‘STILL TESTIFYING’- Song by Song
The Embers & The Flame (Michael Weston King / Mark Billingham / Lou Dalgleish)
The fire burning out is an often-used country music metaphor for a relationship that has lost its spark. We’ll Sweep Out The Ashes In The Morning and After The Fire Is Gone, are just two prime examples. We have somewhat inverted it here, suggesting that you don’t always need the spark, the flame or the fire. Sometimes the embers are just as important, perhaps even more so.
Mark Billingham wrote most of the original lyrics for this. We needed a “happy song” to end the story of The Other Half . This reworked version is bigger and bolder and brassier.
And the secret to a long and happy marriage? According to Mark it is “sticking around, no matter how shitty it gets”
Eugene (Lou Dalgleish)
On a tour of America’s west coast, I (Lou) was struck down with worrying health issues which resulted in us desperately seeking the recommended urgent care. Eventually, we found it in a hospital in Eugene. Five shows were cancelled and a week of recuperation was ordered. Two wonderfully kind fans gave us their beach house for the duration. As I slowly recovered there, I reflected on the whole surreal experience. I wrote this love song to Eugene, Oregon, to say thank you.
Yours Is The Cross That I Still Bear (Michael Weston King)
This was originally written for the Bear Family Records 40th Anniversary Box set (all songs included had to have the word ‘bear’ in the title). The version used on that album was just piano and voice. The song has since been expanded and again totally re-worked here. I had some old friends in mind when writing this. Close friendships and relationships formed in our teens and early 20’s, even if you lose regular contact, stick with you for ever.
Since I Fell For You (Michael Weston King)
Another tale with a positive message (most unlike us)! about the love of a good man, or woman, and how finding “the one” can help you overcome your own individual faults and bad traits. For some reason I wanted all the lines in the Middle 8 to be song titles, and I wanted the last 4 to all feature the word “walking”. I had about 10 of them before whittling them down. Thank you James A. Bland, Ray Price, Helen Shapiro, and The Searchers.
There’s Nothing You Can Tell Me (That I Don’t Already Know) (Michael Weston King)
This song began life when we were soundchecking at a show in Deventer, Holland. The theme of two lonely people trying to escape their respective unhappy marriages, finding solace in a bar whilst in the company of strangers, is a tried and tested storyline used in many a country song, most famously Conway and Loretta. But it is a timeless tale, always worth the re-telling. This is our take on it.
Jolene’s Story (Lou Dalgleish)
I always wondered what happened to Jolene after Dolly Parton had begged her to back off. What if Jolene simply couldn’t give him up? What if her love for him was too strong to let him go? And what about him? Maybe he actually found true love with Jolene. This song is all about how Jolene and Dolly’s man stayed together. Older now, they remain kindred spirits. And despite a sense of shame about how they hurt Dolly, any jury would see that these two people were meant for each other. Guilty as charged.
Friday Night, Tulip Hotel (Michael Weston King)
Written in the Tulip Hotel car park, Rotterdam, whilst watching a couple check out very early, the sun barely up. They were trying to be discrete about being there, about being with each other, but it was clearly a case of “same time, same place, next week”. We watched them drive off in opposite directions and drew our own conclusion as to how it ended.
Just A Woman (Lou Dalgleish)
This is the tale of a woman’s agony, as she suspects she’s losing her man to another woman. It’s also about a man’s agony in dealing with such temptation. The song carries an underlying message about strengths and weaknesses. There are two women with power in this story, and yet the man seems to hold all of it. We all know a song where Tammy Wynette sang ”’Cause after all, he’s just a man” Well, I felt it was time for me to contradict Tammy again, cause, after all, she’s just a woman.
Tear Stained Smile (Michael Weston King)
“No darling, step back now, take the pillow from his face” — that lyric is a clear indication that we’ve been hanging out with too many crime writers. I have always loved a good murder ballad and some of the finest have been in country music, Johnny Cash of course, but the great Eddie Noack being one of the masters of the genre. Our first version of this song was in a bluegrass style, appearing on our 2016 Record Store Day release, The Riverbend EP. Courtesy of Martin Belmont, who suggested a “Return To Sender” approach, this new version is very different. And Nick Pentelow’s fabulous “yakety” saxophone just completes the picture.
Two Lane Texaco (Michael Weston King / Lou Dalgleish)
The opening verse for this came to me while driving along a very unromantic English Motorway, crawling along, thanks to road works. They were widening the road. The song remained unfinished for quite a while. Further inspiration struck whilst watching the Pixar movie Cars with our daughter Mabel, a love of John Ford films, reading Peter Guralnick’s Lost Highway, and my on-going obsession with movies set in the 50’s, such as American Hot Wax and American Graffiti featuring the iconic DJ’s Alan Freed and Wolfman Jack respectively.
Overall, the song is a hymn to the demise of small town America. In fact, small towns anywhere (Megawatt Valley is actually in Yorkshire). Towns that have been affected by an industry that was once its heart and soul, making it a thriving community. And then, that industry abandons the town, leaving the people left behind without work and without hope. And with a faith severely tested. …..”We’ve sold the family silver but there’s gold still buried underground’
Shallow (Michael Weston King)
Started in a dressing room in Germany and finished at our kitchen table. It has a 1940s feel. I would have loved Wes Montgomery to have played on it, or Al Bowly to have sung it! It is a song for couples everywhere who start out on the sea of love, with the best intentions, but don’t quite make it all the way to dry land.