A strange but true story about songwriting

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King Crimson Line-up
King Crimson line-up with David Cross second from left.

Sometimes, you look back on life and realise that a certain moment was pivotal

This one involved an email requesting help with writing a song – in collaboration with a musical legend.

Having not written any music in over a decade, let’s say confidence wasn’t high. Was the passion still there? Or was it time to forget the whole thing and move on? Only one way to find out.

I clicked on the file…

But let’s rewind to where this story began

A sun lounger beneath a cloudless Goan sky – a cheap midwinter break with tasty food, cheap beer and friendly service. Life was good.

A text message pinged. Reaching over in expectation of another reminder about local phone rates, it was a surprise to see the name Sean Quinn, from my band days. 

Hadn’t heard from him in years. So why now?

The message said (something like), “I’m making an album with an English musician who you will know. Wondered if you’d like to help out on a couple of tracks?”

Intrigued, my reply was in the affirmative – obviously pending my return to London. In the meantime, there was another beer to order…

Back in London

… The track started.

A simple guitar part, like the ones we worked on in Dubh Chapter. 

But who was the mystery collaborator? Steve Hillage, perhaps? He’d produced the Dubh Chapter album back in the nineties. Perhaps the secrecy was down to contractual issues.

My creative process immediately clicked straight into gear

First some dithering… followed by a bit of procrastination… and then a long nap. Even after all these years nothing had changed. You can’t rush the muse.

Hours later, after waking up, making a coffee and no doubt something else, inspiration struck: a sweet bridge chord opened up a chorus idea, and soon it was all coming together.

So I emailed a rough version of the track (recorded and sung on my iPhone) over to Sean in Dublin…

… and he liked it.

So, we started having these long, rambling phone calls

Just like the old days ranging back and forward across all kinds of music-related topics. 

For some reason, we talked about our favourite track of all time. It just so happened, mine occurred to me quite recently:

‘Starless’ from the King Crimson album ‘Red.’

Sean didn’t react when told this, which must have required considerable self-control. Why? Well, that’s what makes this story so strange.

You see, the identity of the mystery musician was David Cross, the violinist from King Crimson who co-wrote and played on… you guessed it… ‘Starless.’ 

Think about it: yours truly was about to get involved in a musical project with the guy who wrote his all-time favourite track – quite a comeback! 

Anyway, the album ‘Cold Sky Blue’ by Cross & Quinn eventually came out to positive reviews.

So, to say THANK YOU for wading through this rambling story, here’s a link to a FREE digital download of the track – no strings attached (though there are plent on the track).

Download ‘Counting All The Stars’ here.

But go easy on my singing! The old vocal chords were a bit frail at the time. The journey to a fully-functioning singing voice is a story for another time.

 

Happy listening!

Talk soon,

 

Brendan

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