Categories
coathanger trail music songwriting

coathanger trail 3

The 3rd line of the song Coathanger is

the paintings are northern too

which is a reference to a song I wrote in 1977 or 1978 which was called Northern Painting. I gave the song that title as a reference to the few months I spent living in Manchester in late 1976 early 1977 where my best friends were Rod and Sheila Henderson and Rod was a painter – a northern painter. Apart from the title the words have no direct reference to any of Rod’s paintings or to anything that might have happened to me in Manchester during that time and the only link that I can possibly think of was that I was emphasising the use of colour and imagery in the lyric content. It’s a random anarchic jumble which I’m not ashamed of but I did try to tighten that sort of thing up in future songs. In the 2nd verse there’s a line

knew and was forgotten

which I decided to repeat 4 times – not that I couldn’t have thought up something different but because I thought the repetition would be amusing. I might shorten the repetition to 3 times in this recording.

The song was part of the early set we worked on with Dry Rib and its earlier incarnations but I’m not sure if we ever performed it. I think it was dropped before our 1st gig. When I realised that this was a song mentioned in Coathanger and that to complete the Coathanger Trail properly I was going to have to deal with this I saw that this was a problem. I hadn’t played the song since the late 70s. I had forgotten the music and I was not sure whether I had a recording. I thought I had an old recording of a rehearsal from 1977 which might possibly contain a dire version of the song. I looked all over but couldn’t find the cassette. I still had the lyrics and the morning after giving up on finding the cassette I took out the words and was prepared to write some new chords to go with them. I had a rough memory of how the chords to the verse went and lo and behold it just came together and I think pretty much that I managed to remember the song as it originally was.

It would have sounded very different had Dry Rib continued with it back then and recorded a version, but in the same way I couldn’t record one of the old songs now and make it sound like it did some 35 years ago. Well in theory I could but I’ve talked about this before and really to attempt to do so would be very, very bad for my creative psyche so that makes it impossible. Over the next couple of weeks I will be putting some of the songs from my new album up on this website but I have also been in conversation recently with Mike Mulholland and he is playing a bit of bass guitar again and for my next album which I will hopefully work on later this year I intend to do more of a rock thing and Mike may be involved in it which would be interesting.

Here’s the home recording I did of Northern Painting. Which completes the 3rd phase of the Coathanger Trail.

Northern Painting

Categories
fire music

giving fire

playing with fire is a piece of music I wrote – a simple piece of 3 cycling chords (Ebmaj7 Abmaj11 Gmaj7). That’s all there is to it apart from one final B diminished type thing at the end. It has a floaty feel and doesn’t really go or get anywhere except in a sort of peripatetic picaresque sort of way. I’ve come up with a few pieces with the same sort of thing in mind over the last few years, but this is the only one properly recorded. When I first wrote it (at the start of 2010 I think) Laura and I played it live quite a few times and it generally seemed to have a bit of a buzz about it. But by the time we did this recording we hadn’t played it so much which didn’t help. Actually the worst thing was that I cracked my head 3 days before the recording session and I wasn’t quite up to the vocal demands required. Still it doesn’t sound too bad and works in a soundtracky fashion which is ideal for accompanying some moving images.

The picture we burn is by my friend Rod Henderson. He gave it to me a long time ago. The last time I moved house I rang him up and said, look Rod, I’ve got this old picture of yours and I’m trying to minimise my possessions, it’s a bit scrappy and faded now – do you want me to send it you? After a moment’s thought he said no, that I could get rid of it, but to do it in a memorable way. The film is the result of that.

I feel I’m not selling it too well. But perhaps that’s the best way. Build it up to be complete shite and then when you get to listen to it, it’s not that bad. I mean what causes streamlets to meander anyway? Declination? Glacialisation? Or just subtle sublimation maybe.

guitar, vocals * rob vasey
bass guitar, vocals * laura lambell
drums & percussion * paul wigens
tenor saxophone * tom ranby