Accept the Standards
I started writing this as a country blues song but it took on a new life when I recorded the acoustic guitar and bass backing tracks.
Given that this album is largely influenced by politics, I thought it was a good way to set the tone. There is a fine balance between a handout and a helping hand, but when economics are the primary marker of whether we are going well as a society, that balance seems to falter.
Those who are in the position to help others don’t always have the empathy or understanding to make it happen. Politicians have a responsibility to set the tone, as they represent us. When they fail us we have to think about how we can stand up and make changes ourselves.
"I'm assuming the best of you... we all accept the standards we walk by."
Tell You a Lie
This is the only song on this album that was not written in the last 18 months, and goes back to when I was living in Glebe in the mid 90s. I can’t remember the catalyst for writing the song but I really liked the bridge chord changes where the key changes twice in 4 bars.
The whole song had the driving guitars originally but when I dusted it off for an acoustic gig I did 5 years ago, I liked the sound of the acoustic verses so created a hybrid of both acoustic and rock for this recording.
The theme seemed to fit nicely as politics has its fair share of justifying white lies and alternative facts.
"I'll give you my version of the truth, I can decide what's good for you."
In a busy life, particularly if things are not going well, you can be feel like you are being dragged in multiple directions and can get bogged down as a result. My usual approach is to slow my thinking down and consider a sensible course of action - this song is about the opposite where you might get better momentum if you get started sooner rather than later.
I really like the drum groove on this one with the driving verses and the half feel choruses (The crash cymbals on the snare in the choruses were inspired by Billy Joel’s Moving Out).
"Everybody's running at me and they're trying to make up my mind. Friends and foes all bow in sympathy never knowing when to laugh or to cry."
Free World Leader
I did say this album was inspired by politics and in 2017 there were some significant events happening around the world, causing a lot of uncertainty about what was coming.
Everyday I read the news I am confused and concerned by how alarming events are less surprising to all in the world.
"A new world order - a free world leader. Post truth delights where black can be white... We can’t turn things back but the clock will unwind."
Take a Break - A Small Refresher
This song like many on this album is a collage of many themes including holding those in power accountable for their actions, bad things happening around us everyday, and a fast paced world which seems to want to suck the life out of everybody. It's a companion to Free World Leader.
What we need sometimes is to take a break - just a small refresher.
Going Downhill Fast
Success in life is measured in funny ways. People like sportspeople, politicians and others rely on high levels of confidence and discipline to achieve success and for many at the top of their game, the wheels can fall off very quickly when their environments or situations change.
The last song written for this album but musically a companion for Accept the Standards.
"Knocking doors down feathers fly - the family all are mystified. How could it come to this?"
Anger looks and feels different to everyone.
Triggers are different and reactions may vary depending on the person.
If we can work out what the signs are then maybe we could avoid losing our cool and hurting ourselves and others.
"Though it creeps up slowly – it could surprise you - something’s burning. You’ve come this far – don’t spoil it now - your life’s returning"
Regular the Clock Works
When my grandfather passed away, everyone in the family had the opportunity to keep a memento from his house. I chose the clock from his kitchen which still proudly hangs on the wall in our house. The world continues moving at pace and the clock keeps ticking over whether we are making the most of life or not.
This an abstract lyric with many disparate events and objects including the owl who visited my wife and I just before our son was born in 2006 (perched on the power line). The second time an owl visited us was in our backyard a week before I wrote this song.
I was thinking of Glenn Tilbrook from Squeeze (a songwriting influence for me for 30 years+) when I was writing the chords and music from the verses into the bridge and mid sections.
"Good news bad news – No one can predict it
Time goes by – As regular the clock works"
The Same Brush
There is nothing casual about discrimination against others - whether it be racism, sexism, homophobia or anything else.
Calling out difference has been the root of many past evils in the world and when we rush to judgement of others, we leave ourselves open to being stereotyped ourselves.
Fear and lack of exposure to “others” is often the main driver of hurtful and damaging opinions but I am optimistic that accepting people at face value and creating more opportunity to learn about each other will make us a better society.
"Don’t give them power to tar you with the same brush."
Changing Times Changing Minds
Henry Ford was quoted as saying “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”. Many things that were considered normal historically or that we didn’t know about, required a shift in mindset before they could change.
If we are to evolve as humans, we need to be open to changing our minds, especially when clear evidence and research arises. We also shouldn't give opinions the same weight as facts.
Songs often come in pairs and this one musically is a companion to Regular the Clock Works.
"Changing times need changing minds
Don’t let them leave you behind."
So Close but Out of Reach
Anybody who has aimed to achieve something and just fallen short can usually point to small things that made the difference.
On the flip side we just as many times avert disaster by the smallest margins.
The best you can hope for in life is to end up even at the end, and be thankful for it.
"It’s disappointing but I’ll dust myself off and start again."
Political debate can be wilful at times, and there are some that are notoriously good at attacking their opponents not just at a policy level but at a personal level.
I wonder whether those being attacked are good actors or thick skinned, and how much damage these personal attacks can have on driving collaborative effort towards good policy. For some it seems to be a game that has become so habitual that the costs are hardly considered at all.
“It’s invisible but there are always victims
Downstream they know it is a crime
So much practice now it’s a piece of cake
To hit the moving targets”
Sean Power - March 2018