Monthly Archives: April 2020

Bindless Captive

Episode #6: Bindless Captive – (Song at 10:30)

It’s 1982. I’m in my science class at school, being lectured on the names of cows stomachs. Predictably, as a young man, keen on the outdoors, the hunting and fishing, my mind started to drift. 

Out the window, the hills in the distance beckoned me. In my mind I flew over the city, over the river, over the hills to the farms and beaches where I’d spent so many hours observing nature: In silence, I’d stood, listening to all the sounds, recognising all the bird calls, the sound of the rushing river and the wind in the pines. 

Back in the class, as the teacher spoke, I drew a cartoon of a ‘ farmhand ‘- a possible future for myself (not that I was seriously considering it, but the idea of being in the country appealed), and I wrote the lyrics there and then. The lyrics are about a life yet to be lived. I’m 15. I want to do it, and I want to do it now! The outdoors awaited me – as did the future.

I wrote the music to this this song a few years later, in 1985. I find it’s a good idea to stow your writing, art and music (that you may not have a current use for) away for another day. In this case, I’m glad I kept that particular page of my school exercise book.

Lots of insights to songwriting here today, folks.

I’m not going to tell you how to write a song. But I am going to tell you how I write a song . 



Episode #5: Lifetimes – (Song at 4:26 & 14:08)

This week I’m presenting an instrumental solo piano song, ‘Lifetimes’, written in 1987. 

There’s 2 versions here : The original demo and also the track released on my first piano album Eridanus / River Music.

On the demo, this is my first effort at arranging strings – an orchestral type of arrangement using my keyboard, which I added after recording the initial piano on my upright acoustic piano. 

Lifetimes started out as chords and melodies scrawled onto different bits of paper – very basic notation written at the various times I composed each part.

One winter’s evening after playing a gig with a covers band, I sat down at my old upright piano back home around midnight and brought all the sections together. I also composed joining phrases, new movements, etc. Fortunately everyone was out for the night and I could play the piano without disturbing anyone.

Some day I’ll hire an orchestra and record it again. Nonetheless, for now, here’s how it sounds.

As a creative person, it pays to enjoy your art in the form it is in presently, while keeping it in mind to perhaps rework in the future.

Have a listen and I’ll talk you through how it all came together, then I segue into the songwriting angle. Enjoy. 

I’m On My Way

Episode #4: I’m On My Way – (Song at 4:24)

Episode number four: I’m on my way, Song #341 written in1994.

I wrote the lyrics sitting at the beach, in New Zealand. I used to stockpile these.I loved having a stack of lyrics waiting for whenever the mood hit me to compose a song.

When I recorded this demo it was my first time using 16 tracks. Thanks to a friend, I was fortunate enough to be given access to a ‘B studio’ at night.. I ended up producing a solo album’s worth of demos, over a few weeks. I loved it. I programmed the drums, played piano, keys fretless bass, strings, and sang it.

Thanks to Brendon (I’m pretty sure that was his name), who happened by the studio one evening and put some guitars down for the entire album for me. He had some great ‘chops’, was an instinctive player, who played for the song.  He took direction well. It was a spontaneous creative outpouring, with easy communication for us both. It was big night. We finished at dawn.

The song is about nearing the end of a relationship, trying to let go. There is a sense of freedom about the music, it’s got a nice vibe. This is the first time I got to fully direct an arrangement in a professional studio.I loved the experience. 

Hear more about how the song came to be, the lyrics and at the end there’s some songwriting / arranging tips. I do talk in a way that is inclusive of the layman/ non songwriter. So if you hang around to the end you might gain some insights into the creative process. Enjoy.

You’ll Remain In Me

Episode #3: You’ll Remain In Me –  (Song at 3:53)

Welcome to Episode 3, this week we have : You’ll Remain In Me, song #170, written in 1991.

Here I am in my studio in Melbourne. It’s midnight and you’re my intimate listening audience. I’m pretending I’m on a stage, doing a gig. I have license to talk. Which I do, presenting the usual back story to the song, the actual demo recording, then lyric analysis and some songwriting tips to follow. I enjoy talking about the songwriting process. Hopefully my laidback & inclusive style will appeal to the layman, as well as aspiring songwriters… 

In this episode, ‘You’ll Remain In Me’ is a statement, in effect, about my ending a personal relationship. Each relationship we experience has the power to transform us – and they will, whether we are aware of this or not.  Letting go is a delicate process. You do consider the long term implications.

Here I’m singing with Paul Dredge who’s doing the harmonies and Earl Pollard on drums – a great guy & a wonderful musician, who is sadly no longer with us. We recorded this after a gig at a piano bar we used to work at 5 nights a week. I loved this baby grand. Join us here – pull up a chair for a listen, see where it takes you. 

In these podcasts, as I record them, memories float in from the time I wrote the song. So you’ll get it straight from the songwriter. It’s confessional, not over serious though – I like having a laugh as well as getting all arty in my reflections. So I’m enjoying the whole podcast recording process.