Some time ago, after having done the rounds on the London gigging circuit for a while, I decided it would be a cunning idea to see if I could get the interest of a manager, to help me get my music out there properly. You know, out there – to the right ear drums. Your beautifully sculpted and highly sought after ear drums, to be specific.
I decided that I would send a few music industry bigwigs ‘messages in bottles’ with a treasure map inside. When I say ‘send’ I mean hand deliver. Shoe string and all that. So off I set on my mission, leaving my strange offering in doorways of music indsutry offices, with some exchanges with bemused admin staff who received my gift with instructions that it should be washed up on the shore of the manager in question’s desk.
One of these managers did get my message, and did find me on my musical island, in the form of a little stage at The Troubadour in Earl’s Court West London. (Wonderful little venue if you don’t know it. Lots of candle light and bohemian history.) I was excited to have caught the attention of one of the UK’s most reputable managers, and I wheeled out my best schmoozing efforts for the occasion. After the gig, we sat down and chatted business. ‘To get anywhere in this industry’, he declared emphatically whilst straightening his tie, ‘you need to write hit songs, and get on day time radio.’ I nodded my head. It made sense to me. I thought about the people I knew he represented, and yes they had hit songs on daytime radio. Seemed like a sensible path to really go about the business of earning a living as a singer-songwriter. ‘We’ll be keeping an eye on you’, he said. ‘Keep writing and performing, and keep in touch with us.’ We chatted a bit more about the unpredictability of the music industry and some of his successes, and then we shook hands and parted ways.
I would say that over the next few days and weeks I thought about the advice he had given me and avidly began putting it into practise. But the truth is, it didn’t even occur to me to put his advice into practise. I didn’t have it in me to think about how to write a Hit Song, or how to self-consciously write music friendly to daytime radio. I’m an incurable idealist is the truth of it. Perhaps willfully obscure at times, I don’t know. I wanted to write songs about things I cared about, things that had happened to me, no matter how palatable to whatever shows my new bigwig friend had in mind.
In the months that followed, I wrote more songs. One about being mugged (thank you, delightful streets of London.). One about getting smuggled across the English Channel (true story, though more light-hearted than it might sound). One about a curious character whom I will from now on refer to as The Bus Spotter, that I met on board a bus the day they discontinued Routemaster buses on London . And other songs about all kinds of things including my mum, ill-fated romantic scrapes with older men, and yes, the odd song about heartache, because that life experience hasn’t passed me by, I can assure you.
Those songs are now ready to be shared with anyone who will care to listen to strange tales of the above mentioned descriptions (click here for a link to the album). I have a feeling that’s you. You won’t hear these songs on a chart show. But maybe chart shows aren’t particularly what floats your musical boat anyway. In which case, we’re in the same boat.
I’m happy to be in this proverbial boat with you. I’ll do the rowing. You can sit back and enjoy the journey. And, if you have any unfulfilled desires bubbling away inside, why don’t you throw your own Message in a Bottle out into the deep blue sea. Who knows who will find it and what it might spark …?
P.S. I’d love to hear how you’re finding this voyage so far. So if you fancy responding below, don’t be shy :).