My songs – sleeve notes
Under The Bridge
This is about a first bungled attempt to kiss a girl – my brain melted.
I like the fact that the two halves of the verse have the same tune but different underlying chords, and also the turn-around at the end of the chorus.
Does what it says on the tin. Originally written in the first person but that was a bit too much so (via the second person) ended up in the third person. He just can’t pluck up the courage to ask her out, then starts making excuses (the chorus) to justify his inaction. It’s not the first time he’s been through this painful experience.
More use of the three-trombone horn section. The horn line after “such a shy boy’s not for her” was originally going to be backing vocals taunting “shy boy, shy boy” but I thought that was a bit too much.
That Delicious Feeling
It’s that much more intense, the first kiss, and this is about the build up to that moment when your head almost explodes. A not so brief encounter.
If You Love Me
The narrator is on the receiving end in an abusive relationship…
More of the More Money
This is about the greed prevalent in our society but as reflected individually by a wife who is neglected by a husband that is addicted to making more money and can’t see beyond this (parallels with drug addiction). He’s probably a banker on huge bonuses.
The actual expression is attributable to someone I used to play in a band with that complained about the fees we earned.
Musically I like the combination of the two different key changes, at the chorus and at the middle 8, and the fact that the melody manages to flow, hopefully seamlessly, though all of this.
(She’s Got Her) Eye On You
This is about self-esteem, lack of belief and being in a state of denial – the only person who can’t accept the position is the central character.
I like the rhymes within lines used by some of the great lyricists such as Lorenz Hart and wanted to try to emulate this – believe / see, conceive / perceive, loss / cost, while / style. I used this technique in the lyrics for one or two of the other songs as well.
There’s also an oblique reference to “the mind’s eye” – open your mind and see what is staring you right in the eye.
I’ve Always Loved You
A song about the bittersweet agony of unrequited love. I like the idea of a limbo state to represent the long drawn out period spent getting over someone. This is conceived as a torch song that should be sung by a female vocalist.
I deliberately framed the tune if blocks of 5, 10 and 7 bars to create the aural impression that, like the unrequited love, it keeps stopping short and nothing fully resolves (at least until the dark final chord). It called out for a string quartet.
Tilting At Windmills
This is about a friend who always wanted more even though he was already a success – he just couldn’t see it. Obvious reference to Don Qixote in the title which I thought was a good analogy for his never seeming to achieve what he thought he was trying to achieve, and hence the Spanish theme to the song, including the use of the “Spanish chord”. “Yesterday was another” day turns the line from Gone With The Wind on its head.
The soul groove was his thing.
Strange By The Shore
Nostalgia about the Leith I remember when I was a teenager, taking a bit of license. It includes lots of references to local things and places: The Angel Hotel, The Westward ‘Ho (where the hookers used to hang out – no angels), the scum that used to build up on the Water of Leith, the former beach and Leith Links golf course (both historical references), Timberbush, Coal Hill, Bowie’s Close (the Bowie Angels were a small local gang), the dodgy dealers selling knocked-off goods in and around the docks, and the Drawbridge (a double reference to the Drawbridge pub, and the actual drawbridge that no longer lifts open so is now just a bridge without the draw).
I was going to include the line “where you would sign on the dole”, but took the safe option of “where you would play out your role”, as the dole office used to be in the building on the Shore at the end of Bowie’s Close and I signed on there after I left school (it became an Italian restaurant).
One More Thing
This is actually a love song. It includes an unabashed lift of song titles “These Foolish Things” – Bryan Ferry also sung “Don’t Ever Change” on the album of that title (not that I’m a big Bryan Ferry fan – just a coincidence).
I was hoping to achieve something of a Puccini feel with the melody and a lush harmonic structure, so added the strings later.
Can I Spin Your World?
Shae came out with this and the ladies in the room melted. How can a 5-year-old come out with the best lines?
The bolero arrangement gave the excuse to use some Latin percussion. Afterwards it struck me that this sounds more like a number from a West End musical than a pop song (not that the intention was to write a conventional pop song).
Inside His Head He’s Eighteen
This is about someone stuck in the past and is based on more than one person, including myself. He’s putting on a Certificate 18 show because it can be cringe-worthy.
I was aiming for a Northern Soul feel but not sure if that’s the end result.
Once Upon A Time In Leith…
Spaghetti Western stuff – visions of a mean bandido approaching menacingly from the distance with strings of bullets over both shoulders (hence the reference to Once Upon A Time In The West – Leith was a bit more “wild west” back then).
More songs…watch this space!
I’ve frittered so much time and so many opportunities relying on others to help make things happen because I didn’t have the nerve to just go for it myself. There are some who will no doubt try to ridicule me for trying my hand as a songwriter, or might somehow resent this – so be it.
It includes an oblique reference to Einstein’s theory of relativity and worm holes – another time and space where I could disappear. Also there’s an underlying double meaning at the start of verse 2 – be a part / be apart.
Three trombones for the horn section is quite common in salsa music, including the classic Pedro Navaja.
But She’s In Love With Somebody Else
Unrequited love but not willing or able to let go.
Musically I think this is more like a classical composition than a pop song.
How Many Ways?
I was playing around, looking for an interesting chord progression. Sometimes it’s maybe better to be cruel to be kind.
(I’m) On The Inside Looking Out
This is about the absurd lunacy that goes on at senior levels in large bureaucratic organisations. I’ve felt a lot like Alice stuck in Wonderland, or Winston Smith trapped in a nightmare scenario like 1984. Like him I’ve struggled to find a way to survive the clutches of a close knit, sinister, governing body of people suffering from extreme groupthink.
I loved the book “Stranger In A Strange Land”.
It’s Never Too Late
This one’s for someone that’s stuck in a rut…I have to admit that I don’t understand why he won’t do something positive for himself to get out of this rut.
“Tomorrow is another day” is an unashamed lift of the closing line spoken by Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With The Wind.
It’s Not The Way
This is about being in love. I like the idea of Wonderland. In my head it’s sung by a group like the Stylistics.
The Longest Kiss In The World
The confluence between the white and blue Niles is locally known as the longest kiss in the world – when you’re kissing the one you love you sometimes want it to last forever.
Lose My Mind
This is about someone clinging on even though his love for a woman is unrequited and he’s blown any chance he might have had. His attempts to engineer situations where he might “accidentally” bump into her are a bit desperate.
Put Yourself In My Shoes
I’ve spent a lot of time feeling misunderstood especially in work situations – mostly because people think that everyone else should think and act like them. OK maybe I bring some of this on myself, but sometimes you’ve got to stick to your guns.
Musically I was aiming for an up-tempo, soul feel, but with mariachi feel horn lines. You don’t always get what you aimed for.
The Second Time Is Always The Best
Not actually about sex though this did occur to me – actually based on experience in the recording studio where the second take was always better than the first.
This Ship Has Sailed
Sometimes you just know that you’ve passed the point of no return, and it’s like something flipped a switch in your head. The organ is meant to add to the dark feel, and the driving beat reflects the determination and resolve to move on
…life’s too short.
I often imagined moving away for a while and had an opportunity to move to a job in the USA, then an opportunity to move to a job in London, and later tried (several times) for a move to Paris. None came off so I’m still in Bedford Falls!