Music and my writing group

Writing group tomorrow and we are sharing a piece of music which has inspired us. If you have visited my blog before, you’ll know that I am  a great Mavericks fan, and feel I owe so much to them and their music fr what they have inspired me to write…

I might share this:

Clichés and well-worn phrases lurk in wait for the unwary writer; like many writers I really try to avoid hackneyed and corny expressions, and yet when I’m editing I find my work is littered with them, as if someone else has sneaked along and quickly written a few lines when I was making a cup of tea or doing the ironing, or having dinner. With so many millions of books out there, it’s hard not to fall into the trap of the weary phrase or the worn out simile. Writing songs must be even more difficult, how can you write in an original way about love? How can you write a romantic ballad which hasn’t been written many times before?

Somehow, Raul Malo always manages it and while listening to his songs on the Mavericks stunning new album, ‘In Time’, I thought how effortlessly his lyrics match his melodies. I was listening to a song which is so sweet, so romantic, but also so clever. It is quite short, and in a way quite simple… But Raul has given it a bitter-sweet twist by a single word change. The song is of lost love and it is entitled ‘In another’s arms’… How easy it would have been to have written ‘In each other’s arms’, but how much more poignant to have the lovers apart, in another’s arms.

…or maybe this:

Unlike my first beer, I can’t remember when I first tasted whisky… actually oh yes I can. I’m sure some will be shocked, but when I was about six I had a tiny sip of my dad’s glass of whisky. It was very unusual for us to have any drinks at home, apart from at Christmas, a bottle of sherry, maybe a bottle of sweet Martini, a bottle or a half bottle of rum for the Christmas pudding and a bottle or half of whisky, and that would be it. We didn’t have wine, we certainly didn’t have beer (it wasn’t so readily available then, and also we just wouldn’t have had it at home – beer belonged in pubs, not sitting rooms!)

Going back to my story. I had a tiny sip of Dad’s whisky and the next day went into school and told the teacher and the class ‘I like White Horse!‘ Somehow this was mentioned to my parents, but I’m guessing as a funny story in less censorious times. I don’t remember trying whisky until much, much later; it was just too expensive to have at home, or buy in pubs… so I’m not sure when I found I liked it. This makes me sound as if I have a problem… honestly I don’t – whisky is a treat, a luxury and only enjoyed on special occasions.

On our first holiday together, my husband to be and I went to Oban in search of what was then our favourite whisky and we toured around visiting different distilleries. We went back to Scotland on our honeymoon, and our first family holiday with our two children was to Bushmills, which started a love affair with Irish whiskey and Ireland. Since then we have tried many different types of whisky and my favourite above all is Highland Park.

You must know if you visit me here often, how much I love the Mavericks and will travel miles and miles to see them… I didn’t travel so far last night, only to our nearest big city Bristol, a mere twenty miles away. On one occasion, one magical occasion, I went with my Dutch friend Elly (who I met through the Mavericks) to see them in Glasgow, meeting up with two other friends, Hannah and Jenna (who I also met through the Mavericks) … and a  load of other Mav-fan chums. The whole trip was fabulous, wonderful! The concert was just amazing (of course it was) – even the support act was brilliant. The Mavericks were on sensational form, and we were all high as kites on dancing, singing, being caught up in the experience of going to see this fantastic group of musicians on tour.

We hung around for a little while, catching up with old friends and then streamed across the road to the nearest bar to parch our thirst after hours of singing and shouting (well, I was shouting – got a bit over-excited!) … and there, in the bar, were the Mavericks! It was a dream come true – literally! It was very crowded and we were all jammed together talking to our idols in a completely natural way because there were lots of people in the bar who hadn’t been to the gig and just happened to be there. I had a long conversation with Eddie, chatted with Paul and Jerry Dale, and then somehow, somehow, I have no idea how, I got into conversation with Raul.

I sometimes wonder if it was actually a dream, but no it wasn’t. We were sitting at a table with others and talking… but I cannot now remember what he said – I was so entranced, overwhelmed (this is what it’s like being a fan and meeting your hero) I do know it was a perfectly ordinary conversation about lots of things and I think I probably did keep my inner feelings under control, but at one point Raul bought a round of drinks and when he asked what I wanted I just stuttered out ‘Highland Park’.

Buying your fans a drink… how many artists would do that? That is why as fans we love the band because they are so generous in every way. That Highland Park tasted like nectar… and now, whenever I have a Highland Park, I think of Raul. It has become a little tradition for me, that every time I see ‘the boys’, after the show I have a Highland Park, and raise a glass to Raul… I was driving home from Bristol last night so I had to delay raising my glass in a toast, but I did later… in fact I toasted him twice!

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