Friday, 15 August 2008

Day 12: "Pain be gone, I will have no more of thee!"

Back is recovering slowly, I'm trying not to push it too much but have managed to get some stuff done today, including recording the basic parts for Shoelaces. If I'm feeling really ambitious I'm going to try and get my friend Craig in to play flute and oboe on it... I'm now sat quietly recording ideas on the ukulele, and have come up with two sets of lyrics, some that might end up being a song called Impulse Control, and others that might end up being a song called Reverie. All of my ideas today have been very camp and 50s sounding. I don't know why this is but I keep imagining things set to a bossa nova rhythm with a sweeping string section, and the word taffeta has been in my head for absolutely no reason I can fathom. Odd. In fact, I think I'd love to have written songs in the 50s for Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and the like. Why is it expected that all singers should (co-)write their own stuff now? Like being a great singer isn't enough anymore. Singing is really fucking hard.

Anyway, I'm also working on stuff to record piano for on Saturday. It was gorgeous and sunny today, and I was in that pleasant state of mind that occurs when one is recovering from an illness. Which was nice.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Day 11: Back to unreality

I am a total fool to even be writing this - the back pain has returned with a vengeance and using a laptop is the last thing I need. All I've been able to do today is lie on the floor with a book under my head and watch daytime TV. I was in the middle of trying to read a deeper subtext to Murder She Wrote when I realised that Nausicaa Valley of the Wind was on Film Four. I love Miyazaki's films, so this made the inactivity bearable. I did drift off in the middle though...

I've written lyrics for the 80s song:

As the protagonist
Over the Brooklyn Bridge
Imagined lives
That make sense
That are safe
We are kids
We believe all we're not told
Is impossible

Short and sweet. I've realised that there is a bit of a thread running through what I'm writing after all - unreality. I have others on the go now also, I'd love to play the piano or guitar but it's causing me too much difficulty. Tomorrow I hope I'll be back (haha) to normal.

Day 10: Cabin fever

Today I started to feel hemmed in. I came up with this project mostly because I had to take time off work and hadn't the means to go away easily. So far it has kept me occupied of course (as you can see), but I'm finding that my creativity is not self-perpetuating and needs to be kept alive by doing other thought-provoking things. To that end I went to see a friend playing a gig with Ebe Oke at Biddle Brothers in Clapton tonight, and on the way there I started to read "On Seeing and Noticing" by Alain de Botton, a teensy little book. Thoughts were provoked by these two things, and I feel tomorrow may be a day of ideas - we shall see.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Day 9: Serendipity knocks

Inspiration returned today, two songs written before I'd showered. One, Shoelaces, I actually wrote lyrics for in the bathroom:

Stood in the bathroom
Looking in mirror
Symmetry reflected in its face
My eyes
And my lips
And my hands that grip
The rim of the porcelain basin

The tick tock
Flip flop
Nice juxtaposition
Happy couples walking arm in arm

The black white
Wrong right
Binary opposition
Sad couples doing each other harm

Sat on the bed
Tying my shoelaces
Something I learned to do long ago
These shoes should travel
To exciting places
Get steady
Get ready
Now we go

One day I want to write a lyric about mirrors with two verses exactly mirroring each other - this isn't it, obviously, but I quite like it. Coincidentally I'm halfway through watching Tarkovsky's Mirror (I get free DVD rentals from the library at the college where I work. The choices are all on the cerebral side).

The other song came as I messed around with Reaktor (music software), I ended up with something that made me think of the films I watched as a kid in the 80s... There were lots of films with aerial fly-bys of characters driving cars across the Brooklyn Bridge as I remember it. I couldn't be specific about which ones, but it's a memory I have. The lyrics aren't finished but are about that.

I then decided to go and visit an art gallery. At first I thought I would go to one of the big exhibitions, but after reading up I started to feel some sympathy and empathy for the little shows, the lesser-known artists lacking the critics' recommendations. So I made my way to a little gallery on Vyner Street to see an exhibition called Sights from a Steeple, which garnered a lowly 3 out of 6 stars from Time Out's art critic. The gallery was closed. I don't think I understand visual art. Still, serendipity was on my side - I've been running over a song about art versus skill/craftsmanship, and I realised that Vyner Street was a good metaphor, as on one side of the street is a garage, and on the other an art gallery. And THEN, as if that weren't enough, I walked along the canal to find a dead pigeon, which I have also been working on a song about (sounds totally bizarre but... well it is totally bizarre). Rarely have the discoveries of a garage and a deceased pigeon elicited such enthusiasm, I'm sure.

On the downside, I am suffering from back pain thanks to carrying the location recording stuff into town on Saturday, playing the guitar too much (I slouch), and using my laptop in bed writing this blog.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Day 8: Please sir, can I have some more?

It's now been a week since I started. The following songs are written and recorded:

The Race
Former Glories
The Mismatch Man

Today continued apace, I recorded Former Glories - guitar and vocal harmonies - and vocals for The Mismatch Man. I'm typing this with one eye on the ridiculous Crimson Tide because there is NOTHING ON TELEVISION. Thank god for DVD box sets (and er, real life). I wrote parts of a song today about getting bored of the city you live in. It has these lines, which I quite like:

Shopkeepers say "have a good day boss!"
Startled tourists flee an oncoming bus
It's cute
But none of it persuades me
And nothing else has lately...

While I was thinking over these lines a rainbow (pictured above) crept up behind me, which was quite touching, as if London was saying "You're not talking about me are you? Maybe this rainbow will change your mind..."

Day 7: Wires and hammers

Today was the first leg of recording piano parts. I got takes for three songs, including one called The Mismatch Man, which I wrote with a singer like Peggy Lee or Nina Simone in mind... The other two don't have names yet. The lyrics for The Mismatch Man are:

Unrepentant though unbelieved
Ill-intentioned but well-received
Freely welcomed but bound to leave
Meet the mismatch man

Summer bloomed
A well-loved room
A boat floating on a lake
Autumn brought
The first sad thought
That I had made a mistake
No sign of him
Just gloomy, grim heartbreak

He said "Listen, for this is true
If I'm taken before I'm due
Know forever that I love you"
I miss the mismatch man