This ‘Human’ Thing… (With Added Secrets)

This blog contains multitudes.  There are words about a song, there are words about the human condition and there is also News, (which contains CLUES about EXCITING SECRET THINGS).  AND, as if that wasn’t enough, there is also the first, (and potentially last) competition on JamesRadcliffe.com.  Are you ready?  Then let’s begin…

BH Lyric.jpg

Songs and pieces of music begin in a myriad of ways.  There are no hard and fast rules about the how, there are just stories after the fact.

I’ll give you an example…

A few years ago my core practice was to set up my live rig and just play around, in order to get used to navigating in an amplified world of sound.  I’d play my own pieces, other peoples songs, crazy ideas that came to mind, whatever.  One day on a whim, I decided to tune all the strings on my guitar down to one chord, drench the whole thing in reverb, and see what happened.  One vocal idea kept repeating.   I looked up and 3 hours had passed.

That’s how the chorus for BrokenHearts was born.

Over the next wedge of time, the same idea cropped up in practice again and again until I figured out that it wanted to be a song.  All I had was the main chorus and an idea, but sometimes that’s enough.  The prevalent image for the piece was of a great column of people from all walks of life; the full gamut of human diversity, traveling across a landscape, from one shore of the ocean to another.

If the song is saying anything, it is saying that we are all the same.  That, all the things which we perceive as differences are really only surface deep.  It is true that we are all unique, but it is also true, in a deeper sense, that we are all the same.  We are unified by our experience of life.  We are all human, we are all born, we all die, we all experience life, and we all have our hearts broken, again and again and again.

To me, there is a redemptive quality in knowing that your heart will be broken by life.  To accept that, to know there will be pain, sorrow, grief and loss in this life, and yet still make the choice to remain open and embrace the entire experience with joy, is true courage, in the most fundamental sense of the word.  To me, this is what it means to be fully alive.

I tried getting the verse lyric in a variety of ways.  Writing at my desk, listening to the instrumental version of the song, long walks, but nothing felt right.  Nothing fit.

It was one and a half weeks before album release and the piece was still unfinished, so I was thinking of benching it.  Around 3:00A.M. in the morning, at the end of a particularly mammoth recording / editing session, I decided to go for a walk to decompress and hunt down some late-night pizza.  As soon as my feet hit the pavement, the main lyric spooled out of me, one effortless line after another.

I walked around for a while to let the new arrangement settle in my head.  Then headed back to my flat, set up my vocal cage of microphones, and laid down the vocal that you hear on the album in one take, just as the sun was coming up.

Dawn, from the window of my studio.
Dawn, from the window of my studio.

A lot of what I do is like that.  There is a definite component of discipline, of making oneself available to the process, but the jewels, the flashes of light are unpredictable by nature.  The core of every piece, is inexplicable.

I have a great affection for the finished piece.  Each time I hear it, it stops me in my tracks.  To me, it is a little slice of magic.


My name is James Radcliffe and I am a 100% audience supported independent artist.  If you like what I do (and can afford it) then please consider buying some of my music.  Each purchase really makes a big difference to me and 10% of every sale goes to a charity which: houses, feeds, clothes, and educates orphaned children in Nepal.

Also, every month I send out a newsletter packed with Interesting and Exclusive Things.  If you sign up today you’ll also get 3 FREE tracks of my music as a welcome gift.

Get 3 Free Tracks Now.

And lastly, if you’d like to find out what I’m up to on a more day-to-day basis then here is my brain on Twitter:

57 Replies to “This ‘Human’ Thing… (With Added Secrets)”

  1. ;-) oh never mind, I COMPLETELY respect your cat´s publicity shyness 100%, bless her. Funny that you said that but excactly thats what your guitar over dirty beat did to me as well: made me smile. I feel very drawn to a real good strong rythm, also very much love latinamerican music (especially this huge big-latinamerican-band-sound with diff. percussion, trumpets and heartbreaking-soulgripping melancholy at the same time joy of being alive which for me comes across especially in this type of music … have you seen the movie “Buena Vista Social Club” ? you will be doing music until you´re 95 as well, eh ? ;-)) . I find – beside English – the Spanish language one of the most beautiful ones for lyrics ) and played the congas for quite some time. Right now I am listening to another VERY cool dude with fantastic rythm – Lenny Kravitz. And am very excited – I finished sculpting my latest dog-figure (working until late at night) and will NOW start painting it and will post it tomorrow or on monday. I am very happy about that.

    Will you hit Edingburgh´s pub-club-nightlife tonight or will you be putting together some new mesmerizing sounds for you and us to enjoy ?

    Have an AWESOME weekend !
    Cristine

    Like

    1. Hey Hey Cristine ;-)
      I am stoked that it made you smile. That is kickass. I rock ;-)
      It is my plan to be making music until I am 110. I am serious. I think that this would be amazing. Can you imagine the amount of work that you could put out in 80 years? It would be super awesome. So, yes. 110. You heard it here first. ;-)
      I LOVE latin american music ESPECIALLY for dancing. Latin American music AND African drum music. They get you in the hips before you know what’s happened.
      Have you listened to the album yet? If so, what did you think? I hunger for your thoughts. Did anything else make you smile?
      I am not hitting the Edinburgh night life tonight. Today, I am writing a blog that I will probably post at midnight. (You are the first person to know about this, shhh, tell no-one) ;-)
      You have an AWESOME weekend. Keep on being with your bad self,
      Laters, ;-)
      – J

      Like

      1. ah thought I´ll catch you online ;-D .. just a quick note until my dinners´ heated: no album yet, will take a few days till I ´ll be able to download it, I PROMISE I´ll let you know how I feel about it THE MILLISECOND I listened to it thoroughly – will you pop over to my little place the next days to catch a glimpse at my glamorous dog scuplture and give me your opinion, do we have a deal here ?? ;-) Wow yes dancing to latin american music is addictive, I used to dance a lot of Salsa and if I was lucky to get hold of a willing male (almost never) even dance some Rumba or Mambo, I absolutely agree it is impossible to not dance when hearing that music. Here where I live, which is Bremen in Northwestern Germany, we do have quite a few Clubs where they offer latin american dance parties because we Northeners do like a bit of those vibes…catch you later and have a good time composing your next blog post…will sneak peek ;-)…

        Like

        1. We totally have a deal. You send me a review of my album and I will send you a review of your sculpture. How’s THAT? ;-)
          It is true, I am almost constantly online. I am, at least in part, a virtual beast.
          Just so you know, I adore dancing to Latin American music. Just saying. I am pleasantly surprised that you have a bunch of them in Bremen tho, you are very lucky. ;-)
          Blog post is almost done, will be up soon. I very much like this one, let me know what you think.
          Soon Soon,
          – J

          Like

  2. The music reminds me of…and I’m sure you’ve heard this umteen thousand times, Roy Orberson…not sure of his exact name but you know who I’m talking about. Your music displayed is all little snippets of songs and I wanted to know where you were going with it but then it changes and again I was wondering where you would go with that song! I enjoyed what I heard but would know better you writing capabilities after hearing a complete song. But what I heard was cool and new sounding and I could believe there is an audience for your sounds.
    I appreciate your beautiful blog and your art seems thoughtful and caring….. I thank you, claudy

    Like

    1. Thank you so much. That is really kind. I am so glad you liked it.
      From what you said, I think that you listened to the trailer for my album. You said that you want to hear where the songs go, so, if you want, you can get the album of completed songs, here:
      https://jamesradcliffe.bandcamp.com/album/i
      I’d love to hear what you think of the finished versions. Whether you still think ‘Orbison’ or something else…
      (I also noticed that you shared my stuff on Twitter, that was super kind of you. Obrigado, brother.
      Be well, Always,
      – J

      Like

  3. Hey man! Great post, and thanks for checking out my blog. I agree that life will definitely bring sadness, but I try to not get too bogged down by it. I was wondering, how have you gained so many followers? I am looking to expand the audience of my blog and I figured you might have some advice.

    Like

    1. …(As far as I can tell there are two main things that have helped. I make sure that everything on the blog is: truthful, has value and is top quality; and I connect with and talk to a LOT of people. ;-)
      I really love doing both, there’s not really any grand design behind it.)
      Hope that helps, if there’s anything else, feel free to hit me up.
      – J

      Like

  4. Hi James, I must come on out of the closet and FINALLY leave you a message and let you know that I am enjoying your music & your words.
    I so get you, in your music and from the words written in your blog!! It’s very refreshing to see your words you write as you tell your stories have so much depth and meaning.
    There is no doubt your music is your passion…your love!! Thank you so sharing that love with us.
    Also, thank you for visiting my budding blog. I smile everytime I see you “like” one of my posts and the same happens when I listen to your music!!
    Continue on your journey because it is apparent you have talent and you’re about to see the fruits of your labors. I have a feeling the world as you know it is about to change and more unmentioned dreams are going to become reality for you and I will be smiling for you!!
    Have a great day~ Xoxoxo~ Kay

    Like

    1. You genuinely made me smile, thankyou very much. ;-)
      I am really glad that you get something from my music / words, there is a feeling that I can’t quite describe when I hear that it connects with someone…it is a good feeling.
      Your words are amazing, I keep rereading them. It is the best message to get just before sleep.
      I hope you are having a great day / or sweet dreams,
      thanks for stopping by, I hope we speak again,
      – J xo

      Like

      1. For me, at this moment, I’ll take the sweet dreams and I’m glad to be finally out of the closet with you!! ha ha
        Glad we both shared that smile….you know from my blog…..I love to make people smile and thanks to the internet….no one is too far away!! ;-)
        You know where to find me and I’m always here if you want to chat, too!!
        Take care and YOU keep doing what you’re doing…..continue to stay true to who you are and your dreams!! Good night YOU!! Xoxoxo~Kay :)

        Like

        1. Ahhh, thanks Kay, you are very sweet ;-)
          The internet is a crazy cool thing, right? Isn’t it amazing to be able to chat to people all over the world everyday? It kind of blows me away when I try and think about it. WordPress tells me that my blog is being read in 140+ countries!! How is that even possible?! I am a very happy bunny.
          Glad to have met you, and ALWAYS willing to chat, ;-)
          Hope you have a great day,
          – J

          Like

          1. I too was blown away of all the countries that have visited my little blog in less than 90 days and over 50 followers!!! Don’t even ask me how that happened. I guess we’re a lot alike…..we post the truth and with passion….the rest just happens.
            Until next time…Good Night YOU happy bunny!! :P

            Like

Click Here To Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s