Take a look at a track-by-track exploration of Balladeer and discover a bit of what makes Alan Bonner so magical…
“Let’s face it. Most of us in life, at some point have loved someone dearly and royally fucked it up, and lived to regret it. That’s what ‘Autumn’ is about. Looking back and realising that you had something really amazing but you lost it through your own stupidity or insecurity or destructive tendency and the regret that goes with that. I think autumn is the most romantic and wistful of the seasons. There’s something about the turning of the leaves that always makes me look back and reflect on what has been and that is where that song is coming from. But like the seasons life moves in cycles and the final verse talks about “hoping for a better me”. There is always hope. Hope that no matter how badly you screw up in the past you can always do better next time. Life is full of 2nd, 3rd and 4th chances… If you are brave enough to take them.”
“I love Cornwall. It’s one of the most magical places in the world, full of myth and mystery and folk law. One such piece of folk law is that in the 1700’s the smugglers (or wreckers as they are called in Cornwall) would shine lanterns from the cliff tops on stormy nights to trick ships full of loot, who saw these lanterns thinking that they were lighthouses. The ships would sail towards these lights and crash against the rocks, so that the wreckers could then run in and steal the loot from the ships. This is documented in Daphne Du Maurier novel ‘Jamaica Inn’.
I used that story as a parallel between some of the emotional ‘wreckers’ I have come across in my own life. Friends or lovers who I thought had my back, but didn’t. When you sail into someone’s shore, having been drawn in by their light, only to find that all is not what it seemed and that maybe that person is not all that you thought they were or that they pretended to be. It’s no sob story though, just a part of growing up. A lot of the songs on this album have a nautical theme or reference the sea in some way. I was living in Brighton for a couple of years around the time I wrote some of these songs. I’ve always loved being by the sea and I definitely think it had an influence on me.”
‘Look at Me’ – Surviving the Golden Age: http://survivingthegoldenage.com/premiere-alan-bonner-look-at-me/
“I like a drink. In fact that’s a lie. I fucking love a drink. The problem is that sometimes it makes me behave like a prize ass hole. This one was written the morning after a heavy one when I was full of fear and loathing. I’ve definitely had periods in the past where my partying had gotten out of hand and I wa going down a bad road. Thankfully that is no longer the case. People can often be judgmental when it’s not them that’s fucking up, without being sensitive to the profound unhappiness that often underlies substance abuse. And that’s what the song is talking about. If your friend or your lover is partying too hard and behaving like a tool, don’t walk away from them if you can help it. Happy people don’t behave like that and chances are they need you now more than ever.”
“Talia is an ode to my best friend of the same name. We met at on the first day of University and have been thick as thieves ever since The Lyric written in panic on her birthday one year when I was on the dole and too skint to buy her a birthday present. It was only ever meant to be a silly gift for her and I never intended to release it originally but when I played the demo to my old band members they convinced me to start playing it live when we were touring with my first album. It’s funny because it’s one of the songs that people seem to respond to the most, and now I think it’s one of my best songs. I like to imagine that she is out there in the crowd each night when I play it at the end of the show cheering me on, even on the nights when I know that she’s not there. If there was ever anyone worthy of being immortalised in song it’s her.”
“My friends Kim and Dean, down in Brighton had a baby a couple of years ago and Kim told me that she had made a CD of songs she found relaxing for her to give birth to and that one my songs was included on it. I felt honored that my music would be part of the sound track to such an important event in her life and that I would see this little baby grow up and how cool that would be, so I wrote a song for her. It’s a kind of a lullaby about her coming into the world that she could maybe listen to one day when she is grown up and understand. The M stands for Meisha, that’s her name, although I always call her ”Little M”. She is adorable.”
“This song is about the gay hate killing of Mathew Shepherd a gay student who was beaten and tied to a fence on a prairie in Wyoming and left to die in 1998. It is my first attempt at a protest song. Although many artists before me have written songs for Mathew, as a gay man myself I had something to say about it. The world may have become more tolerant towards homosexuality and LGBT rights in the last 15 years but there is still progress to be made. Homophobia still exists today. LGBT kids are still cast out by their families and are bullied in schools. This one is for them.”
“Ocean is about casting aside past romantic disappointments and having the balls to fall in love again. To ‘dive’ into something that could potentially carry you afloat or drown you completely. I remember this one being difficult to record as it was recorded straight off the page and I’ve never played it live. Another song inspired by the sea. I must have been a fisherman in a past life.”
“A song about exorcising your demons. In 2010 I was in a bad way. A chain of events occurred in my life that I didn’t cope well with and I had what you might call a nervous breakdown. ‘Redemption’ is basically about my recovery from that. It’s about coming out of the darkness, into the light. About shaking out your demons and moving on.”
“The last song on the album. My sea shanty moment. It’s a very personal song. I was in a relationship with someone I loved dearly and when it ended they were able to move onto someone else very quickly. It affected me a in a big way and made me look at the mistakes I had made that lead to the relationships demise, but it’s not a sad song. It’s actually about the point in grieving someone or something where you realise it’s time to walk away and let go and forgive yourself.
The whole album deals with a lot of dark stuff and sadness and I wanted it to end on a positive note. A vow to stand tall, walk forward and do better next time. That’s why the last lines you hear on the album are “but I will be a better man, and soon I’ll be free. I’m wounded but walking away from your door. Away from these demons and out to the sea.” The songs on this album came out of some pretty tumultuous experiences but I didn’t just want it to be all doom and gloom. I wanted to take the listener on a journey with me through the darkness and out into the light. I wanted to give the message that if you dig deep and hang in there long enough you can overcome anything. I hope I’ve achieved that. If only one person listens to the album and feels more hopeful and less alone in the world then my job is done.”