Love Me Or Leave Me Alone

“Grant my last request and just let me hold you
Don’t shrug your shoulders, lay down beside me
Sure I can accept that we’re going nowhere
But one last time let’s go there, lay down beside me”

© Nuitini/Duguid/Benbrook, “Last Request“, from the album “These Streets“, 2006

This is another song that I thought that I had already added to this collection; as with another one relatively recently (specifically Without You and “relatively recently” in this particular case was actually 2017, LOL), this proved not to be the case.

It was actually written during 2015, as were a lot of the others and was initially recorded by my close friend and collaborator David Barnes as a ballad… which was not necessarily how it was originally conceived. His version is a very nice interpretation and I’m honoured that he chose to take the lyrics (as that was all that I had at that point) and put his own music to it

Like a lot of my works, it is based on a dream sequence… and it is based on a relationship that never was with one of the three important women who changed my life between 2011 and 2016 and whose inspiration features very heavily on No Expectations and also to a lesser degree on London Road…

By virtue of most of these songs being written during that same period these same women also feature very heavily as inspiration for songs that are slated to feature on the Monochrome and Mondegreen EP’s. The fact that they didnt make the cut for the London Road and No Expectations albums doesnt mean they were any lesser, per se. Just that they were not thematically right to be included with those works at the time.

The big difference in this case was that the dream sequence was one that was encountered completely separate to getting the music, which came later. Much later, as a matter of fact.

The gist of the dream sequence itself was that I had travelled a long way to be close to this particular person, but unannounced (and before anyone says it, no, not in a stalk-y way, thank you very much) but to be in her proverbial orbit. Anyway (for, as usual, I digress)… in the dream, I was in what could loosely be described as a walled garden which had a bar and a lot of tables and a lot of plants and flowers growing around it. Walking around in this walled garden/bar, I see her at a table with a lot of her friends and our eyes meet, fleetingly but in that second she looked right through me as if I wasnt there. Which is never a good thing when you’re trying to play it way too cool, LOL.

Moments later in the dream sequence, she walks up to me, takes my face in both of her hands and kisses me. I’ve heard women, but never men, describe some particularly intense kisses as being that much that their knees go weak… Well, call it projection, call it wishful thinking/dreaming/whatever, thats what it was like in the dream. It was the most intense kiss I had ever had, real life or otherwise. There was nothing vulgar or overly sexualised about it. It was just that intense that I thought my knees were about to buckle from underneath me. I have no idea at all whether this person who it is about could kiss like that in the first place, but the imagination can play funny tricks on you.

And, as the lyric states, out of nowhere, she said to me, sotto voce… “if you are going to love me… then love me all out… or leave me alone” and then she walks off, back to her friends leaving me standing there wondering what the hell just happened. The message quite clearly being, if you’re going to do this then you have to be absolutely all in or theres no point.

Or to put it in a different way….in todays vernacular, “s*** or get off the pot”.

Also: an explanation of one of the lines in the Middle 8:

I’ve broken all my addictions, every one except for you“,

This refers to the fact that in 2014, I gave up smoking after 30 years and a whole slew of other things as well after a minor health scare. Most of those things, especially smoking, remain off-limits to this day.

Well, as an aspiring lyricist, in a bit of a purple patch at the time, that was enough… that gave me something to build on, so I just wrote what I’d seen and felt in the dream sequence.

At the time of writing, I did kind of borrow a particular meter to write it around and the notes from the first draft of the lyrics say: “like an Ed Sheerin structure but with a Nutini style vocal/bluesy“… so I had a point of reference.

And in some ways, that has been kind of how it evolved; Conceptually, musically and melodically, it was thought of as Paolo Nutini sings an interpretation of Thinking Out Loud, which at the time was a huge smash around the world.

But the longer the time went on, although I didnt do anything with it, the way I was hearing it in my minds ear did evolve; From Thinking Out Loud, to also including the guitar and piano feel of Eric Clapton’s Old Love and also the three part male harmony backing vocals from Paul Young’s 1980s single, Tomb Of Memories from the follow up album to No Parlez which no one can remember the title of. Especially me, right now LOL.

Fast forward to 2023, because nothing interesting happened with this set of lyrics between those two points, of 2015 and 2023. In the meantime, while I had been working on the tracks for Mondegreen and Monochrome, I had also been reinterpreting a couple of old Silent Edges era songs and once these had got to the point where they needed vocals (more of that in another post though, I’m not going to talk about that here) something about this song forced its way into my conscience and appeared to be telling me I had to do something with it.

So, having learned to trust this instinct, it is something that I have been spending the first week or two of 2023 trying to write/develop proper music for it and have been crafting my interpretation of it and it is starting to emerge from the January fog into the light of day.

… and so far it is nothing like I conceived it to be.

Although, there are elements of the Nutini style about it, more along the lines of Iron Sky than any other of his works, there is also a very different feel brought about by use of a Rhodes piano and a 5 string bass part and a very loose drum track.

So, less of Thinking Out Loud and more Old Love meets Iron Sky. Its a lot less grandiose and much more sparse than a lot of things I’ve tried to write music for and this one I guess is going to lean very heavily on the vocal melody to sell it. Not that I’m making a rod for my own back where the vocals are concerned. Perish the thought

It wont feature on either of the coming EP’s as it isnt thematically correct for them… but, if it reaches its full maturity, it is likely to feature on another EP some way into the future that conceptually has the title of Abcission… but that is going to be some way away yet.

Love Me Or Leave Me Alone

Maybe there really is no fool
Like me… an old fool
Every time I get back on my feet
I cant wait to fall all over again
But only for you

pre chorus/hook
I seem to have spent a lifetime
A lifetime with my faith in fear
So why is it only you
Who makes my heart leap whenever you’re near?

I dreamed of you in a garden
Surrounded by all your friends… but I could feel you near
You looked at me with those big brown eyes
As if I wasnt even there

Then out of nowhere
You took my face in your hands
And kissed me like. you’d never kissed no other man
Aint nobody else, only you
Can hold my heart so tight
That I can barely stand

(and you said)
Come on and love me (all out, all out, all out, all out, all out)
Or just leave me alone
Why did you fly a thousand miles just to say that you love me
(Are you just scared of being alone?)
So if you’re going to love me, then love me love me all out, all out
Love me or just leave me alone

Middle 8
Now I’ve broken all my addictions
Every one that is except for you
In my mind, our time replays my heart cant erase
And I need to find a way to decide if I still love you…


Solo over Chorus

Instrumental pre-chorus hook


© Lyrics and Music, Steve McCarthy-Hunt 2023


Revolution In The Rain

Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you’re always afraid
Step out of line, the men come and take you away

We better stop
Hey, what’s that sound?
Everybody look, what’s going down?

© Stephen Stills, ‘For What Its Worth‘, (Buffalo Springfield) 1966

With the exception of This Time (which was a collaborative effort on a BASCA songwriting weekend a few years ago, recorded for the London Road album), I’ve never really been one for protest songs. And, to be honest, This Time was a little bit cheeky in that it was peppered deliberately with buzzwords and was slightly facetious as it wasn’t really coming from the typical protest song angle that it may have initially have seemed to… it was more taking the piss out of a certain type of middle class protester who values being seen protesting a subject for just long enough on the right channels without fully understanding what kinds of sacrifices, what kinds of impacts that the thing they’re protesting about is likely to have on the rest of the society that they’re part of – and ultimately, it will be their kids or the children of their peers who will be left to clear up the crap, to coin a phrase which is something I believe a lot of them to be ignorant of. As usual, no names, no pack drill. I think we could all call to mind a certain group of protestors, regardless of our political leanings who we may see as being less than sincere in their endeavours…

In other words, what certain people may term as virtue signallers. And to that end, it did what it needed to pretty well.

Revolution In The Rain though, is somewhat different and despite it coming to me in the same way as the other two tracks from the Mondegreen EP, is arguably very much driven by the global events of the last twelve to eighteen months. The vision was quite sixties/Beatles/Byrds/Thunderclap Newman but with a lead vocal melody that sounded for all the world like a mature Steve Hogarth, a vocalist that I have admired for many, many years and who is significantly more political, especially in his more recent years, although I see things somewhat different to he does.

So there is almost an original sixties “counter-culture” protest feel to it (very different to the modern day ‘Cancel Culture’, which I frankly despise), and it is very different to anything I’ve written before.

And, as alluded to before in the case of Hate, the only part of it that I got sent was the vocal hook; there is no chorus as such, just a repeating three or four line motif that just repeats over and over again and is broken up by a Middle 8 – so it has an A-A-B-A type format.

The lyrics themselves were not difficult to write and the vocal hook for the song came with it anyway – but a Revolution In The Rain is a quintessentially English thing, so it strikes me, that in a nation as wet and windy and rainy as the UK, if such a thing is ever to happen, it will need to happen when the weather is not exactly on their side. A little like a personification of Roger Waters’ quite brilliant ‘hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way’ line from ‘Time’, way back in 1973. The British do not have the somewhat more fiery approach of the French or indeed the Spanish and seem to have the longest fuse of pretty much any nation on earth as to how much antagonising or provocation they will endure before they snap. So, if any such thing is to happen in the UK (and for the record, because of the nature of how the English are in particular, I do not see it happening in my lifetime), it is likely to be somewhat different to other such events that we may have seen around the globe over the last 100 years.

I have tried as hard as I could to be non partisan about it, but with all protest songs there has to be something that the writer is railing against, in order to make their point and this is no exception. The last great truly musically productive era in British music, one that spawned a level of protest music that spoke to a generation was punk (and the subsequent lead up to Thatcherism) in the late 1970s/early 1980s. There hasnt really been anything since then that has truly caught the imagination in the same way not just the UK, but worldwide, despite the things that have occurred in the last 25 years, let alone 35 – things like the advance of globalism, 9/11, the Financial crisis of 2008, the Arab Spring and many other worldwide events. It is as if the music industry has largely decided to be very selective about what types of writers and performers that it espouses in terms of social commentary; Theres not much of a machine for the RATM boys to rage against any more; Mr Bragg is mostly in retirement in a very nice cliff-side Dorset des res; Mr Dylan has sold off his publishing rights to his back catalogue for multi-millions and even Mr Weller has long since ceased being a strident advocate of a particular political doctrine that he made his reputation as a writer on.

And, without being deliberately provocative: these times that we find ourselves in are probably the most polarised that I and no doubt many others have every known; this is something where I do finally for once in my life, not just as a songwriter but also as a man, have to stick a flag in the ground and say “this subject really genuinely bothers me”, which it absolutely does; but not for the same reason that it bothers other people who are close to me.

Whether this is a line that it is possible for a songwriter to attempt to straddle in this day and age of cancellation, or whether I can even get away with what the song is clearly drawing parallels with – lines like “less than a hundred years since ‘Never again'” and the references to book burning are pretty explicit about the historical events they are referring to and those lines were deliberately written to be unequivocal about that. Whether others may see it the same way or not, I do not know. My intention, as ever, is not to be preachy about it, but to say what I feel about something that bothers me a lot, as someone who has spent most of his time as a songwriter writing more about love, loss, healing and abandonment than anger. But, in the words of a certain John Lydon Esq “Anger Is An Energy” and it has its place in the spectrum of human emotions.

My collaborators before me, particularly my very good friend Robert Pearce have been able to write this type of material before and do it very effectively… for me though, its a new thing and I don’t expect to be making a habit of it. As I say, I’m not advocating openly for any particular change apart from that which people want to be for themselves, which I always have espoused; be the change you yourself wish to be, you can change no more than that. And maybe, if we all change to be all that we can be, maybe we will be less easily led by those who clearly do not practise the kind of altruism that they claim to on our behalf.

Revolution In The Rain is to be part of the Mondegreen EP and will be finished later this year.

Revolution In The Rain

When you dont know who to believe any more
And you’re wondering just what its all for
All you see around you is your world in pain

When your faces can be held to the floor
For having the nerve to step outside your door
And your world will never be the same again
Waiting for a revolution in the rain

When those you followed left and turned off all the lights
And left you in the dark with no end in sight
And all your streets are in drenched fear and broken glass night after night
You wonder when you’ll see your friends again.
Isolation, libation, frustration, negation,
Watching for the revolution in the rain

{Middle 8}
Take another drink
Push it all to the back of your mind
Every time you do, for all the good it could do,
It all seems just a little further behind
No one knows how long it will last
Til we’ve all been made to forget our pasts
A new take on all your childrens dreams
And you learn that Build Back Better aint all that it seems

When all the memories of you are swept out of the door
And your body is not your own any more
Less than a hundred years since “Never Again”

You can be just another name in a book thats been burned
Or you can be one that makes your voice heard
Deny the lies that have turned the world around you insane
Be your own revolution in the rain

Never let them do this to you again

Dont let them reduce you to this again

Lead your own revolution in the rain

{Ad lib to fade}

© Words and Music, Steven McCarthy-Hunt 2021

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

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

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

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…

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

Escape From The Shadows

“What a fool I’ve been
Didn’t get to him in time
What’s been happening?
Its so hard to sleep at night…
Its so hard to sleep at night..
Hard to sleep at night

I don’t like to read the news
D’you know anything I’m going through

And she calls…”

© Mark Hollis, 1982, from the Talk Talk album “The Party’s Over”

Now I’ve got to the point in the KOAS project where I’m down to the last three songs to have lead vocals recorded, I checked the blog as I have taken to using the lyrics on the blog on an ipad as a cue when recording – I thought I had added this one quite some time ago, but it turns out that I had not.

Theres a bit of a complicated story behind this one. My long time collaborator and inspiration, Robert Pearce, had a set of lyrics and a piece of music which had originally been meant for each other back in the 1990s, but he found they didn’t work together in the way he wanted them to.

Fast forward to 2014/15 and my other collaborative partner, Dave Barnes took away Robert’s lyrics, wrote a whole new set of chords to go with it and recorded a great original track based on those words; I on the other hand remember hearing the music that Robert had got – mainly guitar, a Korg M3R being triggered by a MIDI guitar and a drum machine track and liked the structure of it and the possibilities that it gave and decided that I had to do something with it. So, a year or two back now (cant remember exactly when, but I think it was back in 2015), I decided to write some words for it.

Now, this song is in quite an advanced state in the KOAS project and my original vision for it was a sort of Talk Talk/New Order (circa True Faith) kind of feel – a sort of four on the floor, quite synth-y, but with jangly guitars and the like. As a lot of these things do, it has somewhat morphed since then. Since then, I have bought Maschine, which has a lot of options around drum tracks and use of samples and also trying to find the right synth voices was quite challenging. There is the mixture of old Roland Jupiter 8V and Oberheim and Fairlight sounds with newer Steinberg VST, Heavyocity’s Vocalise  and Native Instruments FM8 synth voices too, plus four different rhythm tracks (Toontrack’s Superior Drummer and EZDrummer2 Electronica, NI’s Maschine,  and Steinberg’s Groove Agent 4), so that side of it is rather beefy, if I can describe it that way.

So, if anything, it has gone further away from 1980’s New Order and more towards a 1990’s/early noughties club track – I guess like a Talk Talk meets The Orb kind of thing, which is a long long long way away from my comfort zone. Vocally, there have been some BV’s – usual synthetic female oohs and aah’s – that have been put down and the original intention was for it to have that Bernard Sumner kind of lead vocal. I’m not sure that’s quite how it is going to turn out when it comes to recording it for real in the next few days though. Chances are, it may take another different turn.

It is going to be challenging to mix though, that I do know because there is so much going on. The track count on this so far is up at 70, which by my standards is monstrously high and I can imagine a lot of Group and VCA tracks being used  – not to mention a whole pile of automation – to keep it under control. But, all that arrangement has been worked out already.

To get back on track and talk about the song’s words though: Its yet another one that has at its core the themes of abandonment and escape, running away, moving on, starting again. Fake Red Flowers refers to three silk poppies that I’ve had in a vase for the last half decade. A lot of the rest is thematic wordplay.

The exception being the last two lines of the chorus: The Hold Me Tight… line refers to clinging onto the memory of something precious that you know you ought to let go of, but its the only thing you have left of them – if you let it go, thats it, theres no going  back and once its gone its gone. Its a metaphor for the healing process – as a current meme says, if you can tell your story without choking up, you’ve healed. But in order to do so, you have to let that thing go that has a power over you, no matter how beautiful it was and how much comfort it gave you in dark times and no matter how much you still think you need it, like a comfort blanket. This leads onto the I Cant Escape While You’re Still Around line, which is its natural pay-off and roughly translates as: I dont want to let the memory of you go, I still love you more than you can ever imagine, but if I’m to survive, if I’m to move on, no matter how much it breaks my heart all over again, I have to do it. So, just hold me, one last time, under the stars and then… its time for you to leave.

Escape From The Shadows

Every time we kiss goodbye
The words still sound the same
Fake red flowers and darkened hours
Make me wish I’d never came

Moving On, Autumn sun,
Old Man Time says walk away
A strangers touch led to bridges burned
No matter what was said

And the lights come on to take you home
Bitter pill hid a truth I couldnt know
A promise costs while time is lost
And shadows fall to ground
Just hold me tight on this moonlit night
I cant escape while you’re still around…

Middle 8/
Another place, a different time
This vision always comes around
Hollow faces, old embraces,
The book of love comes unbound…

By and by, sunlight dries
Tears on sodden ground
Promise broken, soft words spoken
Haunted in a dark hour

Moving on, to winter sun
Time has come to fly away
A strangers touch cost me far too much
And left a bitter taste

© Lyrics by Steve McCarthy-Hunt, 2015, Music by Robert Pearce, 1997




Unspoken Words

How can I try to explain,
When I do he turns away again
It’s always been the same, same old story
From the moment I could talk
I was ordered to listen

Now there’s a way and I know that I have to go away
I know I have to go

© Cat Stevens, from the album “Tea For The Tillerman“, 1970

These lyrics just fell together in about 20 minutes back in early September 2016, from what I remember. And then, the lyrics just ended up in the box file and nothing has happened to them since then, until I recently took a fresh look at them and thought damn, this is a really good lyric.

I cant describe it any other way. A conversation led to it just toppling out where five minutes previous, it hadn’t existed and I had no notion of it coming from anywhere.

I had been spending a writing and recording weekend with one of my dearest friends and closest collaborators and the conversation came round to probably something that I only understand tangentially; I have been a son, but I’ve never been a father and I never will be. I didnt have much of a relationship with my own father, being estranged from him for 40 years before being reconciled two months before his untimely passing in 2012 but the perspective I’d never seen was that which my friend was going through; that is not only watching what was happening to his own father as he was getting older but how he was dealing with the responsibility at the same time of being a father himself to his only son, a job for which I’ve heard so many of my friends say that no handbook has ever been written – you can only do what you believe at the time is right and if you allow yourself to worry about whether you’re doing something right, or what you did ten or fifteen years ago, whether it was the right things – it will eventually eat away at you and you spend years questioning your own judgement with the benefit of hindsight. And that was before he began to think about what kind of a world was he leaving for his own flesh and blood… How much, if at all can he protect his son from the world he and his peers have made without much of a care, compared to the world his own father and his peers left for him, which he previously never gave a thought to, until now? I can’t even begin to imagine what that must be like.

So, thats what led to these lyrics. A father in his autumn or winter years talking in reassuring tones to his son who may, or may not comprehend the wisdom that is being imparted to him in genuine sincerity at the time they are being said.

These were not words I heard from my own father, nor my friend from his, not that I am aware of, anyway.

They are words that I guess, if I were ever to become a father that I would like to say to a son of mine, but thats not going to happen.  Its one of those subject matters that is tricky for an artist to take on from another writer, I guess. I haven’t written any music to it yet, but as I develop as a lyricist I have learned to recognise particularly good words that say all the things that I want them to – so this one will be recorded and when the KOAS project is eventually complete, this one will see the light of day. In quite what form, I don’t know yet. But I’m very happy with these lyrics and what they say and how they say it. It deserves to take on a life of its own and go on its own journey.

A few notes on individual lines; “you’ll learn to fit in where you’re meant to stand out“, I think I heard the idea for this from an online life coach. So many of us spend so much time trying to be something or someone we’re not meant to be, in somewhere we’re not meant to be, instead of just finding our place in the universe where we’re meant to stand out and shine and be all we’re meant to be. “All of those old records and songs I dont understand“; my own father was a damn good jazz musician and I am not the worlds biggest fan of the genre to put it mildly. Tracks that would have meant the world to him, I just couldnt get a handle on… but I’m now starting to learn and see them through the eyes he gave me. “Little Man, I’m so endlessly proud of you“… Not something I ever heard said to me, but I’ve seen it said so many times in the mediums of film and TV; I guess every son is always going to be a little man to their mother or father in one way or another, no matter how old they grow up to be. I guess they are words that I would have liked to have heard when I was younger but now, when I hear them its almost as if its a little too little a little too late to be absorbed as anything more than a platitude. Again, I’m kinda putting words into my own mouth that I’ll never say, and they might be slightly cheesy and schmaltzy, while wearing their usual scarf of darkness, but hey… sue me. It gives it the effect to the song that I need it to. You’re doing good, kid. No matter what it is, so long as you do it from your heart, I’ll always be proud of you.

All of the things you are will never be undone“; we all write our own life story, our own legacy and everyones life is an inspiration to someone. What we do with this short time on earth, the legacy we leave behind, is what defines us. The goal is not to live forever: its to create something that will.

The rest of the words, I dont think need any explanation.

Unspoken Words

Dont you worry, son
None of this is your fault
Just try to be honest about all the things in life you want
I know that this is not what you want to find out
But you’ll learn in good time to fit in where you’re meant to stand out

Playing all of those old records and songs I dont understand
And there are others that are familiar like the back of my hand
Dont wait for that song that may never come
Because all of the things you are will never be undone

Ah, it all comes down to this, this day near the end
I’m not just your father, I’ll always be your friend
Little man, I’m so endlessly proud of you
You remembered to yourself you should always be true
But I know it was never easy

Pressure seems so relentless, you cant catch your breath
You feel chained to a treadmill, walking in a wheel without end
It seems no one’s listening when it makes you cry out
But dont you forget son, this is not what your life is all about


Time will come for your children to raise little ones of their own
Dont forget that they could reap the seeds of all the things you’ve sown
Please tell me son, when the weight of the world gets too much for you to bear
Just close your eyes, think of me for a moment and I’ll promise I’ll be there


© Lyrics by Steve McCarthy-Hunt 2016


This one came about originally (as the more regular readers may recall) from a track that was going to be called The Last Dance, which was conceived some time back in 2013. And while I had an idea for the music, what I didnt have was any way of really making that real. So far, so me. *grin*

So, on the trip to Long Island last year one of the  main objectives was to try and talk to my uncle Angel to see if he could help me find the right music to go with it, given that he had far more exposure to the kind of music that I was hoping to develop. What transpired was that he and a very good friend of my late father, a vibraphone player and close friend called Paul Oves (who played with my father in a New York function band called The Jewels in the early/mid 60s and who had passed away some time ago) had written a track that had stayed as an instrumental because they hadnt developed any lyrics for it.

The story that Angel told me goes that they (by whom I mean the band Intensive Heat – who were akin to an NYC based Toto who deep down aspired to be Earth Wind & Fire) were rehearsing the track in Atlantic studios in New York City (I understand they were using some downtime in the very late hours) some time in 1975, in the company of a then barely known engineer who who subsequently went on to achieve great things with Foreigner (and lots more big artists since then!), called Jimmy Douglass and while they were playing around with this particular track and into the control room walks the great Arif Mardin (check out his discography, its staggering – suffice to say “George Benson” or “Aretha Franklin” or “The Bee Gees“. He’s a record producing legend, sadly no longer with us) who stands behind Jimmy with a growing smile on his face, nodding in approval as the track goes on.

The end of the track comes along and Arif pushes the talkback button with a big smile on his face – “Hey guys, that was great!” to which Mr Oves on Vibes turns, looks up at one of the world’s most pre-eminent record producers and drawls (possibly a little too smugly)

“…yeah…. I know”

… at which point, Angel recalls that the smile melts away from Arif Mardin’s face as fast as it appeared and in pretty short order he says goodbye to Jimmy, he turns and walks towards the control room door and leaves. Never to be seen in the company of Intensive Heat again.

Talk about how life can turn on a sixpence.

It is so easy to look back and say if only, if but for just a little humility and a thank you that their lives may all have been different. But, these things happen and these are decisions that we have to live with. When Angel told me the story, my chin was on my chest and the question “how did Paul make it out of the city alive after that?” sprang to my mind, but… I wasnt there. Its not my place to judge and history always wears 20/20 spectacles.

So…. for the best part of nearly 40 years since that day, the piece of music recorded that day as a basic two track instrumental, known as Elia has lain on a cassette in my uncle Angel’s house in Long Island and had hardly ever been heard by anyone outside the band.

Until the day I turn up asking for help in putting together The Last Dance. Angel played me a ProTools recorded wav file of this recording and its simplicity (only three chords in the entire thing, pretty much) was exactly what I was looking for, without having to make any kind of structural change at all. I was bowled over thinking:

“….s**t… talk about synchronicity.. how strange is this.. a forty year old track somehow is a perfect fit for a song I couldnt find music for, for the last 4 years….?!”

Anyway. Over the course of the next 10 days, I recorded ten guitar track takes with Angel and put together the backbone of the track and then on my return to the UK started to build the rest of it.

And, as it built, two things came to my mind. One, it was still different enough from The Last Dance for that track to still have another chance to be built anyway, in its own right and secondly, I had a lot of lyrics floating around that could bring Elia a life of its own.

So, I elected to write some lyrics specifically for Elia so that she could come to life after nearly 40 years and these were written to the tune itself, as opposed to my usual way of working which is lyrics first, music later. And here it is.

Musically, the track is in a very very advanced state (just needs vox), is true to the original but with my own bridge sections and the only thing that has been kept musically is Angel’s guitar parts. Everything else is yours truly. I hope it will appear on either the London Road album or quite possibly No Expectations.


Do you still remember our favourite song
Those summer nights are gone
And I’m left wondering just where I belong
We stood on every rooftop
And fell in love in every town
And the wonders of the world mean nothing
Without you around

Oooh, Elia
I miss you so much, so much now you’re gone
Was there nothing I could do to make you want to stay?
Ooh, these city streets are so empty without your love around
And all that I wanted was just one more day
Just one more day…

Oh my Elia,
Oh you’re like a bird on the wing,
I got you under my skin
And I dont know where you stop and I begin
Oh, my Elia,
My sweet Elia,


Oh Elia,
Sing your song like a bird flying home
Just remember, you’re never on your own
Now you’re gone I’m left feeling blue
I’ll always remember my last dance with you
My last dance with you.



© 2016 Lyrics by Steve McCarthy-Hunt
    Music by Angel Paniagua/Paul Oves/Steve McCarthy-Hunt

The featured picture is a publicity shot of the band Intensive Heat and is used courtesy of my cousin, Cynthia Paniagua.






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

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

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)