1.) Terra Nova: Ideas for this song came after being captivated by an illustrated book about Scott of the Antarctic. I revisited the ideas recently.
Lyrics for Terra Nova
Down to the south where the albatross flies.
Down below zero is where that land lies,
Where Wilson drew sketches of penguin and gull,
Life below canvas and barnacled hull,
The shivering timbers and the creak of a mast,
Scantily clad for the chill and the blast.
Frost bit the finger and blackened the toe.
They ate all their ponies and they drank melted snow.
The paraselena played tricks on the eye,
Reflecting the moon through the ice in the sky.
By a flickering candle they managed a brew,
And sometimes they thought they might even get through.
Fighting to muster a resolute tread.
Working like dogs to pull on a sled,
'Til the weather closed in and extracted its toll,
An ocean of space between them and the Pole.
Slip out for a moment and no-one will mind,
Not even a mark or a print left to find.
To some it would seem the whole journey was tragic,
No sense of adventure, no moment of magic,
No stomach to push to get close to the edge,
But to shrug off complacency out on some ledge,
I'd go there if I could, in a boat made of wood,
And I'd stand in the shoes where those people once stood.
Terra Nova, Terra Nova, Terra Nova...
2.) Soldier was written at the time of the Hungerford Massacre in UK. A man with a machine gun lost the plot and murdered several school children. How could anybody do such things? It is also a thumbnail sketch of someone with whom I used to work. The two aspects are unrelated, but it does make you wonder. I play this in open G.
3.) Say You're Mine is a simple love song. Sometimes simplicity is a good way forward. I play this in DADGAD.
4.) Florence Nightingale jumped off the pages of a school history book. It is fairly self explanatory. I play this in Drop D with capo at the third fret.
5.) There Will Always Be A Place In My Life For You is in standard tuning. Again this is a fairly simple song. I like the words. The song employs stuff you get at school eg alliteration. My English Teachers (from all those years ago) would have been proud of me!
6.) Atheist is ironic because it is in fact a prayer. I play it on 5 string banjo in C tuning without finger picks! Don't play banjo much these days and certainly not in C tuning. Ah me - - - how things change?
7.) Striving To Be Someone was written for my daughter. For her, twenty years or so down the line from writing this song, I would still wish all the same things. Also in DADGAD.
8.) Half Open Doorways is a song which ponders on teenage years on the outskirts of smoggy Glasgow in the 1960s/1970s. All the angst of growing up against a background of perceived expectations, and trying to pull life into some sort of perspective. I play this in DADGAD capo three, but capo two would have probably been better for my voice.
9.) Nova Scotia is in standard tuning. It reflects on the highland clearances, when the Scots were driven out of their homes to make way for......sheep! It also touches on hardened attitudes towards southerners, and possibly one in particular who found himself fighting "auld feuds" time and again in the school playground.
10.) My Sister's Eyes is written from the perspective of a conjoined twin. I wrote it after reading a book called The Girls by Lori Larsens. This song was voted into the final twenty in the Oldie Composers song contest in UK 2012.
11.) If You Should Take Your Love From Me
This was my contribution to "Writers in the Round" at Bunkfest 2011. Bunkfest is a music festival in Wallingford, England. This was a great experience. It is such a good way to showcase songs in a very relaxed atmosphere. Click on Michael McCarthy to open the link.
Posted on September 19, 2011 at 4:00am
Posted on February 8, 2009 at 4:30am