Last night I recorded a version of one of my favourite songs by The Divine Comedy, ‘Bad Ambassador’. (One take, so as not to annoy our neighbours too much…it’s not the sort of song that works quietly!)
It was the fifteenth anniversary of the release of Regeneration, the album that the track is taken from, on 12 March 2001.
Fifteen years ago I had just moved back home after graduating from the BMus course at Edinburgh. I was working at the Ulster Orchestra as their Education & Community Outreach Assistant. My diary reminds me that I was teaching clarinet to a wee girl called Sarah; I took her and her mum along to see the orchestra performing Mozart’s clarinet concerto. I was helping prepare the confirmation class at our church. I was playing in a band with my friends Jonny Boyle, Gareth Leslie, and Gareth’s brother-in-law Ben.
I didn’t work out how to play this song until years later, but Neil Hannon’s acoustic version was definitely released as a b-side…free with a weekend paper, I recall. Also on that CD were some behind the scenes videos of Neil in the studio with producer Nigel Godrich. He was renowned for his work with Radiohead and there were certainly tell-tale similarities in some of the sounds and techniques on the album.
Today, under the second window of my creative Advent calendar, is my cover of John Mayer’s jazz waltz Christmas love song, St Patrick’s Day. The guitar chords are very, very much up my street, and our voices have a similar range.
If you’re interested in learning how to play the song, I’d recommend getting the published sheet music. It’ll save you a lot of trouble. Believe me, there is a lot of incorrect stuff on the internet when it comes to music…! My go-to site for lyrics and chords is Sheet Music Direct. Paying a euro for their clear formatting and accuracy is absolutely worth it, compared to trawling around hoping the person who posted such-and-such a tab actually knows what they’re talking about
A video of me playing one of my party pieces at the Millstone the other week. A bit noisy, and the waitress (who has, tragically, abandoned us for her sunnier, native Spain) interrupted me in the middle, wondering if I was just watching myself in the iPad as I played!
I’m going to start recording performances from my Millstone restaurant gigs as I don’t have many examples of what I do up on the web. For the first one, I’ve done Seven Days by Sting — my longtime party piece 🙂