Episode #180: Crossroads  (Song starts at 4:04)

I wrote crossroads, Song #119, in 1989. When I saw the title of the song in my old green songbook, I remembered it was based on an old memory.

Reading through the first verse, a vivid scene sort of played out in my mind, like recalling a dream:

I was I about 3 or 4. My mother and I had gone to visit an old lady. We sat in her lounge, and cups of tea were served (not for me).

My eyes wandered along the old mantelpiece, past the old ticking clock which occasionally chimed. My gaze fixed on a toy car sitting there.

got to play with these cars as the adults talked. The old lady kindly gave me the car to take home.

All the details are clear as if it were yesterday. That’s the power of art. It can convey so much.

The first verse was about the old lady and her room. So for the 2nd verse, I moved on to an (imagined) old man carrying his bags home.

That’s when the word crossroads came through my pen, and I thought Aha – that’s what this song is about.

The 3rd verse was like an imagined scene from the distant future: the bright sun sinking behind the darkened sign posts, the road disappearing into the fast approaching night.

Yep, the cross roads.

This was a ‘words first , music second’ song.  It’s often a surprise to me, when I analyse the chords and melodies of these older songs. They quite often appear to break all the rules of theory, the harmonic changes, the way the melody dips to unexpected slightly unsettling notes and then back to more expected ones.

Shooting from the hip like this with the words and music  (which both come through very quickly) is fun and natural for me. I think the result is something almost disarmingly real at times.

It’s based on something real, then it becomes something more, ultimately returning to the image of the dark unknown of the crossroads. Which road is right?

And creatively speaking, which road is right? You just go with instinct. I let the fingers fall on the keys and the I float your voice up to wherever the feeling takes me.

It’s like being in a woken dream, writing a song. It was fun to rediscover this one, as I ‘winged’ the version on this episode. I improvised a piano instrumental section on the fly.

It was definitely the feeling from that afternoon that came to me all those years later.

Join me now and we’ll find out where crossroads came from . Perhaps you’ve got a cup of tea handy? A mantlepiece? ….

Here’s my blog. You can read the lyrics there + there’s lots more music and art to be found here.