Tag Archives: Dale Griffin

A Million Miles

1988 and I was in the Sixth form at a high school in Surrey. Over the previous year I’d started to broaden my musical horizons into the world of indie and along the way had picked up on a band from the North of England that just struck a chord, some pun intended. By now they were developing from their early roots into a band that would soon court the major labels but I had missed out on the very early days.

Thankfully a friend at school (thank you Martin Short) made a copy of George Best on cassette for me. I can’t even remember what was on the other side of that C90 tape but it wasn’t a band that became a love and obsession like TWP.

Of the songs that made up George Best, four in particular stood out and A Million Miles was one of them. If you’re reading this then you probably know why. It’s the lyrics, it’s the gorgeous melody, it’s the chiming layered guitars, it’s the overall pang of the joyous love that the whole thing evokes.

Since 1988 I have purchased about 4 copies of George Best in various formats and re-mastered editions.  I think it’s safe to say that Home Taping did NOT kill music.

Questions and Answers with David Lewis Gedge:

I’ve always preferred titles that aren’t just the main words in the chorus. I like mysterious titles and I like titles that are just hidden there in the verses. It can make those particular lines resonate even more. So for example when titling this song would you have ever thought of calling it ‘You’re Not Like Anyone I’ve Ever Met’ or was it always what it came to be?

DLG: I know what you mean and I do like those kinds of titles myself. I do often have a working title, which will be a recognisable line from the chorus or whatever, but then I’ll go back and change it when I’m putting the finishing touches to a song. However, in this case, the title was always going to be ‘A Million Miles’; I never liked the idea of calling it ‘You’re Not Like Anyone I’ve Ever Met’ because it sounded too obvious.

Do you have any memories of how this song came about? I’m guessing at this time new song ideas were pouring out so was this just one in the crowd or did it stand out at all?

DLG: There are always new song ideas pouring out… it’s a blessing and a curse, to be honest! But this one did always stand out, yes. I wanted the lyric to evoke a very real situation that is familiar to everybody. We actually talked about it being a single at one point; obviously that never happened… but when we released George Best we put out a two-track ‘radio sampler 7”’ [Catalogue Number LEEDS 1X] and this song was the A-side.

From doing surveys and speaking to fans over the years, this is certainly one of the favourite tracks from George Best and often people’s actual favourite. The lyrics are a big factor in that adoration. It was kind of opposite to The Smiths’ ‘How Soon Is Now?’ from a few years earlier in that the narrator, despite his shyness goes out to a party, chats to a girl and walks her home. To the awkward teenage boys of the world, that sounded like a wonderful dream. How were you at parties as a lad?

DLG: Ha, ha… I was completely useless at parties as a lad… and I still am, to be honest. I’ve never been comfortable at any social gatherings when the numbers are greater than about four, really! And I was truly hopeless at chatting to girls and stuff. I do hint at that kind of discomfort in the second verse of this.

Who was Charlie?

DLG: I use to have a practise of name-checking acquaintances in songs and the Charlie in this case was Charles Gant, a school-friend of Keith Gregory [bass; The Wedding Present, 1985-1993]. We used to always stay at his flat in London whenever we played down there and I don’t know how he and his house-mates put up with us for so long, to be honest. He’s now a successful writer about films.

On the George Best version it always sounded to my ears more like “sharlie” so for years I thought you were singing “Sally” despite the ‘him” reference in the next line.

DLG: Ah, no… I didn’t meet Sally until much later.

Did people used to come up to you and ask if they were the people in your songs?

DLG: They did, yes. But I rarely confirmed or denied it, to be honest. I think people liked being immortalised in song, ha, ha… even if it it’s not a particularly flattering reference.

There’s an unusual way you have the lyrics written: the song is told in the first person perspective and yet in the first verse it seems to be the narrator talking to himself (I assume) and by the end talking to another friend on the phone. But all three perspectives use “you” whereas one might expect “she” and “he” to be used instead. Would you write this differently if you doing it today? Anything else you’d change?

DLG: That’s correct… in the verses and choruses the narrator is talking to the subject directly [in either a real or imagined conversation!] but in the middle eight [well, middle fourteen, strictly speaking] the narrator is telling a friend about the meeting with the subject. Is that not obvious? I thought it’d be clear by the way the melody and instrumentation have a different feel in that section… but perhaps you’re right…

One other way this song stands out on George Best is the guitar work which is less thrashy and frenetic and more layered. The tone especially throughout the verses really adds to the overall wistful mood of the song. Did the sound come about early in rehearsals or later in the recording process?

DLG: It’s funny because when I imagine this song I always think of it as one of the slower George Best tracks but it’s still pretty pacey. I do like those layered guitar parts, though. It was all worked out before the recording… as you can tell because this is pretty much what it sounds like live. There is an acoustic guitar overdub playing over everything, however, which, although it’s not that prominent, helps smooth it all out and adds to that wistful tone, I think. That was the producer’s idea.

Do you enjoy playing it live?

DLG: Very much so… for me it’s an easy one to play and I there’s a real sing along feel to it.

“Well, at least not yet” – the final lines take this song up another level from being just another love song but there’s conjecture about what it means. Is it just realism, sarcasm or something else entirely?

DLG: Definitely realism. I like to make all my lyrics and the subjects behind them as authentic as possible and in this case I’m just saying “Let’s not get too carried away here…”

Official Lyrics:

I must have walked past this doorway thirty times, just trying to catch your eye
You made it all worthwhile when you returned my smile
It all became worthwhile
Don’t you feel a little cold stood by the door?
You know I’d really like to talk some more
Oh don’t be worried about your friend; I think she left some time round ten
What was her name, again?

You’re not like anyone I’ve ever met
You’re not like anyone I’ve ever met

Do you see much of Charlie over here?
Oh I’ve known him off and on for years
He’s never mentioned you before
Oh that didn’t come out right at all and now I feel this small
That seems to be it
Don’t get me wrong but how’re you going to get back home?
Oh, I’d be willing to walk that way
There’s something I’ve just got to say
I could walk a million miles today

You’re not like anyone I’ve ever met
You’re not like anyone I’ve ever met

I kept bursting out with laughter all the way home
I had to tell somebody, and you happened to phone
I can’t think of anything else, no matter how I try
But you know I can’t even remember the colour of her eyes and that’s right

You’re not like anyone I’ve ever met
You’re not like anyone I’ve ever met
Well, at least not yet…

Studio Versions:

1 – George Best version  released 12/10/1987 TIME: 3:33

Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Peter Solowka (guitar); Keith Gregory(bass); Shaun Charman (drums);  Chris Allison (producer) and Alan Jakoby/Mick Williams/Steve Lyon (engineers)

2 – Peel Sessions version recorded 03/03/1987 TIME: 3:20

Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Peter Solowka (guitar); Keith Gregory(bass); Shaun Charman (drums);  Dale Griffin (producer) and Mike Robinson/Martin Colley (engineers)

3 – Swedish Radio Session version  27/03/1988 TIME: 3:37

(Recorded at BBC Broadcasting House; commissioned by Sveriges Radio and broadcast on Bowmen programme)
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Peter Solowka (guitar); Keith Gregory(bass); Simon Smith (drums)

Live Versions:

1 – Live 1987 (Disc One) – TIME: 3:31

Recorded 05/05/1987 at Leicester Polytechnic
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Peter Solowka (guitar); Keith Gregory(bass); Shaun Charman (drums); Mike Stout (live sound mix)

2 – Live 1987 (Disc Two) – TIME: 3:51

Recorded 22/11/1987 at Munchen Alabama-Halle
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Peter Solowka (guitar); Keith Gregory(bass); Shaun Charman (drums); Mike Stout (live sound mix)

3 – Live 1988 (Disc One) – TIME: 3:40

Recorded 30/03/1988 at Rotterdam
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Peter Solowka (guitar); Keith Gregory(bass); Simon Smith (drums); Mike Stout (live sound mix)

4 – Shepherds Bush Welcomes – TIME: 3:55

Recorded 20/11/2005 at London, Shepherd’s Bush Empire
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Simon Cleave (guitar); Terry de Castro(bass); Simon Pearson (drums); Roger Lomas (live recording); Chris McConville(live sound mix)

Video Version:

1 – An Evening With The Wedding Present  released 2008
Live version – same details as Shepherds Bush Welcomes cd as above

George Best
George Best
Live 1987
Live 1987
Live 1988
Live 1988
Complete Peel Sessions
Complete Peel Sessions
Shepherd's Bush Welcomes
Shepherd’s Bush Welcomes

Live:

A Million Miles was a strong live favourite from its first appearances around 1987 through to 1988. It reappeared in 2005 during the reformation tour and of course again during the George Best +20 tour of 2007.

Video:

Here’s the video from the Evening with the Wedding Present dvd:

Take Me!

In late 1988 as The Wedding Present toured with some new songs that would become familiar on Bizarro, there was one oddity. Up until now their songs had lasted between three and four minutes. When Take Me, I’m Yours (as it was originally known before being changed as David Gedge kept getting told about the Squeeze track of the same name) was aired it was a seven to eight minute epic. Not only was the length impressive but the fact that it isn’t a ballad, is. For the majority of its life, it is played at the usual breakneck speed so all four musicians were physically shattered  after playing it. Why they put themselves through this torture for art, who knows?!

This was a lyric that made me feel gooey inside. I loved the personal little touches like “orange slices and that Fall lp”. The Fall are a bit of a love of David’s and other than the cover of Jumper Clown and the occasional impersonation on tracks like Sucker, this is the only actual direct reference. “Orange Slices’ of course became the name of a major TWP/Cinerama fanzine created by Darren Bugg which your author today wrote many articles for.  The line “And when someone brings up your name/I can feel myself begin to change” is such an apposite description of the frisson when you fancy someone that it just can’t be bettered.  I never liked the line about washing hair on alternate days though – who doesn’t wash their hair every day? The other most swoonsome line is “And oh that feeling/When your hand returns to mine”. I know girls won’t believe this but some boys really like holding hands too.

After the refrain of “you get lovelier every day” we enter an instrumental section which is just delirious to listen to, especially live. Back in 1988, this used to end the set before the encore. Yes, you heard me right, The Wedding Present used to do encores no matter what Mr Gedge might like to pretend to you now. ;) By the time it arrived on Bizarro it was over nine minutes long and sometimes at gigs has gone beyond that. It is the longest song they’ve created and therefore remains for many, their magnificent octopus.

Questions and Answers with David Gedge:

Infamously, it was originally called ‘Take Me, I’m Yours’ but you were reminded of the Squeeze song and so changed it.

DLG: Ha, yes… you know, I had totally forgotten about that Squeeze song when I was writing this, which is a bit embarrassing, really. Then afterwards I thought, well, it’s too late now… and does it matter if my song has the same title, anyway? Finally, however, when we came to record it for Bizarro I decided that it did matter and retitled it.

Any alternate versions that never saw the light of day? This could be lyrically or musically. Some versions have it as “Guess I might as well stay out here” rather than “Think I might as well stay out here”

DLG: I don’t ever consider my lyrics as being set in stone, to be honest. I see the songs as living things, if that doesn’t sound too pretentious! Sometimes I change words because I feel they can be improved. But other times I’ve probably just remembered them incorrectly!

What do you feel about it now? Do you like playing it live? Was it always planned to have a 6+ minute instrumental coda? The Bizarro version is 9:14 minutes but the live versions seem to vary from 4:30 to 9.

DLG: Yes, we’d always planned to have the long outro. I love the interplay between the guitars and the bass and the ‘big’ guitar tune that comes in just before three and a half minutes and returns later. I think there’s so much going on melodically that, even though it’s just three chords, it doesn’t get boring.

I think we were revisiting the idea we’d had previously on ‘This Boy Can Wait’ but with the notion of doing it… better. Occasionally, depending on which live set we’re playing, some shortening may be appropriate, yes.

What made you make this song so long?

DLG: One of my favourite ever pieces of recorded music is the live version of What Goes On? from The Velvet Underground’s Live 1969 album and I’d be lying if I didn’t say that that song was influential in the making of this one!

Do some people balk at the length when playing it live? It’s always been a massive live favourite but is this offset by the any ‘pain’ at playing it?

DLG: Not really… I mean, I think initially it can seem a little daunting… but I find that band-members are usually very keen to rise to the challenge. It can be especially tough on drummers, though. I remember when we were rehearsing for the Bizarro tour in Los Angeles, Charles Layton [drums; The Wedding Present, 2005 onwards] made us turn the air conditioning off so that we could experience proper hot and sweaty ‘concert’ conditions! That was a very good idea actually; rehearsing this song is a bit like training for a sporting event.

Is there anything you would change about the song now?

I’m not too keen on the little scream I do after the final chorus, ha, ha. And sometimes I think that the ‘Status Quo’ section is a bit silly… but then it works well as a respite before ‘the onslaught’ returns. And I suppose I quite like the fact that it’s a little tribute to a band who I loved when I was in my early teens! In recent years we’ve used that ‘Status Quo’ section as a chance to ‘take it down’ – as they say in the rock ‘n’ roll game – which allows the song to re-build better and heightens the impact of the following bit even more than it does on the recording.

As with so many other songs from this period, it has so many extremely personal touches of angst in the lyrics. How much is exact truth and how much was made up? For example a line like “Orange slices and that Fall LP” must be based on a real moment – how does that resonate today? Funny that Orange Slices was used by Darren Bugg as the name of the fanzine from the late 90s/early 00s. Was there a specific Fall album that this referred to?

DLG: I can’t remember which Fall album it was… but, yes, I do like throwing in bits of real life into the lyric from time to time… I think it makes a song more ‘real’. Orange Slices was a great name for Darren’s fanzine… and one I would never have thought of.

What was the book you were competing with? You keep asking her to put ’that’ down.  

DLG: No specific book that I can recall. I think I just put that in there as way of explaining that I felt ‘the object of my desires’ was being too… intellectual… about everything and that they should just throw caution to winds and run away with me!

Some of the lyrics combined with the vocal melodies in this song are just bliss. Lines like “It’s like a panic and a rushing sound in my head”, “And, oh, that feeling when your hand returns to mine” and “Can’t you kiss me once properly? Well of course I mean it” are all so full of bursting emotions that it’s hard to write about them objectively. Do those lines still make you feel how you felt when you wrote them?

DLG: Yes, it’s easy for me to recapture those feelings of desire and panic. They’re common emotions, aren’t they? I remember Peter Solowka [guitar; The Wedding Present, 1985-1991] thought I was singing about a ‘Russian’ sound in my head… or so he claimed at the time.

‘Take Me!’ is slightly unusual from this era in that it’s an out and out love song with absolutely no dark or negative connotations. When you write about the joyous moments of love and lust you seem to capture the perfect moments. Do you think about this sort of romantic perfection a lot? The final lines about “Warm hands and the things you say” is such a beautiful final image.

DLG: I think about every aspect of my writing a lot… that’s why it takes me so long!

Official Lyrics

I’ve spent all day trying to decide about the things that you said last night
Did they mean nothing or were they filled with hidden clues?
And can you really have stayed till three?
Orange slices and that Fall LP

I feel so lonely when I get back from seeing you
And when someone brings up your name I can feel myself begin to change
It’s like a panic and a rushing sound in my head
A huge weight pressing on my chest
And now I spend hours trying to look my best
But I still meet you the day before I wash my hair

Oh won’t you put that down and take me, I’m yours?
When will we have this chance again?
Oh, please just put that down and take me, I’m yours
We might never have this chance again

That must’ve been a knowing look, oh, when you moved to pass your friend his book
And, oh, that feeling, when your hand returns to mine
I think I might as well stay out here, oh but, can’t you kiss me just once properly?
Well of course I mean it!
I think about you all the time

Oh won’t you put that down and take me, I’m yours?
When will we have this chance again?
Oh, please just put that down and take me, I’m yours
We might never have romance again

Warm hands and the things you say
You get lovelier every day
Warm hands and the things you say
You get lovelier every day

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

Studio Versions:

1 – The Complete Peel Sessions recorded as Take Me, I’m Yours! 24/05/1988; broadcast 30/05/1988 TIME: 8:06

Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Peter Solowka (guitar); Keith Gregory (bass);  Simon Smith (drums); Dale Griffin (producer) and Mike Robinson (engineer)

2 – Bizarro version recorded 1989  TIME: 9:21

Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Peter Solowka (guitar); Keith Gregory (bass); Simon Smith (drums);  Chris Allison (producer) and Steve Lyon (engineer)

Live Versions:

1 – Live 1988 Disc 2 (Valencia)  TIME: 7:26

2 – Live in Leeds 2010 TIME: 6:25

3 – Live in Tokyo 2010 TIME: 9:14

220px-TWPBizarro
Bizarro
Complete Peel Sessions
Complete Peel Sessions

Live-1988-sleeveThe+Wedding+Present+-+Bizarro-+Live+In+Tokyo+2010+-+Sealed+-+CD+ALBUM-55095051N+ZPLXP4L._SL500_AA280_

Live:

Played a lot from 1988 to 1991 and was often the final song before the encore!  Was resurrected in 2006/07 and of course was part of the Bizarro gigs in 2010 onwards.

Video:

No official video so here’s a live version from 2010.