Category Archives: Tommy

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.

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.

Every Mother’s Son

Lyrics:

You could hardly hope to please me; you haven’t got that voice
A man just needs his mother back; a woman’s got a choice
A little boy means strife and joy in sickness and in health
A man’s got to have his mother back, a woman’s got herself, oh, a woman’s got herself

Oh, will you help me, will you hold me, will you miss me when I’ve gone?
A woman’s got to have her mother’s boy so that her man is on his own
Will you excuse my little weakness, will you tell me, “That’s all right”?
A woman’s got to have her mother’s boy so that her man comes back each night
Oh, that man comes home each night

My Favourite Dress

Lyrics:

Sometimes, these words just don’t have to be said
I know how you both feel; the heart can rule the head
Jealousy is an essential part of love
The hurting here below and the emptiness above, oh

There’s always something left behind
There’s always something left behind
Never mind, oh, never mind

The tender caresses that bring out the man
I can’t still be drunk at five
Oh, I guess I surely can
Slowly your beauty is eaten away by the scent
of someone else in the blanket where we lay

There’s always something left behind
There’s always something left behind
Maybe next time

Uneaten meals
A lonely star
A welcome ride in a neighbour’s car
A long walk home
The pouring rain
I fell asleep when you never came
Some rare delight in Manchester town
It took six hours before you let me down
To see it all in a drunken kiss
A stranger’s hand on my favorite dress oh

That was my favourite dress, you know
That was my favourite dress

 

Living and Learning

Lyrics:

If you said that it was nice, would you feel the same way twice
Or was it me who said “there’s no forever”?
When the twilight’s in the sky, there’s a twinkle in your eye
God knows just why they seem to go together

When we’re walking in the park and staying out till dark
You know I’ve got to face the world tomorrow
If we feel a slight disgrace, it’s well hidden in that case
The furthest thing from both our hearts is sorrow

Oh, you must know that wrong or right, I’m going to need your help tonight
I don’t care what she says, we can do it anyway
Oh we can do it anyway

If you’re standing in the light, make sure I’m out of sight
I can’t afford to be seen from your window
And the closeness that we feel, is surely never real
It’s what we are, not what we’ll be tomorrow

You must know, wrong or right, I’m going to need your help tonight
I can say without a doubt, it’s going to be the end when she finds out

This Boy Can Wait

Lyrics:

Let me stay and talk with you and John
We could laugh and tell jokes all night long
Another glass and I’m sure I could explain
But you could maybe guess that I’ve got to see your friend again

Oh, yes I know it’s late
Oh, but this boy can wait
Oh, this boy can wait
Oh, there’s nothing more that you could do
I’ve just got to see this through

My heart beats so fast whenever you are near
My tongue gets tied up whenever you can hear
When I touch your hand, why do we have to hide behind these doors?
If the world doesn’t understand, then the world has got to learn

Oh, yes I know it’s late
Oh, but this boy can wait
Oh, this boy can wait
Oh, there’s nothing more that you could do
I’ve just got to see this through

Tonight, when I hold you in my arms and I prove that I’m a man
Oh, well I hope you understand

Once More

Lyrics:

A gang of thieves, somebody leaves; I swear I heard laughter
An empty gloom and some forbidden room and a window to shatter

And does your heart begin to fail when the moment gets closer?
You always turn the other way but it doesn’t really matter at all
It doesn’t really matter at all, oh no

A crashing blow, does somebody know?
They must’ve heard my heart beating
And we’re in tonight but there’ll be a fight
Can you tell what I’m thinking?

And does your heart begin to fail when the moment gets closer?
You always turn the other way but it doesn’t really matter at all
It doesn’t really matter at all, oh no

Once more
Oh, I know that I’ve said this before
Oh, but this time I’m changing for sure
Just let me go out there
Once more
Oh, I know that I’ve said this before
Oh, but this time I’m changing for sure
Just let me go out there

Once more
Once more

Once more
Oh, I know that I’ve said this before
Oh, but this time I’m changing for sure
Just let me go out there

Oh, just let me go out there again
Oh, just let me go out there again
Oh, once more, just let me go out there once more
Once more

(The Moment Before) Everything’s Spoiled Again

Lyrics:

Have I said something wrong?
How can I know if you’re not going to speak to me?
There I am, in your eyes
And we’re only playing, but what am I saying?
Oh what am I saying?
Oh what am I saying?Oh there’s no one like you, no one like that now
There’s always some way that you could bring me downMaybe it’s just that I fly too high, that the ground is hard
It always hurts me
When I fall over sideways and break out in sores and people start laughing
But it’s not what I’m into

I don’t expect you to know
I don’t expect you to know

And when the sound of your laughter is getting too hard and people start staring
But nowhere is better than lying down here with you
Oh, and no one’s supposed to know how I feel

But I don’t expect you to know
I don’t expect you to know

Oh, it’s just that I don’t want you to go
It’s just that I don’t want you to go
Oh, don’t leave me alone again
I never wanted that again
Oh, don’t leave me alone again
I never wanted that again

 

At The Edge Of The Sea

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

Questions and Answers with David Lewis Gedge:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Any other thoughts about the song?

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

Official Lyrics:

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

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

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

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

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

Studio Versions:

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

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

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

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

Live: 

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

Video:

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

Once More
Once More
Tommy
Tommy

You Should Always Keep In Touch With Your Friends

In April of 1987, Beechwood Music released the first of many, many indie music compilations and so it was that when I purchased this, I heard my very first song by The Wedding Present. Little did I know that they would go on to become my favourite band by some country mile. The eighth track on the cassette was a song called You Should Always Keep In Touch With Your Friends. An admirable sentiment of course but was it really a good idea for a song? The answer: you bet your jangly guitar it was!

Coupled with This Boy Can Wait, this was the band’s third single released in short succession as they fired with energy and ideas. We start with a short drum roll by Shaun Charman followed by the afore-mentioned chiming guitar by David Gedge and Peter Solowka. I’m not a musical expert but I think this song is played in the key of ‘poignant heartbreak’. I’m already tearing up and the singing hasn’t even started yet. The story is set in school age, a time when bonds are first formed and lifetime friendships can sometimes be forged. Is this a platonic or a romantic relationship? At first it’s not clear but by the end it sounds like the pangs of a first love that drifts apart and is only viewed in the rear-view mirror.  One of the most evocative of lines is the third describing a “bridge that stood close by the sea”. I have only just found out some 26 years later that this bridge is apparently in Scarborough, North Yorkshire. The thing should have a plaque on it!

By the time we get to the first chorus, this sounds like not just the first love but a first sexual encounter and yet the sweetness of the lyrics never feel dirty. This is a song about love and the aching of memory. The third verse continues the theme of pain in remembrance. Of course, these would become familiar themes in the years to come as David Gedge revisits this favourite subject many times. Three minutes, two seconds in and we’re done. It’s fitting that a song that is all about looking back should end with the words that are the title. It’s a message and one you aren’t supposed to forget.

Questions and Answers with David Gedge:

Do you have any memories of how the idea first came to you?

DLG: I stole the title from the end of a letter written to me by Charles Gant who went to school with Keith Gregory [bass; The Wedding Present, 1985-1993] and who later went on to be a film journalist. He’s currently the film editor of Heat magazine, actually! He signed off with “you should always keep in touch with your friends” which I found to be quite a poignant line in itself but which also inspired me to think about how ‘first love’ can have a lasting impact…

Any general thoughts on the song now and whether you like playing it live?

DLG:  Yes, it’s one of my favourite songs from the ‘early’ Wedding Present era and it’s very enjoyable to play live. I share this view with Terry de Castro [bass, backing vocals; Cinerama, 1997-2005, The Wedding Present, 2005-2010] who says: “It really ‘drives’. It’s exciting. When it starts, it’s like a kick of adrenaline and it maintains an intensity and momentum that I find fun to play. It’s also kind of 80s retro-sounding but in a really authentic way because that’s when it’s from! Great bass line as well. It has a real groove.”

Is there anything you would change about the song now?

DLG: I think on “You Should Always Keep In Touch With Your Friends” you can really hear us trying to establish The Wedding Present ‘sound’ and, so, although I don’t think we would record it that way now, from a historical perspective it’s a valid statement of intent.

 The song refers to a school time friendship/romance. Was this a specific person and do you in general keep in contact with friends from school and your university days?

DLG: It’s my policy never to reveal exactly whom a song is about… but in this case it’s fairly obviously about a first ‘proper’ girlfriend.  I’m actually guilty of not taking the advice offered by the title! The musician’s lifestyle and the consequent travelling makes it really difficult to keep in touch with friends. So I’m not really in contact with anybody I met at school or university, to be honest, and I do regret that to a certain extent.

It’s been said the ‘bridge’ in question is near Scarborough, North Yorkshire. Have you been back to it since? Could you still find it now?

DLG: I think I could find it, yes. It’s not the one that everyone thinks it is though… it’s not the “Spa Bridge”. I don’t know what my bridge is called but it’s next to the The Old Scalby Mills which is a restaurant. That “proper first girlfriend” of mine and I made a solemn pact that we would meet at the bridge on the same day every year for the rest of our lives. We said we’d return there even if we weren’t still together… but then neither of us could imagine not being together, because we were so ‘in love’! Ha, ha. Then, of course, we never went back. Ah, young love…

What made you choose this as a double a-side single since it was quite a break from the pace of the other singles at the start?

DLG: It was because we couldn’t decide which of “You Should Always Keep In Touch With Your Friends” and “This Boy Can Wait” – which was more in keeping with the pace of the first two singles – should be the A-side. They were both worthy of being the title track. And it’s a ‘problem’ we’ve had ever since! Essentially The Wedding Present never have ‘throwaway’ tracks that are obvious B-sides. If a song isn’t good enough it’s simply not released.

Was there any chance of it appearing on George Best?

DLG: No. Apart from “My Favourite Dress” we didn’t want to put stuff we’d already released onto the album. It seemed like it’d be a bit of a rip off.

Where was the video filmed?

DLG: Scotland. The filmmaker approached us and invited us to make it on his friend’s farm out in the countryside near Edinburgh. It was all done on Super-8. I remember that Keith [Gregory] spent ages painting that backdrop, which was ultimately set on fire as we played.

Thanks David. It’s a very poignant song with a very simple message. The imagery is grounded in reality but feels timeless. I think this is one of your best ever compositions because of it’s simplicity  – bomaya

Official Lyrics:

After school, a friendship walking home
We fled across the fields until we were alone
To a bridge that stood close by the sea
The day that we spent there is ours eternally

I don’t have to tell you; I’m sure you understand
The first who lay beside me made me what I am
Oh, she made me what I am

A smile, in these ungrateful times
Makes all that you left me seem more worthwhile
But no, I couldn’t really dare to show how much I miss you
Isn’t that unfair?

I don’t have to tell you; I’m sure you understand
The first who lay beside me made me what I am
Oh, you made me what I am
And no matter how it ends, you should always keep in touch with your friends

Written and published by Gedge. Gedge’s publishing is administered outside of the UK & Eire by Fintage Music International.

Studio Versions:

1 – Peel Session version recorded 11/02/1986, first broadcast 26/02/1986 TIME: 3:02

Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Peter Solowka (guitar); Keith Gregory (bass) and Shaun Charman (drums) Producer: Mick Wilcojc   Engineer: Mike Robinson
Special Thanks: Mike Stout (same version released on Tommy in 1988)

2 – AA-side single released July 1986 [Reception Records REC 003] TIME: 3:01

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

Engineer:  Carl Rosamond

the-wedding-present-you-should-always-keep-in-touch-with-your-friends-receptionthe-wedding-present-you-should-always-keep-in-touch-with-your-friends-1986

Live: 

Played regularly from 1986 to 1988 plus 2006-2007.

Officially released on Live CD 1987 & Live CD 1988 [SCOPITONES TONE CD 025 & 033]

Video: 

Promo:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rmmVxoNCJ8

From The Other Side of Midnight: 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4AyUv-7F_Hw