Stuart A Staples

leaving songs

  • 1. Goodbye to old friends
  • 2. There is a path
  • 3. Which way the wind
  • 4. This road is long
        duet sung with Maria McKee
  • 5. One more time 
  • 6. Dance with an old man 
  • 7. That leaving feeling
        duet sung with Lhasa de Sela
  • 8. Already gone
  • 9. This old town
  • 10. Pulling in to the sea

leaving songs released 29/5/06 cd/lp

These are songs written on the verge of leaving the things I loved and stepping into a new unknown life, both musically and personally. I was always aware that these songs were the end of something, a kind of closing a circle of a way of writing that I started so long ago and I knew I had to move on from. Though in taking them to a conclusion they showed me glimpses of a future I wasn't expecting, a future I now feel greedy for.

Late in 2004 I had many songs, simple songs driven by words, played on acoustic guitar, that I needed to record. These songs asked for a looseness in approach and I also felt that they needed to find themselves away from home and away from London.

After working with Mark Nevers with the band in 2000, we had kept in touch and he often encouraged me to record with him in his studio in Nashville. This finally felt like the right time for us to make something together. In April 2005 I arranged to meet Neil Fraser (guitar), David Boulter (piano/organ), Thomas Belhom (drums) and Volker Zanda from Calexico (bass) in Nashville - we had two and a half weeks with Mark at the Beach House.

The resulting recordings form this album, though at the time they confused the shit out of me. I had to drag them back to London, both physically and in their essence, to realise them.

In doing this I enlisted the help of many friends, collaborating with Terry Edwards for the brass arrangements and Lucy Wilkins for the strings. Gina Foster, whose voice I heard when writing some of the songs, came 'round and gave them more than I hoped. Adrian sorted out some of the bass parts and Todd Thompson played some 'off the cuff' guitar. For the two duets Lhasa de Sela came to London and we sang 'That leaving feeling' together and Maria Mckee sang 'This road is long' long distance from L.A.

Gradually over the rest of 2005 'Leaving Songs' found its shape, ending with a four day mixing session in London in December.

In starting this album, I thought it would be easy but it turned out to be the hardest, most testing record that I have made since 'curtains' with the band. Even now, I still have an uneasy relationship with it, though I hope that the struggle and the frustrations within the songs give in a little to the hope and the desire that brought them about.