Lyrics – Colours to the mast

New music is coming this week! For once I’m waiting to release a track. It’ll be out on Saturday. I wrote it for a friend’s wedding, and that’s the day of the wedding.

Colours to the mast is the most acoustic thing we’ve done so far. No drums, just acoustic, vocals and keys.

This is also probably the most soppy thing I’ve done, but I kinda like it. Hopefully you will too. Here are the lyrics. See you Saturday!

Colours to the mast
Oh yesterday’s ghost
Was smarter than me
Or so he would think (think this through)
But he didn’t know you

And now it’s plain to see
And this really isn’t like me…

But I’ll nail my colours to the mast
I’ve found someone I can sing to
And you make me better than myself
So I’ll be drinking only to you

So let’s go my love
And find a new way
I could wish I’d met you sooner (sooner than soon)
But then maybe I wouldn’t have met you at all

Cause it all led to this
When you take my hand and we kiss

Well I’ll nail my colours to the mast
I’ve found someone I can sing to
Cause you make me better than myself
So I’ll be drinking only to you

And now when I go, I’ll be going with you
And I’ll carry your heart in my heart

Lyrics – Holding out hope

And now it’s November. Autumn is definitely now in full swing; I can see mist in the trees from my window.

Not much happened in October as Paul has been otherwise engaged. We’re back in the studio this week to record song number 10, but first, here are the lyrics for song number 9 which is nearly finished.

The song in question is a Roo’s Radio song called Holding out hope. We haven’t had much time to practice and write, so it was all done in possibly too short a space of time. Having said that, we were probably more focused than we have been previously. So as ever, it’s swings and roundabouts.

The title is actually taken from the final chorus of Flicker. I don’t recall if this was deliberate or not, but when it came to scribbling these down, it became apparent that it’s kind of a successor to Clouded. I guess I have boats and the ocean on the brain? And I apparently also like a mixed metaphor or two? Is this person lost at sea or have they been in a fight? Or both?

Here we go then:

Holding out hope
I’ve been nursing a cracked rib or two
Got to make time to breath when you’re battered and bruised
Turns out I’ve been dreaming only for you
But like all dreams they scattered and fled as I came to

But I’ll be holding out hope
At the wheel of this floundering leaky old boat
‘Cause who knows what the dawn might bring
And I’ve been squandering chances
Every insight I gain at the cost of my advances
But I scan the horizon and sing

I’ve been stealing hours from tomorrow
Sailing these seas always searching, but I don’t know
Maybe it’s not worth the time spent alone
And not worth the effort of fighting the undertow

Lyrics – dog Tired

So we’re in the studio. I totes forgot to prelude it by telling you about the song and posting the lyrics.

So sorry.

Today we’re recording the first blues song I ever did write. I doubt I have the right. I’m not exactly a blues aficionado. I always think of the bit in Lord of the Rings where Aragorn tells Bilbo it’s his look out if he has the cheek to write songs about Gil-galad in the house of Elrond. </nerd>


I think this one revolves around the line “what if there are fights you’re born to lose”. We get so much in films and so on about destiny and everything working out right. And sometimes things don’t work out. Not a sparkling piece of insightful observation, I’ll grant you.

What if no matter how you went about a situation you were going to fail? Probably you should still go for it. Depends on your perspective I guess. The point being, if you fail, you shouldn’t berate yourself too hard or entertain endless what ifs.

I actually came up with the title of the song by mishearing Radiohead‘s Myxomatosis. It’s not as if Thom’s diction is the clearest in rock. Turns out the lyric is “I don’t know why I feel so tongue tied”, not “dog tired”. Hell I’ll take it. At least I didn’t write a song called Twitch and salivate. Although…

As well as Paul and myself (standard), we’ve also got Ant Martin back in and the one and only Jack Lewis (Mister Jack Lewis if you please!) for the first time. Very exciting stuff.

I’ll chuck a few pics out at some point no doubt.

And here are the lyrics:

dog Tired
Hung my head found a way
To double down on yesterday
If I keep throwing words around
If I could just hold out and run to ground
That most elusive of all men
The king of black eyed fools again
I’ve been indecisive, I’ve been unkind
Mercy me I think I’ve been so blind

Tell me just exactly what’s a man to do
What if there are fights you’re born to lose?
What if I could have done it different from the start…
But what’s the point of “ifs” they’ll only tear you apart

Holding forth as if by this
Strength of belief I could dismiss
All opposition, all antipathy
But it begs the question, who are we?
And honestly I still don’t know
Whether to stay or up and go
Apprehensive of all that is required
And all of my days feeling so dog tired

Every now and then I’ll catch a glimpse
Of the life that I could lead and I’m convinced
That here to there and there to here and back again
Would take more out of me than I have to spend


I was just thinking through the veracity of my previous statement that I don’t write intensely autobiographical songs. There’s a nagging doubt in my mind that I’m possibly more autobiographical than I wishfully think I am (i.e. there’s a nagging doubt in my mind that I’m a great big liar).

I’m not sure analysing too much is a good idea, and I end up feeling like (and, yes, probably sounding like) a wanker when I do, but I discuss writing lyrics reasonably regularly with Jack and I usually reassert that I don’t write directly about myself. Very often.

I’m mostly concerned with lyrics sounding right. I don’t tend to think too hard about the individual meaning of lines, I kind of go with what sounds good to my ear. Or what looks good to my eyes if I’m writing it down I guess. So songs probably do start off directly in my own experience, but I try and make them as general as possible. Or try and exaggerate anything personal to make it more than just about me.

Clouded is probably a good example. I don’t think I’ve ever really felt that lost. I think everyone knows what it feels like to be physically or metaphorically far from home, and of course, I’ve had my fair share of confusion. But the extremes to which the lyrics in Clouded go aren’t drawn from my life.

But then I think about some of the phrases I’ve included in different songs and they could come straight from me. They probably reasonably accurately summarise my state of mind. I’m not telling you which ones though.

And I guess that’s the point. Perhaps my songs are more autobiographical than I’d like to admit to, but I do deliberately obfuscate that fact. Maybe because I don’t want to be that public, maybe I don’t think people want to hear about me, maybe songs are better the more people can relate to them, I’m not sure.

They’re only lyrics. I just write ’em. I don’t think that’s a very neat conclusion. Sometimes you can’t wrap a blog post up in a clever way. Or sometimes you just can’t be bothered.

About a song – Dream again

As it was recently the anniversary of Shakespeare‘s death, it came to my mind to tell you about this little song o’ mine.

Dream again was written in September 2012. The original title was Dream again (Caliban’s song) and it was inspired by and built around Caliban’s speech from Act 3, Scene 2 of The Tempest. I even directly quoted it in the chorus.

I’m not going to claim an in depth knowledge of the play and its symbolism, so in some ways perhaps it was foolish to write a song inspired by it. However, I was rather taken with the speech when it was featured in the opening ceremony for the 2012 Olympics as well as with discussions about the nature of the character in the play. In particular I liked that despite being described as a monster, there are hints that he is better than that.

I’ve written a few songs that touch on the idea that we all have the potential to be great as well as monstrous. I think acknowledging this is helpful on a personal level and also helpful in being empathetic towards others whose motives we might not initially understand.

So this is kind of an introspective take on that idea. Vaguely from Caliban’s point of view as imagined by me. I’m pretty pleased with the words to this one, actually. In particular I like the ocean/brine twist on the phrase “can’t see the wood for the trees”.

This seemed a fairly obvious choice for a Roo’s Radio song, and I thought Claire’s voice would be a good fit. We moved the key around a bit before it felt right. This was one of our earlier songs – check out this 2013 video of us performing it – which was finished pre-album, so it was a fairly solid option when it came to putting the album together. It fits really well with some of the other songs in terms of meaning (However, Way out) as well as following on directly from Clouded’s theme quite nicely (given that Clouded is about being lost at sea and The Tempest starts with a shipwreck).

My bandmates and Paul took it to a whole ‘nother level, as always. I particularly love Paul and Ally’s rhythm and Cec’s harmony. As well as Claire’s beautifully sung vocal, naturally.

Dream again
Oh! these thoughts of mine,
I’m having difficulty telling
all the ocean from the brine
I thought I saw a better me
I walked a world apart
But then discovered that it couldn’t be

These voices are whispering to me

Looking in your eyes
I find I’m fallen down but then
I wake to realise
There’s nothing in me now
That would sooner leave it all
and exit with a crooked bow

These voices are whispering to me

And when I waked
I cried to dream again
Opened my eyes
Remembering the light

Faith, I know not where
I am heading and I’m not sure
why you’d ever care
If all it ever took
Was one small bite then dare I
take a second look?

These voices are whispering to me
Tempting me; offering the sky

And when I waked
I cried to dream again
Opened my eyes
Remembering the light
Shutting them tight
I tried to dream but then,
Facing the day, I move on
With fading memories of night

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

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

Back at play

Ordinarily a band practice probably wouldn’t be particularly blog-worthy. But at the moment strangeday practices are so few and far between that I felt it might merit a mention.
So, last night we all headed out to M5 studios to set up and practice in “a matchbox”. Luckily there were five sets of ear protection in play otherwise there would almost certainly be some hearing impairment this morning. Look after your ears kids!

We kicked off with a brief run through of some old songs, each of us choosing a song. I don’t think they’ve told him, Hide, 10, Longshore drift and Sea change all got a run out, with varying degrees of success. We had a nice little jam at the end of Sea change as well. It felt good.

Then we moved on to work with a new song, Long defeat. Aaron had demoed this one up and sent it through for me to write lyrics and melody back in June 2015. In his words, “this is a bit of a frankenstein song incorporating riffs and from different writing sessions over time so you’ll no doubt recognise parts of it.”

This being me, the lyrics and melody weren’t written until December. Eek. In actual fact, once I got down to it, it was all sorted in a couple of hours, and I’m quite pleased with them as it goes. Maybe I’ll make a separate post at some point going into it a little.

It’s always great to start throwing a song around between us. Watching as sections change and evolve is quite the fun thing to do. We kind of got there in the end, and I even tried to get a recording by wrapping my phone in a coat. It didn’t work, the room was just too damn loud. It sounds like it’s been recorded on a ZX Spectrum 16K.

At our current rate, you’ll be hearing the song in around 6 or 7 years. So stay tuned for that.

We’re actually booking in an all-dayer for next month, so you may well get a report on that as well. It’s been a while since we’ve had an all day practice.