Thursday, 23 June 2011


Valentine Light
Dogman explains how this new 'tradional style' folk song is the favourite of live audiences and band members alike

This song is the name of this painting I made from my wife on Valentine Day in 2003. In subsequent years I have photographed many different flower arrangements that she has placed before it on our fireplace shelf.

Valentine Light was born out of my self motivated challenge to write my own new, ‘traditional sounding’, folk track instead of singing one that was long established like Lucy Wan. At first, my opening verse lines were repeated, ‘Walk with me in the Valentine Light’, which made it sound very ‘folky’ indeed but as I played it live the song evolved into more Ryan Adams vibe. 

Lines like ‘Dance with me in the Valentine Light, don’t catch a chill my Lilywhite, watch our reflection in the river’s flight’, nicely roll off my tongue when I am singing it now. The almost erotic line,  ‘Lie with me on this Valentine Night, under the willow in the twilight’, is traditional 'English' in the quintessence sense and could even be a sub plot for a 18th Century landscape painting.

The mandolin riff was put it by producer Mr Smith using my own instrument which he borrowed without informing me of his idea.
It’s a true romantic song that is dedicated to my wife at every gig and I can imagine in years to come it will become one to play for lovers on Valentine’s Day. Dolly Parton would probably make a fine job of singing this as a cover I’m sure. Members of the band love the song and so do many of my friends who are also musicians.

The final song lines, ’and remember this, every Valentine night, every single night’, is now repeated over and over in a rocky folk style by me since the original recording was made in early 2010.

A video with many of my atmospheric cloud photographs used to set the scene can be viewed here:

Wednesday, 8 June 2011


It’s a Love thing
Dogman tells the story behind the song that is the band favourite and the easiest for him to compose


‘It’s a Love Thing’ is possibly going to be the most universal of Dogman songs. Two London DJs announced on first hearing that a dance remix would take nightclubs by storm (coming soon).

This song came to being as I was playing around with alternative capo setting. The lyrics came into my head as though they had been given to me by a higher being. That may seem ridiculous on first reading but it’s honestly true. I love singing, I love the birds singing which is a good thing as I live in a rural village in Northern England and the dawn chorus is deafening! I was a Green Peace member long before it was fashionable and still have my original jacket buttons.

I believe a Higher Being wants us to sing, wants us to sing, wants us to feel the beat, to tap our feet; wants us to sing; wants birds to sing, wants the day to break, help us to wake for singing’s sake - wants the Whales to sing, wants the oceans to ring.   It’s a love thing’

Mr Smith, my producer, used to take his sheepdog, Tod, into the studio often working late into the night. When he began mixing my vocal and guitar track with his percussion and Andy’s bass line together with Matt Pawson’s ace lead guitar the dog was beginning a downward path that would eventually lead to him passing away. On one night, Mr Smith and Tod sat together working right through into morning daylight and found some kind of peace with my song. It was an emotional period in the making of my album, 'The cat that solved the String Theory' that will forever be associated with ‘It’s a Love Thing’.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011


Galileo Galilei
Dogman tells the story behind the song that became his bass player’s obsession


This song came from an instrumental piece I had been playing around with for a year or more. I remember getting into a ‘round’ sequence of the chords and the name Galileo as a sound ‘popped’ into my head. I scribbled down a rough lyric and the song was finished in a flash. I just wanted to be expressive and, secretly, 
falsetto like Sufjan Stevens.

What was more important to me at the time was Galileo became a ‘test song’ that I chose to record at Mr Smith’s ‘Audiofile’ studio, a modest unit hidden within a large industrial building in East Lancashire. The enigmatic Mr Smith - I have since named Nighthawk because of his nocturnal habits - previously had only ever been a telephone conversation. I heard a track on MySpace he had recorded and produced for another artist (Teaspoon) and thought I would see if we were compatible (bit like a blind date).
The opening of the song, which he surprisingly kept in the recording, has me announcing ‘out loud’ what all neurotics ask – “Why do we put ourselves through this?” I was feeling tense about getting the recording right on a cold Winter’s night exactly a year before my album ‘The cat that solved the String Theory’ was released. 

This gentle song is just me, strumming my Martin Dreadnought acoustic Guitar and singing solo. When I finally heard the result a week or two later I was quietly pleased. A bass player friend of Mr Smith - Andy Penney, later to become an integral part of the Dogman band, was soon driving around with a premix version playing on continual repeat.
The song sentiments are about how zealous religious belief can distort reality. Andy and Mr Smith felt as strongly about that and it could be said to be very relevant today. “Did they get you say that black was white and were the stars your shining light?”
I enjoy playing Galileo live when the audience quietens to listen.

A video can be found here: