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Well, the album project that I referred to in my last blogpost has got slightly firmer dates around it. I leave my current professional obligation no later than the 1st June 2016 and hope to start work on the project at the earliest opportunity after that.

I’m also going to be spending some time in New York – two weeks – with the US family and am hoping to take my portable Cubase rig with me along with a basic USB interface, a USB key controller and probably a USB Midi Wind Controller and a spare hard drive. Hand luggage is going to end up being quite chunky as a result, but I’m sure it will be OK.

The plan is that I will record over there and ask my uncle’s friends to take part as well, particularly in some of the tracks that need other musicians or skills that I do not have – he and his friends were all professional session musicians in the late 60’s and into the 70’s and 80s and are tight, resourceful, inventive players. I may also continue to write over there as well and see whether my adopted hometown of New York can inspire me further. I sincerely hope that it does.

While it is not enough time to record both entire albums, it is enough to make a serious dent in proceedings. It would be looking a gift horse in the mouth not to ask my uncle and our friends not to be involved. And on the return from New York, I am due to go to two landmark gigs (by my standard anyway) – Heart and the Royal Philarmonic Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall on the 29th June and Carole King in Hyde Park on the 3rd July.

The Carole King concert is one that I’m particularly excited about as she is most definitely on my bucketlist of inspirational writers to see while I still can and I’m in no doubts whatsoever, that this is going to be my last chance to see her play. And the fact that she not only is going to be playing Tapestry in full, but also has Don Henley as a guest, is just icing on top of a fabulous cake. No way on this earth I’m going to miss it. And hopefully, these two great shows will help to sustain and develop the musical inspiration at a point in time where I’m going to need it the most.

So. It is possible that my current professional engagement may finish earlier than June 1st, but if that is the case, it just means that the project starts sooner. That is OK, I have no problem with that.

I promise I’ll keep you all posted, every step of the way.

Stay

“From the very first moment I saw you
That’s when I knew all the dreams I held in my heart
Had suddenly come true

Knock me over stone cold sober
Not a thing I could say or do
‘Cos baby when I’m walking with you now
My eyes are so wide

Like you reached right into my head

And turned on the light inside
Turning on the light  inside my mind”

© David Gray, “Be Mine”, from the album “A New Day At Midnight“, 2003

This is another early work from 2013, which has a story behind it.

It was written in the achingly beautiful hamlet of Limone Sul Garda in Italy in February 2013 in a hotel room. I had flown out to Verona and driven up to the tiny village where my wife’s ashes had been scattered 12 months previous (except I was a month early for the anniversary of it. Yes, I did realise that but not until I’d booked the airline ticket! The kind of simple, dumb error that I’m used to making, but one that had more positive consequences than I expected).

The town was very much out of season, deserted apart from a few locals and I was probably the only tourist around. It certainly felt like it. I guess it was like a pilgrimage, a final way of saying goodbye, a way of validating or confirming that the long road trip that I had made twelve – or rather, eleven! – months earlier was the right thing.

Only for it to dawn on me, when I got there and visited the place where her ashes were for me to realise that her earthly remains were no longer there – ashes to ashes, dust to dust – and for me to think “wait… what the hell am I doing here?“… and that I was stuck there for another two days before I could leave and go back to Verona to fly home.

Add to that, I couldn’t get the TV in the hotel room to work, wifi only worked in reception of this gasthaus, so I really was kinda marooned in this most beautiful place in Italy but with no real reason for being there any more. Thank heaven I bought my trusty grey A5 lyric book with me and a functioning pen, because the ideas came together pretty quick, lyrically.

The music came later and it took a while to put the two together. What I had was another series of royalty free MIDI piano loops and there were two phrases in particular that stuck out which left me thinking “these phrases are just too beautiful, too expressive to be free. I have to do something with this”. The phrasing almost brought to mind a cinematic theme accompanying a long view from a balcony sweeping over the neon lit skies of Manhatten Island at night, before walking into a ballroom lit by chandeliers, full of people. It might sound a bit odd, but I found this simple piano phrase very evocative.

And I couldn’t think of anything for weeks and weeks and weeks. And, then along came an idea to give it some sort of latin percussion backing and to follow the piano chords with a nylon string guitar track. This immediately gave it the backbone and the structure to hang the lyrics from.

It has existed in demo form since 2013 and while it is OK in the form that it is in as an instrumental, by the same token, its not quite there yet (I still havent got the resolving chords for the Middle 8) and the original piano motif is kinda suffocated by the rhythm track and the guitar. So, it will further evolve and change again and it will be part of the KOAS project also slated to be included in the tracklist for No Expectations.

Musically, its a kind of mish-mash of Simply Red’s For Your Babies and Propaganda’s Murder Of Love. An very odd combination, I grant you that, but when you hear it, it makes sense. Honest, it does.

Stay

Verse1/
Its late in the evening and you’re still in my head
I’m trying to sleep, too tired to weep
I should have stayed at home instead
I’m reaching out for the bottle to keep you on my mind
Cant seem to think about anything else to try and fill my time

I just flew in today
Not knowing what to say
I’ve waited all year to see you so you could guide me on my way

Chorus/
Stay with me, baby
Stay with me tonight
Stay with me, baby…
Verse 2/
I’m tired of getting older without you by my side
I wait each day for the sun to shine and give you one last smile
Never be too late now that all I’ve got is time
Nothing else can take your place in my arms so open wide

But these clouds are closing in
Its a fight that I cant win
Tonight, my love, will you shine so bright
And save me from this mess I’m in?

Chorus/
Stay with me, baby
Stay with me tonight
Stay with me, baby…

Middle 8/
Just when I’ve learned to love you,
I’ve had to learn to let you go
Just stay here one more night…

Verse 3/solo first half
Second half of verse:

Every single step, I feel your hand right there in mine
Dont walk away from my dreams now darling
Just stay with me and shine…

Chorus to fade

© Words & Music, Steve McCarthy-Hunt 2013