SONGWRITERS No. 9 – Wanman Shau. August 2012.
Number nine in a series where Songwriters on MT have been invited to tell a little about why they write, and to pick a personal favourite of their own. You will have seen Wanman on MT both solo and experimental and as one half of Wanman & Floyd.
Songwriting: my take:
I remember being interviewed by Ken Stewart of The Irish Press about Songwriting
(way back then), one of the questions Ken asked me was, did I think I would always write songs ? I remember saying to him at the time, I might not always write songs but I would always want to keep playing/improving my guitar playing. This turned out to be a pretty good prophesy on my part. I have always felt that I could write songs anytime if I had a reason, but for guitar playing/practice, I don’t need a reason.
Things were going well at that time . Myself and two friends entered a song contest
(covers were the order of the day). We won a recording contract provided by A.
and R. man Hugh Hardy, R.I.P. A recording contract was a big deal back
then. We didn’t win the contest but, Hugh liked the cut of our jib as Monty Byrnes (Simpsons) might say. Hugh asked us had we any originals and we said “no but, hey – no problem”. He had people in Britain interested enough to book time for
us in Trend Studios (there were only about three studios in Ireland at that time) so it was a big deal. That plus the fact that some of our songs were played several times on the national Radio Station, Radio Éireann, which was the one and only radio station in Ireland at the time, as far as I am aware. We were on the road to stardom.
The songs were written by my friend, Barry Flynn, and me. To cut a long story short we, we drafted in other friends , some really fine musicians , to make up a six-piece band. However as we progressed with the album (fourteen tracks) we were getting heavier and heavier, with the result that the people in Britain lost interest and so did Hugh. One of our songs was recorded on Polydor and released by a band called Spice (they are still playing and they’re much older than me – ha ha ). We are all still good friends on a social level but, musically, we don’t hit it off well. We are all into different things and we all think we know what good music is – ha
ha! but, that’s one of the great things about music. We can argue and sometimes even agree but it’s the music that matters.
Syl Burke and Tony Floyd Kenna are two guys I nearly always get along with musically. Even if we are at different projects for a few years, we always produce something special when we meet up again – we don’t always agree on everything but, who does?
Tony and I produced two albums in the last year, as recording group
“Wanman and Floyd”.
- Light Side of the Dark
- Dark Side of tthe Night.
I was pretty proud of them and it’s a case in point where I will write when I have a
When I was 14 or 15 I wanted to be famous and make lots of money by being a great guitarist and songwriter. Then as I got more into guitar, I tried jazz with all
it’s quirky timings and chords. I tried Flamenco and all the tricky finger
style stuff that I couldn’t do now – had a very brief encounter with classical. Eventually I realised that for me, the most important thing was to express myself and that’s where the simplicity of blues, rock and TFK (ha ha) come in. I love instant composing (improvisation).
It can be done in a very simple or very complicated way, or both in the one song. I like to experiment too – always searching (I don’t feel alone there) for that little extra bit of magic. Most times I’m the only one who hears the magic but, if someone else does, that’s great !
Perfection in music is way down on my list. Martin Scorsese has played some old songs on his ” The Blues – A Musical Journey ” of slaves banging on a rock and
them all singing – not perfect in any way but very moving – I like that. On the other hand, I can listen to a well-trained and flawless orchestra and not be moved at all.
Different people have all sorts of reasons for writing songs and playing music.
Somem people are happy just to sing their kids to sleep with an instant composed
lullaby – instantly forgotten when the kids are asleep.
Some want to be famous and make lots of money and get on the telly …
Some just want the money…
Some just want to sing and play in their bedroom…
My own personal take is to just do whatever makes you happy. I like
recording and I see making music, as an end in itself. I can’t really give any tips – don’t know what I’m doing myself half of the time. It’s good to keep trying to improve and to express yourself. Maybe that is a tip or a good place to start !