Video: Come With Me – live at Bridge of Orchy

Norman Lamont and the Heaven Sent at the Orchy sessions

Here’s the first video from the Bridge of Orchy sessions.

The band are playing Come With Me, the best song on the Roadblock album and one of my favourites of all the things I’ve written.

The video was done by Euan Brockie and the audio recorded and mixed by Gerry Callaghan and Ross Arthur.

What do you think of this one?  If you like it please share on Facebook and Twitter and leave a message below!

 

Songstories #15 – The Spell

Greek engraving of sad musician with lyre
Greek engraving of sad musician with lyreI’ve written some sad songs in my time, but this must be the saddest.  It’s a sprawling 7.5 minutes. The theme song, the bit about the spell that opens and closes the song, reflects on how youth feels invulnerable, invincible, even if you know it’s not forever – ‘safe for the moment’. It bookends some half-told stories of death and remembrance. I wasn’t sure where it was coming from at the time, but looking back on the song now, I can see the traces of the deaths of my mother and mother-in-law still fresh in my mind.

Roadblock CD coverThe 2008 album Roadblock, from which it comes (still a few CDs available folks!) with its black design, was full of darkness, loss and remembrance.  A man in his mid-50s struggling with the idea he’s crested the hill and lots of things he took for granted just ain’t going to happen. As Dylan says, I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now (thankfully).
I hadn’t listened to it for many years until last week, and I found it quite moving. Maybe you will too. The only other musician on it is Mary Robbs on violin, although Dave Watson and Dave Christopher helped me a lot with the string arrangements.
Roadblock will soon be available on Bandcamp.

Songstories #11: Roadblock

Soldiers at a roadblock

My Roadblock album doesn’t get mentioned much when people talk about my music. Maybe because I don’t tend to play many of the songs live. Or maybe because it’s pretty gloomy.

The title track is one of the darkest things I’ve done. The inspirations were the blues and the call and response worksongs of the chain gangs in the Deep South. Mixed in are some reflections on my own ageing and death. So there you go!

Soldiers at a roadblockThe image that started it off was the roadblock. It seems to me one of the most sinister and intimidating icons of the late 20th and early 21st centuries – the makeshift roadblock manned by twitchy, heavily armed teenagers, maybe out of their heads on drugs or ideology. How do you feel when you approach one of these? You can’t turn back, you can’t drive through it. Is it the end of the road? In places all over the world, and more and more, it might be. When will it be Scotland?

That was the starting point of the song, curiously enough, on a beautiful sunny morning in my friend Adrian’s basement flat in Hackney. I was in London for a few gigs with the Innocents, one of the happiest musical weekends of my life. Quite why this song came up I’ll never know.

Musically it’s so simple, just one chord that changes from minor to major and back. It was recorded at The Sound Station in Livingston with Calais Brown and Lynsey Hutchinson, whose harmonies Calais framed in a lovely echoey bassy environment.

So, an unhappy and funereal song, written and recorded in the happiest circumstances. Roadblock.

(Image from http://www.michaeltotten.com/archives/2008/09/from-baku-to-ru.php)

Songstories #8 Come With Me

Come With Me was written from my memories of a very hot summer in Edinburgh in 1976, when I’d moved here for the first time (the second time was in 1990). I lived near the Meadows and had a part-time job stacking boxes in a fruit shop before opening time. I’d finish my work by 8:30 and walk home across the Meadows, sometimes stopping for a nap. The weather was that good.

It was also at that time I encountered serious practitioners of Zen Buddhism. I’d always been interested in the general meditation area, but by that time it was emerging from the association with psychedelics and ‘freaks’ with their head shops, man, but the beginnings of the twee, sentimental New Age infatuation were becoming apparent. Zen seemed to counter both those tendencies with its emphasis on discipline and its dismissal of the ‘be nice to yourself’ culture (“It’s not enough to be a freak, you’ve got to be a strong one” and “It’s not enough to be set free, you’ve got to love the jail” still sum it up for me).

I wrote the song in the early 2000s, and recorded it for the Roadblock album in 2005. At the time I recorded it, I was using the Robert Fripp tuning CGDAEG on my acoustic, and the basic track uses that, but I layered another guitar in conventional tuning with it, in the background. I’ve noticed that not many people use that thumb-slap picking style I use. Mary Robbs sang the harmonies and Nelson Wright played some percussion. Daniel Davis said it was my one of my best recording jobs, and it’s certainly one I can still enjoy listening to.

Two Roadblock performances

The Roadworks band will have two more outings in December:

 

Tonight (Sun 7 Dec)  at The Ark, Waterloo Place, with Rob Sproull-Cran, Angel Conversations and others. 8pm start, £2.00 admission

 

Thurs 11 Dec at The Village, Fort St, Leith, with Ms Fi, Simon Kempston and Mark Barnett  8pm start

 

There’s a curious video here by Gary Lind from our Secret CDs show.  Through a glass darkly, as they say …