Music

Food of love it may be, but when you let me loose with recording equipment it may be time to run for the hills. Here's some of the stuff I've been working on recently. Comments, questions, offers to collaborate and takedown notices can be emailed to me — see the "Contact" page.

Ukulele Covers

I took up the ukulele in 2009, and have been having a ridiculous amount of fun with it ever since. My current project is to identify some well-known (and less well-known) songs that have languished in an un-ukuleled state for far too long. Here's what I've done so far.

Hallelujah

Written by Leonard Cohen, but associated in most people's minds with Jeff Buckley, this is a fantastic song. And I aimed to see just how far that fact could be pushed. Remarkably, even when it's given the full "Hawaiian summer" treatment that the ukulele can't help but produce, I think it still works. Download the mp3 here.

I Will

This one's a Beatles cover. The original song is off the White Album, a work that still has me confused as to whether it has genius gleaming through the staggeringly poor production and overblown avant-gardeness, or whether it's just rubbish. Either way, I do like this song. It's simple and gentle, and apparently the bass part was just Paul McCartney humming "bom bom bom". No such vocal gymnastics on this version, unless you count the notes I couldn't quite hit! Download it here.

Bad Moon Rising

"Bad Moon Rising" was originally a Creedence Clearwater Revival song, but never having listened to any CCR I was unaware of its existence until I heard it done at a ukulele jam session. It was fantastic, full of fire, blood and doom. The original actually sounded a bit tame after that. Anyway, here's my take on it. Download it here.

One

The perennially popular "One" was a hit for U2 before anyone else, but was given a new lease of life (musically, at least) by Johnny Cash's brilliant version on American III: Solitary Man. My version is based on Cash's, but obviously is a bit different, not least because I can't remotely reach the notes he could! Download it here.

Keep On The Sunny Side

This is one you might know from the O Brother, Where Art Thou soundtrack. It's ridiculously cheerful, and always puts a smile on my face. This version attempts to add to the cheeriness with three-part harmonies and a whistling break. Download it here.

Unwed Fathers

Written by John Prine, this was famously recorded by Tammy Wynette in 1983. I first heard it on a BBC documentary about the development of country music, and immediately found chords for it online. Unfortunately, this was in the pre-Youtube days of the internet, so I couldn't find an easy way of hearing the song again, with the result that I ended up singing a version that bore only a slight resemblance to the real tune. Still sounds OK, though. Download it here.

The Same Four Chords

This is the first entirely original song I've written in years, and the first for the uke. It was inspired by a Metafilter thread about the Australian comedy group The Axis of Awesome, and specifically their Four Chord Song, in which they play the same four-chord sequence over and over and sing bits from a frankly worrying number of songs that fit it. I reckoned that this meant it must be dead easy to write a four-chord song, so I had a go. And made it a sappy love song, because those are fun. Download it here.

So We'll Go No More A-Roving

Another original song — well, semi-original, I suppose. The music is all mine, but the words are from a poem of Byron's (Wikipedia article is here). They make beautiful and very sad lyrics, all about love being overtaken by age. Can't help but feel that Byron was being a touch over-dramatic, as he was all of 29 when he wrote it, but they're great words anyway! Download it here.

Woman Driving, Man Sleeping

This is a cover of an Eels song, from the Souljacker album. Like a lot of Eels songs, it's fairly mysterious in terms of what it's actually about — all we know about the main characters is that they're driving (away from something? Towards something? Just driving?). That's not to say it's devoid of meaning — quite the reverse, it's just that it's loaded with atmosphere and subtle ideas that let the listener draw their own conclusions. I rather liked it, so I covered it! Download it here.

Videos

Bad Romance

After a number of months of recording songs, I finally decided that I was going to do a live recording, and make a video of it. And, for reasons that probably made sense at the time, I decided to go with Lady Gaga as the artist to cover for this project. This was the result. I think it pretty much speaks for itself...

Spanish Ladies

The obvious way to follow Lady Gaga was with an 18th-century English sea shanty. So that's what I did. Simple chords, fun lyrics (with an entire verse about alcohol) and a rollicking rhythm makes this really fun to play. And you can make piratey noises if you want.

Mountains

This one's a cover of a song by the Scottish rock band Biffy Clyro. I've seen them live (opening for Muse - going to be some time before I can do a cover of one of their songs), and all I can really say is that they're a lot louder, hairier and more Scottish than me! Fun song, though, and surprisingly touching in its underlying romance.

I Don't Want To Live On The Moon

Taking a completely different tack, this is a song from Sesame Street. It's not sad, exactly, but it is wistful and gentle, with a lovely bit of gentle humour. Basically it's a lovely children's song. (Incidentally, the experimenting I refer to in the intro is to do with trying to film under indoor lighting — my flat gets very dark and the camera's not great. I think I just about get away with it...)

DMusic

I've kept this quiet for ages, but now that I'm posting some of my music I may as well put the rest up. I've had this page up at DMusic for years. A lot of the stuff there is frankly terrible, but I think it's an interesting look at the kind of stuff I was creating while I was going through my teenage years and just discovering how to make music. Some of the new stuff will go up there too.