Merry Christmas! (And The Inconsequential Dilemma And Self-abasement Of The Singer/songwriter)

Neil King, FATEA Magazine
Photo: Neil King, FATEA Magazine

Collecting together thoughts at the end of a year such as this is somewhat sobering. And yet it has, for me, been a busy, productive and largely positive year, and I’d like to say at the outset how grateful I am for all the support and interest in the music that so many of you have given and shown: coming along to gigs and buying the CDs and all the encouragements along the way have meant - and continue to mean - so much. Thank you!

The new album has had the kind of response I could have only dreamed of; from reviewers, radio presenters and, above all, from you good folks. The gigs have gone well and there are many more to come in the new year as things continue to progress. (Click here for some of the Winter/Spring 2017 dates already posted!) As for the present year, the only things that remain outstanding are an appearance on BBC Radio Somerset this Friday morning between 10-11am when I’ll be playing a ‘festive song’ and chatting with Ben McGrail, and also a chat with Luke Knight on Apple FM in the evening on the same day between 6-8pm.

During the course of this last year I had the opportunity to spend a week at Cecil Sharp House in London as part of a songwriting project with Ange Hardy and Lukas Drinkwater; toured around the UK and played venues I’ve been to before as well as some new ones, including my first time playing in Scotland; recorded a new album with some amazing people and then launched it in an actual, GENUINE Castle and much more besides... in lots of ways, it’s been quite the year! I’m already looking forward to getting in to 2017 and seeing what that has to offer as well. And yet it’s impossible not to reflect on the wider world too... after all, that’s partly what this type of music is supposed to be a response to.

So much loss this year! So many influential souls; inspirers of people and forces for good departed. Our own mortality as a species has been brought sharply into focus as we have observed the passing of so many public figures who united so many of us in different ways. Just as their leaving has reminded us of our common humanity, so has the feeling of shared loss, and as a result, even these moments of sadness have bound us... a mark of our better nature by which we ought to be encouraged, I believe.

Looking back on much of the material on the new album, it’s hard for me not to be struck again by some of the things that went in to inspiring the songs in the first place. Like many of us, I'm sure, I fear for where we are heading at the moment. I believe those fears are both engendered and borne out by what is happening around us right now, and by so much of what we have witnessed over this last year. For too many people, the reasons for those fears have already proven their validity and done their worst. The evidence is undeniable as we cast our gaze from our own food banks and savage cuts, over to Washington DC; across to Germany... to Turkey... to Russia... to Syria... a hundred other places and back to our own doorstep. In such times, songs become at once more and less important, just as they become both easier and more difficult to write. Consequently, ideas for new songs are jostling for attention once more but, if I’m honest, in the midst of it all, it’s hard to get to grips with what to really think and feel about so much... I don't always like some of the conclusions my thinking leads me to, and it’s hard not to be waylaid by feelings of anger, contempt and hopelessness, for which it could be argued, there are ample reasons. At such times it may be important to draw back a little in order to gain a better perspective.

As for many of us, I imagine, I’m now facing the luxury of that pleasant diversion of the fast-approaching holiday season, and this will doubtless be of personal benefit. But there’s no denying that it is a luxury. If I’m honest, I feel as if I am in need of something right now that is denied to so many across the globe: a break from the norm. And for what? To better enable me to comment in my own tiny way on a screwed up world and the plights of those most affected by it? People to whom such a blessing must seem as remote as their own circumstances are to me? To pontificate about a coming change that I can all too easily afford to wait for? In short, who the hell do I think I am?!? (Too much thinking can be just as debilitating as too little!) I want to see change that I feel powerless to bring about... and I know that in this I am far from alone...

Conclusion? If you share my opportunity for respite, let’s accept and be grateful for the blessing we are given to pause and draw breath, and use it to the advantage of every life we are able to touch in the new year... sooner, if possible. And to any for whom the world has become a harsher place already, however dark the future appears, it too remains unwritten... I wish you better days ahead. x I still hope for some of the change that a united and resolute humanity can achieve. I hope that whatever this past year has meant to us, and whatever the coming days will mean, that we will each have the strength, opportunity, courage and love to see that 2017 is a year that falls short of its own dark potential and instead proves to be a turning point in history. Whatever else comes to pass or may be true, I refuse to accept that it may not be so.

I hope that we will all have a wonderful Christmas and new year, and that the good that the coming days will do us will be translated into the good that we will do the world in the months ahead.

In love,

Steve xx

Posted by Steve on December 21st 2016

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