A friend of mine, almost blind, was telling me about a walk he had taken more than once that started in France, went over the Pyrenees mountains, into Spain and then covered the complete breadth of the country. It is a walk established in the 9th century as a religious pilgrimage to follow the footsteps of the first disciple, St James.
In more recent times the walk has taken on significant meaning for people of all or no faiths. Instead a kind of retreat into the basics, away from the clutter and clamour of the modern world to find some inner peace and take time for quiet reflection.
My first thought on hearing that my friend was making the journey this summer as he may not be able to see at all by this time next year and so this would be his last “pilgrimage,” was that I could and should go with him.
Before we had talked about it, I had been nursing the idea that my next album would be totally autobiographical. I had even started writing a few songs for it.
It then dawned on my that these two journeys could be combined: I couldÂ take the physical journey and, in the solitude of the long walk take an inner journey to go through the most important, and dramatic parts of my life and put those findings into song.
I even conjured up a way to get the album started on my travels. I would adapt a decent quality microphone to fit into my latest smart phone. Use an expensive but very good recording app and sing the songs, once written, at various stops along the way. Even filming the recording of them for use in some kind of video/documentary to run alongside the album.
Once home, I would import the raw files into my home recording setup and start adding other instruments and voices.
In theory the idea is a fabulous and original one.
As you know, with little in the way of gigs or record sales to make a decent living, I have been trying various crowdfunding options. None of which have really taken hold.
This might be a way of giving a different angle to my friends and followers for them to contribute to both my 600 mile trek and the release of the resulting album.
To walk the entire route. Some people join the walk a long way in. You only have to walk the last 100km to get the certificate that is handed to those who complete.
While walking, I will write the songs in my head. I have been able to do this for many years. There are some songs I have written entirely without the company of an instrument: One Summer in New York & Just to name only 2. I then get to a guitar and piano and work out what chords and arrangement fit the song composed by thought alone. Sometimes the complexity of the arrangement becomes a complete surprise with chord changes I may never have turned to if I had been playing guitar or piano.
I have composed a few autobiographical songs but they were really more about individual experiences or a look at the bigger picture of life itself.
I would love to write an album that told my life through putting to song the most formative moments of my life.
I once explained to a friend that I have “measured my life out in summer times.” I remember the first summer my family finally all lived under one roof. I remember also the summer I spent making the film, Melody, aged 12. I was dating the star of the movie and the two most famous child actors of their time, Jack Wild & Mark Lester had become good friends.
How could I forget the summer of 76 when my first band, Scruff, had progressed to playing proper venues during that famous heatwave of 1976.
There is also the summer of 2005 when me and my and 3 friends travelled the world making the documentary, Tribute This!
In 2012 I spent a glorious summer playing shows in a 5 star resort with my good friend and DJ, Paul Dimmock.
Along with these highlights there are also some personal events both tragic and uplifting that I would like to share.
The Camino Frances is the most popular of all the Camino routes to Santiago de Compostela in Northwest Spain.Â This Camino starts in St Jean Pied de Port on the French side of the Pyrenees and finishes about 780km later in Santiago. It will take most people about a month to walk and about two weeks to cycle â€“ our walking guide is broken into 32 stages that you can see on the left side of this page. Â Each stage has maps, hostel information, and details of all the towns and villages along the route.