vastly improved with Joe’s inspiration.
Diana Ross released her first album for nearly a decade last month which is an excuse to post this song which namechecks her. Touch Me In the Morning was a fave last dance at our middle school disco and still turns my stomach to jelly. The song mentioned here though is Doobedood’ndoobe, Doobedood’ndoobe, Doobedood’ndoo – chosen because, as you’ll hear, I was desperate for a rhyme: the one moment where you can see the joins in a tune which otherwise felt like it wrote itself.
Thanksgiving this month so another song inspired by the USA. I suppose we’re all a little obsessed with the US and how it represents the best and worst of us. But also I think that a certain style of guitar pop just conjures up the American suburbs. From the Rubinoos to the Fountains of Wayne, it’s bubblegum, soda pops, kooky girls and a cool complacency that we suburban London kids envied enormously.
Soul singer Samuel David Moore, the Sam of Sam and Dave, is eighty this month. That’s the excuse for this song. To be honest, Old Soul Man is not about Sam at all (although for the very attentive listener, it features a bar or two from Sam and Dave’s Soul Man at the start) but a tribute to those amazing people who, rather than obsessing with the permanent present, seem to live in the past while always staying a step or two ahead. I reckon it must be the only song ever to namecheck Alan Sugar’s finest achievement. Not the Apprentice. (You’re fired if you said that.) But the Amstrad 8256 computer.
It’s the rentrée, the new school term this month. Did you love it or hate it? I have written a lot of songs (most of them probably) that disobey the basic rules of musical theory, usually out of ignorance because my theory is pretty rudimentary. This song about another form of ignorance is an example but try as I might I couldn’t find a chord I liked better. It was inspired by a trip to Barcelona with my polyglot partner. At one point I went into a shop to buy stamps (yes, it was that long ago) and managed only to ask if they had a shop counter. They did (have a shop counter; they didn’t have stamps).
This is actually another song featuring pouring rain but I’m posting it now because it’s also about driving across Europe – the idea of which reminds me of August summer holidays spent doing just that. This song was hanging around for a long time with a slightly different chorus and I didn’t like it much until I discovered that a chord sequence I did like also fitted. Perhaps because I liked it too much there’s no middle eight – a real rarity for me. Features my favourite guest vocalist again and some real live German radio.
Too Pretty (to stay in tonight) was my attempt to write a summer song. To capture one of those tummy-turning moments on one of those magical holidays when you feel that you and the universe truly are one. This once again features a wonderful special guest vocalist, a chorus of a hundred and one cicadas and, very rare for me, a key change. Are you too pretty to stay in tonight?
To mark Barcelona’s triumph in the Champions League for the fifth time, a song that namechecks the Catalan capital. As usual, it has absolutely nothing to do with Barcelona FC although it is about football – the burst bubbles side of the game as exemplified by West Ham and the England team at the 1982 World Cup. A favourite song but not one I’ve ever managed to record too well. However, it is without doubt the best tune ever written about Trevor Brooking. (Not too sure about the copyright in this image of Trev so if anyone is concerned let me know and I will remove it.)