As I've said on my homepage, I've long been a low-key singer-songwriter-acoustic-guitar-player. "Low-key" in part because my music has always played "second fiddle" (not the most appropriate metaphor given that I play guitar, but you know what I mean!) to my writing and academic work. Even so, listening to and creating music has been and continues to be a vital part of my life and has sustained me in more ways than I can say. In particular, I have long admired the compression of thought and feeling that can be squeezed into the few minutes it takes to sing or listen to a song.
Here, then, are home demos of (i) a few songs I've written over the years; (ii) a few songs written "primarily" by others (see below for what I mean by this); and (iii) a few songs written wholly by others.
(i) Selected Songs I've Written:
- How Simple the Changes -- "How simple the changes, the way life rearranges; you and I were lovers once, now we're just like strangers..."
- The Glory Train -- There's a whole genre of songs about a train, whether real or metaphorical, coming to take us to a better place; but this song, written more in sorrow than anger, runs with the idea that, if there is a Glory Train, then it sure ain't running on time!
- The Travellers' Wells -- God help you if you're out there on the parched plains and don't stumble upon the Travellers' Wells.
- These Days -- About breaking free from one's ghosts.
- The Things to be Done -- A song of solace for the lonesome cowboy or cowgal inside us all.
- Old, Old Story -- "It's an old, old story about love and its glory, but it's always a good one to tell."
- Dilapidated Soul -- About being worn down by the workaday world. You've never felt that way yourself, right?
- Saviour -- About what really saves us.
- The Taste in my Heart -- Which way will it go?
- Seize the Day -- Remember the Captain and his mandolin.
- Everything but the Girl -- "You know what 'the thing is'? The heart just yearns and yearns."
- Heaven's Call -- On hearing a woman with the sweetest voice singing in the London Underground.(ii) Songs Written Primarily by Others ("primarily" in the folk tradition honoured sense that where I have been inspired by the overall mood and melody of a song but not all of the lyrics, I have modified those lyrics to suit what works best for me when I'm the one who's singing the song):
- Too Long at the Fair -- Written, I believe, by Joel Zoss, but first recorded by Bonnie Raitt. I've loved the mood, melody, refrain, and guitar part of this song for ages, but I could never really relate to the lyrics in the verses and the bridge. I've therefore replaced these parts of the song with lyrics of my own.(iii) Songs Completely Written by Others:
- Helplessly Hoping -- Stephen Stills's alluringly alliterative early song from the first CS&N album (1969), probably written in the context of his doomed love affair with the crystal voiced folk-singer Judy Collins.
- Propinquinty -- Forget his stint with The Monkees, Michael Nesmith wrote some great songs as an independent singer-songwriter - this is one of them. Propinquity, an unusual word, is a fancy term for "nearness" or "closeness".
- Baker Street -- My version of Gerry Rafferty's great song about alienation in the city, dreaming of the future, and going home.