See You In Another Life day 2: in the land of love songs


The Goodbye Song (WAV, 37MB)

The Goodbye Song (mp3, 6.6MB)

Had (WAV, 56MB)

Had (mp3, 10MB)


In the first episode we looked at fantasy lives. A favourite fantasy world most of us have visited from time to time is the love song. That country where you rhymes with be true and love you rhymes with no-one above you.  I’ve got two songs here that take the love song formula and tweak it a little: The Goodbye Song and Had.

If you’ve ever had to dump someone, The Goodbye Song is an object lesson in how not to do it. The title should really be Don’t Make It Any Harder Than It Is, but that’s too long for me, and gives away the punchline of the self-obsessed patronising lover.

When I wrote it I’d been listening a lot to Diana Krall’s album Glad Rag Doll, featuring songs from the 1920s and 1930s. I’ve always loved music from old music-hall songs from the turn of the century up to the 40s and 50s. My parents used to perform in a church dramatic club putting on shows that drew on music-hall and some of the great musicals like South Pacific and Guys and Dolls. So when I started listening to the Beatles,  Incredible String Band and Bonzo Dog Band, and found them harking back to earlier music with songs like Honey Pie and Waiting For You I felt quite at home. The first few songs I wrote were in the Honey Pie style.

Some listeners have also noted a touch of Leonard Cohen in Goodbye Song, perhaps the more tongue-in-cheek Cohen of I’m Your Man.

John Lawrence
John Lawrence by Malcolm McLean

Had was written by our former keyboard player John Lawrence and his brother Andrew. In this arrangement (nothing like John was expecting) I think  I’m channeling the ‘folk swing’ of Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks, a band I discovered in the 70s. His laconic delivery and conversational lyrics have been a big influence on my songwriting and I loved having this song to play with.

I’m sorry to say John passed away in June 2018, much missed by his bandmates and family.

These songs feature the two principal guest musicians on the album. Ged Brockie is a prominent jazz guitarist and composer with a serious professional music career to his name.  Gerry brought him in, let him hear Goodbye Song and an hour later we had all the guitar tracks we’d need, with a choice of solos to slot in. John then added beautifully complementary piano.   Had is one of a few songs to feature Phil Ramsay, Edinburgh gig promoter and trumpeter in a clutch of bands.


The Goodbye Song

It’s time to say goodbye, you know the reasons why
It was always going to end like this
Oh darling
Don’t make this harder than it is Don’t try to stall for time, don’t try to change my mind
Let’s leave out the parting kiss
Oh darling
Don’t make this harder than it is I got a sinking feeling, when you said that we needed to talk
I guess that was the signal it was time for me to walk Look I’m not blaming but what else to do?
When the champagne’s lost its fizz
Oh darling
Don’t make this harder than it is


I didn’t come to argue, I just came to collect my stuff
No need to prolong it – don’t you think enough is enough? I see you’re still upset but let’s not forget
It was never exactly bliss
Oh darling,
Don’t make this any harder than
It needs to be
We’re in a prison but we’ve got the key
So let’s just slip out gracefully

Don’t make this harder than it is

Norman: vocal
Ged Brockie: guitars
John: keyboards
James: bass
Suzy: drums

Want to play it?

The verse is, in its most basic un-jazz chords form, C, Dm, Em, F, C, Bb9, C then F, Fm C;  the middle is F, Fm, C, D7, Ab, G.  That’ll get you started.

Here’s a solo acoustic version recorded at home on winter night as part of a series callled The Twilight Show.


I had a picture of you but I lost it
I remember you well, you were beautiful
And I had you but now you’re gone I’ve lost a lot of things in this life
But I never thought I’d lose the one thing
That meant the most to me
But I guess that’s just my fate
To wait forever for a date
With the ghost that lives in my mind Had
I had a memory of you but I faked it
From a photograph of someone else
And I had you but now you’re gone I used to get lost in your eyes
Tell you that I’d never lie
But I lied, right now, about that
The truth seems to hurt me so
I never could let go
Of just how bad I treated you Had
I had a dream of you whispering
Unclear words, you meant everything to me
But now you’re gone
Gone, gone
I had you but now you’re gone


(By John and Andrew Lawrence)

Norman: acoustic guitar, lead guitar
Fi: electric guitar
James: bass
Suzy: drums
John: keyboards
Phil Ramsay: trumpet

If you want to play it, the verse chords are D, B7. G, A and D.  The alternate part is G Gm D E Bb A7

Phil Ramsay recording Had

Another old-tyme goodbye song: All You Need To Know About Me

Here’s an ancestor of Goodbye Song from 2013. This time it’s just me playing. (And yes, it’s fiction.)

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