Friday, 16 July 2010

No Time To Say Goodbye

Almost a fortnight ago I blogged about a particularly poignant songwriting commission I'd received. Two weeks later that song – No Time To Say Goodbye - is written, recorded and, with the obligatory music video, now ready to tell its story wherever the world wide web may take it. Life is, as you're doubtless aware, not quite so simple as those last two sentences imply. That I have produced a recording and video featuring both of the young people it was written for is a testimony to the the shifting sands of bureaucratic time frames, the importance of sometimes just acting on impulse and of what can be achieved if you are prepared to sacrifice a little sleep.

Both Sting and Craig David have songs called 'Seven Days'; this song was turned around in four. It was early evening on a Monday when I picked up my freshly restrung Telecaster and started strumming out some chords. Suddenly I hit something that I knew would be the basis of this song. Very quickly the genesis of a melody and structure came together, then lyrics for the chorus. Then the phone rang! I'm not a big fan of being interrupted during the songwriting process but I knew this call was coming, and with it several hours of being out of the house. I got in late, went back to the guitar and within an hour or so had the lyrics down.

I was working Tuesday morning but managed to carve out a most of the afternoon and evening for getting a demo done. I knew there was a high chance this recording session would be the main one for the project so although speed was important so was the quality of what I was creating. By Wednesday morning I had something I was prepared to get feedback on. Suddenly I discovered that both the girls were still in the country – I had been told one was leaving the day before. Next thing I know there's a crazy suggestion we record vocals on the Thursday – the day before she would definitely leave town. We might just create the opportunity we thought we'd lost.

For a couple of hours on Thursday morning we recorded vocals in a hastily created 'studio room' in Klub Novi Most. English is not the first language of either of the girls; the song is in English because that's the only language I'm competent writing in! It really was a case of rehearsal and recording blurring into one. (In this situation Logic was worth every penny!) I knew the clock was ticking and having got this close I wasn't going to let the opportunity of creating what we all wanted slip away. With one family leaving the next morning, and their leaving party starting five hours after we finished laying down vocals, I had a seriously immoveable deadline.

Squeezed around a work-related meeting over lunch and an evening working at Klub I produced a final mix and some album art and burnt a couple of CDs. Rowan and I arrived at the party late – but as soon as we could. Have you got the CD? That was what everyone wanted to know. Friends and family gathered around the kombi as the stereo blasted out the first play. Moments like that make it all worthwhile.

Last night I was getting sign off on the video from the girl who's still in Mostar. The whole situation still hangs over her and her family. The video touches some very real, very raw emotions. As it finished she looked at me and said 'Thank you...you have no idea.' And that's the painful truth. I have no idea. I can't begin to comprehend what life right now feels like for her and her family. But those are my issues to deal with. For now I still won't claim to have any idea but I will be very grateful that I was in the right place at the right time to do something that helped. Someday we hope we'll get the chance to record together again. Until then we have No Time To Say Goodbye.

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