music

PASTE MAGAZINE VIDEO PREMIERE of HOBOKEN by SPOTTISWOODE

Paste Magazine has chosen to premiere HOBOKEN, the music video of the first song from the band’s forthcoming seventh record, LOST IN THE CITY.

Shot by Ehud Lazin in lower Manhattan, the camera follows young Spottiswoode as he strolls wistfully to the Hudson River and takes stock of his life.

Read the article and watch the video HERE.

LOST IN THE CITY record release! by SPOTTISWOODE

The band's seventh record is due for release on iTunes on Tuesday November 27th.

LOST IN THE CITY is our most ambitious song cycle to date, a giddy brew of jazz, chanson, rock, blues and minimalism. The music reflects the raw energy and sophistication of the city the band has called home for the last two decades.

On Friday November 30th we celebrate the record's release and also our 21st anniversary at Joe's Pub in NYC. It will be our first show at the Public Theater since the release of English Dream in 2014. Doors are at 6pm, the show starts at 7pm. Find your tickets HERE. Alas, the hour-long set won't give us time to play all eighteen tracks from LOST IN THE CITY. So I'll just have to cut out the bad songs. Either that or no solos for Candace and Kevin.

The following night we head to Washington DC for a VIP backers party at the deej. Unless I'm impeached after the mid-terms.

More details and tickets on the GIGS page.

 

TILL MY DYING DAY by SPOTTISWOODE

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY! Here's the next in my series of recording reminiscences...

The compliment I like receiving most is that my music is honest. I like to think this honesty is a kind of articulated ambivalence, a recognition that we can feel many conflicting emotions at the same time, that things keep changing. But the chorus of TILL MY DYING DAY (see video HERE) doesn’t seem to jive with that philosophy:

If I’m ever gonna love you
Then you know I’m gonna love you
Till my dying day

Okay, there is a conditional there. The singer may be hedging his bets, but it doesn’t sound like it to me in the context of the song.  Or am I just remembering what the lyrics were originally? When I first wrote the song the chorus was:

I’m never gonna love you
You know I’m gonna love you
Till my dying day

Truly. I had to be cryptic. I couldn’t bring myself to make a promise for a lifetime. Even in a song. Even though so many of my favorite songs by other artists do make such promises. It’s one thing to hear it from someone else, another to write it. Perhaps I should dwell longer on this point since it’s probably the most interesting cul de sac of this particular blog post but I’ll keep moving forward.

After several years of singing the awkward original chorus I began singing the song as it is on this recording from English Dream. 

Why? 

It just felt right.

I saw you there
In London town
Changing colors
Red to brown
As the sun went down

You’re an old lady
You’re a little girl
Caught you smiling
A string of pearls
As the sun went down

If I’m ever gonna love you
Then you know I’m gonna love you
Till my dying day

Someone on the radio
Is calling your name
You’re under the ground
On a Bakerloo train
Quarter to five

I bought me a ticket
Chelsea Arsenal
My team wasn’t winning
I thought of you
As the sun went down

If I’m ever gonna love you
Then you know I’m gonna love you
Till my dying day

THE RECORDING

There are rock songs with classic arrangements that can sound just as good stripped down to the minimum. This is the opposite. The song is nothing! It may sound like a perfectly respectable singer-songwriter number to be sung in the background at an acoustic cafe but it’s too slight even for that. It’s ALL ABOUT THE TEXTURE - the echo of the guitars, the sustain of John Young’s bass, the plinkety plink of Tony’s right hand on the piano, the plate reverb on the vocals and, most of all, Tim Vaill’s brushwork. Add Candace & Kevin’s weaving horns at the end plus Riley McMahon’s sumptuous mix and voila: one of my favorite Enemies recordings. 

So much so that it’s the opening track on ENGLISH DREAM. And an easy choice at that. We could easily have cut the intro down by a third but the vocal is exponentially more effective when it enters on the 25th bar rather than the 17th. Yes, I’m counting.

THE VIDEO

Once again we didn’t use the footage shot of the band at St. John’s Lutheran Church. As with Clear Your Mind we had dressed in 40s clothes and we (as in the royal WEE) looked ridiculous. And once again the archive British Council footage that Clare Elliott had edited for the background projection was simply too good. 

Luckily, Clare had also shot some video of the band recording the basic tracks at the Bunker Studio. So we very occasionally dissolve in and out of the black and out world like colorful ghosts. There wasn’t any footage of Kevin from the Bunker session because the horns overdubbed their parts later but, if you pay close attention, you’ll see him make a brief appearance near the end in a waistcoat and with his hair slicked back - the only remnant of the St. John’s footage for this song.

Still, the stars of the video are two British actors from the 1940s. Who are they? They’re not even credited in the archive footage. They are now ghosts as well. They both starred in a short 1944 propaganda film called London Terminus. It’s about a postal worker taking a woman for an evening date in the wartime capital.

We’re so used to postmodern appropriation that we no longer question the morality of using people’s images for our own purposes. Legally, there’s no problem - the film is public domain and the British Council granted us permission. But is it right to slap my song on top of their faces and share it with the world? The question is already old-fashioned.

It was only recently I realized how much the video reminds me of my mother and father. They also met in London in the 1940s, just a few years after the war. My father had dark curly hair. My mother was a glamorous American. They got married at St. Martin-In-The-Fields Church off Trafalgar Square in 1950. The marriage lasted 64 years until my father’s dying day in February 2014.

This is my Valentine to them. I love you, Mum and Dad.

Double Award Winner by SPOTTISWOODE

The title track of my recent solo record BLAZE OF GLORY has just won two awards in a row. First it won the Mark Award in Los Angeles for Best Underscore In a Television Show. And then it won the Production Music Award in London in the same category. The whole song was used beautifully in an episode of the DirecTV mixed martial arts drama, Kingdom. You can watch the entire clip HERE

Many thanks to Thomas and Gregoire Kouzinier at the French label Super Pitch for commissioning the album. Thanks also to Riley McMahon, producer extraordinaire at New Warsaw Studio in Brooklyn. And further thanks to Carol Sue Baker at Ocean Park Music for pitching the song for the show. 

A Street Cat Named Bob by SPOTTISWOODE

There's a lot happening this Autumn.
On November 4th the lovely feature film A Street Cat Named Bob will be released in the UK. Two weeks after that, on November 18th, the film will be released in the US. Two of my songs are in the film. Indeed, one of my songs, Beautiful Monday, opens the picture. The second song, Still Small Voice Inside, turns into a bit of a singalong halfway through the story.
The film's star, Luke Treadaway, plays a drug-addicted London busker who ultimately gets "rescued" by a stray cat. He performs both songs along with a few by Charlie Fink of Noah and The Whale. The story is based on the international best-selling memoir by James Bowen
How did the songs end up in the film? 
Funny you should ask. Since the director's name is Roger Spottiswoode it may seem like an obvious case of nepotism. But we're not related. Roger - who has directed everything from James Bond to Tom Hanks and Sylvester Stallone movies - happened to read a couple of scripts of mine during the summer of 2015. At the time he was in the middle of pre-production for A Street Cat Named Bob. He contacted me and asked if I might have a few songs...
To celebrate the New York release, the band will play its only show of the season at Rockwood Music Hall in Manhattan on Saturday, November 19th.

Germany by SPOTTISWOODE

After five scintillating East Coast spring shows with my Enemies I've retreated to Europe. Next plan: invade Germany. Playing three gigs this July, two in Berlin and one in Hildesheim. Accomplices? Matti Muller, German gypsy gentleman guitarist; Jonny Gee, lunatic Anglo bassist; Angie Stricker, beauteous Berlin siren. A debut for the quartet. Makes me very curious. Particularly regarding backing vocal harmony textures. Matti and Jonny did an excellent job in London last Christmas. Who knows what the added dimension of Ms. Stricker's steely tones will bring. A German Emmylou Harris perchance? All to be discovered soon. Check the shows page for details...