Throughout October and November 2016, I ran six songwriting sessions with the Cathedral Archer Project in Sheffield. The project aims to help homeless people in and around Sheffield achieve a better life by supporting them to: Develop their independence; Improve their wellbeing and confidence; Improve their ability to tackle setbacks; Improve their ability to identify and change negative behaviour.
The aim of the sessions was to explore emotion and musical creativity, through the study of song structure, lyrics, melody, and arrangement. Through specially designed creative activities, the participants composed their own songs working alone, or in pairs, with guidance. I then put together backing tracks at Sounds Like Screaming, and the group recorded all of the vocals at The Musical Works in Sheffield.
The sessions were full of hard work, not so hard work, fun, laughter, tears, and drama. Never a dull moment. I was continually surprised at the ideas that members of the group came up with and felt privileged to have been given the opportunity of working with them.
Catching Time was initially born out of a lyrical exploration by Micky and Maggie. They chose a chorus lyric that we really liked - the idea of running from life, but time always catching up with you - and I helped them come up with a melody. The following week, Micky came in, having pretty much finished the lyrics and melody of the verses, and with a brand new melody for the chorus. It blew me away how much he'd finished in that short time, how vital it sounded, and how writ through with emotion the lyrics were. Over the next couple of weeks, we finessed the lyric and the melody and added the middle build ("be frail with me at the end of time")
I WAS LOST:
Danielle came in to the third session with a load of lyrics. These eventually turned into I was lost. I loved the lyrical structure of the verse "I thought I knew what love was, but boy I was so wrong, until I met you, I thought I knew", and encouraged her to think of different ways of using that same structure to say slightly different things to create other verses - hence "trust", and "joy". I love how ambiguous the lyrics are, you're never quite sure whether the sentiment is positive - that this other person has shown the protagonist that the love she thought she knew was as nothing compared to the love they share - or negative - that the other person destroys the protagonists ideal of love - and I believe this adds a real edge to the song.
Both songs are availble to download from bandcamp, or by clicking on the picture of the artwork to the right. They are free, but please consider making a pay what you like donation as you download buy clicking on the where it says Buy Now on the bandcamp page. All proceeds will go to supporting the work of the Archer Project, which is of special importance during these cold winter months. With your help we can really make a difference to the lives of homeless people in Sheffield.
We actually had two other songs *almost* finished, but due to sudden changing circumstances, we couldn't quite get them finished.
Huge thanks to Jayne Hilton and all at the Archer Project; Mark Harvey for his wonderful photography of the recording session at The Musical Works; Jonno and Liam at The Musical Works for hosting the recording session; and biggest thanks of all to Danielle, Micky, Maggie, Wayne, Mohammed, Spence, Phoenix, and Cameron for being fantastic, energetic, and creative participants in the project.