One More Hour With You [Live]

Here’s a live performance of One More Hour With You. This was the first ever public outing and it’s only taken me 3 years to edit the video. You can read more about the song here or download the demo here

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Appreciation: KS Rhoads – Hiyayayayayaya

The verses of KS Rhoads‘ incredible track Hiyayayayayaya seem to have been created from the ‘Build A Title’ game from the Doug Loves Movies podcast (let me know if it has an older origin). It was expertly transcribed, nay deciphered, on Jen Cox’s tumbler

v1:

Call me Ishmael | Al Pacino | Nobility & Sympathy | Theo Huxtable | Below the belt | Belt Buckle | Buckle Under Pressure | Pressure Point | Point Break and Johnny Utah | you taw a puddy [tat] | cat’s in the cradle | cradle to the grave | grave danger | Danger Mouse | Mousing around | Around the Way Girl | Girl, you know it’s true | True Romance | Romancing the Stone | Stone Cold Steve [Austin] | Steve McQueen | Queen Elizabeth | Bethlehem | Hem a skirt | Skirt the issue | Issue a verdict | Dick VanDyke | Ike & Tina | Tina Turner | Turner & Hooch | Hoochie-koochie mama | Mama was rolling [stone] | Rock the Cas-bah | Bar Mitzvah | Fuggetaboutit | It ain’t over ‘til the fat lady [sings] | Lady & the Tramp | Trampoline | Lean On Me | Mika Su[shi] | Siouxsie & the Banshees | she’s a cap? | Capitalize | Liza Minnelli | Nellie Furtado | Do-Re-Mi | Me Tarzan, You Jane | Jane’s Addiction | Dictionary | Areola | Hola, Como Esta? | Taj Mahal | Halter top | Top Gun | Gunnar Nelson | Nelson Mandela | Delaware | Where in the world is Carmen San Diego? | Go-go Gadget! | Jitterbug | Bugsy Malone | I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel. | A Rebel Yell | Yellow Submarine | Marine Biology | Jesus Christ Almighty

Chorus

Who’s been sleeping in, in my bed
The guillotine gonna come and get your head
Take what you need and leave the rest
But the big bird borrows from the little bird’s nest

v2:

Mighty Mouse | Mouseketeers | Tears For Fear[s] | Fear and Loathing in Las [Vegas] | Loss of blood | Blood sugar | Sugar Ray | Ray Charles | Charles Manson | Manson Family | Family Matter | Matter of fact | Factory farms | Farms cattle | Cattle call | Cauliflower | Flower power | Power to the people | The People vs. Larry Flynt | Flint, Michigan | Michigan J Frog | Frog Leg | Leggo my Eggo | Go Tell it on the Mountain | Mountain lion | Lionel Ritchie | Richie Sambora | Bora-Bora | Bore a hole | Hole in the wall | Walter Matthau | Thou shall not kill | Kilogram | Gram Parsons | Arsonist | Hysterectomy | Meter maid | Made in China | China doll | Dollywood | Would a woodchuck | woodchuck could chuck wood could chuck | Chuck Berry | Bury my Heart at Wounded [Knee] | Wounded soldier | Jury duty | Duty free | Freaks come out at night | Knights of the Round Table | Table Tennis | Tennis elbow | Botox | Toxicology report | Puerto Vallarta | artificial insemination | Nation under God Indivisible | Invisibility | Tina Fey | Fay Dunaway | Wade in the water | Water-chilled | Children | Ren & Stimpy | P’s & Q’s | Use Your Illusion | Illusionist | Istanbul | Bulletboys | Boise, Idaho | Hotel | Tel Aviv | Viva Las Vegas

v3:

I got my 1-wood | Woodrow Wilson | Wilson Phillip[s] | Phillip Morris | Morris the Cat | Catnip | Nip and Tuck | Tucker The Man and his Dreams played by Jeff Bridges | Bridges of Madison Count[y] | Count of Monte Cristo | Toe the line | Line of fire | Fire in the hole | Holy water | What are we to do | Do the right thing | Things that make you go hmmmm… | Humphrey Bogart | Garth Brooks | Brooks and Dunn | Dunlop tennis balls | Balls of steel | Steal third base | Base makeup | Make up for lost time | Time Travel | Travellers check | Check the mail | Mail order bride | Bridal showers | showers bring may [flowers] | Mayweather | Whether or not | [ready] or not here I come | Come Together | Together we are one | 1-2-3, a-b-c | See Spot Run | Run DMC | See Dick and Jane | Janie’s Got a Gun

Preview Hiyayayayayaya or get a free sampler from Noisetrade

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Earth Below: Mountains (Official Music Video)

Earth Below are the fruit of the latest Inspire ‘Supergroup’ Project that I’ve been working for the last year along with fellow tutor Nina Smith. They’re a really talent 7 piece band and will be launching their EP Almost There at a BBC Introducing Gig in Mansfield on Jun 29th. Here’s the video for the lead track Mountains

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New Song: John Lennon Blues


Pray for a man to put the ‘fist’ in ‘pacifist’
The good die young. Or they just die.
Download     mp3 demo

I’ve never really written a 12 bar blues I was happy with but John Lennon Blues is the closest I’ve got so far. At first it may seem like a pro-gun song but it’s anything but. I was trying to explore the paradox that those who promote peace are often the ones who die violent deaths and the resulting dilemma: if they hadn’t have been so committed to non-violence they’d have survived to preach peace another day, but then their message would have lost it’s potency. So would you rather the men (and women) survive at the cost of their message?

Verses 1 and 2 started with leftover lines from my song Guns. “The lone gunman is not alone” and “put the ‘fist’ in ‘pacifist’” came from my random lines folder and verse 4 borrowed a phrase from Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller“Hold our palms against the wound” (p.114).

“That coward Caulfield” is a reference to Holden Caulfield in J.D. Salinger‘s novel The Catcher In The Rye, a character that John Lennon’s killer Mark Chapman strongly identified with (in fact he read the book outside the Dakota Building whilst waiting for the police to arrest him after the murder). There are biblical references, Jesus refused to “call down fire from heaven” on those who didn’t welcome him (Luke 9:54), promised “all who draw the sword will die by the sword” (Matthew 26:52) and said “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone” (John 8:7). I also liked the ambiguity of juxtapositing the blues holler “whoa” with the biblical curse “woe”.

Musically it owes something (maybe an apology?) to The Beatles Yer Blues and Helter Skelter and Jimi Hendrix’s Hey Joe. When I wrote the track during FAWM I had a really heavy cold and knew my voice wouldn’t be up to multiple takes so I decided to record guitar and vocals at the same time. Sure enough by the end of the first take I started to cough uncontrollably (I managed to mute the mic but you can still hear it in places) and the coughing fit lasted another 10 minutes until I tore a muscle in my chest. And that’s why there’s no take 2.

Whoa If John Lennon had a gun
Whoa If John Lennon had a gun
He still be singing “all you need is love”

Oh if he’d given peace a chance
Oh and pulled a piece on each crazy fan
And shot that coward Caulfield in the back

Woe if Gandhi had a knife
Woe if Reverend King took a life
If Jesus Christ had enough and just rained down fire

If you live by the sword you’ll die by it – that’s gospel truth
But the sword of a sinner can pierce a righteous man too
And you’ll die holding innocent hands against the wound

Woe, the lone gunman is not alone
Woe, the lone gunman is not alone
And every man without sin has pockets full of stones

Woe that the world should come to this
Woe that the world should come to this
And pray for a man to put the ‘fist’ in ‘pacifist’

Whoa if John Lennon had a gun
Whoa if John Lennon had a gun
Those Dakota steps would have been stained with another man’s blood

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Why I Failed At FAWM

This year I only managed to write eight songs instead of fourteen. While the the usual suspects, hubris and illness, played a part, there were other aspects that tripped me up and I think they’re worth noting so I don’t make the same mistakes in future. I want to make a whole new set of mistakes!

Limitations

I’m a big fan of Limitations. They can really help you “get on with it” and cut out one of the most insidious forms of distraction – ‘choice’. There’s lots studies that show that if a supermarket stocks 25 types of jam in the supermarket they won’t sell any because the customers can’t decide which to buy. Only stock 3 varieties and sales are much healthier. But for creativity there’s a tipping point where too many limitations make it harder to work.

FAWM has a massive limitation built in: you have to write a lot of songs in a short space of time. Adding any other artificial constraints could be asking for trouble. In my case I had chosen to ‘co-write with my younger self’, digging out old tapes and using the ideas to write new songs. Just consider how many other steps that assumes.

  • Digitise the tapes
  • Edit and label mp3s
  • Listen and evaluate which ideas are worth working on
  • Relearn old ideas (many of which were badly recorded and a quarter-tone sharp). Where there were mistakes, try to discern what my intention was. Try to work out if I had used a capo or an alternate tuning
  • Compile various versions of the idea scattered across different tapes

This is all work I had to do BEFORE I could get down to writing a song. As opposed to the FAWM-friendly approach of grabbing an instrument and strumming away till I come up with something.

One of my favourite FAWMers is American multi-instrumentalist, Izaak Wierman. He often sets himself narrow artificial limitations like writing a song in every key or every mode. But this year he was stranded in Australia with only a mandolin and a phone to make music with. So, wisely, he chose not to set impose any additional limitations on himself.

Chaos

Secondly I was already out of my creative comfort zone. I had been ill before FAWM, seriously enough to make me cancel some work commitments. I also had some building work done at my studio which required changing the layout. Just like the Beatles during Let It Be, this was a signal that I should have just done the old familiar things rather than introduce some more chaos and variables. Maybe even spent time fixing the broken things in my system. Getting the room and recording space into a workable state?

Motivation

Thirdly I failed because I didn’t really want to write. I’ve been on a kind of crusade for the last 5 years trying to make myself a better writer by writing a lot. Some 200 songs later I think that’s worked. But the natural by-product of that process is a bunch of good songs that I haven’t had the time to demo, let alone post online or release officially. So I’m feeling the drag of “what’s the point of writing another 14 songs that are never going to see the light of day?” Part of me wants to stop writing new songs, or at least slow down, so I can fix the next part of the supply chain – how to release music. And if part of you wants to write songs and part of you doesn’t, you’re going to have problems.

Conclusion

I really want to revisit my old music and see if there’s any way to absorb some of the more complex compositional approaches I’ve been neglecting. I’ve pursued a deliberate strategy to simplify and become truly melodic rather than churning out monotonal melodies over tracks constipated with chords and riffs. But I think I’ve got some kind of handle on that now and I need time to go back to the drawing board and explore. And leisurely exploration isn’t what FAWM is about.

So with hindsight I should have attempted everything I wanted to do … in March through December. And let FAWM be a sandbox for my subconscious to play with whatever catches it’s eye.

Next year, whatever I’m feeling and whatever my plans are, I’m going to take February off and just play. And whatever happens, happens.

Lesson (hopefully) learned.

THE END … or is it …?

Why I DIDN’T fail at FAWM

I wrote 8 songs

Writing songs of any description is a victory. If you write bad songs, you may be a bad songwriter, but if you write no songs, you’re not a songwriter at all.

I wrote 3 or 4 songs I’m happy with

One popped right out of my subconscious with no warning. Another is an idea I’ve been trying to write for 2 years. I doubt any of these would have been written without FAWM kicking me in the pants.

I wrote 1 song I love

Other people seem to love it too. The fact that FAWM is so non-judgemental made it easy for me to write and record something so left field for me. The network of writers, musicians and producers meant I could easily hook up with people that had the skills to complete it. The positive response from feedback on the site encouraged me to go all the way and release the track.

A few old ideas have been turned into songs

Some revealed they weren’t worth much and can now be cleared out of my ‘song starts’ folder. Many more ideas didn’t even make it to the writing stage, so again FAWM prompted a kind of spring cleaning of ideas. Others, while not great songs, have proved that they’re good ideas worthy of shaping and developing in the future.

I learned a few things

About co-writing and myself as a co-writer. And of course I have learned some valuable lessons about the right and wrong ways to use limitations and about how I can self sabotage my work.

So did I fail to deliver 14 songs in Feb. Yes.
Did I fail FAWM? No.

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