This is a picture of me today attempting to walk on water in the North Sea at Whitstable. Silly, I know, (I found a thin sandbar) but the sea fills me with magic. In a previous life I must have been a Mermaid or a Sea Witch, possibly an actual fish. I’m a Pisces, and like all water signs (are you one?) the sea pulls me like a magnet, I am literally ‘in my element’ here. It’s a great place for creative inspiration and self-reflection. Staring out at that infinite mass of blue puts your own petty problems into perspective. We miss out on this living amongst the stifling high-rise buildings in London where it’s hard to see ‘the wood for the trees’. Who hasn’t gazed out to sea and thought existentialist thoughts?
“Why do you think old people live at the seaside?” I ask my daughter. (My elderly relatives live in Felixstowe on the East Coast). Is it for the clean air, for health and longevity? For the relaxed pace of life? We see a dead seagull get cleansed by the waves, a dead crab becomes sand eventually. Death and regeneration go hand-in-hand here.
And let us not forget the immense power of the sea. I’m looking out now at the wind turbines in the ocean off Whitstable, these beauties could save us from self-destruction with fossil fuels. I recall crossing the ocean to Belgium and Holland with my dad when I was little (he was a sailor), the big waves crashing over the deck, and me throwing-up over the side, it felt so dangerous. In my twenties I ran into difficulty swimming during a boat-trip in Turkey, I had no snorkel or flippers like everyone else, they were all facedown looking at the pretty fish, a riptide swept me away and I swallowed so much water, I thought I was going to drown. I let out the biggest scream I ever have made and then my lungs filled with water, luckily someone on a boat heard me. The images of refugees being drowned at sea were uppermost in my mind when I started writing “Like The English Sea” a year ago.
“Spare me, my dignity, as your spirit crashes over me” – lyric
It’s my favourite song on the EP. It’s unusual for me to write a song about a place, (can you think of rock songs about the sea?) I’m using the sea as a simile for powerful emotions, which are like unstoppable natural forces. The guitar riff in the choruses sounds watery to me, like the waves. There are heavy shouty sections, like those sudden storms that come out of nowhere and batter you. It’s the only song from the CD “Breakables” that we have not yet added to the live set, I’ve been saving it until last. I’ll post the lyrics next time. I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences of the sea if you care to leave a comment in the box below: