You and I (original song)


How long does it take to write a song? On a hot streak and with a prevailing creative wind behind you it’s possible to write one in five minutes. Jimi Hendrix’s The Wind Cries Mary (1967) was famously composed in a very short spell – mostly people say it was written “on the spot” in the studio (although others say Hendrix wrote it in a night).

Then again, other songs can gestate for years, even decades. George Harrison’s Not Guilty (George Harrison, 1979) had been rehearsed by the Beatles as early as 1968, but it took the breakup of the band, the passage of a decade, and a complete reworking of the instrumentation before Harrison saw fit to release it.

So here’s a personal example. I initially wrote this song in around 1996 – with lyrics that reflected the loss of a friend. He’d taken off on a voyage of what he called “self-discovery” at university, by which he meant taking loads of drugs and sleeping around.

I, stuck in the same place we’d grown up together, already engaged and yoked to a boring office job, simultaneously resented and missed him. It inspired a gentle and very personal song that never really suited the sturm-und-drang of a live band.

So it sat in a notepad on a shelf – ready for me to dig up whenever a suitably maudlin mood was upon me. But over time, the meaning faded. He came back into my life and the sense of the song was lost.

But then…? Well. I fucked this relationship up – along with many others – on the back of my personal weaknesses, unaddressed mental health issues and some reckless, horrible actions. The sense of loss that inspired that song is ever-present with me these days – only this time the element resentment is directed at myself. No surprise then that I found myself strumming the song again the other week for the first time in years. And I found myself spurred to change the lyrics to reflect this new slant on our relationship and the many, all-consuming regrets I have.

I did record it, and I’m unhappy with the results at the moment, but fuck it. 20 years of conflicting thoughts are now compressed into these few lines. I’m embarrassed enough by my singing voice, but laying myself bare in my lyrics is a whole other ball game of cringe. But, as I try to face the world once again, the relative anonymity of this blog seems as good a place as any to do so.

Lyrics

You and I
Sat beneath a cloudless sky
And talked about our lives
Our hopes, our dreams and teenage lies
Just you and I
You and I

You and me
Staring at infinity
While drinking God knows what
Thinking that there’d always be
A you and me
A me and you

You ran away to a brave new world
And left me here in the same old town
But I still go to places where we used to play
And dream about those endless days
But now you’ve seen a brighter green
I’m just a part of that same old scene
You and I
You and I

You and me
Chasing girls and hopeless dreams
That never came to be
Lost amidst the swirling streams
Of history
Like you and me

I clung too hard to the same old paths
And trapped us both in old photographs
And I still went to places where we used to play
To think about those endless days
But now I’ve broken everything
And there’s just a hole where we used to be

But I hope that you find peace
And at last you’ll be at ease
And I hope your star still shines
And memories don’t die
Of you and I
You and I

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