This is the third of my ongoing series of blog posts on the Making Of my new album as Granfalloon, Calendar - Volume 1. To read the first in the series go here.
Track 3 - RUEXPERIENCED?
(No subject suggested)
Like a journal’s first hopeful entries about writing in it every day for the rest of the year, by October of 2014 (when this was originally written), Jess had stopped working on the song-a-week challenge. Understandably as it was a hell of an undertaking and she wasn’t as invested in it as I was but this meant I had lost her topic suggestions and I had enjoyed her input. Looking back through my notes, I definitely had a lot of suggestions from fans and friends (examples of song suggestions unfulfilled included: “Childish swear words”, “Unemployment”, and “Can you ever have a purely epistemological concept of the self?”).
It looks like I chose to go my own way this week. I do remember being inspired partly by a stand-up comic I had seen around that time (I thought they were terrible… not enough life experience? Shallow subject matter? Judgey judge judgey of me eh?) so I suppose I was wanting to write something about accumulating life experiences to have something to write about. Ironic that the original concept of this song is so ill defined then.
This song had new life breathed into it in 2021 when I invited Caffs Burgis (AKA Test Card Girl) to my studio to work on a song and pulled this out of mothballs. I had recently made Caff’s acquaintance through the Positive Songs Project writing group Lobelia and I set up during the initial lockdown of 2020. I loved Caff’s contributions to the group and when Lo and I came up with the idea to send everyone a shoddily spray painted gold disc to thank them for taking part, I found out Caff’s lived only two streets away from me! I saved myself some postage and posted it direct-to-letterbox. She immediately messaged me… “Just picked up gold disk!!!! No stamp … mate! Are you Chorlton???” and then insisted we be best friends. One writing session involving Party Rings and a shared love of The West Wing tv show later and we were indeed very good friends!
The song, more pertinently to this blog, now had some focus! Strangely enough, maybe because I was older, and had experienced more than when I started the song. Lyrically the themes felt weightier to me, and I was influenced especially by my memories of my grandmother’s funeral for the second verse.
Listen to RUExperienced?
I asked Caffs for her memories of the sessions…
“I believe it all started with me arriving clutching two festive lattes and (for some reason?) a packet of party rings and ended with us playing table tennis with a football? Quite the trajectory. We thumbed through your song book and landed on those lyrics quite quickly I think. Then I spent quite a long time trying to record a pre-set Argos keyboard arpeggiator before realising that was a massive waste of time and we could just use Logic. There was "the big key change". Then we did a day of vocals. Probably had a different type of seasonal* latte that day? I remember laughing a lot …”
*NB - I remember those second lattes being Quality Street themed for anyone desperate to know…
Time really had proven to be the key for this one. I realised I needed to rewrite in a new, more appropriate key for my voice. Bless Caff’s understanding as she’d already recorded an ocean of vocals and synths for this that she then had to re-record in the new key. This scratch track was then sent to Andy Lyth (drums), Daz Woodcock (bass), and Cleg (guitar).
Its folk-tronicky beginnings wrongfooted us in the band for a while as we figured how it would translate musically as a group endeavour. The solution suggested itself when I was jamming the song with Andy on drums. He’s been a lifelong Keith Moon fan and tried out some classic over-the-top rolls on the Middle 8 and the Outro. When we heard that, we knew what this song was. It was bigger than we first thought and we started to direct ourselves to a more "70’s Who" frame of mind.
Cleg and Daz both indulged in their 70’s rock god fantasies (if they ever entertained them) but I think we kept it on the tasteful side and served the song. Robin Koob (Run Remedy) then added fiddle in the outro as a further tip of the hat to ‘Baba O’Riley’.
You can (and should) hear more Test Card Girl at https://www.testcardgirl.co.uk