“….I’m writing to reach you
But I might never reach you
I long to teach you about you
But that’s not you
Do you know it’s true
And that won’t do….”
(c) Fran Healy, “Writing To Reach You” from the album “The Man Who“, 2000.
This is an early one from 2012/13, that I thought long and hard about posting as it is a bit unusual. Not unusual in that it is probably one of the rawest songs that I’ve ever written, but in the musical concepts that accompanied it – this was one of those very unusual things for me where the music came before the lyrics. The music itself was built from a series of royalty free MIDI piano loops that were assembled into longer phrases and from that point, the song began to take shape.
Its also very unusual in that the musical concept around is “imagine if Jim Steinman had written a Meatloaf/Back Into Hell style track for Peter Skellern”. The late Skellern, some of you may remember was more of an easy listening performer-cum-Cabaret artist & TV composer from the the early 70’s, best remembered for a top 3 hit, You’re A Lady, which had quite a bit of choral backing… and it was that vocal style that somehow seemed to be the sound that I thought would be appropriate for this. A rock voice would be too grandiose and not really dark enough and if there is one thing that this track is at its heart, its dark. Really dark.
The pomposity and grandiosity of the music, with its three different phases, its swooping string passages, heavy harmonised guitars and intricate bass and piano arpeggios towards the end suit the feel of the track – its meant to be intense, its meant to be over the top and slightly melodramatic. But the Meatloaf style chestbeating lyrical delivery I dont think would have suited it.
For as much as the music generates the heat and the intensity, the vocal either brings, or shows up the lack of, light. Steinman’s style of rock writing is meant to be slightly tongue in cheek whereas, without being disparaging to him, this wasnt meant to have that feel.
The words are few, but powerful and need to be taken in the context of the music itself. It describes how since I was widowed that I am never far apart from a notebook where I can capture my lyrical ideas (true to this day) and also that once it had happened that I couldnt stay in what was the family house any longer. It just had too many memories and not all of them good and every day (in a living room where you had to be dead to have your picture on display) was energy sapping and not helping the healing process. It describes isolation, it describes the thoughts about life being short and transitory and fleeting; It ponders on darker things than that which should be quite obvious at first glance.
So, Let It Go was always conceived to be the darker relative, the illegitimate offspring of You’re A Lady and I’d Do Anything For Love – a multi-part epic. Its also unusual in that its lyrics are all in the middle of the song, book-ended by solos and orchestration (which is where the comparison to I’d Do Anything For Love comes in – although this is a similar concept to Manhattan Lullaby.
Most of the rest of it is self explanatory, except for the coda. The “candles all around me, going out like streetlights” refers to lighting a small candle in a church in memory of those who are passed. The inference is that each candle represents a soul or a life. For those lights (and therefore souls or people around you that you love) to be snuffed out or turned off like streetlights, where the loss of light – and by extension, life – is sudden if experienced and seen and always catches you out when you dont expect it.
I lost both my wife and my father within 12 months of each other and this allegory seemed to be a way of giving it form or shape. The last lines are also pretty much self explanatory too – if you leave this world, too young, too early, you’ll always be this young for the rest of all time. Fate has kind of denied you the privilege of growing old and you will forever be the age that you were when you departed this world.
At least this way, by committing the lyrics to paper, it got them out of my head and was at least for a while, cathartic.
I’m hoping that this is going to end up on a future album project; The guitar parts could do with being done by a professional, the current Work In Progress version needs remixing and needs a vocal, but apart from that, the basis of the track is finished. Almost.
It IS going to end up on an album project, specifically the No Expectations one. Also, the lyrics have been re-written from what they were. The old lyrics I have removed and the new ones that will be on the final album cut are below.
Let It Go
Outside the house
Under your window
So many photographs and memories in my head
Time to leave here
Can’t turn around now
Got to leave this town not live among the dead
Let it go (x4)
Leaving this house
Where it all still lingers
Past the corner of the street where we first met
It hurts to remember
But its far far too important to forget
Let it go (x4)
The darkness at night just leaves me in dark places
Echos of you are on there on every wall
Handcuffed to fate and a hostage to my own thoughts
Now theres no you I dont want no one at all
Let it go (x4)
Candles all around me going out like streetlights
Every day gets darker
Nothing left to fight for or hold onto
Only what I can remember
Though you’re gone too young, remember
You’ll always be this young forever…
(c) Steve McCarthy-Hunt words & music, 2013/2017