Some Foreign Field
Sometimes a song requires due diligence, gestation and tense conversations of passionate defence or rejection of themes or ideas....and sometimes, just sometimes, a song simply arrives. It appears without effort and with little thought, like a delivery from the reality beyond our understanding. Sometimes it feels like there is very little responsibility that the writing collaborators can assume, it is almost like a transmission. Then once in a while, it births itself through you. Powerful and painful, it rips at your insides as it forces itself out of you with an insatiable need to be expressed. It knows what it wants to say, you simply know you must deliver it. Yet you do not know it until she echoes through the space that prior to her arrival was vacant, this new song from the clausers was an emotional and powerful experience. We cried quiet tears of wrought emotion as we received this simple narrative that required birth. If this sounds melodramatic or self important, it intends to be neither, this latest song was born out of an extraordinary experience that defies words. This latest offering from the Lost Clauses "Some Foreign Field" is a folk style ballad inspired by the recent trip that band members Merrick and Ben took to the Somme battlefield.
"Merrick and I also publish a podcast and we are producing a programme on our trip to the Somme and wanted to create some original incidental music to provide in the background for that project" Ben said. "We arrived in the studio and set out our intentions to Don who produced a folk style chord cycle that we instantly fell in love with" he continued.
"The sound was perfect. Before we knew it we had piano, cello and strings alongside Don's original loop. I added the lead guitar and then we could see we had something with a real voice on our hands."
"The lyrics came in little more than twenty minutes" Merrick added. "I bounced my intentions off Don and the melody and journey came almost immediately, once we had the lyrical hooks in place, the rest came almost fully formed. There were very few tweaks and rewrites. We then tried to find a way to give the voice of the song a stronger sense of authenticity and it felt only natural to layer it with actual readings from genuine letters. That created one of the toughest vocal recording sessions I have ever tried to complete."
Don, who sat in with Merrick during the recording agreed. "It was an emotional and draining experience" he concurred. "I did not go on the trip with Merrick and Ben but the impact it had on them was clear for me to see. Ironically it was over that weekend they were away I came up with the chord structure we used for the song. I never imagined it would turn out to be a homage to fallen soldiers, but that is the beauty of collaboration."
"When Merrick's voice wavers and cracks in the recording, it is genuine, I sat and watched him wrestle with the difficulty of getting those words out and then laying down the backing vocals as he had to listen to that last letter home over and over again. I am not ashamed to say that I too was overcome with the power of the moment. He was exhausted by the end"
The final touch was the echo of 'The Last Post' that echoes through the tune. "It was Don's idea to add that nod" Merrick says, "It adds an unavoidable tie to the lads we are hoping to honour." He went on to say "Ben and I were humbled, overawed and inspired by what we learnt, in preparation for, and, during our trip to the Somme. It has been an experience that has left an indelible mark on us, and we hope to do more work in the field of raising awareness of those boys buried in some foreign field. We hope to return to northern France again and to do more work on documentary material for further programmes and we hope if this small musical offering inspires just one person to visit the graves of those brave men and pay their respects, then it will have been a success."
"It is not technically perfect" Ben adds, to which the others nod in agreement. "It is honest, it is genuine, it is nothing other than what it is, a question to those that listen....do you know of what they did? How they died? What they sacrificed?", Merrick adds "This song did not want to sit on our hard drive gathering figurative dust with our other output, waiting for our final tweaks and touches, waiting for us to decide if it was ready. This song is not ours. It is Sam Hardman's, it is Jim Carter's, it is Duncan Martin's. It belongs to the some 73,000 men who were never found. We urge people to visit the battlefield, to support the work being done in Thiepvale wood to excavate and restore the trenches, the work of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission who maintain the cemeteries, to buy a poppy and wear it with pride. It is a silent tribute to those who did not grow old. The Somme confronts you with the selfless bravery and sacrifice of a generation of men and we owe them our respect."
Music written by Donald Barnett, Words and arrangement by Merrick Wells. Acoustic Guitar Donald Barnett Electric Guitar Benjamin Ansell Trumpet Miguel Ángel Laita Chóliz Keyboards, Vocals & Programming Merrick Wells Miguel Ángel features with kind permission of Artistas del Gremio
Music & Lyrics (excluding spoken word passages) © 2016 The Lost Clauses (All Rights Reserved)
We will remember them.