This is going to be a long post, but I've got a lot to say on this, it's a beaut of a video and my favourite song that I've ever been part of making.
Why is this song my favourite on the record? There are multiple reasons.
1. What it's about. It's actually one of those vague lyrics where people can interpret however they like (which is slightly odd for me, i'm normally a lot more direct), but the concept came from the idea that I read about in Amanda Palmer's book where she talks about what it's being like being a human statue. She describes the connections that she would have with complete strangers and she felt like there were so many people out there who just wanted to be "seen" - we live in a lonely world despite the fact that there are 7+ billion of us. A connection with an artist or performer can therefore be a powerful thing.
When I started out as a musician, social media wasn’t a thing. As a music fan you had no way of getting information about the people you loved, unless it was in a press statement or interview, and there was definitely a “them” and “us” thing going on. I was fully hoping to be one of the "them" but then the world changed, and in truth I was probably never good enough to become a proper star like we used to have. The internet allowed me to create something small and actually be able to play my own music to people. It took me a while to accept and embrace that this is what it is, and how much of a beautiful thing it is. I'm one of the few people who operates on this level who hasn't had some kind of big support tour or lucky break on TV or radio. I've just done it by making connections, either in gig queues or house shows or directly online. There have been a few small support gigs, but not on a level much bigger than what I operate in myself and often with audiences who aren't really after a face for radio older singer/songwriter who doesn't care about fashion. I couldn't be happier about where my career is though nor could I have ever expected to have made the amount of friends that I have done from doing it.
The plus side of this is that when I've had my darker moments (which actually haven't been that bad compared to what some people go through, but it's all relative), I've had this massive support network. One of these moments is actually captured in the video. I'm backstage in Manchester holding a cake with my logo on made by the wonderful Deborah M Furnell. Rather unusually i had my headphones in. Just before soundcheck i'd received some bad news and my head was all over the place, but i still had to do the show and because it's a self promoted thing, I had a lot of jobs to do, some of which involved walking through the venue, which normally wouldn't be a problem, but I really just wanted to be in my own headspace. So i put some music on and put my head down, tentatively saying hello to the early arrivals but making it clear that I was busy. Deb caught my eye and I quickly when over and she handed me this box. I took it backstage and opened it up and couldn't believe what she had done for me. At that moment, that kindness and gesture completely turned me around, and was the start of me getting myself back into my A game for when I was onstage.
The other side of all of this is that I've been exposed to people's problems and life issues which i wouldn't have otherwise been exposed to. I've seen people go through serious issues and tribulations with such grace and strength that I've been able to learn so much about life and what it's all about beyond what I have in my own little bubble. Although i'd rather not see anyone go through bad times, it's a part of life, and I thank people for sharing their stories with me, be that in person or just by posting about them online.
We all have our demons, and through meeting so many great people just by playing songs for a living, i've learnt so much about how to deal with mine and have a support network I never thought i would.
2. The music. Musically this was such a satisfying song for me. From the moment i first played the riff on the guitar, i knew i was onto something. I love the time signature change in the middle, and the "openness" of the chord sequence. The melody is very satisfy too and I believe that it's my strongest ever vocal performance, even though the first long note is probably out of tune (technically, but i still think it sounds great).
I recorded a very very basic demo of the track, featuring just an acoustic guitar, after the second chorus, there was just the rhythm guitar, but I could hear exactly how I wanted it to sound, and how big it would get. Although the band got there and made it better than i had envisaged. It was the last song we recorded in the studio. I made them listen to some Led Zeppelin beforehand, and then we jammed it out. It came together really quickly. Adam Kury's bass line absolutely kicks butt. I love how he just holds the drone and we move around on top of him. Jared Sandhy's groove is spot on to. I've got the video of us recording and the restraint he has when we get big is quite special. It's big an epic, but he doesn't overplay, allowing the drums to do the work. Kevin Haaland's guitar parts completely destroy me. He has an ear like other picking out melodies that no one else would. We then made use of a little home made tin can instrument which was in the studio. It was just an ornament, but Kevin found a way of using it!
When we left the studio I actually thought the song was finished. It sounds so full, but then chance played it's part. Dean (my producer) and I had discussed getting a fiddle in on a few tracks to give the album that proper Nashville sound. Except we were out of money and we couldn't find a fiddle player who was available at the right time. I then met up with my friends Ann and Phil to go to Broadway (the high street of Nashville), for a day of drinking, catching up and live music (every building is a bar (or honky tonk) with three floors and live music on every floor from 11am until late). The first bar we walked in had a band playing and the fiddle player was insane. Do you know when you see someone that is that talented you fall in love a little bit? yeah that. I found her on facebook and asked if she'd be up for playing and how much. Very kindly, Ann and Phil gave me the money to be able to play her.
Deena Bistodeau came into our little airbnb a few days later on my last day in Nashville. One year ago today in fact. Dean and I were both a little nervous, we didn't really know her and she was coming into a house rather than studio which isn't the most professional of environments. Dean made me make the coffee, and i nearly broke the coffee machine, so that didn't happen. Then Deena saw that there was whiskey on the side and the bond was made.
What she played on the five tracks is incredible, but her work on this just blows me away. The fiddle solo, which was just going to be a nice slow quiet build to the final chorus is breathtaking. I get a tear come to my eye every time I hear it.
Despite only spending a few hours together that day, Deena has become one of my closest friends, and I know that everyone who saw her in November was blown away with her talent.
3. This video does more justice to this song than I ever thought a video could. I told Nick to get footage of us playing on the album release tour and get profile videos of people at the gigs to use. The way he made it all come together is insane, and it's so great to have so many of the incredible people who have come into my life (which is what the song is about!) in this video, as well as some really old friends and my dad!
I absolutely love this song and I love this video. I hope you do too.