One of the frustrating things about being a creative person is that much of what you create never ever sees the light of day. However thanks to the internet we are now able to showcase of lot of great projects that, for whatever reason, were passed over, didn’t get finished or simply never quite made it into general circulation. To that end, here’s something rather lovely we just dug out of the dusty BTG STUDIOS vault. It’s so ancient that the pop reference is ‘Vogue’, Madonna’s dance-floor smash from 1990 (who feels old now?!).
I originally created the short illustrated booklet, A Short History of Music, and wrote the track, Following Clouds, to be included in a special music compilation to be called, Blue Grooves. The premise for Blue Grooves was that, through music, we would try to replicate the same entertaining emotional transition as The Blue Day Book. By which I mean, I hoped to select a variety of songs that, when carefully arranged in the right order on the finished CD, would take the listener on an uplifting journey, starting at their lowest point, moving through a pleasant melancholy state and finishing with a sense of hope and joy in your heart. Plus, frankly, I just really loved the idea of creating my ultimate mix-tape. Call me selfish.
The original seed for this idea came to me when I was listening to a prearranged list of songs on my iPod whilst taking a walk by the beach to clear my head (I call this track list ‘Big Bear’s Bumble Mix’). I often do this when I’m tired, sad or stressed out and it really works for me – so I thought, ‘well, if I like doing this, then perhaps other people might like it too’.
In the end there was a genuine offer from a major record label but, somehow, over about a year or two of circular discussions, it all just faded into nothing. I cant even remember what the sticking point was now, though I do recall that during our negotiations the record label was taken over by an even bigger company, and then suddenly all the top people I was talking to were fired. Such is the nature of the cutthroat music business, apparently.
By this stage my plans were well under way – the images were purchased and booklet was finished, I had written and produced two original songs with my good friend Mark Rivett (from SongZu), and I had even produced a great little animated music video for one of the tracks (Shine On Me – also known as the Sunny Bear Music Video – here’s the link in if you want to watch it on Youtube: Sunny Bear
Following Clouds is a really beautiful song, and the longer, full acoustic version is my absolute favourite. I wrote this track to appear in the middle of the Blue Grooves album, it’s a song about sadness but also about hope and self belief. The gentle poetry of the lyrics is something I’m very proud of – the words still bring tears to my eyes every time I listen to them. However the lyrics themselves would have no power but for Mark’s addictive melody and great arrangement, Peter Northcote’s superb guitar work (he played both the rhythm and the lead guitar parts in two separate takes), and Sarah McGregor’s amazing voice.
Speaking of Sarah: When I asked for some new Australian vocalists, Mark sent me a demo tape of Sarah humming – not even singing – and right then I knew I needed to write a song for her. I listened to her demo tape over and over, and then started to put words on paper. This is the result.
I hope you enjoy listening to Following Clouds, a beautiful and haunting song that is very dear to me but, until now, has never been heard by anyone outside of my BTG Studios team.