Blackbirds Banquet: Songs From FAWM 2016

by TA Walker

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02:24
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00:59
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02:45
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02:11
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about

These are the songs I wrote and recorded for the 2016 FAWM (February Album Writing Month) annual songwriting challenge. The aim is to compose and record, from scratch, 14 songs/instrumentals within the month of February, and share them with your fellow participants.

This is my fourth year of participation - the albums from 2013 ("Homecooked") and 2014 ("Conditions Apply") are also available on my Bandcamp page. (My 2015 FAWM was aborted due to family reasons after completing two songs; "B-L-O-C-K-E-D" is available on "Allsorts Vol 1", and I'm holding "Sleep Song" back for Vol 2 :-) )

Everything you hear on this album was composed and recorded between 1-29 February 2016 (although mixing and mastering "spilled over" to the first couple of days of March). As a result of the somewhat frantic pace, you may well hear occasional signs of this - mistakes, garbled lyrics, wrong notes, etc. - which I have left in as a representation of what I came up with during the FAWM challenge.

The songs are presented in the order in which I wrote and recorded them, except where I swapped "Seventh Planet" and "Odd Love Song". During the challenge, I meant "Planet" to come before "Odd...", but was unable to complete and mix it in time, and had to come up with the latter song to keep "on schedule". This album restores the intended sequencing.

Overall, though, I feel that this time around, I didn't do too badly! I recently took a course in studio recording and engineering, which I hope has translated into a noticeable improvement, especially on the mixing front. I'll let you be the judge of that...

(I should mention that if you have heard - or even downloaded - the songs I uploaded to the FAWM website, the versions on this album have been remixed quite thoroughly, and in my admittedly-biased opinion, have a much-improved sound overall. Just putting that out there...)

Hope you enjoy these, and perhaps you'll hear them again in mutated form in the future...

TA Walker
March 2016

P.S. Before anyone asks: I *know* there's no apostrophe in "Blackbirds". It's intentional...

credits

released March 7, 2016

Drums by the Garageband Drummers: "Kyle" (tracks 1 and 9), "Darcey" (2 and 6) and "Mason" (5)
Other instruments, voices and programming by TA Walker

A Sidingsound Production by TA Walker
All compositions written and recorded by TA Walker at Sidingsound I and various locations on the Sidingsound Mobile, between 1-29 February 2016
Mobile recording hardware: Apple iPad Air, iPhone 5S, Line6 Sonic Port VX
Mobile recording software: Apple Garageband, Harmonicdog Multitrack DAW
Mixed by Tim at Sidingsound I (Logic), February-March 2016
Cover photo by Tim
Cover design by Canva (canva.com), guided by Tim

Thanks to my family for understanding, support and space; my fellow FAWM'ers for support and mutual encouragement; Line6 for the Sonic Port VX (great recording machine, but how about a hardware gain control on the instrument input next time, eh?)... and you, of course

(p) and (c) 2016 Tim Walker

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TA Walker UK

Guitarist/multi-instrumentalist, composer and songwriter, often with unashamedly "prog" inclinations. Influences include Anthony Phillips, Phil Keaggy, Mike Oldfield, Daniel Lanois, Bill Frisell, Paul McCartney, Martin Newell, Peter Hammill, etc., but will listen to anyone who can play decent guitar and/or write fine songs. (And others, too, if they're really good. Of course.) ... more

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Track Name: The 90s Called
Someone called the Nineties
The Sixties upside down
I wondered what they had in mind
The flowers dried and brown
When videos came on cassette
And tweets came from the sky
When mobile phones weighed half a ton
And cost the same to buy

[chorus]
The 90s called, a joke to crack
Would we like their decade back?
The 90s called back anyway
“Admit it - you preferred life this way?”

[verse 2]
Friends we met, and got to know
And watching home alone
The internet at tortoise speed
Whilst paying for the phone
I cast my minds’s eye to recall
What key events occurred
An oasis in the years of war
Or maybe, just a blur

The 90s called…

[bridge]
Before you know - it’s twenty years ago
And often we find
The ruling men you thought so low
Were not the worst, in the end...
Track Name: Lunchtime
[Verse 1]
Not meant to watch the clock
This food fan is taking stock
Now sushi is my jam
I conserve patience wherever I can
For this desk gourmet
My favourite hour of the day...

[Chorus 1]
With my bento box, it’s off I trot
To lunchtime
Keep those eyes off my fish and rice
It’s all mine
Like Gollum with his “Precious”
I’ll guard this most delicious hoard
So jealously - begone
It’s all for me!

[verse 2]
Twenty-four hours slip by
Fickle is my foodie-eye
To chilli-sauce I’ve turned
And I must feel the burn
For this desk gourmet
The hottest hour of the day...

[chorus 2]
It’s chilli con car-nay - out of my way
For lunchtime
The microwave - slow as a
Paving-slab line
Too hungry to make good rhymes
Oh look, there goes my lunchtime
Already - I’ll take it back with me
Track Name: 62nd Street
[instrumental]
Track Name: Where Letters Keep
[verse 1]
It all started with the word
A greater distance, overturned
And surely by the letter they were made
Came the light, and all were pleased
And then in time, a bended knee
Began their journey - neither felt afraid

[chorus]
Wherever they roam
Down every path and lane
Each place where they lay to sleep
A secret store
Accompanies their steps
The chest they only know, where letters keep

[verse 2]
As a life reveals
How words can wound or heal
A dagger or a scalpel to use
A spring both salt and sweet
A coin’s opposing sides compete
Every moment, a path we choose

Wherever they roam…

[bridge]
To the start, they retire
To the lines forged in fire
In the white heat where love took form
Where the strokes of the pen
Lead the memories to when
The shards to a sword reformed
Track Name: Helmsman
[verse 1]
They call me Mark the helmsman
I guess that that’s my name
I guide this tub the river long
And sail it back again
Stop long enough to fill this flask
And it might last the journey back
‘Bout cargo, don’t ask a thing
Some things are best unknown

[chorus]
Just leavin’ the helmsman
To pilot through the river foam
Just trust in the helmsman
He’ll steer your course for home

[verse 2]
Ain’t never looked for trouble
And I’m too broke to rob
You’ll never catch me fishin’
The river’s just a job
I’m not the type to wash ashore
Up Cripple Creek without an oar
No man of words, but sometimes plans
Perhaps that’s just as well

[bridge]
No wish for a change of scene
‘Cos this is all I know
I measure days in plumblines
Enough to last a lifetime
Track Name: So It's Friday
So it’s Friday
I’ll pick you up today
By six-thir-tay
Mmm-mmm

You and me
Hot-dogs surely
A drive-in movie
Mmm-mmm

Drive round town without a care
I know you'll be always there
Went shopping for a ring today
I wouldn’t want to miss a cliché

Home obediently, by
Ten-thirty
Parents happy
Mmm-mmm

I see your bedroom light
And you wave me goodnight
The whole world feels alright
Mmm-mmm
Track Name: Odd Love Song
I can say “I love you”
And sound as if it’s true
The easiest words I’ve ever known
The moods and temper swings
Are just some of those things
It’s worth it, not to have to be alone

How I can cope with you
And you can cope with me
Is one of love’s marvellous mysteries
True, opposites attract
But I know another fact
You make this world rotate for me

I can say “I love you”
And I often do
Although I feel that I should tell you more
We know the best and worst of us
Which gives us plenty to discuss
Through all the winding years we have in store
Track Name: Turnaround
You’ve fallen back, behind the pack
The only signs, the solid lines
That stopped you in your tracks
Time to take your ranking back

Your turnaround is overdue
The when and how and why
Is down to you

It makes no sense - you hit the fence
So stand again, push through the pain
The prize that moves you still
Is waiting down that hill

Your turnaround is overdue…

And when you kept the pace
I know your will was strong
Until you cross that line
Find it in yourself to carry on
Track Name: Running On The Spot
Now I remember I heard you say
These opportunities don’t come around every day
Don’t miss a prize you’ll then regret
Let them land and then swipe them up in your net
Some you will find, may come easily
Others will leave you barking up a tree
Across the road from where you should
Be looking for the trees amid the wood

Running on the spot
Or maybe in a wheel
The times you make progress
May come when that’s not what you feel

And we know times when the treadmill stopped
And to the floor you saw me skip and drop
But we know too, it’s exactly then
To gather self and to stumble up again
We have a marathon to run
Today, the gym, tomorrow, in the sun
This view is not necessarily
The one before us, that we will always see

Running on the spot…

Now I remember I heard you say
These opportunities don’t come around every day
The time will come, you’ll hit your stride
And find the strength you thought you lacked inside
Then far ahead, the goal awaits
And now we start, for we’re still not too late
And when our hearts race fit to burst
Remember we don’t have to come in first

Running on the spot...
Track Name: Snow Moon Waltz
[instrumental]
Track Name: Outside The Space
The silent mists
Wrap me round
I beckoned sleep
None to be found
Too tired to go
Too far to stop
Grasping for
The words to drop

I’ve spent too much time
Outside the space that I made for myself
Can’t find the rhymes that I
Used to entice with the greatest of ease
They slip away nicely while leaving no trace
Outside the space

The distant cheers
That coax me hence
A golden arch
A rusty fence
My conscious mind
No longer clear
On instinct pure
I found you here

I’ve spent too much time...

[bridge]
Lift me over
Lead me closer
Track Name: Going To The Tearooms
I'm going to the tearooms
For my usual Earl Grey
Perhaps, this time, Darjeeling
To form my pre-soirée
Where I may watch the world go by
With scones and clotted cream
And strawberry jam at 4pm
My daily dining dream

And furthermore, moreover
No plebs or oiks or proles
Shall spoil my afternoon repast
With munching sausage rolls
Their noxious whiff, their poor attire
And offensive repartee
Allow them entry if they must
But far away from me!