Making ‘The Year, She Turns’ – March
March 17, 2017
So here we are in March. A new day beckons and the weather is as changeable as life itself. I am pleased to say that ’The March Hare’ has been getting some airplay here in the UK and over in Ireland. The song has also been given a re-write by my delightful 9 -year old niece. “Tick-tock in the hallway..” she sings, “March is my favourite one of the year.” Her version is more optimistic than mine, ending with lots of rainbows and how we are going to celebrate… it brought tears to my eyes!
I spent a lot of time on the lyrics of this song. I got addicted to the sound and meaning of the words and a tad obsessed with internal rhyme… and ended up with far too many. lyrics. Then the challenge is to edit, edit, edit… whilst keeping the essence of what you want to express. I sometimes think of songwriting like mining for gold. You dig and dig until you find what you are looking for. One day after agonising over a couple of lines for ages I gave up and went off to do the washing up and then it landed into my head. “The last laugh’s in the looking glass of your own soul”. I can’t tell you how satisfying it is when that happens. The Alice in Wonderland references are obvious… with the song title, the pack of cards, and of course, that ‘big trip down a rabbit hole’. In fact the whole thing became a kind of elaborate riddle. Life can feel like that sometimes though, can’t it?
I went to the studio and despite all my efforts to cull the lyrics I ended up repeating a verse I had written as an afterthought! I love using metaphor and I love delving into layers of meaning. The words have a childlike quality and are full of understatement and yet there is a deceptive simplicity about the song which actually proved quite challenging to write and record. About halfway through the process I realised something didn’t feel quite right. I wanted it to LOLLOP. You know, like a hare does. Not that I know what a hare does… but lollop (and this is technical term you understand) in a laid-back fashion without losing the immediacy of the story. With some songs you record the backing and the voice floats over it, often a little behind the beat. However with some songs, I have discovered, it’s the other way round. This was one of those songs. The lyrics are the central point and create a rhythm of their own. Every song needs it’s own approach, and every recording has it’s own learning curve…
I wrote it on a nylon-strung guitar. My very first guitar (age 8) was a nylon-strung and I suppose as a harp player it feels pretty natural to play. I produced the rhythm by tapping the body of the guitar and Leon suggested tuning it to an open D and found an effect that made it sound really cool. I felt that the rhythm part was now over-shadowing the chord changes and would benefit from a bass part. The brilliant Charlie Jones came to mind. I also knew that Andy Davis’s distinctive voice would be perfect for the song and I was delighted that he was able to come and sing backing vocals. Charlie did a wonderful job of following and interacting with my vocal melody line. I mean – not surprising – this man plays with Robert Plant and Goldfrapp and writes his own fantastic music. Check out the links below. I did a harp session for his album ‘Inventors of Imperfection’ so long ago that neither of us can quite remember when it was. So he is a bit of a legend, as is Andrew Cresswell Davis who once played for John Lennon and did a wonderful gig in Bath last Sunday as DLM with fellow Stackridge band member Clare Lindley. (In other exciting news, Clare is going to be doing some gigs with me but that’s a different blog!). I love Andy’s songs. Do go to a show and buy their latest album.
I am delighted with the finished track and I really hope you enjoy it too. For me the song represents those times when we look at where we have been, where we want to go next, and decide how we want to view life in all it’s beauty and complexity. The Equinox approaches when day and night become equal length. Spring is on it’s way. It’s a new day, it’s a new day…..