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Song stories 5 

 

 

 

“Hey Buddy” or in full if you like “Hey Buddy, You’ve Got A Tender Heart”

This is a song that came completely out of the Gretchen Peters songwriting workshop in Nashville. It was an emotionally exhausting few days for most of us I think. About twenty of us in a room for three days, mostly strangers though a few had met at previous workshops. Playing songs to Gretchen and Tom Douglas, listening to them talk and sing, an intimate concert with Gretchen, Kim Richey and Matraca Berg. Gretchen playing my new friend Robert’s song on guitar as he sang, Barry Walsh charting (Nashville notation) as she played. 

On the third day Gretchen introduced her special guest. Rodney Crowell. One of my favourite songwriters. They chatted for about an hour or so, Rodney played a few songs to illustrate points and we were just a few feet away. I asked Lydia (the organiser) if we could get a group photo, she kindly sorted it out and then that was it. Days of a new challenge, being wildly out of my comfort zone, the emotional impact of hearing others’ songs and then listening to Rodney Crowell in this setting, and I started weeping, dashing out of the room. Others had over the three days, it was my turn. A few people asked how I was, and it was difficult to explain. Lydia got it, had a word with Rodney and he gave me a hug, had a chat and told me “Hey Buddy, you’ve got a tender heart”. 

The last verse is completely about the workshop. 

 

 

Song stories 4 

It Doesn’t Hurt To Hurt Sometimes - a love song? Fragments of remembered conversations, some in person, some by phone, most written in letters (as the song says, there was nothing else), some written in cards, on postcards, borrowed poems and song lyrics. Another oblique Postcard Records reference maybe. One of the first two songs to be recorded, October 2018, we played it (deliberately) a little quicker than I normally played it live. You could probably slow it right down too and maybe we will one day. 

Song stories 3 

“Two Drops Of Rain” - the one cover version on the EP, a song by Greg Trooper and John Sieger. I first heard a Greg Trooper song, I suspect like many other people, when Billy Bragg covered “Everywhere” on his 1991 album “Don’t Try This At Home”. It took me quite a few more years to really track his music down, actually when I was living in the USA. He was scheduled to be playing at my friend Kathryn’s series of house concerts in the East Village, NYC, a gig I was going to travel up to from D.C. when in January 2017 the news came through that he had died. 

I started playing a couple of his songs in my set and “Two Drops Of Rain” was one that went down particularly well. Whenever I’ve played covers (which I did all the time when I first started playing open mics) they’ve had to be songs I’ve loved, enjoyed, that have meant something. I had the thought that I’d like to do a cover in the studio and this seemed the right one. 

As usual Vaughn, Le Ann and Pat made huge contributions and helped me to try and do justice to the original. I deliberately hadn’t listened to the original version for quite a while and I don’t think the others knew it at all. Pat and Vaughn thought some fiddle and mandolin would work and brought in Eamon McLoughlin (Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell, Grand Ole Opry house band). 

Song stories 2  

 

I Tried To Write A Byrds Song For You - about 1987/88 and most British indie bands at the time counted amongst their influences The Velvet Underground and The Byrds.This song came out of thinking about this time in Bristol, England, being in a band, having friends who were all in bands or artists and discovering new music. I met American band Choo Choo Train who later became Velvet Crush. Just a few years later, through Velvet Crush (Ric and Paul pictured) I discovered The Byrds beyond just the “greatest hits” and specifically got into the music of Gene Clark because of them. They probably don’t know that but it was really important, and very influential. 

This song is me trying to evoke that time. I recorded a version with my friend Tim Rippington, my first solo recording, and Paul then added harmony vocals and terrific 12 string guitar. 

Song stories 1 

Mandolin, Violin and Saw” came out of an exercise at the Gretchen Peters songwriting workshop that I attended in Nashville. We had to think of a happy memory from childhood and I thought of a particular morning with my gran and grandad. The song underwent a few rewrites, I’ve got lots of different versions around. The final version came about after an inspiring and forensic songwriting lesson from Amy Speace. Lines and verses got changed around, the chorus was rewritten. 

The photo is from the Millyard Museum, Manchester, New Hampshire. Both my grandad and my great-grandad worked there one hundred years ago. “Did bells wake you every morning?”

The recording is from the October 2018 session. It was the first song we recorded, (which meant it was the first time I’d been in a studio for some thirty years!) 

 

“Mandolin, Violin and Saw” EP is now available on all digital platforms 

So happy that the EP is now out there for you to listen to, and hopefully buy a song or two (or six). It’s now available on just about every digital platform you can think of, and quite a few I wasn’t aware of courtesy of CDBaby.  The EP is also available through a link in this site’s store.

Tracklisting is:

1. Mandolin, Violin and Saw  2. I Tried To Write A Byrds Song For You  3. Two Drops Of Rain  4. It Doesn’t Hurt To Hurt Sometimes  5. Hey Buddy  6. That Dress 

I’m going to write a little about each song over the next week or so. One of the issues with digital releases is that you generally don’t get all the information that might be on the CD/vinyl artwork so I’ll include that here too. There will be a CD available too soon.

If you could listen, share, let me know what you think, that would be wonderful.

 

EP being readied for release 

I’ve been a bit inactive for a while, but finally preparing to release my EP, to be called “Mandolin, Violin and Saw”. It features that song, four other originals and a cover:

That Dress, Hey Buddy, It Doesn’t Hurt (To Hurt Sometimes), I Tried To Write A Byrds Song and Two Drops Of Rain (a Greg Trooper co-write with John Sieger).

There will be a CD release as well as digital. 

Artwork will be by Laura Holmes, photos by Darren Rose. 

Mandolin Violin and Saw 

Recorded in Goodlettsville, Tennessee in October 2017

David Squire - vocals and tenor guitar

Le Ann Etheridge - bass guitar

Vaughn Lofstead - acoustic and electric guitars

Pat McInerney - drums and percussion

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jyWWRIy1VkM&t=23s

 

Two Drops Of Rain  

 

One of the songs we recorded in April was a version of Greg Trooper’s song “Two Drops Of Rain”. I’ve played it live for a while and thought it would lend itself well to a band version. I’d deliberately not listened to the original version and I don’t think Vaughn, Pat or Le Ann knew it either. I’m really pleased with how the recording came out.  Eamon McLoughlin guested on fiddle .

 

New recordings at The Smokehouse Studio 

I was back in Goodlettsville, Tennessee in late April, recording four more songs. Again I was aided and abetted by the same musicians as last Autumn, who are:

Le Ann Etheridge - bass guitar, harmony vocals

Vaughn Lofstead - acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards

Pat McInerney - drums, percussion

 

Produced and arranged by Vaughn and Pat.

One of the songs is a new version of "Hey Buddy", you can hear a rough mix of it at the foot of the page!

‘It’s  always interesting to try out a new open mic. Dan Magnolia now hosts one at the Black Squirrel, in Dunn Loring, Virginia, every other Tuesday. It's easy to find, just around the corner from the metro station, runs from 8pm onwards, and you can sign up in advance, which is handy as it's quite a schlep from the other side of DC.

The first night I went the heating had failed, and it was perishing cold inside the venue, so cold that people were wearing coats inside. It took a while for fingers to warm up, especially as I hadn't played for a while, but I enjoyed the night. It's an open mic that's run well, is welcoming, and features a wide range of artists. I'll be back there.

Here's links for the two songs I played on my first visit, Tuesday 7th November. Filmed on an old flip from the back so excuse the grainy quality (or lack of it).

 

"Mandolin, Violin and Saw"

 

"I Tried To Write A Byrds Song"

 

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