The song “Sorrow” was written in November 2013. My dear neighbour of ten years standing, Lilia Mimicopoulous died, aged 89. A Greek national, she had lived a very eventful and colourful life that had included brushes with Ceacescu’s Communist regime in Romania and also a love affair with a banker in London. She settled in Tunbridge Wells. Eventually she became my neighbour and I had a great relationship with her. I would often be invited in for a drink and a chat; towards the end of her life, when she suffered from both Parkinson’s and dementia, I would occasionally have to come to the rescue, clearing spillages up and things. She was dear to me.
Anyway, after she passed, I was doodling on the guitar and came up with the riff. I had deliberately placed the capo high up the neck (on the 6th fret) because I had heard on BBC Radio 3 that Mozart had composed a sonata in C# and I thought that was an unusual key. That experiment didn’t work, so I moved the capo up a semi-tone to D and that did.
The song’s lyrics came very quickly on Sunday 17 November. My son Willem was having a late lie-in in bed, and I was waiting for him to wake-up so we could start our day. I was idling the morning away playing this riff.
I remembered Lilia (who lived downstairs and whom I used to hear through the floorboards, but of course, not anymore) and it occurred to me that when I was younger, I hardly ever went to funerals.
But in recent years, I had been to many (both Third Space engineer and occasional session musician William Manwaring and I had served as pall bearers at Lilia’s funeral). Which is probably a function of my then age (45). But in the last few years I had been to Joe’s father Michael’s funeral; our friend Kevin Aldridge’s father Mick; my own father, Pim; my friend Sara Whiteley’s father Stuart; my favourite Aunt Annick (whom “En Famille” on the first album was about) and Joe’s nephew Angus (whom “Gone”, and “Song For Angus”, the closing tracks on the second album were written for).
This song, then, became something of a reflection on our finitude.