I've been meaning to do this for ages. Because I'm writing lots of new songs, I wondered why I'd written the old ones, and this is why.
Dreaming of You- I probably have already written about this. It was a dream- a little woman singing in a huge dark hall in a deserted Butlins-type place, with an out-of-sight and out-of-tune orchestra; she was standing alone on the stage in her best prom dress, spotlit. The atmosphere was damp and cold. There was no audience, just me in the shadows. I remembered the song she was singing and wrote it down when I awoke.
(Another time I dreamt I did a songwriting project in a pub and there were teddy-boys dancing on the bar, but that's another story)
Heaven Avenue- two groups of people at opposite ends of Brighton sample pure LSD; they agree to walk along the seafront and meet in the middle. One group has a beautiful other-worldly experience; the other has a total nightmare, and never leaves the house.
(At least they know how to make tea when the other-worldlies arrive)
Temptation- this is from a song-cycle I did about the seven deadly sins. I tried to read the Old Testament and got stuck at page 3, so decided to write my own nonsense comic-book version
Don't Know Why- a song about unrequited love and the foolishness surrounding it
Hill of Fools- I wrote this for Gina's Birthday. I'd been in the mountains of Italy, and then in the mountains of Scotland. When I was a little girl I always used to think the Beatles song 'Fool on the Hill' applied to me because I never seemed to fit in anywhere. Then I started thinking that maybe it was everyone else that was wrong and not me. So this is about making yourself feel as though you matter, even when everything else points to another conclusion. I often sing it in the morning when the day ahead looks unbearable, just like children used to sing hymns in assembly at school.
Ultimately, everything looks small and insignificant next to massive mountains that have been there for millions of years.
Running Away- well, yes, who doesn't feel like this sometimes?
Colour my Day- this is a song about trying to remain optimistic and look at difficult things from every angle. Sometimes trying to make another person happy can make you happy yourself.
Swan- I nearly drowned twice in very shallow water when I was very little- once in a bath and once in a paddling pool. These memories ended up in the same in-tray as a tale of a gang of terrifying swans following some young men in a rowing boat on a Sussex river, and a guy from art college who blasted out his brains with LSD and fell through the ice on a pond.
I wrote it to an ice-skating rhythm, because I love doing that even though I am very bad at it and fall over a lot.
Britannia Great- this is a song about compromise, a terrible but necessary thing
Hymn to Kent- beautiful Garden of England, inhabited by the National Front who have headquarters in Welling. How can we have fought wars against racism yet harbour it still in quiet places?
The Word is, Goodbye- about all types of ending and how they make you feel. Sorry, a bit depressing. Someone said they'd like this to be played at their funeral.
London- not what it seems, especially if you wander about a lot at night like I used to do in the 1980s with all those late-night gigs, walking home to Kilburn at 3 in the morning, talking to the transvestites and prostitutes on the way back.
Lots of people don't know that before Margaret Thatcher, there were no people sleeping rough or begging in London. A musician from Berlin came over once to stay and could not believe his eyes, as he'd heard that Britain was a wealthy and successful country. He'd not realised at what expense.
Once in a Blue Moon- I think I would call this song an appeal from the soul
Songbird- this was written for Diana Mavroleon's birthday. She has a lovely party in the woods in Norfolk every year and I wrote this after the first one I went to. We all sat in front of a brown tent, with 'footlights' made of tealights on top of small cut branches banged into the ground, listening to a group playing instruments they'd made from trees, amplified so we could hear how strange they sounded. As we sat there, multicoloured bugs rained down on to our heads and clothing but nobody minded. Later, we all danced to disco music under the stars until we could dance no more. I lay in a sleeping bag in a shed with Gina and her partner and children listening to the music for the rest of the night, falling asleep to the boisterous strains of 'My Boy Lollipop'
And that's it, end of self-indulgence. You can get my CD from www.roughtrade.com if you haven't got it already.
I have nearly finished the next one now.
Later I'll review last night's Songbird, which was very enjoyable.