Growing Wild

In January 2015 I set a new years resolution to finish my album in 2015.

I started writing the songs for this album when we moved to the little house by the woods back in 2010. I wrote these songs walking in the woods and fields, and in central London where I was working. Many of the songs were recorded in the shed, complete with woodburning stove:

As always life got in the way, we moved from our little house in 2013 and the songs sat unloved for a few years. This year I wanted to set them free. I had hoped to have more time to polish them, but the deadline is 2015. There were also sadly a number of songs that didn’t make it. In the spirit of “done is better than perfect”, my “new” album, Growing Wild is now available on Bandcamp.

 

I say “I”, but Rebekah wrote one of the songs.

Vote for me

A few weeks ago I entered a busking competition. I did this song which in hindsight was probably a mistake as it’s so quiet and no-one knows it, but never mind.I should have done some cheesy beatles cover but never mind. Please give me a sympthy vote!

I worked out a system for what songs would work well to busk:

  1. If I like it
  2. If Alan Partridge likes it

That’ll be lots of Kate Bush then!

Don’t forget to vote:

http://www.london.gov.uk/rhythmoflondon/showcase-events/busking/busker.jsp?ref=ajtR5ViwcjY

2 new old songs

I have been working on little bits of hundreds of songs for ages, but riding always got in the way. Since I have not been riding for a while I have had a chance to finish some of them. They are on myspace and have 0 listens, which is mildly embarrasing.

Both of them are about 4 or 5 years old, but just never really got finished, so I am glad that they are done now, even if the recording quality is terrible. If you can bear my voice then you might like to listen, but I know it’s not good so I won’t hold it against you.

Where were you?

So the bike seems to be working out alright. One of the results of moving was that I sorted out all my CDs and put most of them onto iTunes. This week I rediscovered this little gem. Badly Drawn Boy is such a hit and miss artist, but this song is so good. I only found it because this single was really cheap. I wonder if he has any other good songs hidden away?

Here is a live version. Probably best to just listen 😉

Singing in an accent

I don’t like it when people affect accents when they sing. They should sing with their voice not someone elses. I guess there are exceptions to this, if you are doing a character, but aside from that I think putting on an accent, especially an american one is bad. This is one reason why Kate Nash annoys me – when you hear her speak she is very public school but as soon as she sings she’s a cockney. What’s going on there. Mike Skinner (from The Streets) is another interesting one. He is from the West Midlands but he raps with a London accent, apart from the odd word (like “dance” in “Let’s Push Things Forward”).

Some people argue that singing with an accent is natural and makes it easier to sing. I don’t agree, it’s just habit. This is what Joni Mitchell has to say on the subject:

I find a lot of black affectations irritating. White singers sounding like they come from deep Georgia, you know? It always seems ridiculous to me. It always seemed to me that great singer – now we’re talking about excellence, not popularity – but a great singer would sing closer to his or her own speaking voice. (from here)

Selling Songs

I can’t exactly work out why but I feel quite uncomfortable when I find out that songs by people I like are written directly about very personal events in their life. Today I was reading the lyrics for I Never Asked To Be Your Mountain by Tim Buckley which was written about his son Jeff and his mother. On the one hand they are really great words, but I feel really uncomfortable that he puts this song on an album and uses it to sell records.

Another example is Brick by Ben Folds Five, which is about when his girlfriend had an abortion. Again, I love the song, but I just feel that it isn’t appropriate to sell this song to make money and get recognition.

It’s not that I don’t think you should write songs about this stuff – quite the opposite in fact, I think you should write about things that are personal to you. Also I don’t have a problem with people selling their songs normally.

Regina Spektor is a really interesting example of someone who writes songs with really good stories but they aren’t based directly on her life. I am sure she uses her experiences to write, but it’s (at least) one step removed. She says:

“I think that it’s more exciting to use my imagination or explore other people’s lives rather than sit there and write about my own rather limited life,” she said. “It’s much more gratifying to me.”

She admits, however, that songwriting is a very personal art, and that over the course of time it would be impossible to write music from a completely objective point of view”

I don’t know, maybe I am just being hypersensitive or something. I guess it’s similar to people who sell their diaries and autobiographies. Feels like selling your soul.