“Let me teach you how to write a song / The first line must be brief but strong / And the second line should rhyme with something in your baby’s heart / Something that they know but cannot name / And in that way every song’s the same.”
From Every Song’s The Same, track two on Lower Reaches.
Though he exercises some artistic license in the opening line above, Justin Currie points out that he’s “as clueless as the next person” when it comes to the arcane art of songwriting. “It’s a process that will always remain a mystery to me”, he says. “When I wrote Every Song’s The Same I was aware that it could be misconstrued, but it was more, ‘Can somebody out there write something I can get excited about; something I can aim at?'”
After six albums with Del Amitri and three solo albums, what Currie has learned about songwriting is that you have to make yourself available to the muse. “Make sure you’re bored”, he says. “Make sure you’re alone.” To that end, in 2012, the Glaswegian singer briefly extricated himself from city life. Renting a remote cottage, he hunkered down beneath The Cuillins, the mountain range that dominates the Hebridean island of Skye. Currie had no internet and no mobile phone, just an acoustic guitar, a piano, and a ghetto-blaster on which to record his ideas.
“I suppose it was a bit like my Brill Building”, he smiles. “You’re being your own boss and putting yourself under pressure to write. I thought, ‘If it all goes to fuck at least I can go hillwalking…'” It was songs rather than Skye’s famous munros that got bagged, however. Currie wrote fifteen of them in eleven days, something of a personal best in terms of rapid-fire delivery.
The Lower Reaches songs Falsetto, On A Roll, On My Conscience and Half Of Me were all shaped on Skye, and in the end Currie came back two days early and repaired to the pub for a well-earned pint. His mate Aldo remarked that he’d never seen him looking so relaxed.