All posts by bomaya

Nobody’s Twisting Your Arm

By 1988 with their critically-acclaimed album George Best on release and touring to packed indie venues country-wide, The Wedding Present were about to move up a level. Things were changing behind the scenes (this was the last release to feature original drummer Shaun Charman) and quite clearly on record too as this new single was the poppiest, catchiest song the band had created to this point.

The breakneck, jangly guitars and growling vocal were still in place but they were alongside a memorable melody and a sing-along chorus. This was all accompanied by a relatively flashy, promotional video and lively, balloon-filled gigs.

The song itself was a slight redirect from the concerns of the album released just months earlier as it featured a break-up but one in which the narrator was taking the upper hand and ending things with her before she ended with him. From sounding like someone who was being mocked and cheated upon in the first verse (“And when I called your house I’m sure your sister thought that I was somebody else / I heard a laugh down the phone and then the answer came that you weren’t at home, oh”) to someone ready to declare that the relationship is over feels like a long victorious journey in just over three short minutes.

The song is also notable for David Gedge making an irreverent reference to fellow band member Peter Solowka (“Take it away Grapper!”) and for the latter’s studio banter at the end whilst recording his accordion part (“Never played that in my life before.”) All in all, this was a band breaking away from their brooding early selves and showing they could have fun too. I can’t have been the only to notice that this was not going to be just another standard indie band.

Questions and Answers with David Lewis Gedge:

How long after George Best were the songs on this single written and recorded? It was released just four months afterwards, so was it a continuous conveyor belt of pop-making?

DLG: Ha, ha… I suppose so! In my old lyric book it says, vaguely, ‘written in 1987’ but I notice from the sleeve of the Live 1987 album that we were already playing a couple of tracks from this EP on the tour that followed the release of George Best. I was less busy in those days so I had more time for song writing. Listening to it now, I think you can already hear how we’d begun to move on from George Best – I think this song is a little more refined than the ones on the LP. We had begun to explore new territory. I got Peter [Solowka] to play the accordion as an overdub on this to add warmth and a new texture to the sound.

This song and the b-sides with it were the last with Shaun Charman on drums. You’ve related in the recent #12 of Tales From The Wedding Present comic the ‘personal differences’ reasons for Shaun being asked to leave and your current rekindled friendship with him. In discussions over the years I hear some fans prefer one drummer to another over the years. What difference do you feel a drummer can make to your songs?

DLG: A drummer’s style can definitely influence the ‘feel’ of a song. And it’s not just how technically capable they are… different drummers have different styles. Some of them hit the drums harder, some give the songs a ‘groovier’ feel, some are more exuberant in their playing style. There are lots of nuances…

This was the first single to receive a professional promo video. Did this feel like a big deal at the time? What are your memories of recording it including any of the locations like the bridge where you presumably had to walk along backwards for take after take?

DLG: I suppose having someone pay for a professional video felt like we were passing some kind of a milestone, yes, but it wasn’t a big deal. Making videos is always a bit surreal, to be honest… we’re musicians, not actors… but, yes, walking backwards through a busy London crowd was one of the oddest things I’ve done for The Wedding Present. I thought it was a clever idea though… and they spent ages on those graphics. It’s a fun video…

By this point, you’d mastered the ability of matching a colloquial phrase or saying to a catchy chorus. Do you find this side of your song-writing easy or do you have to wrestle with the words to fit a tune or vice versa?

DLG: It’s definitely a technique I’ve used over the years, as you say… dropping in a well-known phrase here and there. It’s one of the ways that I like to reference popular culture. But I wouldn’t say it was easy! It can often sound clumsy or clichéd so you have to be sparing with them. And it has to match the rhythm and melody, of course, too. It’s sometimes easier just to come up with your own phrase instead… but that’s often not quite as satisfying.

This song features the famous reference to guitarist Peter Solowka when you quip “Take it away, Grapper”, before the bridge. Any memories of why you included that? You changed it to ‘Wycombe boy’ when Simon Cleave was in the band. Any other variations you can recall using?

DLG: I think I might’ve also used ‘Hibs boy’ when Christopher McConville played it. It was just one of those spur of the moment, throwaway things you come up with in the studio. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t!

This is one of several songs from this era that features the backing vocals of Amelia Fletcher (Talulah Gosh, Heavenly, Marine Research, Tender Trap etc.) and you’ve worked with her several times since. What do you like about Amelia’s voice?

DLG: I like the way it blended with mine – the contrast was quite marked. She also came up with her own parts… she’s really good at pop melodies and added a new element to our recordings. This song in particular has a ‘big’ chorus and I think her part helps brings that out.

You played this song live on ‘Calendar’, a show on Yorkshire Television. Was that your first time on television? How was that experience?

DLG:  I think our first television appearance was for ‘My Favourite Dress’ for the BBC in Leeds. Funnily enough, I’m currently working on a story for Tales From The Wedding Present for the Yorkshire Television thing because it was quite a stressful affair. The plan was that we’d play the song and then have a chat with the presenter. But then we discovered that our time slot was only to be three minutes long. So the director asked us to ‘re-arrange’ the song to make it last for two minutes so that we could squeeze the interview in. And, of course, in true Wedding Present style, we were having none of that! So he said that if we didn’t do it we wouldn’t be on the show. So we started packing away our gear! He said: “What are you doing?!” We told him that we were leaving because we didn’t want to alter our arrangement. In the end they let us play the unadulterated version but we had to forgo doing the interview. We were fine with that. I think we played it at too quick a tempo, though, because we were all annoyed. If you watch the first few seconds of the video you can tell I’m still fuming!

I know there are fans, who like the vocal tone you have on these early records – quite deep and guttural in places with plenty of grunts, sighs and ‘arghhh’s. You don’t seem to sing like that these days – is this because you’ve become a better singer or did you deliberately move away from that style?

DLG: At the time I thought those grunts and sighs enhanced the emotion in the vocal delivery but when I listen to the older records now I’m not so keen on them anymore. I think my taste has probably just changed!

Official Lyrics:

And when I called your house I’m sure your sister thought that I was somebody else
I heard a laugh down the phone and then the answer came that you weren’t at home, oh

You know I never go there because I hate to dance and you really don’t care
Why don’t you go on your own?
How can you lie there and say that you’ll come back alone?

Oh, well that’s fine, I don’t care anymore
Nobody’s twisting your arm
Here’s the key… there’s the door
Oh well that’s fine, I don’t care anymore
Nobody’s twisting your arm
Here’s the key… there’s the door

Before we go back in, what about those secret smiles that you were giving to him?
Oh, just ‘somebody you met’
Well I go out of my way and this is the thanks that I get!

I’m just a slave to your greed
I’m not the kind of boyfriend that you need
But if you’d like me to go, you’ll get no trouble from me
Just so long as I know

Oh, well that’s fine, I don’t care anymore
Nobody’s twisting your arm
Here’s the key… there’s the door
Oh well that’s fine, I don’t care anymore
Nobody’s twisting your arm
Here’s the key… there’s the door
Take it away Grapper!

Oh well that’s fine, I don’t care anymore
Nobody’s twisting your arm
Here’s the key… there’s the door
Oh well that’s fine, I don’t care anymore
Nobody’s twisting your arm
Here’s the key… there’s the door
I don’t love you anymore

Written and published by Gedge, whose publishing is administered outside of the UK & Eire by Fintage Publishing BV except for North America where it is administered by Superior Music.

Studio Versions:

1 – Single version [Reception REC009] TIME: 4:01
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Peter Solowka (guitar, accordion); Keith Gregory (bass); Shaun Charman (drums); Amelia Fletcher (additional vocals); Chris Allison (producer)
Released February 1988 as single on 7″, 12″ and CD. First 8000 7″ singles came with gatefold sleeve.

2 – Swedish Radio Session version TIME: 4:18
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Peter Solowka (guitar); Keith Gregory (bass); Shaun Charman (drums)
Recorded at BBC Broadcasting House; commisioned by Sveriges Radio and broadcast on Bommen programme on 27/03/1988

Both these versions were last released on George Best Deluxe Edition [Edsel EDSJ 9004].

Gatefold sleeve photo

Live Versions:

1 – Munich version TIME: 3:20
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Peter Solowka (guitar); Keith Gregory (bass); Shaun Charman (drums); Mike Stout (engineer)
Recorded at the Alabama-Halle, Munich, Germany on 22/11/1987
Originally released on Live Tape No. 2 cassette, now available on Live 1987 [Scopitones TONE CD 025]

2 – Rotterdam version TIME: 3:31
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Peter Solowka (guitar); Keith Gregory (bass); Simon Smith (drums); Mike Stout (engineer)
Recorded live at VPRO’s Party Doctrine, Rotterdam, The Netherlands on 30/03/1988
Originally released on Live Tape No. 3 cassette, now available on George Best Deluxe Edition and Live 1988 [Scopitones TONE CD 033]

3 – London Town and Country Club version TIME: 2:50
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Peter Solowka (guitar); Keith Gregory (bass); Simon Smith (drums)
Recorded live at the Town and Country Club, London, UK for BBC Radio 1 on 11/10/1988
Available on George Best Deluxe Edition

4 – Valencia version TIME: 3:13
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Peter Solowka (guitar); Keith Gregory (bass); Simon Smith (drums); Joe Hickey (engineer)
Recorded at The Arena, Valencia, Spain on 18/11/1988
Available on Live 1988

5 – Shepherd’s Bush Welcomes version TIME: 3:37
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Simon Cleave (guitar); Terry De Castro (bass); Simon Pearson (drums); Christopher McConville (engineer); Roger Lomas (producer)
Recorded at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London, UK on 20/11/2005
Available on Shepherd’s Bush Welcomes The Wedding Present [Secret CRIDE 81]

Live 1987

Live 1987

Live 1988
Live 1988
Shepherd’s Bush Welcomes
George Best
George Best

Video:

Live: 

The song first appeared in the setlist in the Autumn of 1987. It then appeared regularly through to 1990. After that it took a long break, not appearing again until the post-hiatus Autumn tour of 2005. It had another run from the end of 2011 through to start of 2012. It’s most recent airing was during the Autumn tour at the end of 2014.

Two Bridges

I know I seem to say this about a lot of songs on this blog but this one means a lot to me. A few years back I befriended someone who would become very special. As fate would have it, they were also a huge fan of the works of Mr Gedge. When we first heard ‘Two Bridges’ live at the Scarborough and Brighton gigs in the summer of 2013, we were both blown away by the song’s power and intensity. It sounded like a blast from the past freshened up with a 21st century twist. To be able to equally enjoy a song and discuss it passionately alongside someone else was a truly magical feeling.

By the time the single was released later that year and when we saw them play it again in Leeds, we were a couple. When I’ve listened to it since (and I have done, regularly – when Going, Going… was released I played nothing else for weeks), it took me back to those joyful days of early romance. Even though the song is about breaking away from a relationship, it just makes me think of a new one bursting into life. The music helps with that feeling – everything about it feels full of positivism and newness.

Structurally, the song is interesting – bursting along at pace, rattling through two verses and two choruses then, halfway through, it changes direction and starting slowly at first, the piece builds and grows, adding instruments as it climbs and soars all the way through to a breathless finish.

Bridges can be for jumping off of or for taking you from one place to another. This song, thankfully, is about the latter.

Questions and Answers with David Lewis Gedge:

Two Bridges is an area of Manhattan based in sight of the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges. Any particular emotional resonance of that place? The main thing I think of with Brooklyn Bridge is that it’s where Gwen Stacy was killed by the Green Goblin in Amazing Spider-Man 121/122.

DLG: Ha, ha… trust you to spot that one! Well, you know more than most how comic book culture in general and the Spider-Man stories in particular have been inspirational to me throughout the years! I remember Keith Gregory telling me how shocked and upset he was by that particular watershed story…

The song lyrics are about a person being at a crossroads and taking a chance. What are you like in those situations? Are you impulsive/reckless/a gambler or do you tend to take the safe option, steady with no risks?

DLG: I think I try to be the latter but am probably more like the former. Maybe with age I’ve become a bit less impulsive… I don’t know.

I’m intrigued by the hand claps. I remember the first time I saw it live and seeing the rest of the band doing the little hand clap routine. I couldn’t work out how whole-heartedly it was performed by them and I wasn’t sure how I felt as an audience member. But every single time afterwards that I’ve seen the song played, I can’t help myself but do the hand claps despite knowing I must look silly doing it.

DLG: Ha, ha. Blame Patrick Alexander for that one; I’m pretty sure it was his idea. But it feels like an integral part of the song to me now and I like the playful quirkiness of it. The band were whole-heartedly behind it, yes.

How big was the involvement of co-writers Charlie Layton and Patrick Alexander on this song? They co-wrote a lot of the songs on Going, Going… – how did that that partnership work?

DLG: For those songs Patrick turned up at the rehearsal studio with ideas for guitar parts and a basic notion of how they would fit together and the rest of us would attempt to play along. I say ‘attempt’ because Patrick’s ideas often come from a different world! They’re often, initially, at least, hard to get your head round. That being said I think he came up with some dazzling ideas which both referenced The Wedding Present’s history at the same time as taking us to another place.

Then, as usual, I took those rehearsal room recordings home and did further work on them… adding my parts and thinking about the arrangements and instrumentation.

You re-recorded the song from the single in 2013 to the album version in 2016. What were the reasons for that and what are the main differences? The single sounds a lot rougher and more visceral to my ears.

DLG: We’d played that song live extensively and just felt that we might as well re-record it when we did the first batch of album tracks in Provence in October, 2014. We were playing it so much more confidently by that point, I think… I’d certainly gotten a better hold of the vocal part by then, for example. In addition we were able to take advantage of the huge sounds created by Andrew Scheps in Studios La Fabrique’s cavernous live room. Andrew wasn’t involved with the 2013 single. The drums sound enormous on the second version. I know what you mean though; the first version holds up well and does have a certain feel to it. It was recorded a lot quicker and probably has a ‘live’ or ‘Peel Session’ type of energy to it because of that.

This was first played live back in May 2013 in Bristol. It seems like a good one to play live?

DLG: It’s a rocker, for sure! I have to really concentrate during the end section, though… lots of stressful counting and worrying about hitting overdrive pedals at the wrong time.

Back in 2013, I asked if we could cover the then new single ‘Two Bridges’ for the blog and you said you’d rather wait, as it was part one of something that you didn’t want to talk about. That was clearly what became Going, Going… Was there anything more than that that you wanted to talk about but couldn’t at the time?

DLG: No, it was simply because at that moment I’d just started to think about the concept of Going, Going… and I still had lots of ideas to formulate. I knew that ‘Two Bridges’ was going to play an introductory role in the eventual story but I wasn’t completely sure then what that role was going to be. It was the first Going, Going… song to be written and, in fact, the only Going, Going… song to be finished during 2013 so, at that time, I was still working out how the other tracks would complement it.

You’ve talked a lot about the concept album / road trip concept of Going, Going… but what exactly came first? Was it the songs? Was it the places you visited? Or did you do the whole trip and then look back in retrospect and piece together a concept from what you had experienced?

DLG: The project evolved over a period of time. As I say, ‘Two Bridges’ was written in 2013 and ‘Bear’ was finished in 2014. Most of the album’s other non-instrumental pieces were completed during late 2014 and 2015. But Jessica and I had made the trip during the summer of 2014 [during the 20th World Cup Finals, in fact!] so, yes, it’s safe to say that the journey informed the writing. At the outset I just had a list of twenty locations in twenty different American states that I wanted to visit. The names of those places ultimately became the titles of the tracks on the album, of course. So I had a rough idea of the concept before we embarked on the trip but there’s nothing like driving four and a half thousand miles across the USA to focus your thoughts.

Did the places suggest locations to film (there are watery themes to most of the films that accompany the songs)? You added GPS co-ordinates on the album sleeve so do they match closely to where you and Jessica did the films?

DLG: Yes, we wanted to capture a sense of the journey so we filmed at locations en route. We didn’t initially plan the ‘water’ theme. We just noticed that it was present in the first few films and we decided to incorporate it into all the others. There are various themes running throughout the album… the music, the lyrics, the videos… some came about by accident and some were planned. But the GPS co-ordinates refer to the track titles rather than the film locations.

Going, Going… info:

Track: Five
Journey: 142 miles further South than ‘Sprague’ brings us to the famous city of New York and within it, Manhattan (title of another Gedge song of course).
Place: Two Bridges, Manhattan, New York City
GPS: 41°38’N 72°5’W
Wiki

Official Lyrics:

Of course you’ll scoff but since you’re ‘phone’s switched off
I’m going to call and leave a message now
I’m going to try and explain, somehow, what I’m hoping to achieve
And it’s a coward’s way and I know I may come to regret this bit
But it’s guaranteed that, darling, you’ll succeed in talking me out of it

Because it’s not easy to explain without sounding a little bit insane
I’m in-between two bridges that aren’t so far apart
Where am I going? I don’t care
It’s better than not going anywhere
I’m in-between two bridges and this is where I start

It’s not that I never cared; it’s just that I’m really scared of where my life is going
I did love you and maybe I still do
But there is no way of knowing just what I might achieve  if I don’t ever leave
If I don’t push myself
I know exactly what you will be thinking of but there is nobody else

And, yeah, I’ve mentioned it before, I just can’t think straight anymore
I’m in-between two bridges and it’s breaking my heart
I’m not trying to be a jerk, I’m just trying to make it work
I’m in-between two bridges and this is where we start

Written and published by Gedge, Alexander & Layton, whose publishing is administered outside of the UK & Eire by Fintage Publishing BV except for North America where it is administered by Superior Music.

Studio Versions:

1 – Single version [7″ only, Scopitones  TONE 053] TIME: 4:17
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Patrick Alexander (guitar); Katharine Wallinger (bass, backing vocals); Charlie Layton (drums)
Released 21/10/2013

2 – Going, Going… album version [Scopitones TONE 066] TIME: 3:58
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Patrick Alexander (guitar); Katharine Wallinger (bass, backing vocals); Charlie Layton (drums); Andrew Scheps (producer)
Recorded in 2014-15 but released 02/09/2016

Live Version:

1 – Two Bridges (Live in Gijón/Xixón)  TIME: 4:06
Available on Going, Going… [on the extra CD of the deluxe version TONE BP 066)
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Patrick Alexander (guitar); Katharine Wallinger (bass, backing vocals); Charlie Layton (drums)
Recorded live at Sala Acapulco, Gijón/Xixón, Spain on 07/10/2013. Mixed by Richard Jackson.

13f7_weddoestattoo_3
Two Bridges (7″ single)

The single sleeve (by Dan Johnson) was partially inspired by The Hit Parade singles, with the suggestion that this was #13 (see the flag on the ship). This is because the single was released only on 7″, the same as The Hit Parade and because it was released during The Hit Parade 21st Anniversary Tour of 2013.

the_wedding_present_-_going_going_1200_1200cs621263-01b-big

Never Said

As I was slightly late to The Wedding Present train, the first time I heard this song was when I got Tommy (a godsend for people like me at the time) which compiled all the early singles with some b-sides and radio sessions. That this song was ‘merely’ a b-side to ‘My Favourite Dress’ was a bit of a surprise to me.

I loved everything about it: the yearning guitars, pounding drum and bass, the pinpoint and heartfelt lyrics sung with both snarl and sadness. It was a tale of such poignancy that it felt like it was ripped from a diary entry that I’d yet to write. This sounded like the sort of thing that would happen to me one day.

Like many songs from this era, it whips along at a frantic pace. Before you know it, the song is over and the narrator is alone. Metaphorically it leaves you breathless with how quickly, and badly, things can sometimes go wrong. Love can be confusing.

So, nearly thirty years on and I still love this song. I never thought the love would last but people get used to things so fast.

Questions and Answers with David Lewis Gedge:

Did this ever come close to being on George Best?

DLG: No, this was in that batch of pre – George Best songs that were just used on the early singles (and ended up being compiled on Tommy, of course). That’s because, with the exception of ‘My Favourite Dress,’ we decided to not use any songs on George Best that had already been released.

Did you deliberately write this song with its relentless momentum to create the feeling of rushing into and out of love?

DLG: I think 90% of the arrangements at that time had that relentless momentum! I like the way this gallops away right from the first plectrum hit on those deadened strings. Those guitars owe a lot to Josef K, I think… and Postcard Records.

As with many other songs, there is an argument at the heart of the song. What are you personally like in arguments? Do you avoid them, enjoy them? Are you a sulker, a shouter, do you try and always fix the issue or would you rather walk away and let the situation cool off?

DLG: I definitely do not like arguments and try my very best to avoid them. I’m not a fan of confrontation but I suppose I like to think that I would stand up for myself if provoked! It depends on the situation, doesn’t it?

One of two songs to specifically reference “Manchester”. Considering you’ve had a few places that you’ve called home, what do you think of the place now in comparison?

DLG: I’m actually typing this in the van as we drive to Stowmarket after playing Going, Going… in Manchester last night. Well, Salford, actually… but, yes, I always enjoy returning there and there’s definitely a feeling of going ‘home’. People speak with the same accent as me and there’s definitely a culture that resonates.

There are some perfectly observed lyrics in this song. What did your dad think of his car being immortalised in song?

DLG: It’s one of those songs where it’s almost as if I’m reading entries from my diary. I’m sure that my dad has never noticed the reference to his car although he did recently ask me to send him printouts of all my lyrics.

Official Lyrics:

I haven’t heard this song in years; it never fails to start the tears
A country lane and the smell of pine, a stripey blouse and some cheap English wine
And my dad’s car would never start but one phone call rescued two love hearts
And did I splash mud on your coat?
Yeah, you wore mine and I got cold

Just what went wrong?
You never said just what went wrong
You never said just what went wrong

We’ve got some good friends still in Manchester
Sometimes I think I’d like to live back there
Oh that was just embarrassing; at times I say the most stupid things
And then your name’s still mentioned next to mine
That’s what you hated at the time
I know I said that it just couldn’t last but people get used to things so fast

Just what went wrong?
You never said just what went wrong

I’ve walked behind you for more than an hour
I don’t even think that I know this part of town
I think I’m trying to find a way to talk to you again
I think I’m trying to find a way to bring you back again
Oh won’t you please come back again

Written and published by Gedge, whose publishing is administered outside of the UK & Eire by Fintage Publishing BV except for North America where it is administered by Superior Music.

Studio Versions:

1 – ‘My Favourite Dress’ b-side [Reception Records REC005] TIME: 2:37
Available on Tommy deluxe edition [Edsel Records EDSJ9005]
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Peter Solowka (guitar); Keith Gregory(bass); Shaun Charman (drums);  Chris Allison & The Wedding Present (producers)
Released 13/02/1987.

2 – John Peel Session
Available on Tommy deluxe edition [Edsel Records EDSJ9005] TIME: 2:38
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Peter Solowka (guitar);  Mike Stout (bass); Shaun Charman (drums);  Dale Griffin (producer)

Recorded at BBC Maida Vale, Studio 3 on 26/10/1986. First broadcast on 25/11/1986.

the-wedding-present-my-favourite-dress-12-single-_57 theweddingpresentmyfavouritedress392899

Tommy
Tommy

Live Versions:

1 – Live 1987 (Leicester version) TIME: 4:03
Available on Live 1987 [Scopitones Records TONE CD025]
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Peter Solowka (guitar); Keith Gregory(bass); Shaun Charman (drums)

Recorded live at the Polytechnic, Leicester on 05/05/1987.
Originally released on the Live Tape #1 cassette.

2 – Live 1987 (München version) TIME: 2:03
Available on Live 1987 [Scopitones Records TONE CD025]
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Peter Solowka (guitar); Keith Gregory(bass); Shaun Charman (drums)

Recorded live at the Alabama-Halle, München on 22/11/1987.
Originally released on the Live Tape #2 cassette.

3 – Live 1988 version TIME: 2:50
Available on Live 1988 [Scopitones Records TONE CD033]
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Peter Solowka (guitar); Keith Gregory(bass); Simon Smith(drums)

Recorded in Rotterdam on 30/03/1988.
Originally released on the Live Tape #3 cassette.

Live 1987
Live 1987

 

 

Live 1988
Live 1988

Live: 

‘Never Said’ was a regular staple of the band’s setlist from 1986 through to 1988 but has been played very very rarely since. In fact I’m not sure of when it was last played live. If anyone can remember, let me know!

EDIT: Thanks to several commentators who have told me that it was played on four dates in the UK in May 2008.

Video:

No official video exists so this will have to do.

Carolyn

When Seamonsters came out in 1991, it fitted me like a glove. It was moody and angry and sad and sullen. It had some fantastically noisy songs that you could shout to and then there within the depths came this beautifully dark track.

‘Carolyn’ has a troubling intensity to it. It broods and snarls. There’s no shouting; the loudest it gets is when David Gedge growls the final line: “No more”! In the days before the internet made things easy, the lyrics were often bewildering and this song with its vocals buried deep down in the fog, was one of the most hard to decipher and somehow that mystery made me love the song even more. The album is full of classics (apart from maybe ‘Blonde’) and therefore I find this one gets overlooked by fans but not this fan. Not one iota.

Why the name and title ‘Carolyn’? Did it just fit or was there a specific reason?

DLG: No specific reason. I just needed an appropriate three-syllable name. But it was also the name of the girlfriend of Simon Smith, our drummer at the time, so I think that was probably in my head.

I remember you saying once that you like treating the vocals like an instrument and not necessarily high in the mix. This is a perfect example of that. As a lyricist, why do you sometimes like to hide your own words?

DLG: I don’t purposely hide the words; I’m just not a fan of mixes where the vocals are considerably louder in the mix than the other instruments. In the case of the Seamonsters version of ‘Carolyn’ I think the low level suits the whispered delivery.

The live bootleg recording from 15/11/90 has Simon’s drums a lot higher in the mix than most recordings of this song and his drumming over the end section sounds so great. Made me go back and listen to the Seamonsters version and there it is, the same pattern but hidden a lot more in the mix.

DLG: That’s because many of those live recordings are made by simply taking a stereo feed from the venue mixing desk. That means you’re at the mercy of the levels set by the engineer for the concert. In a small space the room will be filled with the sound from the guitar amplifiers on the stage and so the engineer will accordingly have less of the guitars going through the P.A. [and hence the desk]. So, in cases like that, the drums will sound unusually loud in the recording.

When writing the songs for Seamonsters did you find yourself trying to write songs that were more angst-ridden to fit the album aesthetic or was it the other way around – that you were in a place where your song writing was naturally creating very emotional pieces?

DLG: Are the lyrics particularly emotional on Seamonsters? I would argue that they’re written in my usual style but that the darkness of the music possibly enhances the emotion in them.

The song sits between giant fan-favourites ‘Corduroy’ and ‘Heather’ but it’s probably my favourite song on Seamonsters. Do you feel this has led to the song being overlooked over the years?

DLG: Who’s been overlooking it?! Does the position of a track on an album affect its status? I’ve always liked this song, too. It’s moody and quite powerful sounding even though the main guitar is an acoustic. I think my distorted guitar part at the end provides a suitably melancholic final melody.

Based on live bootleg tapes from November 1990, the song had a different chorus originally: “But I won’t be back for tea / Please don’t wait up for me / I’ve got someone else’s key.” Can you remember anything about changing from that to the version we have now?

DLG: Ha… I don’t remember those lyrics at all but it looks like I stripped it down to something a little less flowery, or parochial, for the recording. The ‘final’ version sounds more heartfelt.

Official Lyrics:

Just before you go today, there’s something that I’ve got to say
Well you asked me what was wrong and I didn’t want to tell you

You believed me when I said I tried but oh, Carolyn, I lied
And its gone on far too long and I never tried to help you

But don’t wait up for me
Just don’t wait up for me

It isn’t quite the way you think
How low do you suppose I’d sink?
We can’t bear to be apart
Oh, I’m sorry that I said that

But come on now let’s not pretend
We both knew we were near the end
I don’t want to break your heart but we just can’t turn the clock back

But don’t wait up for me
Just don’t wait up for me
No more

Written and published by Gedge, whose publishing is administered outside of the UK & Eire by Fintage Publishing BV except for North America where it is administered by Superior Music.

Studio Versions:

1 – Seamonsters version released 28/05/1991 TIME: 3:40

Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Peter Solowka (guitar); Keith Gregory (bass) and Simon Smith (drums) Engineer: Steve Albini

2 – Hit the North radio session version (recorded in 1991) TIME: 3:25
Appears on Seamonsters deluxe re-issue released by Edsel Records in 2014 [EDSJ 9006]

Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Peter Solowka (guitar); Keith Gregory (bass) and Simon Smith (drums)

seamonsters-2

Live:

‘Carolyn’ first appeared during the Winter tour of 1990 so it’s likely that it debuted at the Queen’s Hall, Bradford on 03/11/1990. First definite setlist I have with it on is at Barrowland, Glasgow for the 10/11/1990. It continued being played through 1991 but was then dropped and not seen for many years.

In January 2012, the band embarked upon a 21st anniversary tour of Seamonsters where they played the album in full and so it was played in all but one of 89 gigs that year and also the first concert of 2013. At present, that gig at the Forum, Tunbridge Wells on 03/02/2013 is the last time it was played live.

Video:

No official video exists so here’s a live performance from 2012.

Santa Monica

Going, Going… track twenty – all the tracks are named after places in the USA. 466 miles to the South East and we arrive at the other side of America, the Pacific coast of the USA. ‘Santa Monica’ well, it’s a song about reuniting with your true love, the one you should never have left or they left you. The song references ‘A Million Miles’ in its lyrics and ends with the words “Wipe away that tear/the story ends right here”. All along to some beautiful guitar work that I could listen to forever. A yearning and yet joyous piece. Let it not be the end.

Lyrics:

You know, there’s something quite inspiring
When all said and done about just sitting here admiring a setting sun

When you returned my smile it all became worthwhile

I can’t begin to describe the happiness that I have found
And I can’t describe the lonliness when you’re around
You make me feel brand new; this is just what you do

And I know you’re wondering whether this time I’ll stay
Well, beleive me, we’re together and I can safely say:
“Wipe away that tear. The story ends right here.”

Written by: Gedge/Alexander/Beer-Pearce/Layton

Live: first played at the Borderline, London, UK on 01/11/2015

Place: Santa Monica, Los Angeles, California
GPS: 34°1’N 118°29’W
Wiki

Video

Rachel

Going, Going… track nineteen – all the tracks are named after places in the USA. 368 miles West into Nevada and as close as you can get to Area 51. It’s the most romantic song on the album, a joyous ode to love rekindled. The “best pop song you’ll hear all year” Gedge jokes onstage, “you’ll be whistling it on the way home”.  ‘Rachel’ features catchy lyrics, dancing guitars and a poppy tune that is just adorable. Fall in love again.

DLG to StereoboardEvery now and then the Wedding Present comes up with an out and out pop song, I think this might be our favourite track on the album.

Lyrics:

So we could….sleep under the stars
Drink champagne, jump railroad cars
And then skim stones forever
Because we’ll never be apart again, ah

You whisper words, I stroke your hair
Oh, I’m not going anywhere
Because I, I want to serve you
I know I don’t deserve you but I’m going to try

Listen to that guitar
Listen, Rachel, they are playing our song
One plus one equals two
Lying here beside you is where I belong

Listen to that guitar
Listen, Rachel, they are playing our song
One plus one equals two
Lying here beside you is where I belong

Listen to that guitar
Listen, Rachel, they are playing our song
One plus one equals two
Lying here beside you is where I belong

Written by: Gedge/Alexander/Beer-Pearce/Layton

Live: first played at The Engine Rooms, Southampton, UK on 16/10/2015

Place: Rachel, Lincoln County, Nevada
GPS: 37°39’N 115°45’W
Wiki

Wales

Going, Going… track eighteen – all the tracks are named after places in the USA. 496 miles South West into Utah. Across the Rockies to ‘Wales’ where we have pure love professed in Cymraeg before roaring into guttering glory.

Lyrics:

Dymunaf Dymunaf
‘Dwi eisiau ‘Dwi eisiau
Mi garwn Mi garwn
‘Dwi angen ‘Dwi angen
Rmy’yma Rmy’yma
Ti yma Ti yma
Rydym ni Rydym ni
Byddan ni Byddan ni
Tynghedwyd Tynghedwyd
Cyd-ddigwyddiad Cyd-ddigwyddiad
Mi fydd Mi fydd
Mi oedd Mi oedd
Y mae

English translation:

I wish
I want
I would love
I need
I’m here
You are here
We
We will
Destined
Coincidence
I will
I was
That

Written by: Gedge/Alexander/Beer-Pearce/Layton/Teilo

Live: first played live at The Trashed, Cardiff, UK on 07/09/2016

Narration: Andrew Teilo
Mellotron & Organ: Steve Fisk

Place: Wales, Sanpete County, Utah
GPS: 34°1’N 118°29’W
Wiki

Ten Sleep

Going, Going… track seventeen – all the tracks are named after places in the USA. 245 miles westwards into Wyoming. ‘Ten Sleep’ is the admittance of a mistake, of a love that that was let go and must be got back. The song also has the funnest intro riff to any song ever. If it doesn’t make you happy then you are already dead

Lyrics:

Just walking and talking…realising what I have missed
About you because without you
I have no catalyst
And it’s no coincidence (well, not at least as I can see)
That everything makes total sense now that you are back with me

But never were you ever completely out of my mind
So I’m conceding….no I am pleading
You’ve got to let me press rewind
And it’s no coincidence (well, not at least as far as I can see)
That everything makes total sense now that you are back with me

Written by: Gedge/Beer-Pearce/Layton

Live: first played at The Engine Rooms, Southampton, UK on 16/10/2015

Place: Ten Sleep, Washakie County, Wyoming
GPS: 44°2’N 107°27’W
Wiki

Video

Lead

Going, Going… track sixteen – all the tracks are named after places in the USA. 379 miles north into Dakota. ‘Lead’ (rhymes with ‘weed’) finally has the narrator reuniting with his former lover. Seems like they seeked him out but he was waiting. To fit in with ‘Lead’s theme we have instrumentation from previous eras crashing in at random intervals, reminders of the past

Lyrics:

So, yeah, the problems that we had were all entirely down to me
Of course I know that now but I was just pondering how I should try to call and ask if you thought we could ever be like we were before
Then just look who walks through the door!

Like a super-hero you arrived here just in time to rescue planet Earth, including me, for what its worth!
You went and tracked me down to put an end to this pantomime without any regrets and that’s about as good as it gets

And in all that time apart I never learnt to live without you
I need you, it’s transpired; you’re an addiction that I’ve acquired
I can’t apologise enough for all the stuff I used to do
You know I thought it might be too late but, hey, this is just like a first date

Written by: Gedge/Alexander/Beer-Pearce/Layton

Live: first played live at the Assembly, Leamington, UK on 02/10/2015

Place: Lead, Lawrence County, South Dakota
GPS: 44°21’N 103°46’W
Wiki 

Video

Broken Bow

Going, Going… track fifteen – all the tracks are named after places in the USA. 381 miles to the North West takes us into Nebraska. ‘Broken Bow’ a man who wants to go home, who feels an outsider. Someone who wanted freedom and now hates it. This song has all the roaring guitars and growling, shouty lyrics that many of us love. A favourite.

Lyrics:

At first I liked the space but I didn’t not anticipate exactly how much I would hate
Not seeing your perfect face every morning as I wake
So, yes, that was my first mistake!

Oh, I’m the man who changed his mind
Oh, I’m the man who’s been so blind

he said: “You’re not from ’round here’ and, though he said it with a smile
He made me feel like an exile
It’s becoming pretty clear that, the longer that I roam, the more I think I should go home

I should’ve done this long ago
Oh, I’m the man with the broken bow

And the pain is failure is so much greater than the pleasure of success
Yeah the pain is failure is so much greater than the pleasure of success

Oh, I’m the man who changed his mind
Oh, I’m the man who’s been so blind
I should’ve done this long ago
Oh, I’m the man with the broken bow

Written by: Gedge/Alexander/Beer-Pearce/Layton

Live: first played live at the Assembly, Leamington, UK on 02/10/2015

Place: Broken Bow, Custer County, Nebraska
GPS: 41°24’N 99°38’W
Wiki