Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Hopeland (Notes from Corsica) 1

OK, so I'm trawling the back pages, but judging from the sales of 'Hopeland' and 'Keepers' this is probably new to a lot of folk.
I'm about to release 'Ghost of Song', an album of selected songs from those two albums, an attempt to kindle some interest in the material; I'd hate for it to be buried. 
Rereading these notes from the island I can see that I do come over a bit earnest but I think that was a reaction to the austere beauty of the place; I hope that you'll indulge my affectation. I'll try and sneak in a few jokes just to lighten things up a bit; see if you can spot them.
There'll be the odd download also.
So, here's a reminder of the stories behind 'Hopeland' and 'Keepers', my 'Notes from Corsica':


 “In short withdrawals from the world there is to be had unfailing refreshment. 
When his spirit is burdened or lightened, the natural movement of a man’s heart is to lift upward, 
and this is more readily done in the wild, for there it is easy to be still.”
W. H. Murray

There is a house on a hill that sits beneath a mountain that overlooks the sea. 
This past year I retreated there, more in hope than expectation. The hope was that I could integrate 
with an environment, have a daily purpose, however mundane, and to somehow reflect that in my writing.
The ripe confusions of London had rendered me emotionally barren; I needed to connect with 
something real, something fine. I wanted to tell the story of how I came to be there. 
Unburdened, I started to write:

I see a blue tractor, my first memory.
Then blue sea, white dog, a red sand filled bucket.
Now I have the taste of metal in my mouth.
Why is that memory tainted with sadness?
There’s my mother in a headscarf, wiping ice cream from Gareth’s mouth. 
Dad is doing the same for Katy who is too young to do anything but gurgle up at us from her pram.
‘The dog went to you, not to me” Kerry jabs her finger at me accusingly and my knees start to sing.
I look down and they are covered in red magic.
I turn to face the wind and, opening my mouth, taste the sea.


This is no autobiography or travelogue, just the story of what happened to Di and I and how it changed 
our view of the world where a life touched a life and then took on a life of its own.
They say that stories only happen to those who can tell them.
It seems to me that if we want our stories to endure they must be well crafted and durable. 
For any songwriter there is a peculiar endevour involved in committing words to song, and then in the  recording of that song. This labour can do nothing but alter the initial perception or idea. The joy of committing words to a page is that you can narrow the distance between the seeing and the writing. 
You can better capture the vividity of a feeling without memory’s intrusion. Writing is something out of nothing; now when I have nothing to say, I watch and I listen. There’s an undercurrent of meaning to everything; you could call it ‘sadness’ or find brightness there, depending on your disposition 
or how sharp your eye is.
Here in Corsica time moves so slowly that I can see the changes, and ask ‘what is the difference?’
Here, atop the mountain I have become less desperate for certainty and more open to possibility.
I have real thirst, real hunger.
I taste the water.
I taste my food.
I hear the music.
I sleep on books.
There is time enough for tomorrow. 

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