Down and Out: A Guide to the Song

Tomorrow will see me upload my brand spanking new old revival song “Down and Out” for free streaming and download but what is it about and why is there a story behind it? Well in this post I aim to address those questions and give you the full lowdown and in order to give you a glimpse into how I work I intend to do this with every song I release.

The original ‘Down and Out’ was written literally half a lifetime ago when I was nearing the tender age of 15. At the time I was the main songwriter in a garage band at school called ‘Manifest’. We weren’t really any good but we were still young and learning our instruments so I’m sure we can be forgiven for sounding dreadful. ‘Down and Out’ was one of the first songs I wrote by myself, musically the chord progressions and song structure has hardly changed since I wrote it in late 1996/early 1997. All I’ve done to change the music is add some extra guitar bits in and play around with the instrumentation and drum beat, even the guitar solo is near enough the same as the original.

The big change comes with the lyrics. The original 1997 version was, if I’m honest, a complete exercise in teenage angst. The lyrics in the chorus were the same but the verse was all over the shop. They were so bad I’m not even going to repeat them here, needless to say the sucked ass, big time. It was as if Brian Molko, Billy Corgan and Morrissey had got together after listening to Rezső Seress’ “Gloomy Sunday” and decided to write a Greek tragedy about a teenage boys love life. Yep they really were that fuckin’ grim. I loved the song but the verse lyrics had to go.

Then one evening the other week I was playing about in my studio trying to get inspiration for some new songs. I had been watching far too much news that day and as normal it was all doom and gloom, so I set out about trying to write a song that was a social commentary on modern life. I was struggling to get anything together so I started going over old tunes on my faithful acoustic and as I ran through ‘Down and Out’ the new lyrics just came to me.

I normally love slightly ambiguous lyrics where the song can mean something to someone but something different to someone else. However for this song the lyrics just flowed out as my anger and frustration against the government and bankers manifest (aye!) I couldn’t stop, the words just kept coming and before I knew it I’d breathed a bit of life in an old redundant song. Three and a half hour later I had recorded the music, sequenced the drums and was beginning the vocals, I amazed myself at how quickly I’d managed to get it all done. A song that has been 15 years in the making wrapped up in an afternoon.

“Down and Out” will be available for free streaming and download tomorrow. Details to follow soon…

You can read about the songs already out there and featuring on my debut EP “Skint… …and dangerous” under About/Discography.