I was tinkering on the guitar today, playing with a song idea I’d had a few months ago but hadn’t finished (like so many!). I’d put it aside partly because it was rather obviously sounding like Neil Finn. Now, to me this is no bad thing - Neil Finn is one of my musical heroes, and probably the songwriter I most aspired to be like when I started writing. I can still put on his music and wonder just how he does it, this master craftsman of melody. So it is very tempting, on the occasions when I get a hint of a Finn-esque melody, to run with it, to develop it’s Finn-ness – to Finn-esse it perhaps (thanks to auto-type for suggesting that rather lame joke). Taken too far, of course, you might get pastiche, but it’s a good way to learn, to find out what it is about someone’s music that you admire. For example, I love the way the melody in the Crowded House song Distant Sun develops, with lines that are rhythmically similar throughout the verses, but melodically distinct on almost every line, and how the verses build to make the chorus essential, inevitable. Or the way a song like Wherever You Are inverts the usual quiet-low verse/loud-high chorus, with no loss of impact. These are all encouragements to try different ways of writing, to not just settle on the first idea. And even if the songs don’t come out sounding as you first imagine – they rarely do in my experience - they might be better or more interesting for the attempt to try something new.
Listeners may not hear much of the Finn influence on this record (except perhaps on Winter Sun), probably because my style of writing has changed, and my influences broadened. I hope it sounds like ten fields. Still, playing around on the guitar today led me to listen again to some Neil Finn songs, and gave me an excuse to write about what a great songwriter (and all round nice guy) he is.
Our own music has started its journey into the world – including a first radio play on BBC Leeds – and generally the response so far has been really encouraging. We've also been rehearsing for our launch and getting excited about playing live again…