SECOND TIME AROUND
(Book Link: Travel. The Marrakesh Express.)
This song started life on a sunny terrace in Essaouira, Morocco. The original 'musical doodle' has the sound of seagullls and the waves crashing against the shore in the background. This is not about returning to an old relationship, but about returning to a holiday destination. The only time we had ever done that. The first time had been to Essaouira when we had been plagued with problems, hence the reference to things having made us blue. But like old news you will often see something different every time you read it or see it. The place held such a magical charm for us that we were not to be put off. We have gone back there several times since. The feel of the song was inspired by Melody Gardot, whose early work I was listening to a lot at the time.
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THESE BOOTS ARE MADE FOR WALKING
(Book link: A Handful of Passions. Shoes)
One of two covers on the album, this was one of the first songs I sung once I had finally allowed myself to start singing in public at my 50th birthday party. Indeed I recorded it in its original Nancy Sinatra style, along with two other covers for an EP that we sold for Comic Relief at that party. Although I love that original version I came up with a slightly more rocky vibe for this, to put my own stamp on it.
(Book link: Religious Connections)
The first few lines of this song (lyrics and melody) were written on a holiday in Tenerife. An all inclusive package. An unusual choice for us. I was lying on a sunbed surrounded by people. It felt very surreal having all of these people thrown together in this very communal environment and something that felt quite alien to me. Finding no more inspiration I shelved the idea.
I then returned to it when I was spending several weeks in Cadiz in January/February 2018 and where many ideas were sparked for this album and the book. I was thinking about my religious connections section of the book. I spent time sitting drinking coffee and people watching near the Central Market. I visited the Roman amphitheatre there and read about the history of it and how the rich and poor were segregated at events. I sat quietly in various oratories across the city and started to wonder and research about the connections between religion and theatre. All of that got me to also thinking how similar both of those things are to football. The passion, the fervour, the holy grail and theatres of dreams. A collected mass of people from different backgrounds, sometimes seperated by those diferences, sometimes not but thrown together - a complex web of different and in so many ways, strange and estranged people.
(Book link: Relationships)
This song was inspired by the Godfather of Soul, James Brown.
It is loosely connected to the section about relationships in my book. The questions asked "Why don't you ever ask, Why don't you understand?" initiated by the exploration into family relationships. It really freewheeled from there. I wanted to keep it very simple and not overthink either the words or the music. It could of course apply to every form of relationship.
THE WINDOW TO YOUR SOUL
(Book link: Travel. Spanish Odyesses.)
Written in Cadiz in January/February 2018. Sitting in an artist's studio perched on the top of a building overlooking rooftops with washing flapping in the breeze, looking out towards the cathedral, listening to the sounds of the old city below me, the stunning pink sunset sweeping over the whole scene. The beautiful little wooden shack of a studio had doors that wouldn't open fully, so you felt like you were peeping through one side of them. The sun would create wonderful shadows on the walls inside, creating the most magical reflections.
I had always had a line "your smile doesn't reach your eyes" in my back catalogue of song ideas and was keen to fit that in somewhere. Eyes being the window to someone's soul was also a concept that had cropped up for me several times and so I let my mind wander and my imagination go. This song is the result.
I have always liked the idea of writing an anthem and having come up with something slightly wistful and haunting for the intro, the melody for the body of the song then took a more strident turn.
BEAUTY OF YOUTH
(Book links: Jobs/A Handful of Passions. Prejudice.)
My club track. A song about prejudice.
This is a song that is a rally cry for older people, older women. It is also empathetic towards young people. Creating opportunities for them. I am all for that but please do not neglect the older ones. Older people have so much to offer and in this day and age where we are living longer and seeking out new lifestyles and careers later on in life, attention needs to be paid to those people in equal measure. Do not write people off once they hit middle age or beyond.
I was young once. And I can understand what goes on for many young people. The challenges they face. I was reminded initially when starting to write this song of Cat Stevens' 'Father and Son'. This song has a similar message but also one of asking that belief is put in older people too.
TO PUT THINGS IN PERSPECTIVE
(Book link: Music.)
This is slightly hypothetical. And also not related directly to any one section of the book, but inspired by thoughts and feelings about people who hurt you or who are not healthy to be around. This may be family, friends or more personal relationships. It is about seeing things clearly, taking action and what happens when you stop allowing those people to hurt you. If you can do that, life takes on a whole new meaning. It is happier.
(Book link: Health)
Throughout my life, I've had a predisposition to melancholia or phases of reactive depression. Generally brought about by circumstances which at times have included very poor health. This is a song about that.
I wanted to express my desire to be rid of these feelings and this state when it comes and when I started writing the song, I added a somewhat spiritual melody and sound. But that in itself felt quite depressing, so I launched into a Bridge with positivity, which I like to think as my natural state, with both words and a tune to make the song one about hope.
The line about 'little miss smiles' and around which the Bridge was formed, was inspired after watching the film 'Little Miss Sunshine' which is a really joyful film. The words that started forming for this section were the most fundamental to our happiness and I was tempted to look for ones that were more sophisticated and involved but then stopped myself. At the end of the day I had to say what it was I really felt and meant. Those things were very straightforward and not complicated at all.
I JUST DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH MYSELF
(Book link: A Handful of Passions. People.)
Made famous by Ms Springfield herself and penned by the great Burt Bacharach and Hal David.
A lifelong and passionate fan of Dusty, her music and her persona, it felt appropriate to include one of her songs. I have generally avoided covering Dusty songs. When I have sung any, I have been far from satisfied with the outcome.
Because of that I didn't set out to have a Dusty cover on this album. But I found myself after a long drive up north, lying on some grass trying to find some shade in the heatwave of 2018, feeling stressed and very miserable. I was tired, not happy with where I had arrived and would be staying for a few days, deliberating back and forth about going to see my mum in her care home that day, feeling wounded by recent and current familial circumstances. I had been listening to the radio driving up and a Dusty song had been played. Whilst lying on the grass I started humming and then almost whispering I Just Don't Know. It wasn't the song I'd heard. I guess it just matched how I was feeling. In addition to forgetting most of the lyrics, for some reason I was singing it in a slightly swingy way.
I shared it with Georgia a few days later and we agreed that it must be one of the ten songs for this album and that I needed to try and replicate as closely as I could, the way I had sung it that afternoon when I was feeling so vulnerable and slightly bereft.
(Book link: Home. Kent.)
The subject of home is a big one for all of us and I have written a lot about it for the book. I wrote this whilst I was away for a few days. I had tried to start a song about 'home' several times before and whilst I had some ideas for words and some thoughts about other songs that I wanted to reference, I couldn't find enough inspiration to be happy to really get going with it.
This song just came about by playing. I started playing around with a musical doodle. A little like a writing exercise where you just start writing and keep going for five minutes, regardless of what is appearing on the page. A sort of word play. The lyrics are very limited here but they roll around, weave in and out and repeat themselves and I quite liked that concept.
Sometimes you think you want to stay somewhere for longer and then the next morning comes; the day to leave and somehow you feel ready. It's great to be away but it's good to go home.
It is just a very simple song about being away and going home and how right that can feel.