The Welsh singer-songwriter David Gray had massive success in Ireland with his fourth album, White Ladder, and this Irish acclaim led to his international breakthrough, which was well deserved.
White Ladder is a great album, in my opinion. We bought the CD and used to listen to it in the car – Sean really liked it, although Susanna claimed that the tracks are too similar (‘Didn’t we just hear this one?’). We later bought the Life in Slow Motion CD, and Sean put a track from it (‘You’re the One I Love’ – a song about being in love and dying) on a now legendary (in my mind), and lost, compilation CD of his. I mention Gray in my song ‘Come Back and See Me’.
Sean and I often discussed music. I remember I said that I thought ‘Say Hello Wave Goodbye’ was a weak track – perhaps I was prejudiced against it because it was a cover of a Soft Cell song. Sean disagreed, and brought me round to his way of thinking. Some people would probably deride Gray as uncool or ‘middle of the road’, but Sean never cared about things like that, and nor did I.
The best music (or any art, I suppose) captures a particular mood and brings us into it: songs like ‘This Year’s Love’, ‘Babylon’ and ‘Sail Away’ do that in spades for me. Some lines from ‘This Year’s Love’ …
When you kiss me on that midnight street
Sweep me off my feet
Singing ‘ain’t this life so sweet’
… always managed to capture the sheer joy and poignancy of the gift of life for me … now the same joy and poignancy are evident in memories of Sean’s happy, open-hearted and fearless young life.
‘Babylon’ has a more upbeat mood, with a kind of defiant, intoxicated exultation:
If you want it
Come and get it
Crying out loud
The love that I was
Giving you was
Never in doubt
Let go of your heart
Let go of your head
And feel it now
These songs will always mean a lot to me, as long as I live, and will always bring tears to my eyes. Thank you, David.