At The Edge Of The Sea

I’ll keep this short and sweet, much like the song itself. This very early song in the canon of The Wedding Present shows a changing point in the songwriting of David Gedge. This was one of the few examples of poetic song-writing that was soon to go away but many staple elements of the band’s new power was shining through – fast, loud instruments and buried vocals. However the lyrics that could be deciphered were slightly odd for Gedge as they described love, and for once a relationship, that was happy and joyful. It holds mystery in its lines and like sand it slips through our fingers.

Questions and Answers with David Lewis Gedge:

The lyrics evoke a seaside. Is any particular memory linked to this?

DLG: Yes. It was inspired by the coasts of The Fylde and Yorkshire, both of which I know very well. Apart from a year spent in South Africa, I grew up in Manchester and so places like Blackpool [the ‘golden mile’ in the lyric refers to a section of the promenade between the North and South piers] were our nearest seaside. Then, when I went to live in Leeds, that all changed to Scarborough and Whitby. I’ve always been drawn to the seaside. I love it!

Incidentally, there’s also a ‘golden mile’ in Scarborough, too… but that’s the Scarborough district of Toronto in Canada!

The lyrics are quite poetic in places, which is unusual for you. Did you feel uncomfortable writing that way?

DLG: I was still honing my style around this time. It is quite poetic, isn’t it? To be honest, when we play this live, it’s almost as if I’m singing words that have been written by someone else!

This was released as a B-side to the second Wedding Present single but did it start off as a Lost Pandas song?

DLG: It was written about the same time as ‘Go Out And Get ‘Em, Boy!’ and ‘Once More’ so, though it sounds like it might have been a Lost Pandas song, it never was…

The song title is now re-birthed as the name of your now regular annual festival in Brighton. You’ve also lived in and around that area of Sussex for many years now (when you’re not jet-setting and touring). What do you like about that area of the country?

DLG: As a northerner I think I’m supposed to view anywhere in the south with a certain amount of suspicion [if not loathing, ha, ha…] but Brighton is one of my favourite cities in the world. It’s extremely arty and there’s always loads of stuff going on… loads of musicians live here, actually.

And, to be a bit more boring, for a musician it’s also useful to be so near to London and the airports and ferries and channel tunnel, too.

The song starts (and continues) with that glorious bass riff. Was that all Keith’s doing? What was he like to work with in terms of song-writing?

DLG: Yes, Keith came up with that [marvellous!] bass line as he did on all the songs written up until his leaving of the band. It’s what you’d maybe call a ‘busy’ riff… but those kinds of bass lines made an important contribution to the music and often carried most of the melody if the guitars were thrashing away. They often sound more like vocal parts, actually. Keith was also central to the song-arranging process and so I was very worried that when he left the band that the overall standard of song writing would suffer because we’d be losing his input.

Who is crying out at the end of the song and what are they saying?

DLG: Speaking of Keith… it’s him! He’s saying “Oh, shit!” It was a perfect take apart from the very last bass note, which he played incorrectly. The recording engineer [at the studio in Bradford where it was recorded] just ‘dropped him in’ to correct the note as an overdub, of course, but the cry of frustration is still on the drum tracks. I think we quite liked it being there, anyway!

Any other thoughts about the song?

DLG: It’s jangletastic but there’s a great vocal melody to go along with that bass line and all those guitar riffs. With the advent of my festival the song has taken on an extra poignancy to me now. It almost feels like I’ve come full circle… from the beaches of The Fylde to the beaches of Sussex!

Official Lyrics:

We lie in this salty embrace
A sunny day, this special place
Tonight the sea is ours
And restless, with sand in our shoes
A golden mile, that special smile
Asleep in lovers’ arms

And if heaven sent a kiss, would it be something like this?
Would it soar above the waves?
Is that how a kiss behaves?
Is that how a kiss behaves?

And colours so icy and bright are swimming round my head tonight
A clear and sleepy tide
But watch with a heavier heart as I try to tear it all apart
With a greed that’s all my own

And if heaven sent a kiss, would it be something like this?
Would it soar above the waves?
Is that how a kiss behaves?
Is that how a kiss behaves?
Why don’t you tell me?

Written and published by Gedge [whose publishing is administered outside of the UK & Eire by Fintage Publishing BV].

Studio Versions:

1 – Once More [REC002] b-side – released 31/01/1986 TIME: 2:39

Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Peter Solowka (guitar); Keith Gregory(bass); Shaun Charman (drums);  Carl Rosamond (producer)

2 – Andy Kershaw session version – recorded at Yellow 2, Stockport 07/11/1985 TIME: 2:25
First broadcast – 26/11/1985 Released on Edsel Records reissue of Tommy [EDSJ 9005]

Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Peter Solowka (guitar); Keith Gregory(bass); Shaun Charman (drums)

Live: 

This song hasn’t appeared much since it’s initial outings in the mid 80s although it’s come out again on a few set-lists probably thanks to the festival of the same name having revitalised it.

Video:

There is a brief bit of promotional video material that appeared on the Spunk video compilation and also the Tommy (Edsel records re-issue) but here’s a simple youtube clip of the song:

Once More
Once More
Tommy
Tommy

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