Nick Cave described the song writing process, opposed to novel writing, as woman’s work – the closest he, as a man, could get to giving birth – pushing a massive idea out of a tiny aperture in a short space of time.

While his analogy is tinged with masculine bravado – having witnessed child-birth I could never truly compare my song writing labour pains anywhere as near as intense as my partner’s labour was – I do agree with his premise. Song writing is a fickle game. A lot of pacing and getting up to make another cup of tea or coffee or a sandwich, multiple trips to the pisser as you push one little idea out after another. Maybe a more apt analogy would be constipation, though certainly not as edifying to the creative journey. Anyone who wrestles with a muse will testify to this.

However it’s not always piss, blood and vitriol.

There are days when the wind fills your sails and the journey to creation is a leisurely cruise across a calm bay with your fingers trailing in the water – rare days of creative bliss. A small number of my songs emerged in such times. One of my favourites is A Wide Road Called Sorrow, which is a simple minor blues progression and an even simpler story about a love affair with hard-luck that drives our poor hero down a wide road, up a steep hill, passed a truck stop and away from a home town, all called Sorrow. (To listen to this tune, and more of my music check out my Myspace page here.)

Such a simple idea needed a clever hook and that came unexpectedly, a few months after I first wrote the song. The initial idea was a chuggin’ straight ahead, four on the floor country blues tune – a pick me up that I could play after a gorgeously grotesque 5 minute ballad on love gone wrong. I have a tendency of writing slow songs and I need to force myself to pick up the pace at times so I don’t send my audience into voluntary somnambulism – out of the band room and towards the bar.

One evening I was in my studio, winding down, and I started playing the song at a low, slow adagio and loved what I heard. It reminded me of that New Orleans funeral scene in the Bond flick, Live and Let Die. However the song would have gone on for 10 minutes at that pace, so I increased the tempo between each verse and what emerged struck me as pretty snazzy. It has become the signature tune which I open up my set with and always leaves me full of goose bumps after I play it. Most people love it. Though one old geezer came up to me after my last show and said, “You’re alright, but that first song was shit!” You can’t please everyone all the time.

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