#25 Schtumm, The Old Queen’s Head, Wiltshire

Jake MorleyTour Blog9 Comments

I can count on one hand the number of songs that have utterly ripped my world apart in my adult life. I’m not just talking about “wow that’s my song of the year”. I mean full-on, powerless obsession – there when you wake up, with you all day and keeping you awake all night.

I have a theory that whenever a song is stuck in your head, the best way to rid yourself of it is to sit down and put it on repeat, no matter how embarassing or irritating it is. This might sound like the last thing you’d want to do with Michael Bublé (depending on your preference), but bloody hell it works. Your brain is saying “You may not like that you like this, but you DO like this. So stop lying to yourself, and listen to the goddamn track.” With its desire sated, it moves on.

This might work for most tracks, but not an Obsession Track. Obsession Tracks can’t be shaken off with a mere listen. Listening only feeds their power, makes them stronger so they’re easier to accurately recreate it in your head at 2am, ready for you to dream about. They’re not to be confused with your favourite ever songs, tho there might be an overlap.

The first Obsession Track of my adult life was also the most influential of my career. “There’s Nothing In Between” by Stuart Davis hit me like a ton of feathers (they weigh the same as a ton of bricks but have a different constitution). For the first time I realised that you can do technical things on a guitar and not be an egotistical, self-indulgent fret-wanker. You could create a stunningly beautiful, lyrically transcendent song, and use skill to move people, not move them to the nearest exit. Every element of the song is magical to me. It’s flawless.

Nevermind how impossibly difficult it looked to play, I had to learn it. Nothing was going to stop me. I sat in front of the grainy footage and watched his fingers, changing the tuning of my guitar strings until the sounds they made matched what I saw, then tried to copy his movements.

I started playing it, and playing it, and getting to the end and playing it again, and again, and then youtubing my own version of it, then playing it live, then playing it again. Without it I would never have written This City, which started everything for me, and the guitar tuning, DADGAD, was the one I wrote most of my debut album in.

Fast forward a year and one of my brothers stumbles across this song by Imogen Heap. I’d never seen anyone loop like that. I felt giddy with awe for her voice, her beauty and her command of technology. But this was nothing compared to what happened next – I heard “Hide And Seek” and started drowning in feathers again.

This meld of woman and machine moving as one was just too much to take. Where does her voice end and the synth begin? The decision to keep it raw and simple was a bold masterstroke. I imagined her adding other instruments before realising that everything she added detracted from the song. Again I worked out a version on guitar, and again I was powerless not to pass hour after joyous hour repeating it over and over and over again, playing it live, playing it again.

All this is on my mind because recently it’s all happened again, and it started with someone posting a Bon Iver cover of I Can’t Make You Love Me on Facebook. Bit by bit I felt the familiar shift from solid footing to slippery slope. I read the lyrics while he sung and I knew the game was up.

Bon Iver will always be cooler, but it wasn’t quite an obsession until I also fell in love with the original from Bonnie Raitt. Bonnie had my hook, line and boat all sleeping on the sea bed. The arrangement is cheesy as hell, full of electric pianos and windchimes, but it’s a perfect example of how a good song is a good song regardless of what era it was produced in. Songs like that are timeless long after the original recording sounds dated.

The simplest ideas aren’t always the simplest to convey in a song – you need something magical that animates the dust into life. You need melodies, rhythms and lyrics that bypass your brain and hit you straight in the gut. (Incidentlly talking of lyrics, it’s interesting how the gut processes waste food not instinctual decisions, a bit like how the heart tends to pump blood around rather than experience emotions).

Well this one totally broke my emotion receptor. Just one more listen – and then one more – making me late to meet John to get to the Wiltshire gig.

At least I was there at all. I’d woken up to a wall of illness – chesty cough, sore throat, leaking nose and tiredness – and was toying with the idea of pulling a sickie which I’ve never done before. But Alex and Cam Shepherd, in with a good shout at being my biggest fans (although others may disagree!), were coming along, and I should probably man up. This one was for you boys!

If I could have chosen which gig of the tour was to be filmed with 5 HD cameras and mixed down from a 24 track mixing desk, it probably wouldn’t have been this one. I have to admit I wasn’t expecting it to go well, but with the help of a great crowd we conjoured a great atmosphere in the room. We made plenty of new friends, saw good old friends again, and played music honestly and passionately. I call that a good day’s work.

Any Obsession Tracks you’d like to share?

Postcard Sent To: Claire
Next Postcard To: Alex and Cam Shepherd
Free T-Shirt To: Alex Shepherd
Thanks To: Rob, Dean, Paul Robinson and the Angst Band, Alex, Cam, Ali and Dave, Jennifer Crook, ED, Annie, Max, Doug and The Bodle Constrictor.

9 Comments on “#25 Schtumm, The Old Queen’s Head, Wiltshire”

  1. whoops I missed out
    Liar ~ Mumford and Sons

    and Ghostess!! , got the live version at mr kyps recorded on my phone and have watched it so much i could probably recite the lyrics!! can’t wait to hear the next album!!

  2. Inside my mind~Jake Morley
    The Manual~Jake Morley
    Sideline~Jake Morley
    anything else by Jake Morley

    This town~Newton Faulkner
    Yellow Sign~Sam Carter
    The finest cut~Tom McQ
    Perfect Candlelight~Sean Taylor

    there is my long list!!

  3. 1. Between The Bars (Elliott Smith) – I would say that this song has the X factor, but that means a totally different thing these days! It has that special something that makes it unbearably beautiful and I haven’t stopped playing it on a regular basis since the first time I heard it years ago. Is it possible to fall in love with a song?

    2. Blackbird (Alter Bridge) – Probably as close to songwriting perfection as you can get.

    3. Hungarian Rhapsody No.2 (Liszt) – The LAGQ’s arrangement of this had me obsessed for a long time after seeing them play it live in Dundee. Probably more of a guilty cheesy pleasure than anything else though! You remember those old Stella Artois ads…

    4. Garden’s Tale (Volbeat) – I’ve been listening to this an awful lot lately. I doubt it will have the longevity of the top 2 in my list but I can’t seem to shake it at the moment.

  4. Pete Doherty- At the flophouse The lyrics just give me a strange happy feeling and in particular the lyrics: “I look around it’s true tonight I’m chasing you.” such a great song.
    Fire in Cairo-The Cure Just such a memorable song!

    Recently I have had two songs which I have to listen to at least twice a day
    Stephen Fretwell- Emily
    and Daughter-Peter
    It’s songs where you can just feel the raw emotion the get me. Oh and Look at me-John Lennon (the acoustic demo version) I used to just listen to it over and over again.

  5. Red Rain – Peter Gabriel. 80s production at the height of the digital revolution can’t mask the voice or the power of the melody – much as it might try.
    Mojo Pin – Jeff Buckley. The first hum gives a tiny clue as to the beauty that’s about to follow for the next 40 minutes, sublime
    Street Spirit – Radiohead. Nuff said
    The Only Living Boy in New York – Simon & Garfunkel. Harmonies!
    All is Full of Love – Bjork.
    Sideline – love it

  6. Adele – Someone Like You
    George Harrison – While my Guitar Gently weeps
    Turin Brakes – Forever
    Muse – Knights of Cydonia
    Snow Patrol (with Martha Wainwright) – Set fire to the 3rd bar
    Ludovico Einaudi – Le Onde (ok, not quite a song, but beautiful piece of music to have on repeat and fall asleep to on long plane journeys)
    Jake Morley – Ghostess (only heard it once and don’t yet have the pleasure of listening to it over & over! Very moved by it though)

    Not quite obsession ones, but ones that make me feel really at peace:
    Joshua Radin – paperweight
    Katie Melua – Just like heaven

    Looking forward to the gig tonight! :-)

  7. Thank you for a great gig, we really appreciate it seeming as if you felt rough, looking forward to seeing you (and Pablo!) tomorrow! thank you for mentioning us in here as well!!
    from Alex & Cam (definitely your biggest fans!!)

  8. was a wicked gig, think you and ya bass player work so well together!
    i’ll do my best to edit out the coughs and splutters from the audio and the cameras :D, although it was an honest performance powering through the illness!

  9. Sounds of Silence – Simon & Garfunkel
    Going to California – Led Zepplin
    Lullaby – The Cure
    Mother – John Lennon
    Inside My Mind – Jake Morley :-)

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