Everything's Getting Older: a track by track guide
The very reason I first got in touch with Bill back in 2002 was probably because of a track called Singleton from his album Also In White. I think all his music’s lovely, but that track in particular is heartbreakingly beautiful, and like all great instrumental music it says a great deal by saying nothing, and still gives the listener room for interpretation. I feel the same way about Tasogare, which almost had lyrics – both by me and by Bill – but we became so used to it as it was that we soon realised it didn’t need anything else, it says enough with its melody and sets the scene perfectly. Bill had been learning to speak some Japanese at the time of the recording, so I looked up a word that I thought would suit the song – it’s a romantic Japanese word for ‘twilight’.
LET’S STOP HERE
I’ve written a lot about infidelity in the past, so with this song I decided to do the right thing for once and stay faithful. Again, it’s a good scene-setter, it references a lot of the themes that crop up later. Plus, if you’re familiar with my older lyrics, it might offer a bit of a surprise that also signals what’s to come. Kind of.
I realised one day in a supermarket car park that life – or my life, at least – was all habit. Humans need routine to function, and no matter how wild and free you think you are, you’re probably stuck in a pattern of habitual behaviour, whether you’re a sensible parent or a disco drunk. The music made me think of old black and white footage of factories; it sounded machine-like to my ears, so it seemed to sit well with the lyrics' ideas of repetition.
A SHORT SONG TO THE MOON
A very simple song about my undying love for the moon. She’s always there and she never fails to impress; undoubtedly the most beautiful object the human eye can see. She never loses her wonder, and I often find myself staring at her with the same fascination I’ve had since I was a child, and I imagine I always will.
BALLAD OF THE BASTARD
Heartbreak in love songs and rom–coms is almost exclusively from the point of view of the victim, and it occurred to me that it would be nice to hear the other point of view for once. It turned out that it’s equally as sad but for different reasons. There’s an element of autobiography here of course, like everything I write – we all take turns at being a bastard, although I’d like to think I’ve never been quite so cold as the guy in this song. Or maybe it’s a perfect portrait of me – you decide.
THE COPPER TOP
A lot of the time when I’m writing lyrics to other writers' music, I just put on the demo or whatever and see where it takes me and what kind of memories and mood they evoke. I’ve no idea why the memory of a post-funeral pint popped into my mind when I listened to this the first time, but it seemed to suit the piece perfectly, so as always I just go with it and hope that other listeners feel the same way.
This was adapted from an old play from the turn of the last century, La Ronde by Arthur Schnitzler. It’s a story about class, sexual morality and STDs – syphilis in the original – so I transposed the action to modern Glasgow to see how it would sound. In the original play, the men are philosophical slaves to nature and the women are all meek, mousey types, so in my version I made the men total bastards and tried to make the women stronger. The original has a poet, and rewriting his part as my own was too good a trick to miss. 'Glasgow Jubilee' is a Scottish roundelay dance, which is what the original title refers to, and reflects the structure of the play.
(IF YOU) KEEP ME IN YOUR HEART
This was written years ago, but if I remember correctly it was inspired by my Better Half when we first met. She had some pictures of her ex on the wall for no other reason than she hadn’t got round to taking them down; I started to wonder what my ex would do with her pictures and it all stemmed from there. Soon it escalated into a desperate and slightly obsessive plea to be remembered by an old lover, feelings that are easier to address once they’ve faded away.
The less said about this one the better; you can work it out for yourself.
THE SADNESS IN YOUR LIFE WILL SLOWLY FADE
A song about drowning your sorrows and how futile it can be, about friends trapped in that routine I mentioned earlier, and about the ironic loneliness of being extremely sociable.
THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD
This is obviously about my son and how he was created. Babies aren’t miracles, they’re everywhere and most people can make them. What’s important is not how you were made but why, and this song is about being a product of love, which hopefully most babies are. It was when writing this song that I realised all the themes that were popping up – ageing, the universe, love, sex etc. – so it’s almost like the key to the record, lyrically.
AND SO MUST WE REST
And so we end with the boy himself. I wrote him a lullaby and sang it to him in the bedroom and recorded it on my wee portable Zoom thing. I must have sung it a few times before he fell asleep, and thankfully the best take was the last one – that’s him snoring at the end.