Wednesday, 25 May 2011


Dogman tells the story behind his popular song
Caitlin and Dogman @ York Air Museum
When my 14 year old son Max began building model airplanes, seeing the boxes, kits and glue reminded me so much of when I was his age when I used to enjoy ‘Airfix modelling’. I would make the planes, Spitfire, Hurricane , Mosquito, ME 109, Fokker Wulf, Stukker and then re-ennact ‘Battle of Britain games on and above our garden lawn and really enjoyed setting up a column of Dinky Army Trucks.

I had bought Max a 1960’s booklet about the Spitfire and on day when tidying his bedroom I came across it and began avidly reading the facts and figures about the plane that helped to win the famous WW2 battle for air supremacy over England. The booklet detailed information about the famous Rolls Royce ‘Merlin’ engine that, together with the unique aerodynamic shape of the plane, gave it a slight advantage over the ME 109. Thinking about the fact that I was born in a RAF hospital in Germany and that my wife was born here in England added together that one of my close musician friends, Teaspoon, works for Rolls Royce and the idea suddenly came to me for a song.

I began to think allegorically about how my wife, a classic English rose with a wonderful brain and a real beauty,  and me, the obsessive neurotic, and how we enjoyed challenging each other. Lyrics like ‘all guns blazing, she’s amazing’ and  ‘in a dog fight - she’s always right’ and ‘no such thing as friendly fire’ all came to mind very quickly. Our personalities being so different, Yin and Yang, I am creatively analytical and dogged and she, being a leading forensic scientist, is all calm and  logical. So we became the two protagonists of the Battle of Britain. I ‘take my time’ and think about everything, she  is ‘fiery and quick to react and defend’.
We even visited York Air Museum to see a Spitfire close up and filmed us both as the picture above illustrates.  

When I first began playing ‘Spitfire’ live at gigs the audience seemed to like the song immediately. I even heard someone repeatedly singing ‘Spitfire’ at a party I was playing at.  Some said it reminded them of Neil Young in the way I sing and the story. I would often take the two planes, a Spitfire and a ME109, to gigs with me and tell a story to explain my ideas behind the song. Another strange coincidence was that suddenly it was the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain but my song was written months before the event.
I then watched Ray Lamontagne saying that lyrics should not be explained and that all songs should retain their mystery to allow the listener to interpret as they see fit.

We had great fun filming the video Spitfire video. I storyboarded the idea that we could be children in an old home movie swapping toys and that we could recreate how we both set up a painted play-board with planes and toy trucks as I had for still photography to be used when the demo song was first put up on the net. With a live night scene we had a great video story thought out. Our village postman, Terry Seed, agreed to act the part in the video and deliver the real models I had ordered. Once I had located talented and creative media students, Tom and Matthew, to film the video the finished film was eventually 'in the can' after some intensive sessions including me failing to lip sync my own song after 20 takes::

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