The trip to the US is over, the two big gigs that I was hoping to draw inspiration from are now only memories, albeit very fresh ones. Essentially, I am one month and a week or so into the 3 month timeframe that was allocated for the KOAS project and I did say that I would post an update.
So, how is it going? What has been done? What is to be done?
The answers to that being: “Not bad“; “Some very good progress has been made so far” and “still lots and lots!”
Firstly, the New York trip. I made a start on the music for The Fear Of Missing Out, but havent got as far with that as I would have hoped. There is something starting to emerge but there is a lot of work to do on it yet.
But where the most progress was made in the US was on The Last Dance. This was the one that I wanted to work on more than any other over there with the help of the family of musicians and although it came about in rather different circumstances to what I figured it would, it did come nonetheless. My uncle Angel played me an old Intensive Heat jam from 1975 called Elia from a rehearsal session which was written by him and one of my late father’s best friends, Paul Oves who was a vibraphone player.
It is difficult to describe and probably more difficult to believe that the tune that I had in my head for the last three years was more than close enough to a track that I’ve never heard before for it to be viable for me, with the permission of Angel to use for The Last Dance. Singing the vocal melody to him while the wav file of the track was being played proved that it was a viable chord structure to be used. So, all I have to do really is build the rest of the track and put down the vocal melody or find someone who can. And, I have someone in mind, if I’m not up to it. *grin*. All I’ve had to do is change the arrangement slightly. Its bordering on serendipitous and somewhat spooky that a song I’ve never heard would end up being 95%+ what I heard in my head three years ago and that wont go away. I’m absolutely not complaining though and believe that it will be a great track. I have 12 guitar takes from Angel at various stages of the track to be included in the finished song and it will be listed as a collaboration between Angel and I.
As I say, I would have liked to have achieved more in the time I was there but there was a lot of family duties to be done, including the Puerto Rican Day parade (1.4 million watching from the streets and 100,000 of us, including yours truly, marching down 5th Avenue for 30+ blocks. Surreal….) and other matters. So, all in all, two good steps forward, all things said and done.
On the return to the UK, it took me longer to decompress from jetlag than I’d thought after a particularly disappointing flight back from JFK. So, not much if anything done last week but the two big gigs that I hoped would bring inspiration did so in spade loads.
Firstly Heart – Apart from learning why I dont drink sodas any more (long story), the gig was a total pleasure. Ann’s voice is still in great shape and the Albert Hall, as ever, is the perfect venue. Even when you’re closer to the ceiling than the stage, the sound is still great, the view, though distant is still perfectly adequate. And her voice filled the whole hall.
And as for Carole King and Don Henley yesterday in Hyde Park in London – apart from a really annoying contingent of people who just wouldnt stop talking during Henley’s performance (my pet hate, I’m afraid. Cant understand people who spend lots of money buying tickets to an event and then figure that their own conversation is more important than the artists performance… it drives me nuts) – this was an unforgettable show. Carole, at 74, one of the greatest songwriters of the last 50 years, was so full of energy and passion and as my closest friend remarked, honesty – its impossible not to love what she does. I did figure that when I bought the tickets on Artist Pre-sale that this would be a one off and the last chance to get to see her at all, let alone to hear the whole of the landmark Tapestry album in full – but it dawned on me very heavily that once the show was over, that was it.
This was something we were never going to get to see again, especially not in the UK.
It truly was a one off show and thats why I was determined not to miss it. And, the sights and sounds of 62000 people singing along, and when we were leaving Hyde Park, there were groups of guys and girls, just clumps of five or eight of them at a time, just all singing Will You Love Me Tomorrow or You Got A Friend, at the tops of their voices, singing their hearts out, filled so full with joy at what they had just experienced – I’ve never seen that in London before. I saw something similar in Wales about a decade ago, leaving the Millennium stadium after seeing The Eagles, but the Welsh are different in that respect, they always have a song in their hearts. London on the other hand… I’ve never seen this before and it is going to be one of the most enduring memories of the day. Wonderful and definitely inspiring.
Aside from that, my dear friend and collaborator Robert and I worked on a number of tracks for the KOAS project between the shows over the last weekend. Amongst these were Doesnt Matter Now (which I have been stuck on for quite a while and some progress was made there, but still a lot to do) and more significant progress was made on The Wishing Game (which has vocal and keyboard guides down on disk now – it wont take long for the rest of the track to come together) and also music that Robert had originally worked out for a song called Escape From The Shadows which didnt fit the original lyrics – these lyrics were used to great effect by David Barnes in a totally new track which worked very very well. This version shares the same name, but that is about it. All the lyrics that I’ve been writing for it are completely different and the track is anticipated to have quite a New Order/Talk Talk kind of feel – sort of 80’s/electronica. They’re great chords so I hope my lyrics can do it justice.
The 2016 BASCA Songwriting Camp in Monnow Valley is coming up next long weekend, so its now a case of building up and maintaining momentum now. There is still an awful lot to do and time is slipping by.
I need to do more… I must do more. And I will do more.
I will keep you all posted. Its an interesting journey, thats for certain.