Cramond Island Causeway
For those who don’t know Edinburgh, just off the village of Cramond, on the outskirts of the city, there’s an island that you can walk to at low tide, along a causeway of jagged triangular structures that look like the spine of an ancient sea creature. At high tide, though, the island is cut off from the mainland. People who don’t know this sometimes get stranded there – like the teenagers who had a massive party and ended up with their faces all over page three of the Scotsman after getting hypothermia and having to call the coastguard. Oops. I live in Leith and sometimes cycle to Cramond. Not for teenage parties though, I’m too old for that. This song was inspired by one particular cycle ride there, on my wife Laura’s 31st birthday. Quintana Films, who are based in Edinburgh, have made a very beautiful video for this song, in which Laura and I are played by two very young and pretty people, and the beach is in Orkney instead of near Leith. It’s like a Hollywood version of us (or maybe a French arthouse version of us, since it’s in black and white). By sheer chance, though, Laura owns a summer dress exactly like the one the girl is wearing in the video, which freaked us out a bit.
What Became Of Pinky And Honker
A deliberately very simple love song. The title comes from Laura calling me Honker. Not because I smell, but because when I have a cold I make a slight honking sound with my nose. I wanted to give her an equally stupid nickname as revenge, but the only thing I could think of was that she was wearing a pink beret at the time. None of which has anything to do with the song, I just liked the image of two characters called Pinky and Honker going off on some adventure and leaving their old working lives behind. The title has a double meaning – Honker is imagining the people left behind wondering what became of Pinky and Honker, but he’s also feeling vulnerable and wondering whether Pinky is going to stay with him. Hence the final line: ‘Don’t leave me in the dust, floundering and wondering what became of Pinky and Honker.’
I Just Want To Sledge With My Baby
Another slightly silly title for a quite sad, serious song about the cruelty of love. It was written during last year’s incredibly cold, bleak winter, when the snow drove Scotland to a standstill – hence the line ‘the radio is saying make no journey you don’t need’. Musically this is probably my favourite song on the album – there are obvious shades of Steve Reich and Michael Nyman in the arrangement. I’m childishly proud of the second section, where the line ‘we’re climbing up the hill’ is accompanied by an ascending chord sequence.
The War Planes Are Blitzing The Town
This song was originally called Cramond Island Causeway 2. I changed the title to avoid confusing people, but the new title will probably end up confusing people anyway, since the song is actually much more about Cramond Island than Cramond Island Causeway is. The lyrics refer to the war fortifications on the island, a series of concrete bunkers which had anti-aircraft guns on them during World War Two. It’s a song about emotional battles – the war planes are, obviously enough, not actual war planes, they’re all the things in life that make you feel under attack, or oppressed, or isolated. I liked the image of someone lonely and lost, fighting off their own personal war planes from a metaphorical island, and someone who loves them swimming out to the island to be with them, shooting anti aircraft guns by their side.
There Is A Train That Goes Thousands Of Miles Away
This used to be called Trans Siberian Express, until I remembered that Momus had already written a song called that. It’s about wanting to take a trip on the Trans Siberian Express, either literally or metaphorically. And that’s about all I can think of to say about it. I’d really like someone to do a remix of it in the style of Trans Europe Express by Kraftwerk. Hamish (from my band Swimmer One) offered to do it but hasn’t got round to it yet, so if anyone else feels like having a go in the meantime…
You Are The Only Place On The Map
A companion piece to There Are No Maps For This Part Of The City, from the first Seafieldroad album. It’s quite epic, given that there’s nothing on it apart from a voice and a piano – a song in three parts, with a big singalong bit at the end. If There Are No Maps was about the beginnings of a relationship, this rejoins the same couple further down the line, having to work hard to keep things together in difficult circumstances. I really like maps as a metaphor – finding routes through life, drawing your own emotional maps, that sort of thing.
The Coastal Path
This song was originally called Seafield Road, until it dawned on me that a song called Seafield Road, by Seafieldroad, would result in even more confusion than two songs called Cramond Island Causeway. It is, however, about the journey along Seafield Road in Edinburgh, from Leith to Portobello. Seafield Road is not a very pretty road. It smells a bit from the nearby sewage works, and mostly consists of warehouses. It is, however, the quickest way to get from Leith, where I live, to one of my favourite places, Portobello Beach. I thought it was a nice metaphor for the fact that the road to happiness isn’t always pretty, that there is always some difficulty along the way, even if it’s just coping with the smell of sewage. This song is very much about that (the difficulty, not the sewage).
Walking On A Dream
A cover of the song by Empire of the Sun, which I really like (so much so that it was the first dance at my wedding this year). The original is very upbeat and camp. This version isn’t. But it’s a nice happy note to end the album on.