Its been a while since my last post; lots been going on, but unfortunately the pace of getting things done has moved away from the writing and more towards the production side of things (MIDI editing, quantising, etc) which I always knew would be very time consuming. The thing is though, for the material to be of album release quality, as opposed to just demo “My Ears Only” quality, it means that a lot of care needs to be taken over virtually every single note, every single patch choice, vst, plugin….particularly when one leans as heavily on the technology as I do.

So, the last two months have seen a lot of progress made on some tracks (especially with the upgrade to Cubase 9 which has improved workflow even more), however millimetric it may seem to be. And, although I hoped that I would never do it, especially after having admonished my closest musical collaborator for doing it a few years ago, was rewriting lyrics. Some of the songs (and I cant believe I’m saying it!) were lyrically a bit too dark and I think I needed to move away from that. So:

Let It Go has been rewritten lyrically and is now in its most advanced state yet – four guitar parts, bass lines, synth lines, strings, all been rewritten, re-played and re-arranged. It is now much closer to my original Steinman/Skellern vision, which I’m very happy with. All it needs now, truthfully is the vocals adding and mixing.

Five Years (itself a re-write) has had a lot done to it as well which is somewhat odd for such a sparse track and again only needs three musical parts doing to it – a 70’s string machine part and a guitar e-bow line, and vocals.

Fear Of Missing Out and Elia/Last Dance have been almost finished to the point of just needing vocals.

Escape From The Shadows is in quite an advanced state – I had hoped for something closer to New Order‘s True Faith in its overall feel, but it seems to be dragging itself more into a combination of that feel but transported into the late 1990s instead. I’m letting it pull me in the direction I think it wants me to go in, but I’m not totally sure exactly where it is going to end up….yet.

Oh yes. Elia. The Last Dance doesnt really exist any more, the track is now Elia and the lyrics have been rewritten to fit into the kind of vibe that my uncle and the rest of Intensive Heat wrote in the 1970s and only the phrase “one last dance” remains from the original. I have considered rewriting Last Dance musically, closer to what I originally wanted but couldnt find, but maybe thats just me being a masochist, chasing an uncatchable butterfly purely because I can.

Manhattan Lullaby has been lyrically rewritten as well (much less maudlin as a result) and I’m about to rewrite the lyrics of Accidental Love. I have been kinda happy with Accidental up to now, anyway, but… for it even to be a proper album track that I’m going to be happy with, it is going to need a different focus as I’m starting to think its a little disjointed and at the moment is dependent on soloing and wise-arsed word play… at the moment, it depends on a musical focus that I’m not totally convinced I can offer. It needs a little something else…

And, in the coming weeks, I am hoping that the addition of a proper brushes library for Superior Drummer will allow me to make more progress on Manhattan Lullaby, Castles In The Sky, Doesnt Matter Now, No Getting Over You, Stay and the other jazzy tracks and to get them to have the space and dynamics that they need and deserve.

The entire project is taking an awful lot longer than what I thought it would. But I always knew that it would be a journey of discovery and it would place some big challenges in my path. Even with the much reduced commute, fitting it in amongst domestic and professional commitments is proving to be the biggest challenge I have had. As I’ve hinted at before, sometimes I’ve wondered if the fire had gone out altogether (particularly when trying to rewrite/re-record Dont Turn Away, which I threw several days at but it just wouldnt, wouldnt work, no matter what I tried, which was a bitter pill to swallow, considering how long it has been in gestation. I think I might have to leave that one to someone else to do instead, which is a pity but.. *shrugs* shit happens.

There have been moments where it has sailed close to the wind and I’ve wondered what the hell I’m doing this for, but this project is too far gone to pack it in now. I’m hoping to get more inspiration to get back into continue to developing more new lyrics, but there are already plenty of others that I’ve got that could still be rewritten and redeveloped – Tomorrow Too Soon, Birds and Butterflies, Another Day – all are germs of ideas in their first draft stage that could be developed into something.

Plenty to be getting on with then, over the coming months while the professional/work situation becomes more stable. The biggest part of me wishes (like you wouldnt believe how much) that I could find the energy to charge at it with a real head of steam and get it done, but I dont think thats the way it wants to go.

One thing I’ve learned about this art in the few short years I’ve been doing it is that you cant force it, no matter how much you might want to. If you do, it will not only suck, but deep down in your heart you’ll know it too, even if no one else does – and that is something that I would venture that I’m far from alone in not being comfortable with. I would prefer to put this out when I know that I have done my absolute best and cannot have done any more, that I cannot have put any more of my own soul, my own feel, my own blood, sweat and tears into it. Not because I forced it.

Just as well I dont do this for a living up against real deadlines, eh?


Five Years

“…And now it’s all over,
You’ve paid your money and you’ve taken your choice
And I don’t know if we’ll ever meet again
But…. I just wanted you to know
I remember every…. single… thing….”

© Cocker/Banks/Mackey/Senior/Doyle/Webber, “Disco 2000” from the album Different Class, 1995.

Just before I make a return to my day job for a while in order to sustain my procrastinated passion (thanks Dad, at least I know where I got it from), I’ve decided to rewrite the lyrics to The Wishing Game.

While I was relatively content with them as they were, I wasn’t convinced that my collaborative partner Robert’s music really suited them and had thought for a while that I could find something better for the minimalist melody that he came up with. Well, that was nearly three months ago and it has taken a while for inspiration to arrive.

In fairness there has been quite a lot going on around here what with devoting time to getting back into work before I end up in penury, giving an old friend somewhere to run to temporarily when his world and his routine came to a grinding halt and the re-emergence, albeit somewhat temporarily, of someone important from my recent past who I never thought I would see again. And it is that person who has inspired these lyrics.

The goal for this track is still to be a song that has a feel very much like George Michael’s A Different Corner – although its three times as long nearly (weighing in at 5 minutes plus)  it is quite minimal in its sonic soundscape, giving the lyrics room to breathe but with a simple softer melody that couches lyrics that are anything but soft. Reflective, yes. Somewhat regretful, yes. Maybe some might say harsh in places. Well, maybe they are.

To explain: Five Years is basically about how I felt about someone right now as they unexpectedly came back in and almost immediately out again of my life, right this moment as I type, five years after one of my most important anniversaries  to the day. Its kind of akin to burning a bridge that someone is in the middle of rebuilding, even though you never asked them to – and wishing that you didn’t have to, but knowing that deep down, there was not really any other option.

As the lyric implies, despite all that has happened, ultimately I was still the wrong man for her, for a plethora of reasons. And, whenever we touched or kissed, I knew it deep down, as well. Some things you can’t hide, no matter how well you think you can.  Some of the lines I had already, but most of them have come about over the last 2-3 weeks in isolation, but in the knowledge that they’d fit together when the time came, because they were borne from the same subject matter about the same person.

Anyway. For a change, I digress. The track itself, is almost finished. Melody, bassline, rhythm part, arrangement, everything bar the vocals and some other overdubs (maybe synth or sax or strings). Will it make it onto one of the KOAS project albums? Arguably it will. Its likely to be on No Expectations instead of Never Be Mine as the closing track.


Five Years

So now we can’t even talk on the telephone
How did I become so jaded with you?
Maybe I’ve spent too much time here on my own
To think I needed anybody new

So now you reached out, right out of the blue
Could you tell that I’d been thinking about you?
I should have known some things were too good to be true…

Its nearly five years since I caught your eye
Wouldn’t have made it, if it wasn’t for you
Learning to live with watching my best friend die
And I was lost but you knew just what to do…

But when you said you can’t do this any more
I didn’t fight it, I just walked out of your door
Did you really think I’d ever come back for more…?

Why are you back, just like a long lost pet?
Did you think I’m as good as you were ever going to get
But you tell yourself you haven’t sunk that low just yet….

All of those battles fought over old ground
You spend my time and drink my money all over the town
We think we’ve both changed, but is that really true?
I’m still the wrong man for you.


Skin warm like gold, but a cold heart just like steel
I fell out of your hands and under your heels
And just like the last time you said it was over
You thought I’d still be thinking of you.

Maybe its my turn to decide
Not to follow you so blind this time
Maybe its you who should be left alone wondering why…

Maybe it proves I’m right not to trust you yet
Because when I kiss you, its clear that you’re not pissed enough yet
How do you churn me up inside when I thought there was nothing left…?

Tomorrow its five years since I last looked in her eyes
Life wasn’t easy, but at least I know I tried
Despite the wounds and all the sacrifice
Through it all I still think about you…


©Words by Steve McCarthy-Hunt, Music by Robert Pearce, 2016

Whats New?

Its been nearly three weeks since my last review and look-back at what has been going on with writing and recording. So, I figured that now was as good a time as any to bring you up to date with what has been happening.

To get one thing out of the way first, there hasnt been any new lyric writing over the last 14 days or so. Most of the energy has gone into recording and composing.

As I hinted at, during my previous update there are a number of tracks that for a while didnt appear to be going anywhere that have found a new lease of life. These include:

Elia/The Last Dance – now in a very advanced state. Most of the core tracks are in place and all that remains to be done on it are some overdubs and vocals. I feared that this one was getting bogged down because of the complex arrangement that was required to make it all work. That bridge has been crossed and for the most part all of the component parts sit together quite well, but not quite there yet.

Castles In The Sky – likewise. The core tracks and the arrangement are in place. Hardest bit to do is going to be the vocals and any solo parts – saxaphone and jazz guitar.

Doesnt Matter Now – chords and arrangement are completed, even has some guide vocals. Its likely to remain very sparse, as was the original intention. But at the moment, its maybe a little too sparse and requires some drum brushed parts and upright bass and a couple of solo spots for saxaphone and guitar. Its going to be one of those long songs that needs space and room to breathe and is very much going to be “less is more”, but I’m not quite sure what form that is going to take yet…

The Wishing Game – now this one, while I’ve managed to save the original music track that was written for it by my collaborator, Robert…. I’m not sure I can really save the lyrics. I have a feeling that this one may end up being re-appraised, lyrically. Musically, there is a definite passing resemblance to George Michael’s A Different Corner – this song may take a lyrical turn inspired by that, its a little early to say. I’ve not put the final arrangement on enough times yet to work out what that will be. I might have to try the Polly Samson trick of mixing the arrangement down to MP3, sticking on my iPod and going for a long, long walk with a notepad across the Wiltshire Downs and seeing what shakes out after a while. If it worked for her on Rattle That Lock, it can work for me too, I hope!

The Fear Of Missing Out – very advanced stage of production. Almost all of the music is complete. Saxaphone and brass stab parts were the last ones to go on, early last week. Just the vocals left and then mixing. Only thing is, its still maybe a little more “jazzy” than “funky” and while the Steely Dan influences are clear, its not really grooving yet. And while I’ll not be distraught if it doesnt, I’d be more satisfied with it if it did.

No Getting Over You – almost done, bar vocals and mixing. Again, this was one that had bugged me for a long time, but managed a growth spurt in the last month.

This Time – just guitars and vox left to go before mixing.

There is still a lot to be done and I’m still debating what to do with some of the other songs. Some may be put back into very deep storage, I haven’t decided yet.

These tracks include: Let It Go, Stars, Accidental Love, Stay and a couple of others. I’m inclined now to take the approach of composing the music first and then the lyrics, until inspiration rears its head again on a lyrical front, which it hasnt really done since Castles In The Sky came along nearly three months ago.

Theres also the fact that I may be moving house, depending on what full time work I end up in next (still very much open to fate) and also that I’ve had an unexpected house guest recently which may further complicate matters. Hopefully some further progress will be made over the late Summer Bank holiday, but… we shall see.

Use of the Arranger Track and Beat/Tempo Detect tools in Cubase has helped a lot in the last two weeks and has led to a couple of lightbulb moments (ie, “why the hell didnt I use this before?”) but I think also that there has been something in the Creative Energy thing I was chewing over a couple of weeks ago. The more I immerse myself in it, the more it helps.

I just have to make sure that I keep putting myself in the orbits of creative people, I guess.. *grin*

What does all this mean for the KOAS project? Well, I think its unlikely that we’ll see a double release of both London Road and No Expectations, as was originally planned and chances are, neither will happen until closer to Christmas or at least until the day job situation becomes clearer. No Expectations will definitely still happen, but London Road may end up being reduced to a four or six track EP, depending on how things go.

Anyway. Thats enough for now. Hopefully, the Bank Holiday will see some more real progress. More as it happens, when it happens.

See you all soon, I hope.



Latest Developments

“And they call you a genius
Cause you’re easier to sell… 
But the fire in your belly
That gave you the songs
Is suddenly gone
And you feel like a fake… 
Is that what you want?”

© Hogarth/Rothery/Trewavas/Kelly/Mosley, from the album Afraid Of Sunlight, 1995

As a certain footballer who may remain nameless was fond of saying “Its a funny old game…”

It certainly is. Nearly three weeks has gone past since my last update and I’m not going to deny that at that point, I was feeling somewhat jaded and wondering whether this project had any steam left in it. There have been some changes since then, I’m glad to say.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned recently is about energy and being around it and people who have it. What I mean by that is (stick with me, please!) it has dawned on me that if I am in the company of people who have the positive energy that I crave, that it tends to rub off, however briefly they may be in my orbit. This epiphany came when spending a weekend with the most inspirational person I know and her boyfriend. She has had mountains and obstacles to climb all of her life which would have floored a lesser person and she just doesn’t know the meaning of “Quit”. It is impossible not to look at her, to be in her company and not be inspired and to give yourself a good kick and tell yourself to pull your finger out.

And, that I did. I also have had some visits from some of my closest musical collaborators as well which has helped too – and it began to dawn on me that the fuel for the fire that I was searching for is actually the energy that these people give off, whether they be creatives or not. Until I find a way of developing and sustaining my own fire, being around these guys is a source of energy, whether it be positive or negative – it is still an energy source that I can channel and use. So, the lesson clearly is “I need to be around creatives more, go to more gigs and draw in all the inspiration and energy that these guys give off”. And I need to do it soon.

That might sound a bit New-Age-Hippie, but its the only explanation I can think of. And whatever it is, it appears to have worked and is still working. Better still not to question it or try and overanalyse it… just get on with it.

Add that to the other self-help lingo of “if you’re ever in doubt as to what you’re achieving, take a look behind you and see how far you’ve travelled down your path”. Which if you measure it in years or months is usually quite a good way of perking yourself up – but when you apply it to a three or four week period and it still raises your eyebrows, then its maybe time to think that the problem is my own impatience rather than anything structurally wrong.

I did say when I commenced this journey and gave up the day job that it would be a voyage of personal discovery. How very true that turned out to be.

There has been quite a lot of progress in the last 8 or 9 days

– the music for No Getting Over You, which has bugged me for the best part of two years (especially when I had the tune in my head all along) has finally dropped into my lap and the track is in a very advanced state of recording. Chords, arrangement, the lot.

– Another problem child, Doesnt Matter Now, which has been sitting around as a set of complete lyrics with a great story with only an intro for over a year is now, as of today, in a state where the rest of the instrumentation can be put on the track. It even has a vocal melody, which apart from maybe one or two lines in the entire song, it has never had before.

–  The Fear Of Missing Out, which when I last left Long Island nearly two months ago was just an intro and two first verse chords. Its now pretty much finished bar comping the guitar lines, adding vocals and mixing. Again, it just seemed to topple out over the course of 24 hours, very much against expectations.

– Likewise, Castles In The Sky is, as we speak, in development to the point where it has most of the instrumentation that it needs, it has its chords, its melody, its key components: From where, I know not, some sort of momentum has come and I’m very glad of it.

There remain a number of tracks deserving of priority attention that are in a state of partial build:

  • Elia/The Last Dance,
  • This Time,
  • Talk To Me,
  • Come Back To Me, Money,
  • An Accidental Love

At this rate there may well be enough to complete the No Expectations album.

Whether it will be these tracks that appear on it remains to be seen. But there is enough in an advanced state “in the can” for at least a couple of EP’s if nothing else.

So. Onwards and upwards.Repetition is the mother of skill, as one of my favourite life coaches is fond of saying.


I returned from the BASCA Monnow Valley writing retreat on Sunday night, about 12 hours before I was scheduled to do, but it was the right thing to do to slip away earlier than planned. My thought last year was that it would be the last one that I would do should realistically have been the one that I ought to have stuck to. Like last year my contribution as a writer was somewhat tangential and I spent most of it in a production capacity. The first twenty four hours ended up being written off after I found that I couldn’t really do anything with the combination of an elderly Romanian Jazz Piano Diva and a Polish ambient techno-metal/odd time signature composer (yes, really. Very challenging when they are the matches and the dynamite and you’re the oxygen. The next two rotations brought about two good tracks, with intelligent lyrics (Without You and Heroes) but while my storytelling and production contribution was valuable (approx. 50-60% in each case), my lyrical contribution was down in the mid to low 20%’s.

Which in itself would be fine had it been a “Production Retreat”. But it wasn’t. What I hoped would happen (capitalising on the energy of the other participants to capture some of that passion and energy for writing and creativity again that I could leverage for KOAS) didn’t really come to pass.

Our mentor was her usual irrepressible self (wouldnt have her any other way) with fabulous war stories and brought along another great professional writer to impart some wisdom and encouragement. Funnily enough, the road that he’s walked down to find himself where he is now is looking very similar to the one that I’m on. Lovely fella, experienced, wise and a great sharer of this recieved wisdom.

So…. (before I digress any further) combining that level of reduced participation with the lack of momentum since returning from the US on the KOAS project, it started to get quite mentally cloudy for a while. The thought did cross my mind as to whether the fire, the passion for writing songs had gone out altogether – and at some point, I would need to stop trying to light a fire that had limited fuel and was never going to catch and concentrate on going back into the day job and just accepting that maybe I had bitten off more than I could chew and that the project wasn’t going to be realised.

After all, I did say nearly four months ago that I wasn’t going to get a better chance to do this, that it meant a lot and that I should seize the opportunity while I had the money and health to do so.

Well, hand on heart, I cant say that I have seized the day. A lot of examination led me to rationalise that because most of the time I wrote over the last five years for catharsis, that because I have a different emotional attitude these days (dont ask) that maybe there are no more demons to be slain and no more catharsis is necessary. So, ergo, nothing really left to write about and where the older material is concerned, what is done is done and thats that, going back and revisiting it and raking it over isn’t really a good idea, on reflection.

36 hours later and not a huge amount has changed; there still doesn’t appear to be any real fire and I cant deny that I appear to be at a bit of a crossroads.

Do I stop writing full stop and just accept it that the whole thing of it was not so much the realisation of the goal but the journey to try and get there…?

Or do I try a different alternative… namely still have a goal of writing/producing/playing an album’s worth of material (meh, maybe even two, who knows), but dropping an awful lot of the material that while I am proud of it, by the same token is just too damned complicated, just too damned time consuming, energy sapping and to be frank, just too damned dark. Yes, I did just say that. So stuff like Let It Go, Stars, Never Be Mine, Stay, Manhattan Lullaby and others may well end up being canned and replaced by FOMO, Castles In The Sky, Doesnt Matter Now and others.

And writing different stuff instead that isn’t primarily for therapy. Who knows, maybe even starting with the music first and then seeing where that leads….?

What I do know is that if I continue to do nothing and stay stuck in this torpor of overthinking, thats exactly what will happen; Nothing. And that isn’t good.

So. KOAS and No Expectations and London Road may end up getting either put on ice or binned altogether or they may end up being completely different to what I planned them to be six months ago. At the moment, the direction hasn’t really clearly formed. I’m allowing myself no later than the start of August to make a clear decision one way or the other. And then to start acting on it.

Time will tell, I guess.

Latest Developments

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.

Castles In The Sky

“We built this house on solid ground
But now its crumbling, tumbling down
Is nobody here even going to cry for help
As it slowly collapses in on itself….?”

©Hogarth/Rothery/Trewavas/Kelly/Mosely, from the album Marillion.Com, 1999

A working title so far, written today.

While there is no music for it yet [EDIT: There is now!], it appears to be another one of those slow jazz, almost bluesy kinds of songs that I seem to be getting more than my fair share of lately. I’m sure theres a rhyme or reason for that, but whatever it is, I cant figure it out yet. Jazz is not necessarily a natural genre for me to write in, but it does appear that with tracks like No Getting Over You, Doesnt Matter Now and Manhattan Lullaby that those that I get the words and the melodic ideas for together, do somehow seem to gravitate quickly and decisively towards the jazz world, which puzzles me greatly.

Whether it takes a totally different turn when the music gets written, I guess remains to be seen.

The concept came from a TV drama (for a change), but as usual, I’ve kind of subverted that.

So, the story is basically that you buy a house that you live in with someone you love and you go about turning it into a home. You put everything into it and when it goes wrong, the home just ends up being four walls in which two people live. The concept that I’ve used is that the home is the castle in the sky and when it falls down or is knocked down, you dust yourself down and you try and do it again and build another home somewhere else.

Except in this case, the angle is that after having seen three homes either knocked down or fallen down, some your fault, some not, you begin to question why you bother building anything, if all that is going to happen is that it is going to fall down or someone or some other force is going to destroy it.

So, he/she loses the desire to carry on building these castles in the sky with the concept of happy ever after and just doesnt build anything and leaves the ground (an obvious emotional metaphor) barren and bare instead. The double edged sword being while you dont have anywhere to call home, by the same token, the risks of seeing what you’ve poured your heart and soul into being demolished are also reduced.

It is semi-autobiographical; theres a whole separate conversation to be had about the more spiritual issues around that perspective, but this isnt really the place for that!

Oh, and while I’m at it, there is absolutely no connection with the 1996 Japanese anime film of the same name. Just to be clear on that, before anyone asks…

Castles In The Sky

We used to have a house
Made for just me and you
Poured our hearts and souls into
Making it for just us two
Until you knocked it down with that other guy
I couldnt admit it, but deep down I knew exactly why
And I walked away to build another castle in the sky

We used to have a house
A precious place for me and you
It was nothing perfect was it?
But it was home to me and to you
No choice but it knock it down when you left without goodbye
Couldnt stay there any more, too many memories just made me cry
And I drove away to build another castle in the sky


I almost moved into your house
When I was almost in love with you
Could have made so much of it
But it was clear the dream would never come true
Too proud to go back when you said you’d changed your mind
The chance has gone but I still think about it all the time
And I left you to find another castle in the sky

Now I dont have a house
Only somewhere to rest my shoes
Cant live alone under the stars,
But maybe thats just what I should do
What isnt built cant be knocked down in the night
And it cant leave you haunted by the cold morning light
I will spend no more time building castles in the sky.

© Words & Music Steve McCarthy-Hunt, June 2016


Its been a few weeks since my last update and activity on WordPress, so in addition to putting up the three new songs that appeared unprompted in the last 24 hours, I’ll bring you briefly up to date with the album project, now that the day job is no more, for the time being.

There is still some fluidity in the final track line ups for both albums and some will chop and change as they evolve. Particularly where the No Expectations album is concerned. London Road, less so. Album cover pictures have been sourced, the design is almost finished.

Recording technology/DAW-wise, things are pretty much ready. Both studio and portable Cubase rigs are ready with all the sounds I’m likely to need to build these songs and make them real.

Just a case of packing everything ready to go to the US for next weekend and the plan is to keep writing and start recording on Day 5. I’m hoping to do some more preparatory work during the five days that I have left before I fly out, particularly on the tracks that are already on tape in skeletal form. The journey to realising this project has truly started now and to paraphrase a line from Roger Waters, I heard the starting gun sure enough. I fired the thing nearly three months ago… *grin*

Oh and the other news is that even though I said last September that I wouldnt do it, I’ve decided to go to this year’s BASCA Monnow Valley Songwriting retreat. The change of mind came about for two reasons – one, the inspiration of being around other like minds is infectious and very conducive – and two, I’ve finally managed to talk one of my collaborators into going as well and I did promise him that if he did, so would I. So, in the middle of the recording and writing process, I’ll be taking four days out on another Busman’s Holiday in the beautiful countryside of Monmouth.

More as it happens. Stay tuned, folks.

Coins In A Fountain

“….Never let your conscience be harmful to your health
Let no neurotic impulse turn inward on itself
Just say that you were happy as happy would allow
And tell yourself that will have to do for now

Darlin’, it’s a life of surprises
It’s no help growing older or wiser
You don’t have to pretend you’re not cryin’
When it’s even in the way that you’re walkin’, baby talkin’….”

© Paddy McAloon, “A Life Of Surprises”, from the album “Protest Songs”, 1989

This is the last of three that came along at the same time. I supposed on reflection all of them have a common theme – wishing, hoping, looking for answers to be anywhere but here right now. Maybe thats a theme for another album, who’se to say…. *strokes chin*.

As to what it is about…. well, I’ve always been struck by the following question whenever I’ve been in one of the worlds beautiful cities where there has been fountains, there are always coins – either bright and shining or dull and tarnished and I cant help but think – “Who puts them there and why? How long ago? What happened?”

People don’t just follow this old superstition for no reason at all, no matter how blithely they may do it – every one of those coins is a wish, a hope, a prayer, a plea, maybe. Every single one of them. And when you look in any of the big, more famous fountains, there are hundreds of them. And then the workers come and clean them away… and then even more come back to take their place.

Every single one of those coins has a back story that no one else ever gives a moment’s thought to. What if those coins could tell their stories?

The “songs written, in a shoebox” line comes from a pastiche (written by devout fans who know the following writer very very well) of a potted history of one of a writer who has a command of imagery and words that I would kill for, Paddy MacAloon.

Legend has it, the young, barely known Paddy just wrote and wrote and wrote song after song after song… and kept all the finished lyrics in shoe boxes and thought nothing of it – when he and Thomas Dolby (Producer of the utterly gorgeous Steve McQueen album) finally met, the pastiche likens the occasion to Dolby stumbling on Tutenkhamen’s tomb, a somewhat chaotic treasure trove of wonderment.

The Producer in me, however amateur, can really relate to this – sitting there talking to a writer you barely know but have an inkling about, asking “this looks interesting – how does this one go?” and as soon as you hear it for the first time, the mind starts to conjure arrangements, string parts, the whole thing, and in your minds eye, you can picture the finished track.

And when you think what you heard in the beginning was good, then the writer starts getting emboldened and pulls out the more personal stuff, the stuff they keep closer to their chests… and you just end up with with multiple eargasms. I’ve been there and bought the T-shirt and know exactly how it feels.

If that really happened to Thomas Dolby, hearing tracks like Moving The River for the first time, just voice and acoustic guitar… my god, what I would have traded to have been a fly on the wall on that day, just for that moment… Limbs and vital bodily organs, thats what.

Anyway. I digress. While I don’t have shoeboxes, I do have my boxfile, although it doesnt quite have the same romanticism and neither is it full…. yet. *wry grin*.

But, although this might sound a bit cheesy (so shoot me.. *grin*), my pages of lyrics are my coins and the boxfile is the fountain.

“The world might know you’re ready, but only if you’re still around/Show me where to look, but don’t tell me what to find” comes from the notion that so many of us think that we’re not quite ready to do something, to achieve something, or even to have a go – expecting that somehow the world will give us a sign when we’re really ready for it – and maybe it will.

But you still have to do so much of the searching for yourself to find the answers. Being ready is as much about starting the journey under your own steam as it is finding the grail that you search for – even though you might not know what exactly it is that is going to bring you the most joy. And, too many of us end our days in this realm with the final thoughts of “…but I’m not ready… I’ve still got too much to do…”

The middle 8 came from a Facebook post where there were a number of six word stories. Yes, only six words. Its amazing how people can sum up such powerful images in so few words.

So, lines like “Bought roses home… Key didnt fit”, ‘I jumped… then changed my mind” and “Its our anniversary… table for one” I had to borrow and adapt for their sheer poignancy and imagery. I’ll never know the original authors or their reasons for summoning this imagery, but I’m glad they did. Using words to paint pictures and tell stories, however condensed is like manna from heaven to me.

Again…. yep, you guessed it… No music yet. Its a work in progress.

Coins In The Fountain

Ruined on an escape from the real world
Counting coins in a fountain in a square
Dozens of wishes, glinting in the water
Dreams, hopes and promises from heaven on earth knows where

Songs written, left in a shoebox, waiting to be found
The world might know you’re ready, but only if you’re still around
Show me where to look, but don’t tell me what to find
This all just has to stop now, just leave me somewhere for someone to find

All that I needed from the start was you
The only thing worse than getting it wrong
Was getting it so right that theres now too much to lose
I cant drag myself away, but I know, I know that I should
My words are the house that I live in
And all I needed was you.



Table for one by the window on your anniversary
You jumped in, then changed your mind
Brought you roses home and then I watch as you threw away the key


© Lyrics by Steve McCarthy-Hunt 2016

*The picture was borrowed from another WordPress account – ReflectiveMaths – and is of Cribbs Causeway in Bristol.

All That You Wanted

“Give me a story and get me a bed
Give me possessions
And love luck and money they go to my head
Like wildfire

It’s good to have something to live for you’ll find
Live for tomorrow
Live for a job and a perfect behind
High time

And did you know desire’s a terrible thing
The worst that I could find
And did you know desire’s a terrible thing
But I rely on mine

And it’s my life
And it’s my life
And though I can’t be sure what I want any more
It will come to me later”

© Wheeler/Gavurin/Brindley/Hannan “Can’t Be Sure“, from the album “Reading, Writing & Arithmetic”, 1989 

Another one of the three that came along at once on a June evening, like late running London buses. The difficult bit with this one was getting it started, which is why Verse 1 is completely autobiographical. From being stuck, a first step has to be taken and the first step was “well, what is going on around you, right now? What are you doing, right this second? Write what you see…” … so I did. I wrote what I saw from my lounge.

The fourth line “loose fitting life tightens with time” was one that I have borrowed from a professional writer friend of mine, Raymond Daley – and I’ll gladly credit him with that line too, because I think its brilliant and says so much in so few words. Unlike me.

The third line is a tad more unusual and is an obtuse David Gilmour reference. I remember seeing a programme about him and his life and family and his upbringing – and also a subsequent interview with him and his wife, Polly Samson from this year’s Hay Festival – which, not to put too fine a point on it, not really knowing how to express emotions, except through his fingers as a musician, a talent that he has taken to virtuosity. Its almost as if it has become a standing “in-joke”, although somewhat barbed, between him and Polly that all his emotions are in his fingertips and nowhere else. Whereas, I on the other hand, have no problem expressing emotion at all, all except in one way, which for a musician is a bit of an Achilles heel.. through my fingers. Hence, “wishing my emotions into my fingers”.

I suppose the common theme is that the subject is on his/her own, surrounded by empty rooms that they’ve dumped old memories into and locked the door on, rather than facing them (not usually a good way of dealing with problems) and is still holding a torch for and had given themselves over to this controlling external force – but had suspicions all along that something that seemed too good to be true invariably is. And, as the coda implies, the person is looking for answers and thinks he/she can see them – but never really understood what the question was.

Again, no music for this one yet. But, it is still evolving.

All That You Wanted

Staring out of the window in the dead of the night
Leaves blowing in the dark breeze, dancing under the streetlights
Singing without words, wishing my emotions into my fingers
This loose fitting life tightened with time and the heartache still lingers

Love isn’t the only empty room on the ground floor
Theres hundreds more in the house, all closed behind locked doors
I don’t know what I should be sorry for, what else needs to be said
But you stuck a bookmark in my heart and chose to walk away instead

You’ve got to loosen your grip, trust that the pieces still fit
Nothing left in this house of love, just a sweet memory of it
You’re beautiful, brave and vulnerable, all the things I loved about you
But all that you wanted, it wasn’t exactly true…

You promised me you’d follow, like a shadow that’d never leave
But you danced around like unfinished business, under the stars, below the trees
Word gets out so easy these days, no matter how hard you try
And I preferred the sting of the cold hard truth to the lovers kiss of a lie


What ever happened when the well of good days ran dry?
Premonitions of leaving, but never knowing when or why?


(CODA over Verse chords/ to fade)
You left me searching so hard
You left me searching for answers to questions I cant find
You left me searching so hard
You left me searching for answers to questions I cant find

© Lyrics by Steve McCarthy-Hunt 2016

©picture by Jungeman’s Bucket (Photobucket)