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Eugene Coyne – photo by Billy Coyne

Songwriter #3 – Eugene Coyne

Eugene Coyne has a lifelong interest in writing songs, being the son of the acclaimed unorthodox composer and writer Kevin Coyne. For many years Eugene has been part of the alternative London-based music-making community writing and presenting his original and innovative songs. He performs in Hastings at 1200 Postcards Bar on 1 June at 8pm. Here he talks to Jude Montague about one of his recently recorded songs.

It’s nice to be asked to write something about a song.

In recent years, songwriting has been something I do by myself, picking away at the words and music on my guitar. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s very hard – more often than not, the words take a while to fall into place. I know some people who never listen to them, or say things like, “With a voice like hers, who cares about the words?” But that doesn’t work for me. They have to be good, or at least I have to think they’re good. I tend to jot down titles on my phone, and the odd bits of lyric on the back of envelopes, slowly singing and playing my way into the song. Sometimes I use an acoustic guitar, other times an electric, but I always write using standard tuning: E – A – D – G – B – E. I think anything else could get confusing.

I have a song called No More Fags. It’s about wanting to stop smoking, mixed in with a bit of cosmic dread, and like most of my songs it has me dead centre, one way or the other – my songs are very personal, although you wouldn’t always know it. With this one, the chords came first, sort of rock ’n’ roll, doo-wop ones, beginning with a barre E on the 7th fret (there are six chords in total). I toyed with them for a while until they made sense.

I couldn’t get the words though, so I sat in the garden and had a smoke. And then later, another smoke – the small, Hamlet cigars that I can’t seem to stop puffing. And as I sat there, a single white feather fell and brushed my hand. In my head, I associate a white feather with the dead, with spirits that are near. My mind started to wander, and I began to think about my Dad.

Another time, I looked up and there was a fox watching me from across the garden. It was dark, and it hadn’t realised I was there. My mother’s maiden name is Fox, so of course one thing led to another, and she entered my mind. By the time I’d let things bubble in my brain for a bit, the song was finished. Later, I recorded it (which is another story altogether) and if you’re curious and want to listen, you can find it here:

Eugene Coyne single cover

NO MORE FAGS

I was in the garden smoking a small cigar
When a single white feather fell and brushed my hand
And of course, I thought of my dad
All the conversations that we’d had
When he was trying to stop
Smoking will kill you. You’ll end up dead

No more fags
No more cigarettes

I looked up from my thinking and I saw a fox
Watching me warily from across the grass
And of course, I thought of my mum
And what she said

No more fags
No more silly cigarettes

Signs and omens
I could go on and on

 

No more fags

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Posted 21:01 Sunday, May 26, 2024 In: Music & Sound

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