Tag Archives: Simon Smith

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.

Carolyn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Official Lyrics:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Studio Versions:

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

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

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

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

seamonsters-2

Live:

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

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

Video:

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

Spangle

In the September of 1994 I was on holiday, driving round Ireland in a battered old Capri with my girlfriend. Watusi was released while we were out there and not being able to wait until I got home, I picked up the cassette version in Dublin and spent the next week or so listening to the new album on a continuous loop. The songs were varied and sometimes challenging but the essential TWP-ness was there.

‘Spangle’ was a favourite right from the off with the otherworldly scratchy intro. Although I’d already heard the rockier version on the Peel show the previous Spring, this charming version had an affect on me. It brought out the yearning and the angst in the lyrics, it made me think of misty mornings and the pain in the heart when you wake up alone. It’s like a dream with its woozy Optigan and ancient sounding guitar but rooted in reality thanks to the ever-clever words of David Gedge.

There’s nothing quite so sharply painful as the feeling and words you get from someone that used to love you. You can tell they don’t care anymore just by their tone, their silence, their general disregard. But you deny it’s true, it can’t be. You push the matter, you ask again and again and then they finally tell you how they really feel and you wish you’d never asked.

Questions and Answers with David Gedge:

Most important one first, why is it called ‘Spangle’? I’m hoping it refers to the sweets!

DLG: Ha, ha… no, I was just thinking of something sparkling… maybe a piece of jewellery… that the narrator has, which belongs to the person he’s talking to. But I do remember those sweets. Surely if you were correct the song would’ve been called ‘Spangles’, though! There’s actually a Fall song called ‘It’s A Curse’ which does include a reference to those sweets, by the way.

I know that originally you planned for the ‘rock/electric’ version to be on Watusi and then you changed your mind and put the ‘acoustic’ version on there instead. Can you explain what lead to that decision?

DLG: We wrote and arranged the songs for the Watusi sessions in the usual way but in the back of our minds we had vague plans for recording alternate versions to use as B-sides for singles, etc. We were thinking of the usual ‘acoustic versions’ – basically recording them with acoustic guitars, drums played with brushes, stuff like that – but we hadn’t counted upon the genius of the producer, Steve Fisk! As well as being a keyboard player himself, Steve has an extensive knowledge of keyboards and synthesizers going back to early Rock ‘n’ Roll. And one of the instruments he introduced us to was the ‘Optigan’. They were made by a subsidiary of the toy manufacturer, Mattel, in the early 70s and got the name because the sounds came from pre-recorded optical soundtracks that came on discs. It had such a beautiful, haunting sound that we immediately wanted to experiment on a song and ‘Spangle’ seemed the obvious choice.

I love both versions but do you have a preference? The version on Watusi certainly helps make the album more eclectic and different from previous albums, which I know is always an aim.

DLG: It’s hard to say which version I prefer because although the electric version totally works as a rock song [I especially like the end section with the slide on the bass and the faded up guitar] the Optigan version has a poignancy that complements the lyric. Like you say, I’m always looking to push the band into different musical landscapes and I think once we’d come up with the new arrangement for ‘Spangle’ using the Optigan I don’t think there was any way that the original version was going to end up on the album!

How much of the Watusi version was down to you and the band and how much was Steve Fisk’s influence? I believe that’s him playing the Optigan at the start and during? Is that him on piano/keys at the end as well?

DLG: I can’t remember who played what! However, it could quite easily have been one of the band playing the Optigan because extensive keyboard skills are not required! It’s more a case of pushing buttons that operate the discs! But obviously that version of the song would never have existed had it not been for Steve so, yes, he was hugely influential.

How was the scratchy vinyl sound created?

DLG: That’s the sound of the actual discs. They’re from the early 1970s, remember. They get dirty and scratched with use… just like a 7” single. I love it, though… I think it adds to the mournful feel of the recording.

You’ve mentioned before that this song is one of your favourites. Why?

DLG: Well, I’ve always been happy with the melody and the lyric but also working with Steve introduced me to the Optigan and other vintage keyboards like Mellotrons, Moogs, Vox and Farfisa organs and, ultimately, the idea of recording a different kind of music from just guitars, bass and drums. I think you could almost say that ‘Spangle’ was the birthplace of Cinerama in that respect.

The lyrics follow the conversational style for which you’ve become famous. When you write these, is the whole conversation in your head [i.e. including the missing parts from the other side of the row?]

DLG: Oh, yes. The whole thing is meticulously planned out. That’s why it takes me so flipping long!

I was amused that in latter years you corrected the lyric “I’m not going to share you with no one” to the more grammatically correct “I’m not going to share you with anyone”. However, the official lyrics in the recent Watusi re-issue still show the old lyric. Do you have any other tiny changes like this on other older songs?

DLG:  Ha, ha… probably. When I originally wrote that lyric I thought the ‘slangy’ version “I’m not going to share you with no one” suggested the narrator’s anger and frustration… but then when we played it live I thought it sounded a bit stupid. These days I tend to save the “no-one” for the final chorus but the ‘official lyrics’ should, I suppose, always be taken from the ‘definitive’ recording… which is the Watusi version in this case.

Official Lyrics:

I’m glad you found the time to ring
Oh, I just spent all day waiting
I need to know what’s happening
Well at least we both agree

I really don’t know where to start
Well, did you say you met some neighbour?
I guess I’m heading for a broken heart
Why are you doing this to me?

It’s all clear (I can hear)
And I’m not gonna share you with no one
Well surprise, I’ve got eyes
Now goodbye

How long have you had this planned?
Well I guess it shows how much you care
No, I understand
I just played the fool

Oh, sure, I’m going let you go
Well, I was wrong to ever trust you
But I don’t think that I’ll ever know how you could be so cruel

It’s all clear (I can hear)
And I’m not gonna share you with no one
Well surprise, I’ve got eyes
Now goodbye

It’s all clear (I can hear)
And i’m not gonna share you with no one
Well surprise, I’ve got eyes
Now goodbye

Written by Gedge / Smith / Belk / Dorrington and published by SM Publishing [UK] Limited.

Studio Versions:

1 – Watusi version released 09/09/1994 TIME: 3:11

Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals); Steve Fisk (Optigan, keyboards, producer and mixer) John Goodmanson (engineer) [see DLG’s answer above as to nature of recording]

Recorded in the Spring of 1994 at Bad Animals studio, Seattle USA

2 – Electric Version (John Peel Session) TIME: 3:10

Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Paul Dorrington (guitar); Darren Belk (bass); Simon Smith (drums); Mike Robinson (producer)

Recorded on 22/03/1994, first broadcast on 16/04/1994 on BBC Radio 1 John Peel Show

3 – Versions version TIME: 3:11

Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Paul Dorrington (guitar); Darren Belk (bass); Simon Smith (drums); Heather Lewis/Carrie Akre (backing vocals); Steve Fisk (producer and mixer); John Goodmanson (engineer)

‘Rock’ version originally meant for Watusi

Version 1 and 3 are found on Watusi (Edsel Records reissue [EDSJ 9008])
Version 2 is found on The Complete Peel Sessions (BBC Records [CMXBX1447])

Live Versions:

1 –  1995 Phoenix Festival (acoustic version) TIME: 2:48

Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals); Darren Belk (guitar); Jayne Lockey (backing vocals); Simon Smith (drums); Hugh Kelly Jnr. (keyboards)

Recorded at The Phoenix Festival, Long Marston, Stratford upon Avon on 14/07/1995, first broadcast on 15/07/1995 on BBC Radio 1 John Peel Show

2 – Live Tape 14 version TIME: 3:00

Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals); Darren Belk (bass); Paul Dorrington (guitar); Simon Smith (drums)

Recorded on 17/03/1995 at L’exo, Rouen, France

3 – Cinerama : John Peel Sessions (Season 3) TIME: 3:16

Recorded as Cinerama by : David Gedge (vocals); Simon Cleave (guitar); Terry de Castro (bass); Kari Paavola (drums); Sally Murrell (keyboards and backing vocals); Rachel Gilchrist & Eleanor Gilchrist (violin); Sarah Harris (viola); Abigail Trundle (cello); Andrew Rogers (producer)

Recorded and transmitted live from Maida Vale on 09/01/2002 on BBC Radio 1 John Peel Show

Version 1 is found on The Wedding Present : The Complete Peel Sessions (BBC Records [CMXBX1447])
Version 2 is found on Watusi (Edsel Records reissue [EDSJ 9008])
Version 3 is found on Cinerama : The Complete Peel Sessions [BBC Records CMXBX1526])

Watusi

Live:

‘Spangle’ was played live in the Spring of 1994 in the months leading up to the release of Watusi and carried on into 1995. Cinerama incorporated it into their repertoire of occasional The Wedding Present songs around 2002. The first tour of the reformed band put the song back in the set.

Videos:

Cover:

In 1998, American alt-rock band Jimmy Eat World put out a cover of ‘Spangle’ which borrows from all the different versions in its tone.

[Special thanks to Tracy Hopkinson and Thomas (@scribbler81)]

Skin Diving

 

The mid-nineties were a time of flux for The Wedding Present but even though band members came and went, great songs continued to be written. Born in the same fire as the rocking tunes from Mini, came a few teasers from the next full-length album.

I remember seeing the band play at a record store in London where I heard this song for the first time. I recorded the ‘show’ on a massive camcorder and watching it back now, I remember the feeling that the new songs really stood out, full of energy and thrust.

It feels like a neglected gem these days, hidden away on what was the band’s swan song (or so we thought at the time). When I hear it live now, it still sounds as fresh as it did twenty years ago under the garish bright lighting of the Virgin megastore on Oxford Street.

Questions and Answers with David Gedge:

I recall this song along with Snake Eyes being previewed live alongside the songs from Mini. Was it always planned to be on what became Saturnalia? I guess there’s no car theme for it to get onto Mini.

DLG: Yes, it was always destined to be on Saturnalia. It just happened to be one of the songs written following the release of Watusi, along with Snake Eyes, Dreamworld, Project Cenzo, Real Thing, Sucker, Jet Girl, Big Boots and the six Mini songs. Some of my favourite Wedding Present songs are actually in that list.

Any thoughts about the writing of this one, what the rest of the band contributed? It was written around that brief period you were a three-piece with Simon Smith and Darren Belk. By the time you recorded it, Jayne Lockey and Simon Cleave had joined and Darren had left. Jayne provided backing vocals, any other changes?

DLG: Of the dozen or so songs in that list above, Paul Dorrington [the guitarist on Watusi] contributed to only a few… Snake Eyes, Big Boots and Jet Girl. After that Darren moved from bass to guitar but wrote the bass lines for these songs as well as his guitar parts. I think that actually worked very well. The guitar lines are pretty simple and melodic but I think they’re written to work with the bass… so on Skin Diving, for instance, you get this big, driving, rocky sound.

To me, it sounds like the narrator is trying to get back with his ex and this liaison isn’t nearly as irrelevant as he’s making it out to be. He hopes it will lead to more and maybe even hopes the new boyfriend will find out. He doesn’t plan to disappear at all. Am I right?

DLG: I can see how you’d draw those conclusions as the song progresses, yes.

Likewise, the line “Oh, so then we both agree that this means you must be still a little bit in love with me”, is that arrogance or uncertainty? Who is he trying to convince, himself or her?

DLG: Ha, ha… I think that’s for you to decide!

The song title, one assumes, refers to the swimming mentioned in the lyrics but there is a ruder meaning to the phrase. Were you aware of that at the time?

DLG: I was most definitely not… but it does sort of work in the context, I guess!

As I write this, I saw you play this song last night. It still sounds fantastic. Do you enjoy playing it live? I think it’s one that gets a crowd going even if they don’t know it as well as others.

DLG: I think that’s because it just ‘rocks’… for the reason I gave above. It’s simple and effective. The current band always enjoys playing it.

Have you ever been skinny dipping?!

DLG: Yes! Very liberating!

Official Lyrics:

I know you said not to call
Well, so what?
I’ve lost you anyway
But, darling, that’s not all
I’ve got something else to say

Well, you pretend that I’m not here
So I guess you’re hardly pining
If you want, oh, I’ll disappear
But right now the sun is shining

So come on, just this one more time, then I’m gone
Well he can’t expect you to stay home
This is summertime
Besides which, he’d never suspect you

Sure, just take off your things
Because this is such a cool place to swim
We should go skin diving and just forget about him

So come on, just this one more time, then I’m gone
Well he can’t expect you to stay home
This is summertime
Besides which, he’d never suspect you

I’ll do it if you will
Oh, so then we both agree that this means you must be still a little bit in love with me

So come on, just this one more time, then I’m gone
Well he can’t expect you to stay home
This is summertime
Besides which, he’d never suspect you

Written by Gedge / Belk / Smith and published by Cooking Vinyl Publishing.

Studio Version:

1 – Saturnalia version released 24/09/1996 TIME: 3:11

Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Simon Cleave (guitar); Jayne Lockey (bass and backing vocals); Simon Smith (drums); Cenzo Townsend (and The Wedding Present) (producers)

Live Versions:

1 – Detroit 1996 version as featured on Mini – Deluxe edition (EDSEL EDSJ9010) TIME: 3:00

Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Darren Belk (guitar); Jayne Lockey (bass and backing vocals); Simon Smith (drums)

(Recorded at The Shelter, Detroit on 21/03/1996)

2 –  BBC Sound City 1996 version as featured on both Mini – Deluxe edition & Complete Peel Sessions  (BBC, CMXBX1447) TIME: 3:18

Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Darren Belk (guitar); Jayne Lockey (bass and backing vocals); Simon Smith & Chris Cooper (drums);

(Recorded at The Metropolitan University, Leeds on 12/04/1996)

395153

Live:

First appeared around the time of Mini in early 1996 and was a feature in those final years. Sadly it’s only appeared rarely since the reformation in 2005 but it’s currently on the set lists again in 2016 thanks to the upcoming Saturnalia tour.

Videos:

No official video ever made so here’s a recent live performance from the Indie Daze festival on 03/10/2015.

Skin Diving at The Forum, London

[Special thanks to Dawn Bellamy & John Marshall]

One Day This Will All Be Yours

Lyrics:

And they were left all alone
On that fateful day the budgie had a stroke
1940’s bliss…how could it come to this?

Forgotten things they once knew
And now there’s really only one thing left to do
But I think that I’m more scared
Because this country doesn’t care

And one day this will all be yours
And one day this will all be yours

And one day this will all be yours
And one day this will all be yours

But there were bluer skies
When you were just a twinkle in our eyes
Oh but you don’t have to stay
But thank you anyway

Be Honest

Lyrics:

This is all because you didn’t like my mam
Well, I’m afraid I can’t get born again
Oh, it’s not just me who’s changed

And can you tell me what it is you think I said?
And are you sure that it’s not just in your head?
And when was this anyway?

And if we’re really, really going to be honest, we might as well be brief

And, by the way, I got your little
Along with a dryness in my throat
When I saw that it came from you

Oh, was it really too hard to tell me to my face that you don’t long for my embrace
The way you used to do?

And if we’re really really going to be honest, we might as well be brief

Bewitched

Lyrics:

I’m not sure and I’m not asking but I thought I heard you say: “I just walked past him”
But why can I never do anything before you go?
I don’t know

And outside, the streets are empty; there was no time then and now there’s plenty
Oh, why do I never get the chance to say a word when you’re on your own?

If there’s nothing that I want more, why do my steps get this small when I reach your front door?
And I wait outside for you to come back out and your light goes out

You don’t know me but I’m still here and, God, the last time I saw you, you were, oh, this near
And there’s a thousand things I wished I’d said and done but the moment’s gone