Andy “Slim” Black : Songs That Get To You (Interview)

 

It is hard to listen to the songs of Andy Black without feeling anything (even if you are a guy who is not into lyrics). He sings about personal experiences. It’s like he is writing your diary then reads it aloud. Any song becomes powerful when you realize that you are living your life in its every line. His voice is raw, cathartic and attractive in a bluesy way. Maybe you are undergoing something powerful and life-changing. Maybe you are just lonely. Maybe you are thinking of a missed soul mate or of things that could never be. Either way his songs will speak to you.

That is why I  rank musicians as a different breed. There is something in what they do that gets to you. There are no boundaries. Music can touch you in a way that is so intimate. We live lonely lives. There are the lucky ones who get to find someone that really “gets” them. There are those who are not so lucky. It makes you realize how powerful music is in relating to people and how they connect to it. We need someone to confide with. And if we don’t get that, we look for comfort in a song.

I was having an interesting discussion a friend the other day. There are moments in your life that you can’t understand. Situations that are hard to analyze because they are impossible to define. It takes a really great poet to unravel this for you. Sometimes it can be moments when you accidentally stumble on a song which makes you say: Hey! This is exactly what I am feeling!

I owe this stanza to my friend Christi who discovered it:
“Like a north wind whistlin’ down the sky
I got a song, I got a song
Like the whippoorwill and the baby’s cry
I got a song, I got a song
And I carry it with me and I sing it loud
If it gets me nowhere, I’ll go there proud.”
-Jim Croce

I found a way to let Andy “Slim” Black explain his songs that will be included in his upcoming album. I was glad he was able to get back to me right away despite his touring schedule. For people who are not into Celtic music, they will find something out of these tracks in a personal level. Or you can just enjoy the Irishness of his music.

Please tell me more about the tracks in your http://soundcloud.com/slimmusic and how were they conceived?

All the tracks on my soundcloud are gonna be on my forthcoming LP ‘Gallows Tree Tales’ – which will be a collection of stories about all sorts of things, from broken hearts, to alcoholics, crazy love, obsessions, and lunacy, but above all else it’ll be shot through with loads of love, emotion, and a heavy portion of fun!

Sounds like heavy stuff ! Now, “Lay Me Down” is a personal favorite. What’s the inspiration behind this track?

Lay Me Down is a kind of double song – on one level it’s a love song about a fairly unhealthy relationship, and on the other it’s a song sung from an addict to his poison of choice in the vein of Perfect Day or Golden Brown. And it’s meant to be a right laugh at the same time. I’m well proud of the ukulele break on this one!

All of the songs  speak to the heart and soul. I tell you man, the first few tracks sent a punch right into my heart. They’re all so true.

Really appreciate your feedback too mate. I’m currently trying to finish a couple more songs at the moment and have just finished a session with a couple of trad Irish players who have added uilleann pipes and flutes and whistles to a few of the tracks on my record which sound just beautiful – you will love.

I’m currently reworking the air to Galway Bay with my own new lyrics – the song will be called The Gallows Tree, and the Celtic thing is all over that.

The plan is to finish this record by the fall – I’m off to USA next month for a month to go to Burning Man festival (in Nevada desert) where I’m actually playing a gig too which’ll be a right laff), and once the record’s done I’ll be getting a band together around it and going gigging.

Wow, Uillean pipes, flutes and whistles sound very Irish! Tell me who are your current Irish favorites and what are the bands you grow up to listening.

I’m not a massive encyclopedia of music history, but I love Luke Kelly for his astounding voice, the Pogues obviously, and Christie Moore for his knack of telling a story. Two English folks that are firmly in this tradition that I also love are Ewan Maccoll for his songwriting, and a current one would be Chris Wood, who did a stunning track called Hollow Point about the Brazilian guy who got shot by the UK government on the tube a few years back… I didn’t grow up listening to any Irish music really – but Mark Knopfler massively informed my childhood – we used to swap Dire Straits records at school when I was 10 years old! He has Celtic blood running through him – and I love Knopfler to bits – he tells great story songs too.

Heart and Soul is another tear jerker. You really write songs that cut straight to the heart. Are these biographical or observations of other people’s relationships?

Heart & Soul is actually the only track I’ve done that I didn’t write. It’s an old song by me best mate Jim Gipson. (www.soundcloud.com/jimgipson) He recorded it a few years back in my studio and it just tore me to bits so I had to cover it. . . . I added a Beatlesy bit at the end which is kinda the outro but apart from that it’s his baby. Yeah that one is a straight direct love song, and not normally the sort of thing I write – well at least not for this project. I guess this album is really a third-person / story song beast in terms of the lyrics. I went to visit some good mates of mine in West Cork a couple of years ago, and one of me mates Donie has a habit of getting drunk and singing all manner of old airs, and when I went back to the UK I had all these airs and melodies bouncing round my head, together with the memories of all the nights I’d spent in pubs listening to all the trad players and old songs, and that’s what sparked off the songs you’re listening to now. I love the Irish / Celtic ways with minor chords and heartbreaking melodies, but just as much as that I love the Irish way of telling stories and tales, and handing them down through the generations, so I wanted to do a kind of storytales record in this spirit. So some tracks are about me or my experiences and some about people / characters I’ve met, and some (like Cadogan 129) are more historical tales – that one’s about the very first murder on Britain’s railways in 1864 very near where I live in Hackney, London).

Name the top 5 albums that saved your life 🙂

Ryan Adams – Gold

Fleetwood Mac – Tusk

Pink Floyd – Dark Side Of The Moon

John Martyn – Solid Air

Sugar – Copper Blue

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5 thoughts on “Andy “Slim” Black : Songs That Get To You (Interview)

  1. Andy,
    Your music is really something special! Great to discover you!!

    Bax,
    Thank you so much for the mention. Songs and their words are really what drives me – wish I was a musician!

    Like you, the words to a song are usually the first to get to me and music just makes it all the better. (That’s the poet in me speaking.) To me the best part of life are the words that when sung with really great music touches the heart and holds it tightly in an embrace.

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  2. Nice to read more comments on the tallents of Andy “Slim” Black who certainly has a wonderful way with words! Such poetry coupled with the music which turns it into something special bringing joy to an open heart or a tear to an unsuspecting eye is a rare gift indeed.

    Andy, I think we all agree, has this gift in spades. I bless the day I first heard him, (some years and a few albums ago now) and look forward to him getting this bloody album finished!

    Peace and love to all. Uncle C.

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