In an earlier incarnation, this song dates back to my third year at University: 1989. Given its subject (disappointment in life’s outcome), it may seem odd for a 21 year old to write. It would be much more apt if this was written more recently, now both Joe and I are in our mid 40s. Possibly I was anticipating graduating with a certain trepidation; possibly it was pre-emptive of things to come.
The song basically observes the process of growing old and wondering where all the time (and hopes invested therein) have gone. It’s really about our group of friends in Dorking, Surrey, whom we grew up with…and occasionally still see (Joe more so than I, admittedly). The sense of youthful hope and aspiration dashed against the sheer monotony of routine; compromised by defeat.
Then again, I have long struggled with bouts of the blues, so possibly it was simply written from a low point. Anticipating the future from a dark trough.
The original version was a bit of a two chord dirge. From that, the words and the first part of the verses survive. The second part of the verse and the chorus evolved in December 2013, when Joe spent a few weeks at my house working on the songs. He contributed those. I am especially pleased with both the melody and meaning of Joe’s “Hold on, don’t let go” optimistic message of encouragement in the chorus; it juxstaposes nicely with my more despairing sentiment: “Far from where you wanted to be”.
The numbers Joe and I sing out at the end of the song (16, 17, 18, 19…) are supposed to signal the effluxion of time since we first met. We first met when we were 16. We are now in our mid-forties, so we have known each other for 30 years.
A note on the accompanying image, created by Nicky Pasquier. The black-and-white photograph in the background was taken by a school friend called Shajee Ali, probably around 1984. It shows me (clad in denim jacket; scooter helmet in hand) on a school day, trying to make my school mates (all in uniform) laugh by pulling a moonie. (I can identify some of my school friends: Ben Goss; Richard Bennett; Richard Wiscombe). In the foreground, is the present day me in colour, clad in a suit and tie. trusted Gibson Les Paul in hand. I look sideways, perhaps wistfully. The old juxtaposed with the young. Both unequivocally me. How time passes…
This is probably my favourite Third Space song on this album.
William suggested it should be the album’s closer. So now it is!