It would be fair to say it’s been a funny old year. There have been downs. A whole summer of festivals cancelled would be in that category. Having put out an album and 2 videos before deciding I’d plugged the damned thing as much as I could without people becoming sick of the sound of me, for the first time in 2 decades I found myself with very little to do and no real motivation to get back in the saddle and start writing songs again. I felt I’d made quite a statement with four albums and it was time to take a break and recharge the batteries.
So, having worked out we could all earn money if we had lap tops and a wifi signal, I put the whole family, including a black pug called Ozzy the Prince of Darkness in the car and we headed south to the Pays Catalan region of France (the region which inspired “I Can Fly” on “Bombs Away”: https://duncanreidandthebigheads.com/2018/01/21/the-story-behind-the-song-part-4-i-can-fly/).
The next three months were a most definite “up”. For the first time in over 14 years since she left home, I spent days with my daughter, Lauren, which were a total joy, especially when we learned she was pregnant. It seems as much as I try to refuse the onward process of becoming a decrepit old git, events roll in as I stand King Canute like in braces and floral shirt, berating the onflowing tide of time. Becoming a Grandad is irrefutable evidence I’ve lost the battle but I don’t care. I’m cock a hoop.
And maybe it’s just being away from the daily news but the atmosphere in France seemed more carefree than London. People wore masks in supermarkets, but the sun and being outside does wonders for the soul and lets you imagine for five minutes that things are as they were.
However, July became August and September turned into October. Our fellow freedom seekers had long left and it was time for us to do the same as the sun began to lose it’s strength and the Mediterranean Sea hit you like a hammer if you were brave enough to take a plunge. Besides, Lauren really needed to return home to have scans and make sure all was alright.
So back to reality, back to the internet and back to the news. I’d decided over the summer that I’d make an important promise to myself. Come what may people will believe all the crap they are fed by charlatans and liars and trying to persuade them they are being deceived achieves nothing more than to make me unhappy. Such were my thoughts as I watched a reporter talk to a voter in America. “There’s a fraud taking place”, said the voter again and again. “Does it reassure you that I’ve been in the counting room and there are Republican observers just feet away from the count?”, said the reporter in her best, plummy English accent. Perhaps it was the foreign tone which had the voter stunned for all of ten seconds by this challenging of his preconceptions. “There’s a fraud taking place”, he resumed once his equilibrium had been restored and he’d managed to brush away anything which shook, if only briefly, the words of the hero he’d placed his faith in.
But then I read an interview with Tom Robinson, https://tomrobinson.com/ a now married man constantly updating his songs of sometimes gay defiance for the modern world, and carving out a new career as a radio presenter. Tom didn’t claim it as an original thought but when asked “What is your philosophy for life?”, he replied “Above all else, just be kind”. “Yes”, I thought, “After all we’ve been through this year, that is the thing to do”.
Following which something wonderful happened. With all the memories of the summer, the return to real life, and Tom Robinson’s words swirling round my head, the little studio I call home beckoned. Now I couldn’t possibly let you hear the full demo of the first song I’ve written since last spring, as that would spoil the full denouement to come in the fullness of time. But here is a little acapella snippet of verse, chorus and middle 8, with drums, bass and guitars taken out. Hopefully you can recognise the disparate elements of my year condensed into 50 short seconds and embellished with sweet harmonies and my best attempt to rival Brian Wilson in his prime.
Thank you Tom.