This week I got back a track from my Producer. It was for a song I wrote called Replay. Unfortunately, I quickly realised the song was not the smash I thought it would be. I had two choices ; ditch it or write a new song over the music. I chose the later.
Day 1 – I tried real hard , freestyling to the track, sang my heart out but got nowhere. However, I kept going as I’d been there before. I believed if I had faith and kept going I could do it.
Day 2 – I downed tools after lunch, exhausted. I was losing faith. I surfed YouTube and happened across the Tidey Riley interview above. After watching I had another crack and the words, the melody the whole idea came and –Ol’ Skool was born.
I just came across this pic of me posing besides the BeeGee’s star on the Walk of Fame Hollywood. It reminded me of a story of when I worked in TV.
It was Twickenham UK. I was working for a well known TV company. I waltzed into the main office one day as a matter of routine. The BeeGees came on the radio and I started goofing around doing my best John Travolta, much to the amusement of the secretaries.
Just then the M.D. and self appointed Matriach entered from her adjoining room. Everyone stopped and stood to attention, everyone except me of course. “Do you like the BeeGees .” I said. Well, you could have heard a pin drop. “Follow me ” she grimaced.
I followed her to her office she sat on her throne and I stood infront of her desk guarding my unservered head. “Look behind me” she said. “What do you see?”
I couldn’t believe my eyes. On the wall behind was a home pic of her standing under a Christmas tree, and next to her was Barry Gibb.
She explained that they were good friends and often spent Christmas together. I exited the room with a wide grin on my face and I became a favorite of her’s, much to the surprise and envy of the office.
I guess the moral of the story is ..no matter what, just be yourself and you’ll always end up on top.
Sometimes songs just come to me. Sometimes I get inspired without realising it.
It’s August 2019 my kids were pushing me to stay a few nights at the Space Capsule Hotel in Saigon. I had no idea what it was but they wouldn’t stop talking about it, so off we went.
We stepped into what seemed a perfectly normal hotel. Checked in, luggage sent onward and we boarded the lift to Floor 5. Floor 5 was different. We were met with low level blue lighting, infrared lights, space-tec panelling and state of the art pods. It definately felt we had boarded a futuristic space station. The kids flew to their capsules and romped around like giddy astronauts.
We met on the rooftop for dinner that night and stared at the stars, connecting with the cosmos made all the more poignant following the days events. They invited friends and we had a charming time.
In the morning I snuck downstairs for a quiet coffee before the din. I sat in the outdoor area gazing at the pool reflecting on last night. A broad smile developed as I pictured the excitement on my kids faces. My mind drifted, I reached for my pen and scribbled words on a napkin..
“I know words go unspoken,I have been chosen,Now I realise,No more fear of the future,Cause it’s inside me, Finding my destiny..I’m a starchild.”
I will never forget the trip and what came out of it – Starchild – (music only)
I put it on and my mind was instantly blown. It had a profound affect on me – cosmic, like nothing I heard before. Before then I listened to whatever my brothers but suddenly this pre-teen found his voice. I quickly borrowed everything they released (which wasn’t much at the time as they only just formed); so in the absense of material I started following the artists that influenced them, Mahavishnu, Miles, Stevie. I got sucked into the world of Funk Soul and Jazz. I became an addict tuning into pirate stations, going to soul meets off the CB radio, anything to get my latest fix. Still it was not enough so when Kal, a fellow funkster, suggest we start our own band I said yes. I played guitar and he bass. We rehearsed in a back room at a youth club in Tottenham hooked up with a singer and keyboardist my brother was teaching to drive and a drummer Kal knew from Uni. That was the start of a beautiful time of discovery and creation as we clawed our way up the gig ladder graduating from pubs to stadiums.
Today we decided to do a cover – Stevie Wonder’s Superwoman (Where were you when I needed you). It was a no brainer chosing the track but the path preceding it quite accidental.
It was 1983, I was taking a driving lesson. My instructor slipped on a CD at the end and as I got out I asked him who it was, he shouted “It’s Stevie Wonder you should check him out.” as he pulled away. I was 17, didn’t know the track and I didn’t really know Stevie Wonder.
Speed forward three years. I was 20 in Harlem NYC and had some time to kill. Behind me was a record store. I quickly browsed the CDs and calling out to me was a cover with really cool image, It was Music of My Mind, Stevie’s classic album. I thought why not? Bought it, slipped the Walkman on and hopped into a chequered cab to take me to the Airport. Superwoman came on. I smiled knowingly as I realised it was the same track I heard from my driving instructor back in ’83.
He was right to plug the track. I couldn’t get enough. At the airport I bought Talking Book. When got back to London I bought Innervisions and so on.
Tonite was written in mid June 2019 Saigon. I was staying with a family at a house in Saigon. It was morning I had just written a verse and was searching for a hook. The boy next door was dating the daughter of the family I was staying with. I sat in the palor watching as they spoke to eachother in Vietnamese. Naturally I didn’t understand a word but could tell by the looks on their faces what was going on. As he turned to say goodbye to me he broke into English turned to her and said – “See you –Tonite” I do not know what happened that night but if the song is anything to go by – Plenty!