Week 22 – ‘This Is England’
by Frank Hamilton
Remember when you were 5 years old and pretending to be a grown up? I don’t know about you but when I was young I’d switch jobs every few minutes. One moment I was a Doctor, checking my Mum or Dad’s pulse and the next I was a policeman, patrolling the stairs for any signs of unrest.
This week I’ve regressed a couple of decades and pretended to be lots of things. Take Tuesday for example:
- I’d been toying with some new songs the night before and woke up full of ideas. Wordy ones (as opposed to musical ones). From 9:30 until 11 I was a poet.
- It dawned on me that I should probably eat something, so I cooked up some posh Bacon sani’s (with muffins, sour cream and rocket). Chef Hamilton.
- I consumed breakfast in the studio part of the lounge, while chopping up trumpets and putting them in the right place/trying to make them sit nicely. When midday arrived I was a record producer.
- A few hours later I realised I hadn’t finished the press release or told enough people about ‘Sing for England’ yet, so I spent the next 3 or 4 hours working in PR (which feels very strange when you’re having to talk about yourself).
- 6pm came and I popped out to get a swift pint and check the world was still turning (breif stint as the town alcoholic) before coming home and replying to a bunch of other, non week 21-related emails. Frank the secretary, working late.
On the whole it’s been a successful week of job-juggling but enough about that. This is week 22. ‘This is England’.
What better time to release ‘This Is England’ than on the weekend of our Queen Liz’s Diamond Jubilee.
Week 22 is about the country that I was born and hope to die in. At times it frustrates the hell out of me but since it’s defined my experience of frustration (which is nothing compared to what it might have been had I grown up in Uganda) I can never be angry at it for very long.
Back to FH HQ this week. Everything was recorded on my trusty laptop with one exception (which we’ll get to in a minute). There are subtle acoustic and electric guitars, some piano, a splash of glockenspiel and the dulcet tones of Jose Vanders (who we heard all the way back in weeks 1 and 2).
I’ve often thought the song needed a little something else and last week I played a version to Mark and Mixy (from the Dead Poets) with a view to getting some spoken word involved. They weren’t sure there was space for it and if I’m honest nor was I. Back to the drawing board, then.
We’d contemplated using trumpet on last weeks song and after asking around on twitter I met a nice chap called Hugh Davies – who records various brass instruments at home and sends those recordings via the internet. What a splendid idea! I was at the point where I’d almost given up when I sent Hugh the song and asked (hopefully) if he fancied doing something. He said he was very busy but could probably improvise a couple of quick takes… and the rest is history!
Now it’s on their I can’t imagine any other instrument in it’s place. There’s something really British and regal about it, which obviously fits in nicely with this weekends festivies.
Speaking of which, I’m ready… are you?
I like a lot of the lyrics in this song. The first verse:
“Billboards and leaflets send hands into wallets to spend all our worries away
There’s storms in a tea-cup and cottages joined up by 3 lane motorways
Stories in papers and walks in the rain
Go out in the town where we all look the same”
My favourite lyric is probably the bit at the end of the 2nd verse though:
“Ride on the tube where a smile is as rare as a word
Jump in the shower and scrub while you sing like a bird
No it’s not perfect but neither are we
We’ll say what we want and we’ll be who we wanna be”
It isn’t perfect but neither are we. We can say pretty much whatever we want and we can be pretty much whoever we want to be. Sometimes it’s good to remember that.