Looking for the beginning?

Looking for somewhere to start? Check out Song 1 here!

Monday, 25 April 2011

Song Number 15: If I Only Do One Thing Today

Something a little different for Song 15 - it includes a photographic presentation for your viewing pleasure!


If you only do one thing today, ladies and gentlemen, please sponsor me for this ridiculous year-long stunt I'm trying to pull, and raise some money for Parkinson's UK.

The Tea Chronicles is a photo montage depicting an average day in the life of a self-employed musician, and was beautifully shot by Andrew Nicholls of Earthtide.  Andy is responsible for nearly every photo that appears on my websites, and those of many other musicians/dancers/artists/animals, and I thank him once again for taking the time and effort to take photos of me in my pants


Two new instruments on this week's track: an autoharp...

Impossible to play without looking and feeling like a mutant.
 ... and a thumb piano...
It's got a very smooth bottom

... which was given to me by the lovely people at the St James's Players drama society.  Thanks again, guys!

No Mid 8 in this track.  I'd said everything I wanted to say, and didn't want to bloat this one by shoehorning in a bridge for the sake of it.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Monday, 18 April 2011

Song Number 14: Money In The Pocket (Fire In The Hole)

Not only does track 14 have the longest title so far, but it's also got a sweary in it!


So far we've got 29% of our donation target, but we're already 30% into the year.  I'm not having this!  Somebody donate a tenner so we're keeping up!  The widget's on the right, or go to justgiving.com/songaweek.

So this one popped into my head as a chorus on waking up one morning (this very very very rarely happens!), and I originally thought it was going to be a Johnny Cash-type track.  Mr Alex Creese was over for a Fat Pigeon recording session, and brought his 12-string with him.  I thought it would be nice to take advantage of a new instrument and quickly bashed out the chords for the verse & chorus.  Because these chords were quite simple, it meant the Mid 8 and outro flowed quite easily (suddenly throwing in a load of complicated jazz chords would have sounded totally incongruous - nothing at all to do with it being totally beyond my guitar skills!)

After adding the rest of the instruments to the track I found myself in a similar position to last week, in that I was struggling to find a topic for the lyric.  The original words that had popped into my head for the chorus were:

He's a broken man with a broken heart
and a lot to learn about piggy in the middle
He's a broken man with a broken dream
and a lot to learn about fire in the hole

The whole broken man business and the melody leaned very Cash-wards, but I'm afraid to confess I don't actually like Johnny Cash, and the prospect of stringing out a three minute song of Working Class Americana Misery didn't really inspire me. 

Miserable ≠ Deep
But then I had a problem with a plumber, and the subject of my rage presented itself as the subject of my song.  And I've got much more time for rage as inspiration than misery.  As with Jess's scarf, the Gods served up a suitable topic on a plate.  Quite simply, the bloke said he'd be around in 10 minutes to sort out the central heating.  Four days later we were still waiting.  Hardly a disaster of Vesuvian proportions, I know, but enough to have me stomping my feet in middle class indignation.

So there you go - most of the song's about a plumber.   Well, the chorus isn't really, but I liked the hook so I added some Statler Brothers style harmonies on the top and left it in.  Hope you like it!

Monday, 11 April 2011

Parkinson's Awareness Week

It's Parkinson's Awareness Week!  Every hour, somebody in the UK is diagnosed with this condition, which can affect anybody - regardless of their race, gender, income, education, sexual preference, dietary habits or musical taste.  Parkinson's UK is working towards finding cures and prophylactic measures, as well as improving the lives of people currently suffering with the condition. 

There are loads of people up and down the country doing things this week to raise money for Parkinson's UK, so if you know someone who's running a marathon, holding a fête, or shaving their head, please get along and show them some support.  And if you don't know anybody, there's always me!  Please please please, donate by clicking on the JustGiving widget in the top right there, or visiting justgiving.com/songaweek.

Thanks to all of you for your support so far!  Stay tuned for Song 14!

Friday, 8 April 2011

Song Number 13: Reach Out

Lucky for some, it's Song 13!



It's Parkinson's Awareness Week next week, so why not get into the spirit of things and DONATE TO PARKINSON'S UK by clicking on the JustGiving widget at the top there, or visiting justgiving.com/songaweek

As some of you may have noticed, I've really been struggling with this one!  The music was written and completely recorded in a matter of hours, but the melody and lyric were just not coming easily.  I must have started off on a dozen different topics, written a few words for a chorus and scratched it; tried starting with a verse but scratched it...  It doesn't help that I found the music pretty uninspiring - it's like the stuff I was writing when I was 16 or 17 - so of course I wasn't able to get a melody that felt right, and a topic for the lyric didn't suggest itself readily.  When it's not obvious what I want to write about, I start by writing a lyric that's pretty obscure, but then it feels like I'm trying too hard to be cryptic and get on my own nerves!

Then Mrs F came home tonight and was telling me how she nearly found herself in a stand-off with some woman over a scarf in a clothes shop.   And after days of fannying around trying to find something to write about, I was suddenly presented with the perfect topic.  You can read the full story on her excellent fashion blog here, but in short, this song is about a woman shopping for a scarf, nearly losing it to another (evil) shopper, but triumphing in the end.  It's the classic Dark vs Light story.  Tolkien couldn't have done a better job, really...

On the technical side - I normally like a lot of compression on my voice anyway, but this time I also used a hell of a lot of limiter to even things out on the rather rushed vocal.  I'm pretty sure Rhett Davis used the same technique on Bryan Ferry's album As Time Goes By - lovely album, incidentally.  Well worth a listen.  Even if you're not a fan of rock's original lounge lizard, you can't deny his voice works very well with these songs, and the whole thing's just gorgeously recorded.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Song Number 12: Little Bird

Got some catching up to do, so here's the latest:


You won't get a whole lot of whining from me this time, because I'm aware I haven't got time to pontificate - I just need to get these songs done so I'm back on track.  This one is... well... it's marginally better than that Rebecca Black one at least.  Isn't it? 

Now to make a start on Song Number 13...

Friday, 1 April 2011

Ticking along

Cracking night at the Slug & Lettuce in Guildford last night - really good atmosphere, with some great musicians and a friendly vibe* all round. 

With last weekend being out of action, and this week being horrendously crammed (last week of term at the college at which I teach), I have fallen way behind with SAW2011, but I do have a couple of things in the pipeline so I hope to be nicely caught up by the end of next week.  Odd little number in 6/4 should be making itself heard soon...

Also, I'm looking at getting some CDs printed up, and the ReverbNation site properly working.  Watch this space!


*I'm really not fond of this word, but it seems to have fallen out of my fingers.  Give it a fortnight and I'll start talking about giving my music a new "Flava"
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