THE SONGWRITING PROCESS can take many interesting turns. And the best turns of all are sometimes those that happen out of sheer weird accident. This song came from a misheard lyric. I was driving one afternoon and listening to a song called ‘June’ by the excellent songwriter Jeff Finlin (right), (it’s on the album ‘Original Fin’, which I highly recommend) and I was singing along. He was singing ‘with my head in the clouds and my heart somewhere east of belief’, and I THOUGHT I heard him singing ‘east of Louise’.
I immediately thought, what the hell is he talking about? There’s no Louise in this song... Of course when I reached my destination and pulled out the lyrics I realised my mistake. But the phrase ‘East of Louise’ had stuck in my head and there was no way of dislodging it. I scribbled it in the notebook and resolved to come back to it.
But the questions wouldn't go away. What kind of person was this Louise, if everything happened slightly to the east of her...? Louise herself is, like so many of the characters in my songs, based on a number of people that I know or have known. The central guitar figure in the song has been knocking around for several years, and was initially much slower.
I had tried to record this with drums and the full band, but it seemed to work at its best with just me and the guitar. I overdubbed a snappy little bluegrass guitar solo, which I'm delighted to say was the first attempt and the first take. I have no idea where it came from, and if I ever have to replicate it, I will be in serious trouble.
Musicians - Anthony Toner, guitars, vocals, percussion
EAST OF LOUISE - lyrics
We all know that she’s bright,
but sometimes she just doesn’t pay attention.
The stuff you talked about last night,
she’ll look like it’s a subject you just mentioned.
She stops outside the station, and she ponders for a minute -
there’s a train that’s leaving soon, she wonders if she should be in it,
and decisions such as these,
happen slightly to the East of Louise.
She tells herself she’s lonely,
an isolated queen in a city castle.
She was somebody’s one and only,
but somehow it just wasn’t worth the hassle.
But hey, relationships can wither, the least said the soonest mended-
she wrote it in a letter, but she never got it sended.
And love is like a breeze
that passes somewhere to the East of Louise
And I think I’m falling for her...
I lay my pearls of wisdom before her,
but after ten minutes they just bore her
back to tears.
While she struggles with a laptop
I make coffee and I offer my suggestions.
She says she’s lost a thousand e-mails
from potential lovers asking the same questions.
And I tell her, ‘love’s another virus, it can eat your heart alive-’
and she takes it off the desktop, but it stays there on the drive.
And the instructions are Chinese,
And that’s too far to the East of Louise...