Archives for January 2016
Sitting in my tiny bedroom at 98 Combe Avenue in 1972 i picked up a guitar and my notepad and wrote some songs. This is one of them. It was inspired by David Bowie who i had just seen play up the road at Eltham Collage. You could say i was inspired. Home was quite, my Mother would have been downstairs sipping a small Brandy while Dad was at work. There was food on the table and my teenage self was on the look out of an escape route to another World. Outside my bedroom window the council estate where i learnt how to dance, fight, drink and take drugs. I smoked fags out of that window and dreamt of being in love, but first i had to learn to play guitar and write some songs for myself. With the help of Bob, who lived a few doors down, we recorded 13 songs onto a valve tape recorder. Many years later in 2005 Bob turned up at one of my solo shows and gave me the tapes in a plastic bag, i had not heard them in all that time. I was shocked and very grateful. Yesterday i listened to Bowie’s music for 6 hours and lit a candle in my study, i reflected and zoned out of my day. I cried for the passing of time and the youth that has passed with it. Flicking through my i tunes playlists on my laptop i fell upon this recording, and hearing it i can clearly make out the passion i must of had, and the love for David Bowies work. Im thankful for the reconnection with my teenage self, alone on a single bed on a council estate in South East London in 1972, all i wanted was an escape route. I found it by listening to music and dedicating myself to the lyrical side of my imagination. The rest as they say is Geography.
In 1972 i was sitting in my bedroom in my tiny house on a council estate in London when the penny dropped. I put pen to paper and picked up my battered guitar and began to write my first song. I had no idea where i was going too but i knew subconsciously that this was me. My songs were deep and fanciful, i was drifting between romance and theatre, both of which i knew nothing about. On my record player the constant revolving of David Bowie and Space Oddity. A few years ago i received some tapes recorded in 1971 by a friend of mine who lived down the block from me, these were my first demos. When i listen to them now i can hear how much i leant on David Bowies inspiration, even the voice, i was South London with a slight dash of Anthony Newley. David Bowie gave the me the lyrically voice that started me on my way. I saw Bowie play at Eltham Collage in 1972, the audience were sat on the floor and during the show he came out and shared his guitar with us, we reached out strumming at his blue 12 string. After the show i walked home with a friend, whatever Bowie had i wanted some too, but like his guitar it all seemed out of reach. One afternoon i stood outside his house in Beckenham, just to see him and to have a chance maybe to say hello. It was a wasted journey, he never showed up, maybe we had the wrong house. Another friend of mine worked for him, Will was his road manager, and when he toured at Ziggy i was invited to the Lewisham Odeon to see him, and hang out back stage, i wanted so badly to be close to him and his incredible music. The band were from Hull, but they pretend to come from Mars, i wanted to be with them on Mars. I even wrote a song called Welcome to Mars. Will was kind enough to let me help him paint the lighting strike on the stage. Once in the 80’s Squeeze played some shows with Bowie on his Glass Spider tour, to be as the side of the stage was exciting. HE and his crew gave us a standing ovation one eh first night of the tour. On the plane from London to New York i sat across the isle from him and his son. We talked about the fear of flying, we drank large glasses of Vodka. I had no idea what to talk to him about, i didn’t want to bother him but he was so open and led some of the conversations. I remember nothing about what we said. I do remember the plane having to divert very quickly as we just missed another plane leaving the runway at JFK. I looked and him across the isle, he was the thin very white Duke. I was the slightly tubbier version.
This weekend i went on to the Tidal website and listened to his new album, i was drawn to its depth, and even though i was not sold completely on the songs i could sense something very deep. This morning when my wife Louise woke me up to tell me he had died, the penny dropped. There are no words, my tears collect as i recall the wonderful opening lines of Letter to Hermione ‘The hand that wrote this letter sweeps the pillow clean, so rest your head and read a treasured dream, I care for no one else but you, I tear my soul to cease the pain I think maybe you feel the same, what can we do? I’m not quite sure what we’re supposed to do so I’ve been writing just for you
Im not sure what I’m supposed to do either so i will write some words of love to you. Thank you and God Rest your Soul in heaven.
Apart from Christmas what is there to do on the 31st of December. A gratitude list springs to mind for it is with great pleasure i find myself here in this moment and this place.
I thank thee for a wonderful year and all who sailed in her, from head to toe. Danny and Jeff, and their wonderful scripts which paved the way for our new album. Laurie Latham and our wonderful band of men and woman. What fun we had on the motorways of England and Scotland. Festivals and one off shows here and there. Solo, i enjoyed the fruits of smaller stages and smiles all round. Thank you Boo. Peter Bradley and the songwriters retreats that are real treats full of wonderful people who bring love and reward to our ears. Touring is such a vast wagon to cover, what a good team we have, Gary Westman one and all. Gordon Hough, how would i be without. Carly, Jayne and Suzanne, Miles and the crew. The back room girls. How wonderful the audiences that come to see us perform, im so grateful of the time they give to our music. Thank you. The Strypes are such a fantastic handful of friends, and with Andy Collins who keeps me on the internet, thank you. Rocket this is my sidesaddle of desire. Racheal and Julian, stalwart people with hearts of gold. The bike is sturdy with balance, and where would i be without. America, a long and winding road. A place where memories hold focus in the background of my mind, there they brown like sunburnt pictures in a picture book. Glenn has been working hard this last year, producing and directing, singing in tune, as ever and being a brilliant guitarist, like the first day i met him, he still blows me away. A long life together, i think we are just seeing each other for the first time. Who knew. A year of bedding in here in the barn with my lovely wife, Louise is so amazing and patient with the family she juggles, its a handful. Im a handful too, like a plate of jelly all of a wobble, difficult to keep on the plate. My Children, they are sturdy trees in the wood of my journey, Grace in India, Natalie and Riley in New York, Cissy in London. Here in the barn the funny Pebbles, the maturing Mitzi, the sapling of knowledge young Linus. And for the coming year, more of the same one wonders. My book still needs colouring in and the project with Boo is still to be toped and tailed, but will be fun. Another handful of songs with Mr T, and more touring with the band. Some festivals i can see on the horizon. I need time to reflect and to understand how i got here, and then to indulge in the here and the now. New music and new faces, new songs and new roads less travelled. Who knows, i have open hands in anticipation of great things. You will know more than me. There will be bumps in the road because there always is, without them it would all be so simple. For now though less terror and more firmer for me while i sharpen my pencil for another round of words and chapters. Home will be still where the heart is and the heart may focus on new sunny days in this humble place of love and family. Lots to predict, but not for me, i will just take it one day at a time to see where it all takes me. Heaven knows where it will take me but the view from my study window reveals the top of the downs, covered in patches by gorse, there are small trees and waves of orange winter sunshine on this warm but windy end of December day. What a view, a room with a view.