many people that would come up to me after my
shows and ask me if they can read the script,
that many also asked me where the music is from.
I always explained that it is original music,
written specifically for the work, by Simon
Oakes, but it wasn't currently commercially
Well, to the people who ask about the scripts, I
can now show them the book, and the music
enquirers there is now this CD.
Simon and I talked about this for ages,
and releasing it was pretty straightforward. His
music has featured in every stage show I have
written and performed since "Twelve!" in 1996,
and we selected a diverse mix of tracks.
There's something from nearly every show's
score, as well as pieces that he has gone on to
develop with his bands Grand Western and Suns of
The music moves between soft melancholy
pop and heavier, yet still melodic, progressive
metal rock. Not every tune is for everyone, but
the whole sequence is a really nice journey
through the moods and colours of the shows over
What usually happens is this.
I tell Simon what my script is going to
be about this year Ė love, identity, tree
climbing, particle physics, whatever.
He tells me if heís working on tunes that
might fit in with those, or, if not, he starts
noodling on guitar and keyboard, coming up with
distinct melodies. I then supply him with a
pretty final script marked with the places I
think it needs a little scoring. Then this
process is followed: he works; I badger him; he
tells me to relax, itíll be fine; I worry; he
creates something brilliant; I am humbled.
Thereís quite a bit of negotiation between us
about what moods each piece should create, and
sometimes the music follows the script, at other
times itís the other way around.
But eventually thereís a score to the
show (and usually tracks to be played as the
audience enters and leaves) and Simon will often
take these pieces and work on them after the run
of the show with his band mates. Hence some of
the tracks on the CD arenít exactly the pieces
played during the shows, but are often clearer,
purer versions of the songs.
Here are a few thoughts on the tracks.
[THE SAMPLES ARE MP3 OR MP4A FILES AND TEND TO
FINISH ABRUPTLY - SORRY]
1. Almost the Right People (Coelacanth 2005) [SAMPLE
A melancholy version of the beautiful
main melody from Coelacanth. I love Kirsten
Franceís wistful vocals here. The lyrics arenít
from the show, but the mood is closely related
to its themes.
Supercollider (A Supercollider for
the Family 1997)
Taking some of the lyrics from the
opening speech text of the story, this track has
a Velvet Underground feel, I think.
The track played before the start of the
performance as the audience Ďgets iní. It
creates a lovely atmosphere of the outdoors;
cold mornings and open skies. One of my
Everything is Significant (Not Everything is
Rhythmic and melodic, the themes from the
show of insecure identity and destiny play out
beautifully. This is another track that was
created by Simon and his colleagues
independently of my shows, but the music was
partly inspired by the script and our
A sense of uplift and wonder. This was
inspired by the section of Three Wishes where
the sky is filled with pensioners who have
wished they could fly. Ah.
Everything is Significant 2008) [SAMPLE
Another get in track. The slow build up
and eventual release always created a nice
tension in the audience to get them in the right
state of mind for my material.
Coelacanth Heart (Coelacanth 2005)
Composed after the stage show, and
featuring myself reciting some of the script,
this is very much a mood piece. There's ocean
depths, long ponderings. Also features the
telephone ring from the stage show.
Everything is Significant 2008)
The Ďget-outí track from Not Everything.
. . Itís a development of the tunes in the show
and I think itís proper progressive. Prepare
your head to rock.
Three Wishes (Three
This was the playout song and mixed up
some of the plot details of the play with a
lovely twist. Again, lovely vocals from Kirsten
and a jolly end theme.
Spacey and expansive Ė this was the first
track of the play and its sci-fi lilts took the
audience up and away, preparing them for a trip
around the stars and the human heart.
Arizona Canyons (A Supercollider for
the Family 1997) [SAMPLE
A steelier guitary version of the main
theme from Supercollider from the show climax.
But simple too. I love the cicadas and
harmonicas Ė you can almost hear the beating
Black Cocktail (Black
Cocktail 2004) [SAMPLE MP3]
A suite, well a proper overture really,
with three or four melodies from the show as a
whole. This was an adaptation of the novella by
Jonathan Carroll and was darker than my usual
work. I love the driving melodies on this track,
the trumpet and the sense of urban anxiety.
What am I Doing Here? (Three Wishes 2001)
Mysterious and twisting, this track feels
very filmic now. It came at the point where
George and Flip were really messing with each
Simon and I recorded the birdsong on a
tree climbing trip. If youíve never been to
Runnymede, location of the signing of Magna
Carta, please go; it will refresh you. Thereís a
very pure feeling here of the way we can take
our troubles out into nature, but nature
forgives them. Makes me cry.
Memories of Meredith (Not Everything is
This came at the point where the
Biographerís blackouts are almost overwhelming
him. His connection with the people and events
of his life brings him back to reality though,
and I think Simon and Mark have created a very
tender lament for the things we know weíve let
slip but can't help reaching for.
First Love (My
Last Week with Modolia 1998)
When the narrator realises Modolia has
left him an important lesson, there is a lovely
release in this tune. Yes, time ticks on, but
there should always be time for moments of joy.
London was Ours (Poppy Day 1999)
Oh, this just conjures up the misty
Thames, Soho coffee shops, Primrose Hill and
night bus rides home. Romantic and
evocative - the soundtrack to a good day
with a good person.
I hope these notes havenít been too
They have a bit, though, havenít they?
I just wanted to give you a little introduction
to the CD and Simonís music and how it fits in
with the shows.
The cover image is by Andy Lane - it's
the one we used as the main image for Not
Everything is Significant - and the sleeve and
booklet design is by the awesome Stephany
Ungless. There's also a little essay by me in
the booklet about my friendship with Simon and
his regular brilliance.
The CD can be ordered right now this
minute, wrapped in glorious plastic, from my shop webpage.
Also on sale there is my book, More Trees to Climb,
featuring the stories of three of my one-man