Episode #177: Evening Hours (Song starts at 3:34 &16:22)
‘Evening hours’ starts out with a slightly unsettling discordant bell (sounds like the end something) set against a quiet piano riff.
This particular introduction has always brought to mind a potential rough story and an opening scene in a play or possibly a movie or stage show, for me.
The bell represents ‘the end’ (also the start) and the arpeggio is like a child music box dancer – ‘the beginning’. A music box is also something that may be equally enjoyed by a young person or an older person…perhaps it’s a keepsake, a childhood memory. And now this older person can’t quite believe the years have passed by – but passed by they have and now it’s time….
Yes, ‘Evening Hours’ is a deep song, about the end of life. We don’t talk about death much here in ‘the West’, at least. I think we need to. Perhaps a song is a good place to start.
It’s not a morbid song, to me. Spooky, sure, but there’s a couple of uplifting lines that say ‘Why not reach a highlight here tonight?’. Life is to be lived, regardless of one’s age.
This song was really determined to get a voice tonight, when I came out to my studio to record another episode. It popped into my mind as a contender and that’s generally the moment I go “ok, let’s do it”…
I picked up an old cassette from the stack and there it was, the title track from an old 4 tracked home recorded album by Paul Dredge and myself. I recognised the art work on the cassette.
Beneath it was another cassette. The 3rd song in my handwriting on the inner jacket that caught my eye straight away was …’Evening Hours’.
I thought: ‘Ok, it’s a sign’.. ha.
Evening hours was written in 1987. It’s song number 18. Now in 2023, as I find myself writing about the song, I’ve written 800. Bizarre. It’s great yo be rediscovering the old songs – and sharing them – on the podcast.
I’ve chosen to include both versions of the song. You get to hear the piano vocal version. And then the other more involved arrangement. I wanted to show what I hear in my head as I play ‘ just ‘ the piano and sing.
I was using very basic gear in 1989 and 1991 when these 2 versions were recorded. We are so lucky in this day and age to have wonderful recording gear at our fingertips in our homes. I say: go for it, make the most of it and see what you come up with – if you’re so inclined.
Recording is so much like the songwriting process. One happy accident leads to the next. I think the opening riff was due to me pacing my left hand in the wrong position on the piano keys, for instance.
What composing Evening Hours did for me was: it made me feel like i could do this thing. I could write songs with feeling and mystery and I could record a version of something that was in my mind. 1987 was a big year for me. It was when I began writing at least a song a week, which I then continued to do for many years.
It’s like discovering you can draw. I’ve been lucky to do be doing that in my life as well.
I hope you enjoy this episode. You can touch on deep themes with music and somehow ‘get away with it’. I think that’s perhaps what’s happened with ‘Evening Hours’.
I’d sure like to perform it one day on a stage. It’d have to be the right setting! And I’d like to record it properly. That’d be fun.
Here we go….