A Traveller’s Guide to Lost and Later Songs #16
For those who may appreciate some background detail, I offer below my workings.
#16 There’s Barely Enough Time to Breathe
No demo exists.
Another one from the analogue years, approximately 1997-8, around the same time as “Yesterday’s Already Light Years Away” and similarly born out of my obsession (current and ongoing) with Prefab Sprout’s “Steve McQueen” album. This was another one which didn’t suit the rough and tumble of the rehearsal room. Quite simply, we didn’t have a clue what to do with the song and so we stood around looking at it for a while, somewhat vacantly, like dogs watching a card trick. So, no demo for this one. You can’t record what you can’t play, or so we thought until making this album. Never let a lack of technical ability get in the way of a musical idea. Music is too important to be left to musicians. That’s what I always say.
Lyrically, this one was in part inspired by the line “Another lifetime is the least you’ll need” from Jonathan Coe’s “The House of Sleep”. I loved the book and the character Sarah, a narcoleptic who can’t tell the difference between her dreams and her waking state and so talks to people about her dreams as though they were widely known world events. How marvellous.
I used to think I might be narcoleptic until it dawned on me that I just find much of life terribly dull. As a younger man, I was sacked from jobs for falling asleep. Fortunately, I wasn’t a bus driver. Or anything important, really. I managed to blag a place at university purely as a way of avoiding work, only to then regularly fall asleep during lectures. I remember falling asleep during a History lecture (the last words I remember hearing were something about “demography in the 18th century”) only to wake up some time later, startled to find I was surrounded by an entirely new group of students, all eagerly taking notes on a talk about tectonic plates and volcanic rock formations. I was too embarrassed to get up and leave so I sat as inconspicuously as a recently snoring man in a room full of bright-eyed young Geology students could until I gradually found myself being drawn in by the subject, fascinated. Wow. What tumult and drama we walk above. It’s amazing we can make it to the shops in one piece. I failed History that year but I could probably tell you a thing or two about Mount Vesuvius.
So, anyway, getting back to the song, lyrically, I can hear the struggle to reconcile my world view with what then seemed to me the outrage upon my personal liberty that was working for a living. Work, the foulest of all four-letter words and the enemy of sleep. I have never been a morning person and wake up begrudgingly. I then believe in due process as observed in the form of at least one hour of coffee and denial. After an hour, I may then deign to talk to you, but it will probably be about the dream I just had.
I carried this song around in my head for 25 years. I am beyond happy to see it finally set it free. Thank you, dear band, thank you Colin Elliot.
The more dreams I can make come true, the less there are to haunt me.
photo on book cover by the marvellous Eva Rubinstein –https://www.pinterest.co.uk/elinorspies/photography-eva-rubinstein/