Friend in England

It’s a cold November there’s a chill in the air. We laughed all morning cause we didn’t care. You’re telling stories again, I can’t keep from laughing, my friend in England, you sorted me out.

Like most songs it starts with a simple musical part. The verses are basically two chords with a little embellishment. But when I played them they felt English. Weird hey?

The song is simple but the story is complicated. On one level it’s about a day I spent with a friend in England and another level it’s about the fear of returning home.

I was inspired by ‘Brick‘ (Ben Folds Five) to use time markers in the lyrics to place the story so I started with ‘November’. The story is set. It’s coming up to Christmas. I’m a nervous wreck on a ‘working holiday’, trying to find my place and never quite settling.

Union Jack (Brett Jordan via Flickr)

We’re walking around London having a laugh but I’m also anxious. I’m wondering if I’ll be loved when I return to Australia. She tells me that it’ll work out, we laugh, we spend the day laughing and don’t care about anything. She will return to her man in Brisbane, I’ll stick it out in London and hope that Anna will join me.

And tomorrow is calling, but I want to be still, still in this moment, but we’re not meant to be still, and it feels like we’re falling and the lights have gone out, do people return to be apart.

There’s a song on the radio, ‘Stuck in this Moment‘, by U2. We laugh that that sums me up. Fuck you, U2! I’ll borrow some of that idea then and use it in my verse.

Take the way home, was the answer back there, you’re telling stories and the endings are never quite clear, I tried to listen but the sounds had gone from the air, you were my Friend in England and now you’re not here.

I wrote the chorus in one go. The hairs stood up on the back of my arms and neck. It’s the best part of song writing, feeling like you are conjuring words from nothingness, a muse whispering in your ear.

Back to the story, I’m wondering if she will find something good when she returns home and I’m wondering what there is for me.

Come December, I’m out of here. I’m back in Melbourne for my Christmas cheer. And the Mallee wind, it blows in a new year.

It’s hard to put Australian place names in songs without sounding like Slim Dusty, but Midnight Oil had used the Mallee in ‘Stars of Warburton‘, so I tried it here.

Nothing’s changed round here; it’s still the same. The cold winter wind calls out your name. Nothing’s changed round here but something is missing.

I return and find the world at home hasn’t changed that much but everything is complicated. I’m there 10 days or so and I fly back to London.

When I get back, the house I rent a room in is empty and the snow is falling softly. I have a connecting flight to Edinburgh in about 14 hours time. She has returned to Australia. I’ve flown around the planet and back.

I celebrate Hogmanay with some other Aussies. I drink half a bottle of Grouse whiskey and peck about 60 girls, including a policewoman.

A new year has blown in, and the moment has passed.

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