Ten Plus Three – part 1: light

Welcome and thanks for taking part in this walkthrough of Ten Objects. I hope it provides a personal touch rather than just ‘here it is’.

We’ll do it over three days, with the songs grouped under themes. The first is ‘Light’, the second ‘Twilight’ and the third ‘Dark’.

Today we’ll go with the ‘Light’ songs.

In the beginning

First, a bit about how the album came about. I’d worked with producer Gerry Callaghan on the Heaven Sent album In Another Life, which had involved a lot of overdubs and arrangements. Gerry’s main interest is in singer-songwriters and he invited me – I’m not sure if the word is ‘invited’ or ‘challenged’ – to record a completely solo album, just voice and acoustic guitar. I didn’t think my voice or guitar would stand up to that level of scrutiny so we compromised on a policy of ‘minimal overdubs’ – no more than one additional instrument on each song. I stretched that a little, as you’ll see, but generally we got the kind of album Gerry was aiming for – personal and intimate, sparsely arranged – and I surprised myself with how appropriate his judgement turned out to be.

I sat down with Gerry and sang demos of about fifteen songs. We abandoned some in the course of a few months recording, and I wrote two new songs during the recording time.

Makes Sense To Me

Makes Sense To Me (mp3) – click the three dots to download.

This is the nearest I’ve written to a simple country song, and seemed a welcoming way to start the album.

One night I was driving home from a noisy rehearsal with a punk-cabaret band in which I occasionally played lead guitar. Maybe in an effort to soothe myself I started singing and I’d made up most of the song by the time I got home. I wrote it down and worked out the chords, which was easy to do as they were clearly standard C&W chords. I had a folk club gig a few weeks later and tried it out there, rewriting a few lines that didn’t ‘sing’ as well.

I’d seen that an old friend of mine and band member when I lived in Staffordshire in the 1980s had set up business as a session guitarist, and he added lovely pedal steel guitar.

If you’d like to sing it too, here are the words and chords.

Makes Sense to Me

You [D]know how some people will tell you sincere

About Jesus and angels and how they feel them [A] near

And [Bm]how they find [F#m]beauty in what[Bm]ever they [A]see

It’s only [G]since I’ve [D]known you

It makes[A7] sense to [D]me

I wondered why some people don’t travel far
I wondered what keeps them in the places they are
And why do some prisoners never try to break free?
It’s only since I’ve known you
That it makes sense to me

[G]All the bizarre things I’ve [D]heard lovers say

Be[E7]come crystal clear now I’m [A7]thinking that way

All the big claims that I’ve heard lovers make
I shrugged them off – that was my mistake

I was a doubter, a cynic, a bore
I used to sneer when they said there was more
When they said how profound and how sweet love could be
It’s only since I’ve known you
It makes sense to me
I just look your way and
It makes sense to me.

Story of a Love in Ten Objects

Story of a Love in Ten Objects (mp3) – click the three dots to download.

Probably my favourite song on the album, and one which I wrote after we’d started on the collection.

With Gerry and some other musician friends at a weekend in the Highlands we all picked a book to inspire us to write a song. I picked ‘A History of the World in 100 Objects by Neil MacGregor, which was on the bookshelf where we were staying. I didn’t need any more than the title, as the urge to review a couple’s life together by taking a look through their souvenirs seemed both obvious and inspiring. When we came to play each other the songs we’d written I got quite choked singing it, so I knew it had some power. When I got home, I removed a verse that made the narrator less of a ‘normal person’ and more specific in occupation and status, but otherwise the song remained pretty much as I wrote it during that 30 minute exercise.

I asked Sarah Whiteside to play cello, having no idea what she would play, and was delighted at what she arrived with. The song also benefits from my Heaven Sent bandmember Suzy Cargill’s percussion.

This video was recorded at Gerry’s home studio, where the album was born.

Story of a Love in Ten Objects

Here’s the ticket for a one day conference, where we first met
I gave a talk with PowerPoint slides
And here’s the CD by Brian Eno – Another Green World
I lent it to you so you’d have to see me again
And here’s the blouse you wore that first night, I never let you throw it away
My fingers remember every button they undid
And here’s the ring, ah, that was crazy, haggled in a market in Fez
I never thought we’d get out of there alive
Walking backwards into tomorrow …
Here’s your photo of us in Paris in that street cafe
Awarding people points out of ten
Here’s the tag that they put on the baby’s wrist to say she was yours
It took that whole week to decide a name
And here’s that ugly wooden candlestick your mother’s brother made
It’s been in every livingroom we’ve had
And here’s the scan of our grandson – looks like a bowl of dust
But we saw something there that looked like love
Walking backwards into tomorrow …
And here’s a box made of cardboard to bury these things in
And on the top – a single red rose
Walking backwards into tomorrow …
Walking backwards into forever …
Walking backwards into …

Guitar – the verse is simply C, Em, Bbmaj7, Gsus4 and G7; the Walking Backwards bit is Fmaj7 and Am.

Lump Sum

Lump Sum (mp3) – click the three dots to download.

This little blues was something I’d written and forgotten about until I was looking for songs that might work as solo pieces for this album. Sometime during the recording of the album, I won on the National Lottery the life-changing sum of £5.00.

Harmonica was provided by Alan Dawson, a musician of breathtaking fluency on guitar and moothie.

Lump Sum

I got a lump sum baby – funny how you love me now
What would you do, and all that.
Dreams come true, and all that.
Lump sum baby

Well a lump sum baby fell into my hands somehow
Look a gift horse, and all that.
What you don’t know and all that.
Lump sum baby

I got the wherewithal baby, where were you all before now?
Friends reunited and all that.
Out of the woodwork and all that
Lump sum baby

Guitar-wise, it’s just a twelve bar blues – E7, A7 and B7

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