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the story

In the fallout after Helen's death, I knew that I needed to do something as a tribute to her and our love. In the depths of grief, there needed to be something positive. I also knew that as a family, we owed an enormous debt to Myton Hospice, where she'd sadly passed away.

  I wrote my first 'Helen' song a few days after meeting her in December 1983 and continued to write songs for her throughout the whole of our thirty six year love affair. I decided I would compile an album of some of her favourites and sell them in aid of the hospice.


  Originally I was going to use the original recordings, but then decided it would be both interesting and therapeutic to record the songs again. I made a shortlist, enlisted the help of my dear friend Richard Barnes as bass player and co-producer, and started a project which has taken almost three years to complete.


  It was quite a mission relearning some of the old tunes. Occasionally a lyric would make me cry, and during many of the vocal recordings, tears were running down my cheeks. When the songs were written we had no idea what the future held, and that made some of the lyrics frighteningly poignant.


  It was quite a while after Helen's death before I wrote another song, but it soon became clear that putting pen to paper, and fingers to guitar (and piano), was going to be another step in my grief process. Naturally, the songs written after her death are tinged with an inevitable sadness, but for me, writing music has always been more akin to keeping a diary than writing a song...and so the direction of some of the lyrics should come as no great surprise.


  Shortly after starting our project, Covid arrived. We had already decided it would be nice to involve other musicians on the album and despite total lockdown, we weren't going to let a global epidemic curtail our plan, and so our strings, woodwind and accordion players recorded their parts in their own recording spaces and emailed them through to me. Even Richard had to send his bass parts through the ether – it worked surprisingly well. The wonders of technology.


  'Before and Here After' has been an enormous part of my life since losing Helen, and it will be a project which will continue. We plan to stage a few charity shows in the future and although I won't produce another album like this one, I'm sure there will be moments when I turn to my six string friend and write another song for the love of my life.

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