Monday, August 6, 2012
I wrote "Shores of Cornwall" several years ago while staying at the house of my friends' Kirk and Sandra. I remember it was a sunny Autumn day and I was sitting in their dining area with a nice breeze blowing in through the open door that leads out to their back porch. I was playing guitar. The verse and chorus of the song came to me rather quickly. I heard the song as a kind of hybrid of Van Morrison and The Pogues, with a big drunken pub-choir singing along on the chorus.
I carried around the verses of the song and a chorus with me for a few years. But the words that I had written for the chorus did not seem strong enough to me, they seemed like 'dummy' lyrics that didn't really say anything. So one day while driving at work I focused on coming up with a strong image to go with the lyrics of the verse. I had come up with a few ideas, then 'rocky shores of Cornwall' popped into my head. I knew pretty much instantaneously that that was what I was looking for. My Grandfather was born near Cornwall, and I have always had a romantic notion of that part of England.
Once I got the image of the new chorus, the direction of the story of the song began to take shape. It was a mixture of fact and fiction, like most things are. I went back and tweaked the verses a little bit and wrote several new verses to fit the story of the song.
I had a tough time singing the song, even as we were preparing to record it. I tried changing the key of the song, but that didn't seem to solve the issue. I think that I was intimidated by the song, both the emotional content and the fact that it had so many words that needed to be sung convincingly. I am proud of the song, and quite frankly I think that I knew that I could not pull it off.
But I tried to sing it in the recording studio, but gave up after suffering my way through it a couple of times. I thought of having Michael Jodell sing it (she sings elsewhere on the album), but it really needed a man's voice. So somehow or another I talked my producer Mike Coykendall into singing it. He has a real cool voice. He was a little reluctant, mainly because he had just played a show the night before and also he was coming down with a cold, so he thought that his voice was a little 'creaky'. But I thought that the raspiness in his voice made the song that much more real. Regardless, he nailed the song in two takes.
It was Mike's idea to have Jill Coykendall play clarinet on the song. I loved it. I knew I wanted another instrument on the song, but I did not know what would sound good. I think that the clarinet adds to the song's mournful, Celtic feel.
Michael Jodell added some beautiful singing to the song, especially in the final chorus. I think the call and response of her singing on the final chorus really tells the story of the whole song. The other musicians on the song are Ralph Huntley on piano, Sean Oldham on drums, Mike Coykendall on autoharp, and me on electric guitar, bass, organ and backup vocals.
FOR ALL THE TEARS I'VE CRIED
FOR ALL THE TIMES I'VE LIED
TO MYSELF IN VAIN
DOWN IN THIS LONELY ROOM
UNDER A BLOOD RED MOON
THE NIGHT TEARS INTO MY SOUL
I'LL NEVER FORGET THE PAIN
ALL THE SCARS REMAIN
FROM THE DAY I TURNED AWAY
AND EVERY TIME I REACH THE BOTTOM
THERE'S SOMETHING THERE THAT PULLS ME THROUGH
FEELING RAVAGED AND FORGOTTEN
WHEN THE WIND PICKS UP AND I CAN SEE
THE SHORES OF CORNWALL COMING INTO VIEW
LOST ON THE RIVER'S EDGE
WHERE I MADE MY PLEDGE
TO YOU BEFORE YOU LEFT ME
TIME AND TIME AGAIN
THINKING OF YOU MY FRIEND
AND I CURSE THE WAY THE LIGHT
WAS TAKEN FROM YOU
HIGH ON THIS LONESOME RIDGE
I'VE LOST THE PRIVILEGE
TO LIVE THIS LIFE ANYMORE
I'LL NEVER FORGIVE MYSELF
AND THE WAY THAT I DEALT
WITH THE TERROR OF THE SICKNESS
GROWING INSIDE YOU
c Dave Harding boguemusic bmi 2012