the song-writing process

"Don’t buy Jamie Cullum records as Christmas presents. " MWK.

"I’ll drink to that." Me (Mind you, I’ll drink to anything).

Route A – Ensconce yourself for a week on a sunny Danish Island (find out more at with a female song-writing companion, drink plenty of expensive Danish beer for six days and then realise you must write something before you leave. Result – Desperation (for yourself) and at least one halfway decent song, Only Seven Days.

Route B – Ensconce yourself for a day in a drab anonymous tenement block after an exhausting gig in a desolate rainy German town (Subrosa Bar, Gneisenaustraße 56, 44147 Dortmund-Hafen) and spend a sad hour watching a dispossessed man struggle to get a cup of tea. Result – Desperation (for the lonely tea drinker) and another good song, The Last Hurrah.

Just two of the new songs The Driver and Me heard MICHAEL WESTON KING perform before a less than crowded house at the top of Mill Street last Saturday (10th). And two of the little anecdotes that MWK told us to possibly illustrate the song-writing process. As Jackie Leven said of MWK "Writing songs with your head is actually pretty simple once you get the hang of it, but to be in near constant touch with the working heart, that’s hard work." But MWK makes it seem quite easy.


A difficult evening as it was a very small audience (promoters and performers do their damnedest to put on live music and they often don’t get the recognition they deserve) but good performers rise to the occasion and MWK was certainly up for it. All the old favourites were there; Black Sheep Boy/Tim Hardin 65, Always The Bridesmaid, God Shaped Hole, Celestial City.


And some I was unfamiliar with; I Fall Behind, Broken, Beautiful Lies, Endless Wandering Stars. All the while pounding away on a vintage Guild JF65 (can’t find a pic of a dark finish model though).


And of course his (in)famous covers. He’s quite proud of his MoJo cover (literally) of the Zim’s Simple Twist Of Fate but had to be pushed to sing (it has to be said, a rather lacklustre rendition of John O’Neil’s) Teenage Kicks as an encore (I was callous enough to ask for that one). But he made up for it with a second encore – a poignant and apposite song – Christmas Must Be Tonight, originally by Robbie Robertson of The Band.

Any songwriter who progresses beyond June/Moon/Spoon is probably going to be OK (witness Tony Wilson’s assertion that "Shaun Ryder is the greatest poet since Yeats."); if they sing their songs with heart and soul then they are probably going to be pretty damn good. The Driver and Me left quite content.

And on the way home we had a rare treat. We walked not down Mill Street but Chesterfield Road to listen to a bird, high in tree, singing its heart out, making it up as it went along. Nature surpassing art. I’ve no idea what the bird was, maybe you could listen to it here and let me know (I apologise in advance – it is actually a video file, although it was too dark to see anything, and is a little big [an interesting solecism] approx. 800K).


D. M.