The World of Worries

After the frivolity of recording Physical there was always a chance that there would be a sinking feeling somewhere in the week.

I’d like to think that it’s just a hard day at the office where we are dealing with some tough issues in the middle of a boom period but it all came down to a video of a desperate man paying with his life for the temerity of standing up for himself. I feel terribly sad for the fate of Andries Tatane.

There is no worse feeling than helplessness. The service delivery protests around my country are symptoms of this feeling. People who are in need and are feeling ignored are trying to voice their frustrations because the channels open to them are of no use. Phones are not answered and a letter to the government representative is a meaningless, empty gesture. Some would say a vote would make a difference and perhaps they are right, but I fear the pain of our horrifying past (easily forgotten by those who did not suffer it) is still too fresh. If you don’t understand this I would venture that you should spend more time considering the mindset of the many. Aside from this there must be a sense of betrayal, of a trust that has been broken and this alone is reason enough for the anger.

Andries Tatane’s death leaves behind a family and I can’t stop thinking of them tonight. The price he paid, for asking for what is rightfully his, is simply too high and we in our suburban ivory towers just move on too quickly. This might just be middle-class anguish, but it is MY middle-class anguish so excuse me while I feel it.

My father told me some years back that, when I was a teenager, he could always gauge my mood by which song I was playing. It gave him a direct line to my emotions and maybe that’s why he was as forgiving as he was.

Tonight I kept playing Neil Young’s After the Gold Rush. It’s the song I play when I’m sad. There’s a recording of my efforts below, not the best vocals, not the best playing, but bear with me as I share my mistakes.

It started as a joke

It all started when Nadine Hutton joked on twitter that she needed new music for gym. I responded that perhaps Olivia Newton-John’s 80’s “classic” Physical might make an interesting addition to her playlist. Always quick to reply,  Nadine responded with a dare. If I recorded it she’d listen to it.

It is worth ponting out that I’m a music slut. I don’t follow a specific genre and I manage to find something good in most songs (note: I said songs, not artists). My love for ABBA is nowhere near my love for Tindersticks but I love them, despite the “alternative thought police” efforts to sway me. However, this musical promiscuity fails with songs like Physical. It is an abysmal example of how cheap marketing titillation supersedes any kind of integrity. Newton-John was made into an example of the shallow 80’s pursuit of success through whatever means (Patrick Bateman would have it on his iPod no doubt).

But I like a challenge and a musical challenge even more. So the process started, looking for a way into this song which could, quite rightly, be considered a track beyond redemption. It proved to be quite a struggle and a week later I was begging Nadine for more time! The song just would not give in to arrangement, electric guitars, distortion, synths, big beats… they all fell by the wayside.

The breakthrough proved to be simplicity. Take it all away and turn the song into something plaintive, less demanding, more pleading. So the final recording is just voice and an acoustic guitar.

I sent the rough demo to Nadine and she approved, so I’m happy. And what more could you want than happiness. I also sent the demo to Nechama Brodie – and I’m still on cloud 9 after her comments. While you’re on the web, check out her site and her songs. I’m a big fan. She’s going to be featured on my upcoming album, singing Savannah, so get used to her voice. She’ll be a household name soon from her own songs.

So here are the two final versions. I recorded an additional one with a baritone vocal, mainly to satisfy Dori’s curiosity, but you can pick one as your favourite.

If you like these please check out my original songs. The cover songs always attract more attention which is sad, even if it’s understandable. The songs are available for free download at my website: www.88kos.com – you can download them all and make your own 88 Kilos of Sunshine cd. You might be asked to enter your e-mail address for some songs – please do, this adds to my mailing list and I guarantee you the address won’t be abused for spam.

One final note – I’ve always had a soft spot for demo recordings, so I still prefer the original demo recording… I worry that those who heard it will feel the same. I worry too much about these trivial things.

Finally, easiest way to get updates: Follow me on twitter – @88kos