Category Archives: The Wedding Present

Boo Boo

In the Spring of 2008 when I first heard El Rey, a lot of the album was new to me. I’d heard a few tracks live, notably, ‘I Lost the Monkey’ and ‘Soup’ during a small Scopitones forum group visit to Barcelona. During this time I was going through some difficult personal moments and I felt a little disenfranchised from the band that I loved the most. A lot of the tracks were hard for me to connect to. Even now I’m not sure if it was me or the music that didn’t feel right.

Certainly I know people who love El Rey and everything on it. It ranges from spiky pop to layered anthems. And if there’s one song that gets universal praise it’s the penultimate track on the album, ‘Boo Boo’. As I mention below in one of my questions to David Gedge, It has a gorgeous structure with several different sections that flow organically like the emotions that the narrator goes through during the course of the evening meal. There aren’t many lyrics but what’s there cover lots of nuance and hidden angst.

The creation of the song is described below by it’s co-writer Terry de Castro. It might surprise people, who think of The Wedding Present as David +3, how much creative scope his fellow band members have had right since the beginning. Terry has co-written ten songs over the years for both this band and Cinerama. She still occasionally tours as a member of the band and of course has a music career in her own right – check out her solo work here if you are unfamiliar with it. https://scopitones.co.uk/terrydecastro.

I don’t think El Rey will ever become my favourite album but there are songs and moments that hit the special heights that no one else’s music can. The beginning and end of ‘Boo Boo’ are in that category. I love the hope and expectancy that the intro brings. I love the burning urgency and frustrated desire that the epic closing section ramps up into. There is only one released version of this song. I’d like to hear a well-recorded live version, that captures the power that it has at a gig, one day.

Commentary from David Lewis Gedge (DLG) and Terry de Castro (TdC):

‘Boo Boo’ was co-written with Terry de Castro. What was the sequence of events in the creation of this song?

TdC: When we were writing songs for El Rey, our method was a bit different to what it became later on. It’s more organic now, with someone presenting a riff to the whole group and everyone working on it together in the rehearsal room. But our song writing method back then was quite meticulous and painstaking. We [meaning any band member] would come up with a riff, usually on guitar, and then convert it into MIDI [Musical Instrument Digital Interface] using a MIDI-compatible keyboard and then send it off to David. He would work with it and manipulate it, to put together a song, and then we would transfer the piece back into a guitar / bass / drums arrangement. For ‘Boo Boo’, I’d come up with a verse and chorus riff on guitar in Los Angeles and then I sent it to David as an MP3 and in MIDI form. He then brought the semi-arranged piece back to the whole group which, at the time, was Graeme [Ramsay] and Chris [McConville]and me, and we worked on it at a rehearsal room in Scotland. Since Chris was the guitar player then, I had to teach him how to play the actual guitar riff, which was initially a lot faster and much poppier. It sounded okay, but we started to wonder how it would sound slowed down, and it was a lot better, so we made quite a perky little pop song into a slow, epic… masterpiece. Ha, ha! No, seriously, it’s much easier to make a song sound good when you slow it down, for some reason, but this one really did lend itself to a slower and heavier approach. And we just kept heaping sections onto the ending, loving the slow build-up to the final crescendo. It’s great fun to play live for that very reason.

Is there anything you can say about the inspiration behind the lyrics? I love the details in lines like the “waiter’s stacking the chairs”; is this something experienced, observed or just made up?

DLG: As usual, it’s a mixture of all those things. I used the idea of the waiter stacking chairs in the background because I felt that it was quite cinematic.

I’ve never heard ‘Boo Boo’ used as a term of affection but maybe I’m the only one. Do you know anyone who uses this name or is it just your tribute to the old Yogi Bear cartoon?

DLG: I have heard someone using Boo Boo as a term of affection, yes, but the fact that it’s a Hanna Barbera cartoon character – although they spell it Boo-Boo – was always going to appeal to me and my never-ending desire to include those kinds of pop culture references in the songs!

The song structure is very interesting. It clocks in at nearly six and a half minutes, starting with a half-minute, glorious, crashing intro, like the excitement leading up to a date. The sections that follow have very sedate verses and anthemic choruses. At 3:45 we move into a ramping instrumental section that builds and builds and it feels like it will lead to something more but then it ends, almost like the end of a night that one hoped would lead to more and doesn’t. How much do you like song structure to match the emotional feel of a song?

DLG: I don’t consciously try to match the lyric with the arrangement of a song. I write the lyrics towards the very end of the song writing process, anyway, and the structure is usually in place by then. The musical arrangement probably influences the lyric writing in some way but I don’t think I would be able to describe how, because it’s different every time. Anyway, more often than not, I’m more satisfied when a ‘happy’ lyric is teamed with a dark soundtrack, for example. Or vice versa.

What lead to the positioning of this track on El Rey? It has all the hallmarks of a traditional final track but you decided to follow it up with the more atypical ‘Swingers’.

DLG: We have a history of doing that, though, don’t we? Even though we never play encores live, some of the albums have an extra atypical track added on, to follow what would you’d think would be the more obvious LP closer. We have ‘You Can’t Moan, Can You?’ following ‘Anyone Can Make A Mistake’ on George Best, ‘Be Honest’ following ‘Take Me!’ on Bizarro and ‘Hot Pants’ after ‘Catwoman’ on Watusi. I guess you could put it down to non-atypical Wedding Present contrariness!

The delicacies of the studio version are replaced with more power when played live. Are you happier with the studio version or when you play it live?

DLG: Is it that much different?! It’s not meant to be. We usually try to replicate the live version in the studio and listening to the album now that version seems to build nicely. The idea is that the drama heightens throughout the end section as the intensity increases. I think that outro is one of my favourite ever bits of Wedding Present music so I love playing it, even though my part is quite challenging!

Official Lyrics:

Well yes, it’s late; the waiter’s stacking the chairs
But, never the less, just wait; I don’t think he really cares
And if we leave now I’ll be kicking myself all week because we get so few chances to talk just like this
And I would regret just saying: “See you,” because this is something that I really miss
So I aim to detain you for as long as I dare

You just don’t get it at all, do you?
Boo Boo!
The reason I call is that I still love you

Your eyes are glistening as you fill my glass to the brim and, though I despise listening to you talk about him, seeing you being with that man is much better than not seeing you at all
And you can’t leave
Not when we’ve been having such a ball

You just don’t understand, do you?
Boo Boo!
That tonight was all planned because I still love you

You just don’t get it at all, do you?
Boo Boo!
The reason I call is that I still love you

Written and published by Gedge / de Castro [whose publishing is administered outside of the Eire and The United Kingdom by Kobalt Music except for in Canada and The United States Of America, where it is administered by Superior Music].

Studio Version:

1 – El Rey version recorded January 2008  TIME: 6:24

Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Christopher McConville (guitar); Terry de Castro (bass) and Graeme Ramsay (drums) Steve Albini & Pete Magdaleno (producers)

 

Live Versions: none

Live:

‘Boo Boo’ wasn’t played live until several months after the release of El Rey. It debuted on 01/09/2008 at the Barfly in Birmingham as the set closer. It stayed throughout the tour that carried on until the end of the year. It continued as a fixture during the next tour in March 2009. it then disappeared from the set for nine years before re-appearing in March 2018 and was played on and off throughout the year with its last time out at the time of writing being 03/10/2018.

Below is a live version by the 2019 line-up of the band as recorded by John Marshall (who as of last night, the 06/04/2019, has now seen The Wedding Present 200 times. Well done Marshall!

I’m From Further North Than You

The first time I heard this song was on a Cinerama bootleg from early 2003 when it was called ‘Edinburgh’ and I was living down South. Piecing together in retrospect it may have been its first live airing at The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen. There were some shrieks in the crowd upon its debut which is quite unusual as new songs usually take a while to warm to but I can understand why it got that reaction. It’s a special song and the band clearly thought so too as it was carried forward upon the transference to The Wedding Present and was the second single pulled from Take Fountain.

There’s the lovely way the song throws you straight in the middle of a conversation. What is it that led to someone having to explain where they are from and why were they mistaken in the first place. But the song, despite its anthemic shout-along moments has its dark alleys. It’s a song about a failed relationship. One that you look back upon and shake your head and wonder why on earth you stayed in it for so long. But there are lighter moments. I mean, any song that can have a verse that contains the phrases ‘weird pornography’, ‘counting planets’ and ‘red bikini’ is clearly a work of genius!

When I started experiencing the song live for myself I noted that, two-thirds of the way through when the guitars kicked in to that growling riff, that it sounded a bit like the old Weddoes sound. I recall hopping up and down to that refrain at the Garage in London in April 2004 and not even dreaming that just ten months later I’d be at the first gig of the ‘reformed’ Wedding Present playing the same song at the Spring and Airbrake in Belfast.

Just this past Summer I saw the song played again at the annual Gedge festival in Brighton and funnily enough he now lives down there in the South and I now live near Leeds. It’s funny that one of the first times I spoke to David, it was after I’d spoken to his then-partner Sally and I remember saying to him that I couldn’t understand her Northern accent. He pointed out that actually she was actually from down South and I realised that I’d just assumed she was a Northerner. She was actually probably from further South than me.

Questions and Answers with David Lewis Gedge:

This was originally titled ‘Edinburgh’. What inspired that title and why the change to how it is now?

DLG: The original title was suggested by the story in the lyric… i.e. that the narrator had met someone with a Scottish accent but had initially mistaken them as being from the south of England. Edinburgh has always been one of my favourite cities and so I decided to use that as being where the other person was from. I think it sounded quite romantic to me. But, later, I decided that, firstly, I wanted the title to be more literal but also, I wanted to reference that pride of being northern that would cause a northerner to feel appalled if someone mistook them for a southerner! Hence the outrage implied in “No, I’m not from the south, I am from further north than you!”

It’s a well-loved song and is enjoyed as a celebration but the song lyrics are actually quite melancholic. Do you have any thoughts about songs that are treated in ways that are different to their original feeling?

DLG: I suppose you’re right that it’s melancholic but my intention (as is often the case) was to inject some humour into an unfortunate situation. It’s one of our poppier songs, after all. The turnaround between “I admit we had some memorable days” and “but just not very many!” still makes me chuckle.

Do you feel different in living in different places? Does north/south or east/west mean anything to you anymore?

DLG: It does, yes. I get a distinctive feeling whenever I’m in a different parts of these islands and I still feel like I have returned ‘home’ whenever I’m in the north of England. That’s not to say any one place is better then another… but now I live in Southern England I’m acutely aware of a different mind-set in the people here.

The video for the single was filmed in Edinburgh. This involved a bit of acting, was it something you enjoyed?

DLG: It didn’t come instinctively to me, no! You’d think it’d be easy to just play yourself but as soon as the camera is rolling I find it incredibly difficult to even portray myself in a natural way.

This was chosen as a single. Any stories behind this? Were there any other songs that could have followed ‘Interstate 5’?

DLG: While we were recording Take Fountain both this and ‘Interstate 5’ screamed ‘single’ to me for different reasons. ‘Interstate 5’ had this huge, slightly ominous, sound which, to me, signalled a new Wedding Present album on the horizon whereas, this, as I say, just felt like pop music to me. I say ‘just’ but I love pop music, of course!

Just to confirm, the noise at 1:19 is Simon Cleave on guitar, not a dog, yeah?

DLG: It’s actually me… revving up to play my overdriven guitar part with a flick of the plectrum. There was a dog recorded during the Take Fountain sessions but it’s not on this track!

This got to number 34 in the single charts at the time when Top Of The Pops was still going. Was there a call-up?

DLG: Did it? Pretty impressive for a record label run from a rented flat in Newhaven, huh? But, no… no Top Of The Pops invitation for this one, I’m afraid!

Take Fountain brought the name of The Wedding Present back and there was a return to many of the sounds that fans associated with older tracks. This song, even in its Cinerama days, gave glimpses of what was to come. Did you think back, when writing this song, that it could be part of what was to come?

DLG: Not at all. We wrote this in early 2003 when our band was Cinerama and we had no thoughts of it ever being anything else other than Cinerama! Maybe that’s why it has a lighter feel… it’s rooted in a kind of Cinerama style indie-pop rather than something like ‘Interstate 5’ which was written a year and a half later.

Official Lyrics:

And then you said “No, I’m not from the south,
I am from further north than you!”
And with that you kissed me full on the mouth
And that was when I knew you were either drunk or you wanted me
and, you know, either way I wasn’t going to disagree

But how did one crazy night turn into six weeks?
How can we be ‘going out’ if neither of us speaks?
I think we’re the same in many ways and I admit we had some memorable days

But just not very many
I just think we both need more and we cant ignore how unhappy we were
I’d been abandoned by her and you needed a friend

All right the night we walked into the sea; I guess that was okay
And when we bought that weird pornography, yeah, that was a good day
The first time I saw your red bikini I just couldn’t help but stare
And when we counted planets in the sky, I was just happy you were there

Yes we’re the same in many ways and I admit we had some memorable days

But just not very many
I just think we both need more and we cant ignore how unhappy we were
I’d been abandoned by her and you needed a friend

Written and published by Gedge / Cleave [whose publishing is administered outside of the UK & Eire by Kobalt Music except for North America where it is administered by Superior Music].

Studio Versions:

Single version [ScopitonesTONE 019]] TIME: 3:30
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Simon Cleave (guitar); Terry De Castro (bass); Kari Paavola (drums); Steve Fisk (producer)
Released 14/02/2005

Klee remix version (appears on 7″ version of the single as well as compilation Search for Paradise [Scopitones / TONE 023]) TIME: 4:00
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Simon Cleave (guitar); Terry De Castro (bass); Kari Paavola (drums); mix by Klee
Released 14/02/2005

Acoustic version (from Search for Paradise compilation) TIME: 2:17
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Simon Cleave (guitar); Terry De Castro (bass); Charles Layton (drums)
Recorded at Yellow Arch, Sheffield
Released 29/05/2006

John Peel session version (on Season 3 CD as well as the Cinerama Complete Peel Sessions boxset) [Sanctuary Records ‎– CMXBX1526] TIME: 3:27
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Simon Cleave (guitar); Terry De Castro (bass); Kari Paavola (drums)
Recorded 08/05/2003; first transmitted 04/06/2003

Take Fountain

Live Versions:

Live in New York (Cinerama): Recorded at The Knitting Factory on the 28th of June 2003 [Scopitones ‎– TONE 031] TIME: 3:17

Shepherds Bush Welcomes the Wedding Present: Recorded at Shepherds Bush, London 20th November 2005 [SECRET RECORDS – CRIDE81] TIME: 3:26
Performed by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Simon Cleave (guitar); Terry De Castro (bass); Simon Pearson (drums)

Live in Leeds (The Wedding Present): Recorded at Leeds Metropolitan University 6th June 2006 [Scopitones ‎– TONE DL 032] TIME: 3:29

Shepherd’s Bush Welcomes

Video:

The promo video as directed by Tim Middlewick and starring David Gedge and Annie Bergin, filmed in Edinburgh.

The song also appears in live performances on the DVDs for An Evening With The Wedding Present which is the DVD version of the Shepherds Bush live CD and also Drive, a DVD compiling the band’s 2005 North American tour.

Live: 

First played in 2003 by Cinerama when it was called Edinburgh. It was then played extensively by The Wedding Present upon the release of Take Fountain across 2004-2006. It returned to the set in 2011-2012 and again in 2017-2018.

What Did Your Last Servant Die Of?

It’s 30 years since I first heard George Best.  The whole thing was a blur. Both the album which rushed by in less than 39 minutes and the 30 years of my life since.  A bruising and occasionally joyous mish-mash of love, life and everything in-between. That’s the album and my life since.

There are times in your life when you stop and wonder where you are going and where you’ve been. When you wonder whether anything was ever worth it, whether your life has any real meaning. When you look back and count how many years of your life you’ve spent in a job or doing things for someone else’s benefit and for what? What did you get out of it?  Everything requires effort and all of us have to work you know. But sometimes you have to move on. Change is healthy, change is good. Time to make a new start.

Questions and Answers with David Lewis Gedge:

I know you don’t like to talk about specifics but does this song represent a real relationship and time that you can talk about?

DLG:  I think it’s well known that much of the subject matter on George Best is drawn from the period when I broke up with my first ‘serious’ girlfriend but I guess this lyric also touches on how I get annoyed with people who I think are being lazy! I think my parents are responsible for instilling some kind of ridiculously obsessive work ethic in me. The song’s title is actually a phrase my mum used to use when me, or my brother, would ask her to do stuff for us. When Graeme Ramsay was in the band he used to joke that ‘Of What Did You Last Servant Die?’ would’ve been a more grammatically correct title and I can never get that out of my mind, now!

“Well some of us have to work you know” – between University and being in bands, did you have any ‘real’ jobs? If you’d not become a musician, is there a job that you’d have liked to have done as a career?

DLG: I had a temporary job mailing out catalogues for a mail-order electronic components firm for a few weeks in order not have my unemployment benefit cut but I’ve never had an actual ‘real’ job, as my parents would call it, no. If The Wedding Present hadn’t’ve been successful I would’ve liked to have been a radio DJ, I think.

“Of course you’ve got things to wear!” – clearly you find sexual politics interesting, are you a believer in the ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus’ school of psychology that thinks the sexes are very different in how they approach situations and solve differences?

DLG: Yeah… I’m fascinated by the differences between the genders and the efforts to determine how much of it is nature and how much of it is nurture. I suppose the mathematician in me appreciates seeing behaviour defined by sets of rules but when I’m investigating relationships during lyric writing that rule book is often thrown out of the window. Whatever the reasons for it, I do feel that men and women are generally quite different, yes.

You’ve mentioned how George Best is just one theme/speed/dimension but some live performances change the dynamic and make this track almost sound mellow in comparison to the others. How changeable is this in a live environment?

DLG: Well, we wouldn’t change it consciously to play it live… unless there was a specific reason to do so. I can see why this one might appear laid back compared to some of the other, more frenzied, George Best tracks but it’s actually quite a strenuous one to play live, for me, because, for much of the song, I’m singing and playing a very fast strummy rhythm guitar at the same time. So mellow is the last word I’d use to describe it! Good job it’s only two and a half minutes long, then…

On the album, the song fades up and is placed between two upbeat/frantic songs in ‘Everyone Thinks He Looks Daft’ and ‘Don’t Be So Hard’. What was the thought behind such production and sequencing decisions?

DLG: Sequencing an album can be difficult. You need opening and closing tracks and then you aim to create a flow and momentum between them. And it doesn’t always make sense to increase variety by having a fast one followed by a slow one or a mellow one after a frantic one because that can sometimes sound disjointed. There’s a real skill to it, I think, and I remember having endless conversations about the sequencing of George Best during the album mix.

On the Swedish radio session version from 1988 included on the Edsel Records version (disc two), what is you say at the end of the track? Is it in Swedish?

DLG: Yes, it is… but I can’t remember what I was saying and I can’t translate it because I don’t speak Swedish!

Did you enjoy re-recording this and the other tracks on George Best 30 with Steve Albini?

DLG: I wouldn’t say ‘enjoy’ in as much as I don’t really do any of this for fun, ha, ha… but it was certainly interesting to re-interpret the songs with a group of musicians who were different from the people who originally recorded it. There was a definite attempt at re-invention coupled with a desire to honour the original album. We actually played it a lot quicker than the original, which is hard to believe. It’s also interesting that George Best 30 features the band playing completely live in the studio and being recorded onto tape… whereas the original involved drum programming, sequencing and sampling! So, weirdly, the recording techniques used on the new version actually predate those on the 1987 one!

Lyrics:

Is that a letter you’re hiding from me?
Well I think I’m being used again
Let me open it and see
That’s not what I wanted to hear
There’s a time and place for everything and that time is coming near

Do you have to spend so much time on your hair?
Well couldn’t you started earlier?
Of course you’ve got things to wear!
I didn’t pick up your coat on the way
Well some of us have to work you know
Have you been sitting there all day?

All that I’ve done for you
After all that I have done for you

All that I’ve done for you
After all that I have done for you

Written and published by Gedge [whose publishing is administered outside of the UK & Eire by Kobalt Music except for North America where it is administered by Superior Music]

Studio Versions:

1 – George Best version [Reception LEEDS1] TIME: 2:44
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Peter Solowka (guitar); Keith Gregory (bass); Shaun Charman (drums); Chris Allison (producer)
Released 12/10/1987

2 – Swedish Radio Session version TIME: 2:39
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

Versions 1 and 2 were included on George Best Deluxe Edition [Edsel EDSJ 9004].

George Best
George Best

3 – George Best 30 version [Scopitones TONE 74] TIME: 2:19
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Christopher McConville (guitar); Terry de Castro (bass); Graeme Ramsay (drums); Steve Albini (producer)
Recorded at Electrical Audio, Chicago in 2008. Released in June 2017.

Live Versions:

1 – Munich 1987 version TIME: 2:53
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 1988 version TIME: 2:47
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 1988 version TIME: 2:15
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: 2:19
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 – Dublin 2007 version TIME: 2:11
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Christopher McConville (guitar); Terry de Castro (bass); Graeme Ramsay (drums)
Recorded at the Village, Dublin, Ireland on 23/11/2007
Available on Live 2007 [Scopitones TONE 30]

Live 1987
Live 1988

Video:

The above mentioned Live 2007 is both a CD and DVD of the Dublin concert so there’s a live performance on there.
Here’s a nice fan-made video though with footage of George Best and the (misspelled) lyrics:

And here’s a nice acoustic performance of the track from 2007:

Live: 

The song first appeared in the October of 1987 during the tour to launch George Best. and was a staple of the set through to the end of 1988. It then disappeared along with most of that album until the 20th anniversary tours in 2007. Other than some short runs in the set in both 2010 and 2013, it didn’t fully return again until 2017 for the GB30 tour.

[Thanks to Ben Cleverley for the suggestion]

Go Out And Get ‘Em, Boy!

For a lot of fans this song would have been their introduction to the wonder that is The Wedding Present. I wonder what it would have felt like to hear this crackling out of the radio when John Peel first played the single in 1985. Or at the very early concerts where the song must have sounded astonishing at the time.

I first heard the song a little later on the compilation, Tommy, a frantic collection of all the early singles, b-sides and assorted random tracks from those early, frenetic years. It blew me away: the jangly melodic opening, the pounding bass and drums, the electrifying guitars and the structure which zigged and zagged in a peculiar way.

I don’t think I ever really knew what the song was about. Fleeting snatches of lyrics broke through the distorted fog and those were the bits I latched on to. A 21-year old, a golden field and a little girl with a union jack, a pinprick on a map. I bound my own meaning up into those oblique phrases. The final lines, despite the ambiguity, were full of resounding sadness. They felt so full of melancholy and heart-breaking ennui because of the way that the lines were intoned.

In hindsight, the song is very rough and chaotic but maybe that’s why I love it. The fact that it was there at the birth of the band I love the most probably explains the nostalgic passion. But somehow, it means much more to me than that.

Questions and Answers with David Lewis Gedge:

Firstly, this was, of course, the debut single by The Wedding Present. Before that, you were in The Lost Pandas. Do they feel like two distinct eras in terms of song writing or was there some crossover? Was the creative process back then similar or different to how it became in the new line up?

DLG: Although I was the main songwriter in both groups… and the songs were written and arranged in pretty much the same way… I would definitely describe The Lost Pandas and The Wedding Present as distinct eras, yes. That’s partly because my own writing technique was still evolving and partly because of the personnel changes between the two bands. I’ve often said that meeting Shaun Charman was significant in the early development of The Wedding Present because he encouraged us to adapt a more punky and aggressive style of playing. The sound of The Lost Pandas, on the other hand, was more reflective… and the lyrics were more abstract.

In the Edsel Records re-release of Tommy, you mention that ‘Go Out And Get ‘Em, Boy!’ was a deliberate statement of intent – with its unusual structure and multiple parts. You say you’d write it differently now, in what way?

DLGWell, there are about half a dozen different musical themes in that song! I remember a review of it saying that there were more ideas in this one track than some bands manage across an entire LP! And, while I think it kind of works on ‘Go Out And Get ‘Em, Boy!’ an arrangement like that can sound over-written or too complicated. But it was the first single and, for all we knew, it might’ve been the last… so I think we wanted to pack it full of interesting hooks. We also wanted to make it an extreme record… we wanted it to leap out of the radio and grab you by the ears… so we deliberately accentuated the thrashy guitars and the frantic pace.

In the liner notes of the same re-release, the song is described as a “critique of militarism via an address to a young soldier”. It’s funny but I never really thought of the song as a political one but you say there that you were looking to stretch yourself. As with your other songs in this genre, you say you’re not happy with the results. Can you explain why and explain some of the meaning and inspiration behind the lyrics?

DLG: I just think I’m better at writing about relationships. I’ve always admired writers who can make political statements work within the pop song format… Billy Bragg was a master of that, for example… but whenever I’ve tried I always think that it sounds clumsy and forced. ‘Go Out And Get ‘Em, Boy!’ was written shortly after The Falklands War and was partly influenced by that conflict. Although I think there’s passion in the lyric, the message remains a little unfocused and it’s an approach from which I moved away after I’d decided to concentrate on a less ‘poetic’ style.

Your vocals are reminiscent of that of Mark Burgess from The Chameleons. I know you knew them through school and socially. How much influence and inspiration did their work have on you at that time?

DLG: It’s difficult to describe just how huge the influence of The Chameleons was on me. I knew Mark Burgess and also Dave Fielding and Reg Smithies from school. Dave was actually one of my closest childhood friends and he lived about five minutes’ walk from our house. He was a brilliant guitarist and although I used to play a bit of music with him we also did all the usual stuff that teenagers did. I used to go and see him play with Reg in a band called Years and, at the same time, I saw Mark play in his band The Clichés. Shortly after I left Middleton to go to Leeds University the three of them formed The Chameleons. I thought The Chameleons were great… I still do… amazing tunes and a powerful sound. It’s the kind of music that raises the hairs on your neck. I collected their records avidly and Keith and I used to travel all over to see them play live, along with my girlfriend at the time, Jaz. They were one of my favourite bands along with, I guess, The Fall and The Velvet Underground and so they were bound to have an influence on my song writing until I’d found my own ‘voice’. They influenced The Lost Pandas more than The Wedding Present, though. I think after ‘Go Out And Get ‘Em, Boy!’ you hear less of their influence on The Wedding Present but I continued to love Mark’s vocal style.

On the 24th May 1985, the single was released firstly by yourselves on Reception Records with 500 copies and then later that year on City Slang with another 1,000 copies. Was having your own record label a planned idea or was it just out of necessity?

DLG: It was out of necessity. We’d sent out loads of demo tapes to record labels but no-one was interested in signing the band. So we decided to just save up and pay for the release ourselves. In doing so we essentially created our own record company. It was never an ambition to start a label – it was purely a vehicle for The Wedding Present… but, once we’d started it, we decided that we quite liked having it!

The City Slang thing was an odd diversion. The initial pressing had sold out but, because we weren’t yet a ‘proper’ organisation the thought of repressing it never really crossed our minds. Then, a journalist called Neil Taylor interviewed the band for the New Musical Express and he offered to re-release the single on his own label, City Slang. We, rather naively, agreed… I think I said something along the lines of: “If you pay for lunch, you can release it!” Red Rhino, who had distributed the Reception Records pressing, were appalled! They said: “Why didn’t you just ask us?!” And they were absolutely correct; we’d just let City Slang release it without any written agreement or terms and conditions.

Who created the artwork for the two sleeves? One features a photograph on an old man sheltering from the rain, the other is an abstract piece of art.

DLG: Keith Gregory and I assembled the first sleeve using a photograph we’d ripped out of a magazine and a packet of Letraset, but the second sleeve was designed wholly by
City Slang. We weren’t consulted in any way about that second sleeve. In fact, the first time I saw it was after Shaun had bought a copy at Jumbo Records in Leeds and brought it round to my house! We were all horrified. It was, what I guess is called, a ‘wake up call’, actually, because from that point we fiercely took control of all of our releases… the recordings, mixing, artwork, videos… everything… to the point where it became something of an obsession.

Are they the same recording?

DLG: Yes.

A Wedding Present wiki entry says ‘Go Out And Get ‘Em, Boy!’ was chosen as first single over ‘Will You Be Up There?’ – is that accurate?

DLGYes. I can’t speak for the other band members but I remember feeling that although ‘Will You Be Up There?’ was possibly a superior song, ‘Go Out And Get ‘Em, Boy!’ was more of a statement and, therefore, a better choice for a debut single. ‘Will You Be Up There?’… on the other hand… was never released in the end!

Julian Sowa drummed on the track rather than Shaun Charman. Was this because of the speed of the track and the fact that Shaun was actually new to drumming, having been, up to that point, a bassist?

DLG: Precisely. When we met Shaun he was a bassist in another band and the only time he’d ever actually picked up drumsticks was when that band used to swap instruments for a laugh. But we felt that his personality and the kind of music he liked was more important than his ability and so we decided that the fact that he couldn’t actually play the drums wasn’t necessarily an obstacle to him becoming the Wedding Present drummer! So he joined the band and launched himself on this steep learning curve. He didn’t feel confident enough to play on the recording of ‘Go Out And Get ‘Em, Boy!’ and so he asked his friend Julian Sowa to sit in for him. Remember that our modus operandi at this time was to play everything at 100 m.p.h. He said that he was only able to play drums on the B-side because there was a slow bit in the middle of that song where he could catch his breath!

The first two singles (this and ‘Once More’) were compiled onto an EP, ‘Don’t Try And Stop Me, Mother’ which sounds like a very Morrissey-like title. Presumably, this release was down to those singles selling out so quickly. Did you realise that this popularity was a sign of things to come or did you just think it was a bubble tied to John Peel’s patronage?

DLG: After the City Slang blip we decided to return to releasing records on our own label through Red Rhino Distribution. The re-release of ‘Go Out And Get ‘Em, Boy!’ had sold out as quickly as the first pressing and so we decided that we’d make those tracks available on what was essentially the 12” version of ‘Once More’ – the ‘Don’t Try And Stop Me, Mother’ EP. I’m not sure we were particularly thinking about our popularity or ‘things to come’ but we did obviously notice a marked increase in interest in the band once Peel had started playing the first single.

Speaking of which, how did it feel hearing this song on John Peel for the first time?

DLG: It was literally one of the most exciting moments of my life! I’d spent my formative years listening to the John Peel programme to the point where I never missed a single show. My principle ambition, for more than a few years, was to have John Peel play one of my songs on the radio and so when he announced that he was going to air the single I was ecstatic. People expect me to say that the highlight of being in The Wedding Present was appearing on Top Of The Pops or playing in Japan or whatever but I don’t think anything will ever surpass that debut play on John Peel.

Did you know it was going to happen or was it a surprise?

DLG: Well, we’d obviously sent him a copy of the record so it wasn’t a complete surprise but it wasn’t guaranteed that he’d like it enough to give it a spin, of course. Or that he’d even pick it out of the mountain of releases he was sent on a daily basis.

I was pleased to see you are performing this song on your current (April 2017) tour of North America. What differences are there playing it live now compared to 32 years ago?!

DLG: Well… the current band members are better musicians than that first line-up… and we have better gear… you can hear on the original recording how ‘small’ everything sounds because we were hampered by having no budget. But I think I can safely say that none of the energy and ambition and passion is missing. For me, playing ‘Go Out And Get ‘Em, Boy!’ live is always a special moment in any set. It’s where it all began, after all…

Official Lyrics

You were a survivor after all; you never even called!
I didn’t expect you to
Now, oh, there’s such a lot you’ve done and you’re only twenty-one
Yes, you’re only twenty-one

Oh, oh, there’s just something, something I noticed
That there’s a whole world out there but it’s shrinking fast
You want to take it all and make it last forever
Or maybe just a lifetime

Now, oh, you’ve gone to fly the flag from some pinprick on the map
Oh, won’t you ever bring it back?
Tonight, when you hold her in your arms and you prove that you’re a man
Oh, well, I hope she understands

Oh, oh, there’s just something, something I noticed
That there’s a whole world out there but it’s shrinking fast
You want to take it all and make it last forever
Or maybe just a lifetime, maybe just a lifetime

Oh, some things just don’t ever go away
Some things, you know, are just here to stay

And in a golden field there is a little girl left with a union jack
And there’s a price to pay, no matter what you say
There is no going back today
And if we’re worlds apart, then I’ve still got a heart
Can you imagine that?
“Another wasted day”, yes, I can hear you say
But I’m afraid it means much more to me than that

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 Version:

1 – A-side of single [Reception REC 001] released 24/05/1985 with 500 copies
and re-released on 30/08/1985 [City Slang CSL 001] with 1000 copies. TIME: 4:11

Also appeared on compilations, Don’t Try and Stop Me Mother [Reception REC 002/12] and Tommy [Reception LEEDS 002]. Currently available as Edsel Records reissue of Tommy [EDSJ 9005]

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

Live Versions:

1 – Reading 1987 version TIME: 3:43
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Peter Solowka (guitar); Keith Gregory (bass); Shaun Charman (drums)
Recorded at the Majestic, Reading, UK on 25/02/1987
Originally released on Sounds ‘Waves 3’ 7” but currently available on Tommy Deluxe Edition.

2 – Leicester 1987 version TIME: 4:47
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Peter Solowka (guitar); Keith Gregory (bass); Shaun Charman (drums); Mike Stout (engineer)
Recorded at the Polytechnic, Leicester, UK on 05/05/1987
Originally released on Live Tape No. 1 cassette, now available on Tommy Deluxe Edition and
Live 1987 [Scopitones TONE CD 025]

3 – London 2005 version TIME: 4:07
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Simon Cleave (guitar); Terry de Castro (bass); Simon Pearson (drums); Christopher McConville (engineer)
Recorded at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London, UK on 20/11/2005
Released as part of Shepherd’s Bush Welcomes The Wedding Present
[Secret Records CRIDE 81] in 2007.

Live:

This song currently holds the prestigious position of being in both the first ever set played by The Wedding Present (on 01/03/1985) as well as being part of the latest tour in the Spring of 2017.

It was a stalwart and crowd favourite from 1985 through to 1987. I don’t have another record of the song being played until the Autumn tour of 2005, some eighteen years later. It then took another hiatus before returning in May of 2014 for a few gigs. It then re-appeared in the Autumn of 2016 and as mentioned has also popped up this year.

Video:

A video version of the above live version from 2005 was available on the DVD, An Evening With The Wedding Present [Secret Films DRIDE 81].

There is also (very grainy!) Super 8 footage of a very early live performance on the Tommy re-release. Below is a you tube video with the audio from the single.

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.

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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.

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Video:

Live: 

First played live in the Autumn of 1987 and made fairly regular appearances until 1990. Not got any record of it appearing again until the Autumn 2005 tour. It was aired again from the end of 2011 through the beginning of 2012 and then again at the end of 2014 which was its most recent time in the setlist.

 

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.

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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.