I was walking to Windsor, through the fields of Eton College, having finished work and on my way to meet a friend for a drink. I'd been walking for about ten minutes in the relative darkness, as a light drizzle started falling, listening to 'Fill Up The Room', the new album from Saturday Looks Good To Me. I'd got onto track three, called, I believe, When I Lose My Eyes, the longest song they've done, one that builds up with a series of climaxes that never quite resolve themselves; very clever for what it is, and possibly my favourite on on the album.
I was just about to cross the wooden bridge that separates Slough from Eton, from the suburban cul-de-sac known as The Myrke and onto the green playing fields of Eton- ample room for rugby, cricket and football, and an athletics centre, as well as the odd pedestrian like yours truly.
Suddenly I heard something. I can't recall if it was something that happened in the song, or maybe something that happened that reminded me of something else, but my brain felt like it had opened some sort of floodgate. All of a sudden, a song fell out, perfectly formed; melody, theme, lyrics, arrangement, the whole thing. As the thinned patience of the rest of the band will attest, my usual composition method is to come into rehearsal with the barest of ideas, try out a series of changes as a band until it sounds good, then try to complete it from there. This time, it was all already there. Despite the rain, I pulled my phone out and started to make little text messages with note of lyrics, arrangement ideas, things that could be used and remembered. Rather than the natural progression of one idea leading to another, this was like being stuck in the Crystal Dome with the timer running down, haplessly grabbing at any shred of inspiration that was available before they were lost forever. This, I felt, could be our Classic. The one song that stands head and shoulders above anything we'd ever done before, or would do since. Delusions, of grandeur, perhaps, but that's what I was thinking. The only place this song could exist was as the closing track of our next album. Whatever sonic delights the album held would be topped by this mighty masterpiece that would leave the listener breathless with joy, finding worth once again in the power of music.
I wandered on, replaying my notes and the song, refining, twisting, perfecting. All the way through Eton high street, I could hear this thing. By the time I got to Windsor, with ten minutes before I was due in the pub, I felt I HAD to formalise it further, or it really would be lost. I ducked into Starbucks and ordered a coffee, grabbing a fistful of napkins and borrowing a pen from the bemused schoolie working the counter. I scribbled down as much as I could, feeling only mild guilt at the logo on the napkins – "Less Napkins, More Trees, More Planet" – until I was scraping my memory for anything that would've sufficed. The job done, I gently folded the napkins into my bag and spent a distracted, but enjoyable evening in the pub, catching up on old times.
By the time I got back to my Mum's house (where I was staying for the evening instread of returning to London), I felt more in need than ever of trying to do something with this. Alas, with no musical instruments to hand, I could only vent my frustration by informing some of the band about my evening. I sent a text to John and Sharon, proclaiming "I've just written the closing track for the second album. Epic doesn't even come close", and went to bed.
Not twenty minutes later, my phone vibrates. It's John:
"You bastard! So have I!"
I let him know I'd settle for the closing track of Side One.