Dancing round the room to an early mix of this song in 2010, lost in elation at seeing a dream coming to life, I would never have imagined a world where this song wouldn’t make the cut of my debut album. It was the first thing we recorded on Day 1 in the studio. It was the first thing I played my best friend when he came round to visit. It was track 3 after Feet Don’t Fail Me Now. I had it all planned out.
Yes that’s right, it’s time for another edition of ‘Songs I Thought Would Be Good But It Didn’t Quite Turn Out That Way’.
The Manual had two I’ve already written about:
And I blink and all my years go by
And I love and all my tears run dry
I’m a grain of sand in the life of all and forever
Here’s a track that got dropped from Many Fish To Fry. What went wrong for All and Forever?
Let’s take a listen
A few credits while you do:
Harry Mead on drums, John Parker on double bass, Alisdair Wright added some banjo, I played guitar, piano and sung, someone seems to have played some glockenspiel? Maybe me? Not really sure. Calum MacColl probably played guitar and definitely co-produced, Phill Brown recorded it, co-produced and mixed, Tom Loffman did some additional engineering, Denis Blackham mastered.
With considerable effort, I am going to begin not with a disparaging tour of this song’s shortcomings, but with some kind and generous opening remarks. Not just because we know that early art is a necessary stepping stone to later art, and that being forgiving to our younger selves is an excellent gift in the present, and that too often we inflate the value of our own opinions, but also because me undermining it from the off might rob you of the chance to enjoy it. Art makes its own connections. Each are as valid as the next. I urge you to make up your own mind.
So we can say that it has a promising start, coming straight out of the gate with excellent energy and intent. Wonderfully recorded and mixed, the chords move around nicely, there’s intrigue, little hooks, and those rhythmic stabs at the end of the intro say ‘We’ve arrived. And we have something to say.’ The verse groove is strong. There are tantalising glimpses of near-poetry. The chorus lands with proper ‘I’M THE CHORUS’ energy. The major to minor transition is evocative. The melodies are solid. The 2-4 ride cymbal is a winner as it always is. You can maybe imagine having heard it on the radio years back or once danced about at a festival to it. Ahh good times. The whole thing closes with warmth and a tinge of melancholy. Clearly something meaningful just happened.
Those who wish to retain that warm glow should walk away here. Listen again, download the MP3 here.
Those who are curious to see me poke holes in it, which is surely everyone, read on.
Musically I think it’s pretty good. The banjo is a touch 2010 but hey we can forgive that. It comes down, as it so often does, to the lyrics. What I hear is someone desperate to appear profound but lacking the skills to quite pull it off. I was trying so hard to be like the Fleet Foxes or Florence and the Machine or Mumford & Sons or someone successful that I failed to make something authentic. Somewhere within lie deep ideas about our place in the universe, but the result is an arrow over the shoulder rather than to the heart.
Time moves by in moments
I mean come on. Have I ever written a worse lyric? Maybe I have, let me know in the comments.
Once the words fall, the whole endeavour seems to collapse behind.
All this was evident in the running order discussions we had post mix/master. To my surprise various people left it off, or buried it down the list. Initially I felt hurt as I was so heavily invested in it. The hardest feedback to hear is a truth you are superficially denying, and deep down I knew there was an emotional void in this song. I felt nothing singing it. It was overvalued, there was a market correction, confidence waned then crashed, so I left it off the record.
Then again, who knows? Certainly not me.
This is a song like any other. I offer it, take it or not, bring it into your life or not, dance around the room to it.
Looking back I can draw a line between All and Forever and songs like Falter and The Floods. Where one falls somehow flat, the others (I think) find a way to stand up. I don’t think I could have got to those later songs without learning from this one.
Incidentally I also have a self-recorded demo of this song. Worth listening if only for the extremely cheeky lap-tap solo. Try this on for size:
I’m curious to hear what your fresh ears make of All and Forever. Does it connect? Does it miss? How has my framing of it affected your listening? Your honesty is most welcome. Drop a comment behind this button.
*A big plug for my Bristol show*
Sunday 21st May - The Louisiana, Bristol. Tickets here.
Please do get some tickets to this. Share if you can. Other live dates here.
To everyone who has come to my tour dates so far. It’s been incredible fun.
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Of course by saying all that out loud I’m still undermining it, only without the decency to be direct about it. A reverse indirect meta-undermine by stealth! The worse kind. Ah well. It was a fun paragraph to type. No regrets.
Love this Jake!!! I get (to a small degree) the very minor negatives but the melody of the chorus is so powerful and great rythym, very danceable! Would have been great at the Temperance(no room to dance though!). Maybe next time? Keep doing what you do Jake. PS Jonny proffered Many fish to fry at Album Club. Proud dad moment!
You're crazy, mate! THIS gem of a song wasted away as an outtake?! This should have been at leasr a single & could've become a hit...