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Monday 28th October 2013

So what the hell was that all about?


Have you downloaded any of the new stuff I put up at the online music store?  In particular the Medium Rarities Volume 1 collection?  You have?  Splendid?  Are you perhaps wondering what any/all of those songs are about? Well let me explain!

SING SOMETHING FUNNY I wrote this à propos of nothing in particular in about 2004-2005 and it eventually turned up in Crimes Against Music series 3 in 2006.  I think I wrote it to be a show opener for the band but for some reason it never really gained any traction.  I still like it though; especially pleased with the Brian Setzer-ish guitar.

MAKE YOURSELF A SANDWICH This was written in reference to a public safety announcement the Fire Brigade issued a few years ago warning of the dangers of trying to cook for yourself when you come home blind drunk.  Apparently someone actually managed to burn his house down doing this.  Enjoyed getting the Tom Waits vibe together; even managed to get my keyboard to sound a bit out of tune.

MOTHER'S DAY  Think this was a Now Show song.  Fairly self-explanatory.

EARLY 1980s RECORD COLLECTION Wrote this in 2006 when there were suddenly a HELL of a lot of bands who sounded like this.  Most of them disappeared after about six months which is possibly why I never got round to releasing it.

CAFFEINE Again, fairly self-explanatory and one I'm sure many of you can relate to.

DEPARTURE LOUNGE BLUES Another one from Crimes series 3; which you may remember (it's pretty unlikely but you never know) had one episode set in an airport.  When I was learning guitar back in the 80s I went through a proper blues nerd phase, listening to hours of Cream and Peter Green-era Fleetwood Mac, and it was fun to channel some of that into this.

SWINDON I think I actually got a request from the Swindon board of trade to use this.  I said yes but I don't know if they ever did.  A Now Show song from 2006 when it transpired that Swindon had the highest percentage of broadband-equipped households in the country.  Don't know if it still does.

DON'T MURDER HALLELUJAH  I'm sure you remember a few years ago when whoever it was who won The X Factor that year's "victory single" was a horrendously saccharine version of Leonard Cohen's sublime "Hallelujah"; there was an online campaign to get Jeff Buckley's much nicer version to number one instead.  I wrote this for The Now Show in support.

NOTHING FUNNY A Now Show song from a couple of years ago (hence the pessimistic reference to the Olympics); it's actually fairly frequently I find myself in this situation but you can only make it the subject of a song once.  I've done it now.

POISONOUS FROGS A couple of years ago Deep Sea World in Fife, Scotland, proudly announced that they'd succeeded in breeding a particularly venomous species of frog.  I wondered why the Scots were breeding poisonous frogs in the first place and wrote this for The Now Show to offer one possible explanation (and to pay belated tribute to one of my favourite 80s bands).

AMERICAN CARS As with Poisonous Frogs, sometimes I'll latch onto a news story just because it presents me with an excuse to recreate a particular favourite musical style.  In this case it was the 2008 bailout of the near-bankrupt "Big Three" US motor companies (Ford, GM & Chrysler) which gave me a great opportunity to try to perfect my Eddie Cochran sound.  I love those records; they're so dynamic and streamlined compared to a lot of early rock n'roll and Cochran was way ahead of his time in terms of lyrical wit.  If he and Buddy Holly hadn't been dead by the time the 60s started, the Beatles might never have been necessary...

ARE WE GONNA MESS THIS UP AGAIN?  Like many of my generation, I was delighted when the Stone Roses patched up their differences and went back out on the road last year, and not a bit surprised when two gigs into the tour they fell out again...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY WAR (Shock & Awe Mix)  Just an experiment I did on my own time, really... I wrote Happy Birthday War on the occasion of the fourth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq in 2007 and then released it as a single in 2008 on the fifth anniversary.  I recorded many different demo versions of the song as I was putting the single together and at one point, just to see if it were possible, I stripped out everything except the lead vocal and built this around it.  I came up with a completely new chord sequence, moving the song from G major to E minor.  Some of the changes are genuinely quite interesting; I had to jump around a bit to keep in key with the melody and that led me to some unusual places.  In the end I found the result to be a bit stark (the single version gets away with being lyrically bleak specifically because it's so cheerful melodically) and never did anything with it, but I thought you might find it interesting...

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