Apr 20 • 3M

Dead Fathers Club

Trigger warnings: grief, terrorism, Tony Blair. You might want a strong cuppa for this one, it's quite a tale. Ready? Sure? Then let’s begin.

Jake Morley
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The aural accompaniment to the newsletter of UK singer-songwriter Jake Morley: https://emails.jakemorley.com
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Here’s something I don’t say very often: my dad was murdered by a terrorist. Even now it feels a little overdramatic, like I’m making a bit of a show of it, despite those words being the most accurate way to say it.

Maybe it’s because deep down the fact he died in such an unusual way still isn’t really the point for me. The emotionally accurate phrase is more like “my dad died.” I was 21.

I bounced from one WTF moment to the next. Chatting about choirs with Tony Blair at St Paul’s Cathedral; avoiding paparazzi outside the funeral; visiting the forensically-cleaned wreckage of the tube carriage; Prince Charles making a perfectly-judged joke about my sex life; various meetings with government ministers; seeing pictures and videos of the guy who did it everywhere; sitting with a guy with a metal leg recount his incredible story; reading hours of transcripts of other similar stories from the inquest; seeing my dad’s face on the front cover of The Daily Mail and reading his obituary in The Guardian; his recovered watch forever fixed at the exact time of death; needing a second scattering of his ashes as more of his body was identified, it was kind of a crazy time.

But somehow its all the regular grief moments I remember most. The same ones that some poor soul is always going through somewhere in the world: wondering where someone is before slowly realising something’s wrong; staring into a candle flame for hours; forgetting for a while and then remembering; calling their phone to hear their voice again even if it’s just asking you to leave a message; unexpectedly crying with laughter at some morbid joke; discussions about who on earth could officiate a funeral for a spiritual atheist with an Anglican mum and a Jewish wife; panicking that I had no appropriate formal shoes to wear before realising I could just raid my dad’s wardrobe and pinch his; distant friends being unexpectedly thoughtful; close friends being unexpectedly distant; the messages dropping away after the first couple of weeks while everyone gets back to normal but you; the sense that, as bad as it is, you are really living. That this is all part of what it means to be human.

Colin Morley was an extraordinary man. Kind, intelligent, loving, fiercely principled, ahead of his time, a little awkward, always thinking, always searching, my musical inspiration, and tragically in the wrong place at the wrong time on 7th July 2005.

The song

As the years went by, more and more friends have joined the club. Sometimes I’ve been able to use my reluctant expertise to support them in ways that I liked being supported. Mainly by dragging them into the pub and using the proper words for things.

It’s been a tremendous source of comfort for me too. There’s an assumption that grieving people don’t want to talk about death, but in my experience they usually do - it’s a relief from everyone always avoiding the subject. Things feel different now than back then, more open. There are grief podcasts, grief festivals, articles, online communities, all sorts. But it still takes effort to get people talking.

Writing songs about it never really appealed until a random day a few years back. I expected a slow, tender song to come out, but instead got an anthemic, almost joyful, sub-3-minute punk-rock song about grief fraternity, like an arm round the shoulder of a new member.

Dead Fathers Club. My hope is to raise funding to record it featuring only musicians and studio engineers whose fathers have also died, raise money for a charity, make a short making-of documentary. Does that all sound absolutely ridiculous? Sometimes I think it does. I hear the song like Teenage Kicks or something by The Vaccines. It lands on an off-beat, just like all bad news.

It wasn’t a good fit for this new album, but I have a solo acoustic version recorded by fellow member Calum MacColl, and it’s ready for your ears if you want it.

Listen to Dead Fathers Club above, or download it here. What do you think?

Before leaving a comment

A few possibly unnecessary suggestions:

  • This post is really not about sympathy. I wanted to share the song, and the words had to be said too. Honestly I’m good now. Not that you can’t be sympathetic, just don’t feel like you have to be.

  • Others reading might be sensitive to these subjects right now. Please be mindful of that.

  • Not really in the mood for comments about religious fundamentalism to be honest.

Other than that, go for it. It’s good to talk.

Leave a comment

Everyone ok?

Bit of a heavy one there. But hopefully you understand that it’s part of my story and my journey as an artist. If I crossed any lines with this one, I’m sorry, that wasn’t my intention. Please feel free to hit reply and let me know.

Some links if you need them:
Good Grief Resources - https://goodgrieffest.com/resources-and-support/
At A Loss - https://www.ataloss.org
Cruse - https://www.cruse.org.uk
Victims of Terrorism - https://victimsofterrorism.campaign.gov.uk

UK Tour Dates 2022

Friday 23rd September - Totnes Barrel House. Tickets.
Friday 30th September - Coatbridge Georgian Hotel. Tickets.
Sunday 2nd October - North Yorkshire Old School House. Tickets.
Monday 3rd October - Leeds Oporto. Tickets coming soon.
Thursday 13th October - Suffolk Sprat Shed. Tickets.
Sunday 16th October - London Green Note. Tickets.
Friday 21st October - Brighton Folklore Rooms. Tickets.
Saturday 22nd October - Winchester Railway Inn. Tickets.
Wednesday 26th October - Manchester Rose & Monkey. Tickets.
Thursday 27th October - Nottingham Running Horse. Tickets.


Lyrics

It’s my unfortunate honour to welcome you to
The Dead Fathers Club
One day he was eating his breakfast
The next he was not

You feel lost
and you’re friends are all saying
If there’s anything I can do
If there’s anything I can

Well you’re part of a club now friend
You're with us, we understand
When to call, when to shut up

We share stories, drink til it’s light
Laugh til you’re not afraid of the night
Stare it down
It won’t be long til you’re ok
In a not really ok kinda way

It was a Thursday in July when I joined
The Dead Fathers Club
You couldn’t find a better dad
Though he made me so no one’s perfect

Whether yours was a hero or a villain
He did the best he could
And you can’t refuse an invitation sent from
The Dead Fathers Club

So when you’re ironing his shirts at 3am
For no reason you can explain

If there’s anything I can do
If there’s anything I can do
If there’s anything I can

Well you’re part of a club now friend
Let it out, we understand
When to call, when to shut up

We share stories, drink til it’s light
Laugh til we’re not afraid of the night
So stick around
Cos in the end you’ll be ok
In an actually ok kinda way

You’re in the Dead Fathers Club

So we talk about the cheery ones, the serious ones
The ones we hope to be

If there’s anything I can do
If there’s anything I can do
I’ll break down your door

Cos you’re part of the club now friend
You and me here til the end
And then our kids
Will learn when to call, when to shut up

They'll share stories, drink til it’s light
Laugh til they're not afraid of the night
Stick around
So in the end they'll be ok
In an actually ok kinda way

You’re in The Dead Fathers Club
Dead Fathers Club