Nick’s Blog

It’s always difficult to know whether the lyrics or the music should come first when writing a song. Most songwriters I know tend to write at a piano, or with a guitar in their hand – our songwriting process was similar, in that it usually started with a musical idea, and George either wrote some lyrics to fit the rhythm, or chopped up a poem he had written separately, and rewrote it to fit.

There was a lot of heated debate about what should happen musically and lyrically. Poets have a tendency to vary line length, and drop in extra lines or syllables, which is fine in a written poem, but creates a real headache for someone trying to set it to a steady rhythm. George was used to being able to write whatever he wanted (and if anyone complained about the weird structure he could call it contemporary free verse), but he suddenly had to cope with me saying “I want that line to be 7 syllables long, and I want it to end on an open vowel so it’s easier to sing that note”. Whereas I was used to writing lyrics that were essentially subservient to the music, and, like many great pop songs (and many dreadful pop songs), often didn’t make any sense or have much of a meaning. We both had to compromise to achieve a finished song.

My favourite songs on the album are ‘Notariddle’, for its simplicity, and ‘Mrs Bride’ for its dark edge.

I’ve been asked to comment on my musical influences. There are too many to list – and it’s hard to say which had the greatest influence on this music. But here’s a few of my favourite performers and recording artists (in no particular order), all of which are an inspiration:

Bob Dylan, Lonnie Donegan, Fairport Convention, Leonard Cohen, Love, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, Hank Williams, Arty McGlynn, The Fall, Ralph McTell, John Lee Hooker, Joan Baez, El Hadj N Diaye, The Pogues, Blind Blake, Serge Gainsbourg, Spiers and Boden, Toots and the Maytals, Morrissey, Robert Johnson, The Grateful Dead, Lou Reed, PJ Harvey, and Nick Drake.

3 thoughts on “Nick’s Blog

  1. Bonjour !
    bel album Nick ! je suis impressionnée !
    Peut-être pourrais-tu trouver une gentille traductrice française (jolie ce serait encore mieux pour toi !) pour traduire tes articles, histoire que les français y comprennent quelque chose… Je pense bien à quelqu’un…
    Et puis si on pouvait avoir ton adresse postale par mail, ce serait sympa, on a une carte pour toi (vous)!

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