Lyrics – Somewhere in between

Oh yeah, it’s recording week again this week. They do come around.

I’m kind of toying with the idea of including earlier phone recorded versions of the songs in these posts where I tell you what I’m recording and allowing you to read the lyrics. Not 100% sure whether that’s a good idea or not. I will continue to think about it. So you know.

Anyway. This week I’m recording a li’l mid-tempo thingamajig called Somewhere in between. Kind of hoping to avoid a soft rock feel. We’ll see how that goes.

This was apparently the first song I wrote in 2012. Around the same time as As Any Fule Kno, Longshore drift, I don’t think they’ve told him and a few others that have yet to surface.

I don’t tend to go for intensely autobiographical songs, but this is a kind of tongue in cheek closest I’ll get. I take enormous satisfaction in mugwumpery. Of the fence-sitting variety. I find it hard to settle down to a concrete opinion on things. Somewhere in between is usually where you’ll find me. It’s not super clever lyricality you see.

I guess in this case I applied it to songwriting and music. They say that life is about the journey, and I get that. But sometimes the destination can be fun too. And I do still find it amusing that I don’t really feel like I have anything important to say, but I still keep saying stuff.

So there we go. Got some more great musicians coming in on this one. Very interested to see where it ends up.

Somewhere in between
Don’t ask me
Where this all goes
Don’t tell me
I’m trying not to think about it
The answer’s rich
And the question’s poor
Did you ever stop to dream?
And did you never ask to skip the journey?

Somewhere in between
Is where I’ll be

Take this down
It just might be
Write it down
It could just be worth remembering
See I’m not sure
I’ve ever chanced to say
A single word that’s mine
A single thought that bore repeating
But I’ll still be singing

Somewhere in between
Is where I’ll be

If there’s a single truth and I don’t get it
If I’m forever lost and still repentant
If it’s the only way I can make it through this
If there’s nothing else to say I’m in between

Mind your PMQs – lyrics

Good Wednesday to you all. I headed over to the studio last night to do some final writing and guide tracking on a song that I will be recording on Saturday.

This one’s interesting and a little tricky. Inspired by some of the behaviour of parliament, in particular during Prime Minister’s Questions, and having come up with a title that’s probably attempting to be funnier or more clever than it actually is, I have gone ahead and written a “political” song.

It’s really a catalogue of things that frustrate me about modern politics and journalism, neatly tied up with a smartarse title and no particularly helpful solution. I understand that there are different political philosophies, I just wish we’d recognise we generally have more in common than we realise. I don’t think all politicians are bad. And I don’t think any party is ‘wrong’. But I’m not particularly impressed with how the whole system is getting along in the UK.

I do also think there are people that are wholly out for themselves at every level of society. I would never presume to accuse a specific person of this, as both sides of the political spectrum are far too fond of doing. I may have my suspicions, but none of us knows the whole story.

So this song isn’t directed at any party. Or even just politicians. It’s meant to be a plea to have some damn humility. I’m aware that it may well be misinterpreted, or (more likely) unnoticed.

I say tricky (I did, honest, it was just a few paragraphs ago) because it’s really hard to write a song where you’re being critical without being guilty of the things you might be criticising. I don’t want to be too negative, but I also think certain behaviours shouldn’t go unchallenged. And honestly we’re all guilty of some of this stuff at various points. Ad hominem is the most insidious logical fallacy because it’s so easy to attack people when we’re angry.

I’m posting these lyrics knowing full well that they might not be finished yet. I suspect even once they’re in the can I’ll have my doubts. That’s probably a good thing.

There’s a whole ‘nother post to be written at some point about my (I think) judicious use of language that some deem offensive to stress a point. Some people won’t even see a problem. Others will be curious. There may even be some people who are disappointed. I don’t want to cause unnecessary offence (please don’t read the lyrics below if such language does offend). If the line prevails come Saturday we’ll probably release a censored version for sensitive ears.

Here we go then. My first attempt at some kind of protest song.

Mind Your PMQs

This is little better
Than a playground argument
I find it hard to tolerate
Your willful insolence
Bluff bluff bluster
Ad hominem
Straw man straw man
Ad hominem again

Scaremonger, warmonger
Others are to blame
Exaggerate our differences
Shoot them down in flames

And I can’t believe
This is how we get things done
Starting to feel
That you’re stringing us all along

Turn a profit line your pockets
The little guy’s at fault
Cherry pick your data points
Sell the bastards short
Use other people’s weaknesses
To undermine their claims
Rig the rules, damn the fools
Everyone’d do the same

Oversimplify the issues
Turning up the sound
Pick a side pick a side
Refuse the common ground

And I can’t believe
This is how we get things done
Starting to feel
That you’re stringing us all along

Greed will be our ruin
Pride will kill us all
Hatred our undoing
Ever as it was
Greed will be our ruin
Pride will fuck us all
Can’t stop this hatred brewing
Are we headed for a fall?
It’s simply not worth the fight
If what you’re fighting for
Isn’t love, kindness, bravery
Not evening the score

And I can’t believe
This is how we get things done
Starting to feel
That you’re stringing us all along

About a song – Zack Plank

My initial demo of this song came up on random this morning, so I thought I’d take a little time to give you some insight into this little beaut. Ha. Insight.

I know you’re interested, so I’ll let you have a listen to the initial garageband demo I put together. Pay attention in particular to the laughable programmed drums – especially the intro that is almost stolen from Lead Me On 2012. It’s quite easy to see how much the other members of strangeday bring to my song ideas looking at the contrast between this and the final song.

I’d decided I wanted to do something like the ending of Goodnight by easyworld, getting faster and faster and then coming out at a slower speed. The band came up with something different, and I like it! We ended up dropping instruments out one by one until just Aaron was left, doing something otherworldly with the electric guitar. Then we’re all back in for a normal chorus, followed by a chorus where we swap the first and last sections around as far as the chords were concerned. This allowed for a switch up of the melody and for us to bring in the coda. Nice.

I had the idea for Zack Plank whilst reading a book. I think it was A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. The book casually mentioned two of the craters on the moon at one point. There’s one named Zach and the another called Planck. For some reason, in my mind, the two names became one: the name of a little boy who lives on the moon.

The song was originally called The life and times of Zack Plank (I changed the spellings of both craters – who knows why). The story I had imagined was that Zack ran away from everything and ended up on the moon. He wanted space and he got it. And he is kind of ambivalent about the success of his plan.

It’s all an attempt at a metaphor for pushing people away, only to find how well you can manage to isolate yourself completely by doing so. We added the coda at the end whilst recording and I love how it sums up the creeping dread of the situation: “What if I never come home? I never meant to come this far“. Incidentally, the last half chorus into this coda, with Paul’s snare fill linking the two is one of my favourite things we’ve recorded. If I ever listen to the song, I have to play this section at least once more.

As a character and story, I feel like I’d like to come back to Zack eventually. Whether I will or not is another matter. I didn’t really go too far into the actual story with Zack Plank, just the feelings involved. I could explore it more I think. As far as I’m aware he’s still up there.

When it came to the artwork, we’d been using photos for our single covers, so I thought it would be fun to get some public domain photos of the craters themselves and overlay them. Luckily the images existed and I created my very own new lunar crater based on Zach and Planck.

Zach + Planck = Zack Plank

And here, for posterity and your enjoyment are the actual lyrics. See if you can spot the line I changed in the first verse.

Zack Plank
I wouldn’t like to be in your shoes
Follow your feet into the emptiness
Desolate in the skies
You’re on your own oh no
But do the stars shine that much brighter for you?
And it’s a long way down
It’s a long way down
If you choose to think about it

Hey, I just wanted to be far away
Don’t bring me down
Hey, just like me to wind up lost again
I came in last again
Looking down
I can’t see the end

Well it’s the boy without an atmosphere
Faking fear and an attitude
Finding you’ve got space to spare
Star of the whole show oh no
With the real world that much smaller to you
And are you coming down?
You’re not coming down
Is it easier to stay?

What if I never come home?
I never meant to go this far


It’s a recording week. Huzzah! This month we’re heading in to Awesome Source to record a new Roo’s Radio song which is called Oberland. We have our last practice/writing session this evening.

This song is a first for us as Cec wrote the chorus and then we finished the rest as a band with Cec providing the direction and tone of the song as a whole. I’m pretty impressed with how it’s sounding pre-recording. It’s going to sound even better with multiple guitars and bass and Paul’s magic touch.

The subject matter is a little tricky to explain without it sounding too bleak. It’s based on our interpretation of a true story about a couple staying together in their home in the face of avalanche warnings, which sadly resulted in their death.

Cec’s intention was a positive song, however, and I think it feels positive. I guess there is a certain Romeo and Juliet vibe to it, but it’s about love and certainty and there’s a romance to it that overcomes the sadder aspects.

Anyway, as with other recordings, can’t wait to get this one out to you, so how’s about making do with the lyrics for now?

They’re saying we need to leave
Like they said we might so long ago
Remember walking through this door
Remember wanting nothing more
Hold me close and then…

Just let it snow
Let it snow
Just let it snow
My love
For there’s nowhere else that we could ever know
My love

Looking out upon our hill
Looking at the life we built
Where everything is beautiful
My darling you’re so beautiful
Just one more kiss goodnight

Just let it snow
Let it snow
Just let it snow
My love
For there’s nowhere else that we could ever know
My love

They’ll never understand
There’s nothing more than this to us
This hill
This home
This love

I think I hear the future and
I think it’s time to take my hand
Forever in your arms

Just let it snow
Let it snow
Just let it snow
My love
For there’s nowhere else that we could ever know
My love
My home

About a song – Punchbowl

I’ve been toying with the idea of getting into a few of the songs I’ve written and explaining… um… well.. I guess explaining myself a little, and maybe disclosing some of the inspirations and so on. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to explain a lyric I’ve written fully.

I’m still a bit cagey about the idea to be honest. It feels enormously bigheaded to imagine that anyone would care, and I’m not entirely sure I won’t come across as a bit of a nob. The other problem is that I’m generally of the school that what a listener takes away from a song is usually probably more important than what the writer puts in. Although I love reading what writers have to say about their songs. Hypocrite much?

In the end I came to the conclusion that I’m actually personally pretty interested in what’s going to come out here, given that my ability to plan a post in advance is fairly non-existent. And also you don’t actually have to read this. I’m not making you. So let’s go…

It seems fairly apt at the moment to take a look at Punchbowl from the strangeday album, Please Intervene. I’ll let you guess as to why once you’ve read on.

It’s not particularly a favourite song of mine actually, but it always seems to go down well when we play it live and I’ve actually had it requested a few times. I just don’t think I pulled out all of the stops when it came to writing the lyrics. It’s hard to remember exactly, but I think I just threw them out one afternoon in the run up to recording the album because I had a chorus and a riff and not much else.

Punchbowl is the name of a ski run in the Jungfrau region of Switzerland. See if you can find it on this interactive map. I’d been skiing in the region for a few years, but for some reason had never made it to this particular run. When I finally did, I quickly decided it was by far my favourite. The top section is kind of like a bowl and it’s fantastic fun to ski/board down.

I apparently loved the run so much that I decided to write a song about it; the chorus is very much derived from the aforementioned experience, although I’d hope people can relate it to more things than just that. “I’ve never been here before but I could get used to this” is presumably the sort of thing I could see myself thinking that first time I went down the run. “It never gets old” is also a direct reference to the run. I honestly don’t know what I was thinking with “came knocking at your door looking for some kind of bliss”. I think it just sounded kind of cool. (Seems I have the wrong words up on bandcamp for that line. Not sure where that crept in.)

I had started to build the song and chorus around my attempt at a Star Chamber type riff. You might not have heard of Star Chamber, but they were a kickass band that we played with back in the day. We’re still in touch with some of the band to this day in fact. I don’t think I really got close to their magic, but it’s not a bad riff. We were looking at maximising the number of songs we got recorded, so as recording approached I decided to flesh it out into a proper song. Kind of.

When it came down to it, it didn’t seem particularly possible to write a whole song dedicated to a ski run that most people won’t have even heard of. So I went down the vague and wooly path where I threw a bunch of lines together that I liked the sound of. You can see a few references to my experience of faith at the time (“squinting to get focus”, “can’t find the shift to cruise control”, “hedge your bets and climb the fence”) and I think “buckle up and pass right through” was both a nod to skiing and to moving forwards in life.

All in all then, not the most profound attempt at a lyric. I think I was trying to tie things up with the middle eight but I’m not sure I made anything clearer. The spin on the classic “gain the world but lose your soul” is by no means a particularly clever or original thing to do. In my defence, I was referring to getting into the mountains (or wherever really) and feeling whole again. A bit subtle I guess, but there we go.

Most of what now interests me in this song comes from bringing it to the table with the rest of the band. Everyone tears the riff up and the stops and starts really add to the feel, as does the weird breakdown in verse two, which I think was Aaron’s idea. I’m also pretty keen on the atmospheric guitar in the middle eight. Almost feels like whale song.

Interestingly (or maybe not) this was one of only two songs on the album that was bestowed with a guitar solo. I don’t know why strangeday go for so few guitar solos in general. Too busy farting about with stops and starts I guess.

So now you know. Enjoy!

Taken down for a spell
Something doesn’t quite make sense
Squinting to get focus
Hedge your bets and climb the fence

I’ve never been here before but I could get used to this
Came knocking at your door looking for some kind of bliss
It never gets old
It never gets old

Putting up with myself
Something to get used to
Do not rest here
Buckle up and pass right through

Can’t find the shift to cruise control
Can’t get off, can’t turn it round
Lose the world and gain my soul

Pint of gold

Remember how I mentioned in the previous post about recording and releasing one song a month? Well tomorrow I go into the studio with Paul to record the first of those offerings.

The song is Pint of gold. I wrote it a few years ago for a friend, Matt. He helped out with loads of strangeday stuff when we had little or no money (for instance with this promo), and the promise was that we’d buy him a pint of gold (actually 4 I believe) when we were rich and famous.

This is of course never happened, so I took it upon myself to write a song inspired in part by our friendship and late night chats. Matt (and subsequently everyone at our poker games) drinks to the south. So in the song we drink to the south, but other compass points are valid.

Looking forward to getting it down and sharing it with you. In the meantime, here are the lyrics:

Pint of gold
Times we’ve had
Remember that
Sometimes you’ve been the only thing that got me through
I think that I’d
almost forgotten
But there it is
There it always is

Times move on
And here we are
We’ll sing our song
And raise a glass
To the south, to the south
Singing la la la la la la la

Staring through
People who
Make me think of somewhere else and something new
Shake it off
Back to the present
Here we are
Here we always are

Times move on
And here we are
We’ll sing our song
And raise a glass
To the south, to the south
Singing la la la la la la la

There’s always a time for regrets
Always a space for turning inside out
But life is who we are
And time will tell our story
We’re still here
Yeah, we’re always here

Times move on
And here we are
We’ll sing our song
And raise a glass
To the south, to the south
Singing one more time la la
Moving on
And here we are
We’ll sing our song
And raise a glass
To the south, to the south
Singing la la la la la la la
la la la la la la la etc..