"Back in 2010 I used to play bass with Robert Rotifer. We went to Cussac, a town in Limousin, France, to record an album with Wreckless Eric.
I was playing bass, and it was a simple recording process. My parts were done in a few days, so I started to explore the countryside. I found a footpath that used to be a railway. It ran from Oradour to Chalus via Champagnac. I did part of it one day, then decided it needed a proper exploration. I bought a baguette and some cheese and put them in my backpack.
I felt like I was in a ‘Boy’s Own’ adventure as I started walking. I can’t remember a time in the past ten years where I felt more remote and happy. The walk was too long in fact. I was wearing shoddy trainers, and I hurt my feet. It was ten miles long, and when I got to Chalus I tried to find a taxi to get back, but the Brit expats in the small town didn’t want to wake up the only taxi driver. So I walked all the way back.
Railways make me feel calm, especially the tracks where trains used to be. I become a time machine. I become a train driver. I become a train. Train tracks are straight and level. Nature is always close, but always gets out of the way. We are lifted over valleys, we cut through hills.
I saw several disused stations, but more exciting than that were the Maisons du Garde. Tiny little cottages that housed the guard who took care of the men who worked the level crossing.
I love the singularity of that job. He lived in the little house. He made sure people got across the track safely. He was important and vital.
It was on this trip that I met Mary. Mary is a beaten up tenor guitar. Her arse was smashed and splintered. She hung on Eric’s wall. Eric didn’t want her. Eric didn’t love her. I bought her off Eric and took her into his garden and wrote about the railway.
When I was finished my friend, and Robert’s drummer, Ian Button came out and recorded the song on the internal mic on his laptop. Listen closely; you can hear the wind, the trees and a collection of farm animals. It is quite literally a ‘field recording.’
I write songs to fit concepts. I write songs in groups. This song got forgotten and stayed inside Ian’s computer.
This year Robert and Ian started their label Gare Du Nord, a label named after a French railway station, and it reminded me of my song. Ian had to go through several hard drives to find it. I’m glad he did.
I’m not sure if I can think of a recording of mine that’s more like a photograph. Songs can be time machines too. I’d forgotten nearly all of this until I heard the song again. I hope you like it."