The financial markets represents a rich content seam pretty much untouched by popular music. This is my third song which relates in some way or another. You’ve met this guy.
This song is a kind of conversation between a group of people with very specific interests to protect and a person chosen by them to be their front guy. The arrogance of the British ruling class is well known, and the accent on one side of the conversation felt appropriate.
This is a play off the song Route 66, popularized in different contexts in the 1960s by Nat King Cole and the Rolling Stones. It’s a great travelling tune, and I did a China version this year, including many of the places I have passed on my walk across China. Highway 318 starts – or ends – in Shanghai and goes pretty much straight west through to Chengdu and beyond. The guitar work on this – both rhythm and lead – is all me, for better or for worse.
This tune has its beginnings during a visit to Thailand, but the lyrics are a tribute to the wonderful green of Chinese paddy fields. I wrote and constructed the track in 2009 and 2010. It is one of my favorite tunes. The version here owes much to my friend and teacher Evan Chen, so skillful with Logic and sound.
I wrote this song in 2010. The lyrics are a poem from Rudyard Kipling which accurately sums up the approach I – and so many other Europeans – have towards Asia. His geography is off. If you are in Burma, the sun does not come up over China across the bay. Joining me on guitar are Matt Harding and Greg Smith.
This is a song about emigration, written around 1994 from the perspective of Hong Kong, but true of anytime and anywhere.
In 2011, I started writing a batch of songs about China. This one, Socialism, was the first, a re-working of a tune of mine about Reuters from the early 1990s. The chorus is as follows, pointing out one of the myriad contradictions that are part of the wonderful willow pattern world of China:
Communistic millionaires | It sounds a little strange | When the road to revolution | Leads right through the stock exchange.
I wrote this song around 1993. It is played in a non-standard Dm tuning, which I really liked at the time, and in which I wrote two of my better tunes – this one and an instrumental called Turn Out The Light. The lyrics are a true story. I met an old man on an open space next to the main temple in Tai’an city at the foot of Taishan mountain on a cold and misty day. he was dressed in ragged peasant clothes, and he smiled at me and in a perfect Oxford accent, said to me in English: “Good afternoon.” He really did give use the phrase Bird In A Cage, in English. This is a sad story, but it encompasses neatly an era in Chinese history which started in 1949, and did not end in 1976. the song starts with a sound bit from Chairman Mao. I regret not putting it up higher in the mix, but the words are clear – it is him announcing on October 1 the establishment of the new government. Incidentally, he did not say the words “The Chinese people have stood up”, at least not in that speech. The leader guitar is from Eugene Pao, the reverb-drenched rhythm guitar is me.
This is a revised version of Chocolate Fix a capella, with harmonies added on the chorus.