Without You

“Take the last train to Clarksville
Now I must hang up the phone
I can’t hear you in this noisy railroad station all alone
I’m feeling low
Oh, no, no, no
Oh, no, no, no
And I don’t know if I’m ever coming home…”
©Tommy Boyce/Bobby Hart, 1966

Another track that I thought had been written up on here, but alas not. And, lyrically, it is one that I’m very proud of so in reality, it should have been put up a long time ago.

It was written on a Saturday afternoon at the 2015 BASCA Summer Songwriting Retreat at Monnow Valley with a very talented collaborator called Jess Slowen. Great piano player and a fine voice and also hailing from my home town of Coventry.

It came about as part of an assignment, as a lot of the songs written on these retreats were, from a tip sheet. We saw something referring to what turned out to be like a German version of The Shires but a bit darker and rockier and more…. well, for want of a better phrase teutonic. With darker hair and beards and stuff, LOL.

Anyway…. we basically built a scenario or a story around an idea, essentially storyboarding it like a short film; concept being that the camera follows a woman leaving a house and getting into a taxi. Nobody knows why. Who she is leaving, why she is leaving, where she is going, only that she is leaving a house with a small suitcase and thinking about her decision, whether it was the right one. The camera follows her to a station where she keeps on looking behind her, but going on her way, checking her phone, getting on her train, finding her seat and then looking out of the window as the train pulls away, again, wondering if she’s done the right thing.

Camera then cuts away and comes towards her from behind through the vestibule of the carriage, but we dont see who until the camera pulls back and reveals the person she left who couldnt bear to let her go and knew his place was beside her.

Sorry, I should have given a spoiler alert there. What I like about this is the imagery and the wordplay, how it suggests urgency but without hurrying, how it is observational without being cluttered, how it lets the listener into the mind of the protagonist without being overly dramatic and how it is a complete three minute story.

Most of all though, its that second chorus. It keeps the same vocal melody as the first one, but without blowing my own trumpet, I think its one of the best lyrics I’ve ever written as it says whats going on and what the protagonist is thinking in the clearest, most direct terms. I love it to bits. Jess’s piano part, her vocal melody and her voice brings it properly to life beautifully.

The middle eight incidentally, was meant to be sung by a man, but at the time was a part I wasnt able to deliver and another collaborator of mine wasnt able to put down. So, Jess sang it instead. Its the part where he realises he’s let the main character go without much of a fight and has been thinking more about himself rather than the decision she had faced. Luckily, he comes to his senses in time.

Without You

Verse1/
Caught the last cab to the station
Didnt want to leave, but you already knew that
Trying to deny my isolation, but its no consolation
That you’re not here with me

Ch/
One last look at this place I can see every face
Without you
One more dream, so it seems I’m the one who will leave
Without you

Without you

Verse 2/
Take my chance of a lifetime, give me a lifeline
You know you wanted to.
Now I’ve got time for reflection, to pray for intervention like I never knew

Ch/
One last look at my phone while I stand on my on my own
Without you
One more wish left to use and you’re what I would choose,
Just you…

Middle8
I made a promise and I couldnt face a single day without you here
When I saw your taxi pull away, the rest was clear
No reason to hide
I need you by my side

Verse 3/
I look at my reflection in the window, where will my dreams go without you?
Trying not to think about tomorrow, another day will follow, just like they always do
I close my eyes and I wonder why I can feel you here
I always knew I could count on your love to make everything clear…

©Music by Jess Slowen, Lyrics by Steve McCarthy-Hunt, 2015

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