Distant Days is a solo acoustic retrospective which sees Steve Tilston reworking some of his most treasured self-penned songs, offering a unique insight into his musical journey since the early 1970s.
01 THE ROAD WHEN I WAS YOUNG - One of my most autobiographical songs and a reflection on people and places that have, in some way, had some bearing on my musical life/journey. Composed in 2006, it appeared on my album Ziggurat, (Hubris Records) 2008.
02 RARE THING - This quasi-riddle song borrows a lot, in format, from the tradition – the idea being that the answer is implicit in the question posed. Composed in the late 1990s it appeared on Such And Such, (Hubris Records) 2003.
03 TIME HAS SHOWN ME YOUR FACE - A song from my first album An Acoustic Confusion in 1971. The melody has a traditional feel to it. The guitar is tuned DGDGBE. Special thanks to Rhodri Vinney and Chris Fowler for helping me remember where my fingers used to belong.
04 LET YOUR BANJO RING - Originally written as a rhumba, inspired by a black and white photograph of men toiling like ants in an open cast mine somewhere in Brazil. Originally called ‘Let Your Charango Ring,’ it moved musically and geographically north, heading for the Klondike, exchanging charangoes for banjos. Tuning DADGBD. Originally released on All Under The Sun, an album I recorded with Maggie Boyle in 1996.
05 ALL IN A DREAM - An early song from my difficult second album Collection, released in 1972 on Transatlantic Records in the UK and MCA in the US. It was produced by the American musicologist Sam Charters and as the title suggests, the idea was taken from a dream or two and a chemically assisted journey ‘through the looking glass.’
06 I REALLY WANTED YOU - A song from my first album about young love’s confusion. Aptly titled An Acoustic Confusion, the album was released in 1971 on the Village Thing label, produced by Ian Anderson. It made a few ripples. Rod Stewart ordered a box full as gifts and it was rumoured he was interested in covering this song. However, he didn’t. Cancel the yacht!
07 IS THIS THE SAME BOY? - Bumping into a friend’s teenage son, who was plainly struggling with mental health issues, and remembering him as a young child who always seemed to be smiling. Originally released in 1995 on And So It Goes, (Flying Fish Records).
08 SHINJUKU - A previously unreleased guitar piece that has had a long gestation period. In 1990 Bert Jansch, Maggie Boyle and I flew to Tokyo for two shows in a basement location in an area called Shinjuku. Dedicated to Bert whose inspiration lingers in the strings and frets.
09 IT’S NOT MY PLACE TO FAIL - Another song from An Acoustic Confusion. Written late one night in guitarist Dave Evans’ Bristol flat a couple of days before it was recorded.
10 PRETTY PENNY - Another song from Ziggurat, written in 2007, a year before the financial crash. No points for prescience and, it would seem, no penalties for corruption. Tuning DADGBD.
11 CASTAWAY - Robinson Crusoe is one of my favourite books. It was reputedly inspired by a meeting between the author Daniel Defoe and real-life castaway Andrew Selkirk in a Bristol pub.
As a child I relished the dreams of survival on a desert island. Tuning DADGBD. Originally from Of Moor And Mesa, (Run River Records and Green Linnet US) 1992.
12 SOUTHERNHAY AVENUE - This first of a couple of short and previously unreleased instrumental interludes was written in the mid-1970s. It takes its name from the avenue in Bristol where I used to live. Tuning DADGAD.
13 HERE COMES THE NIGHT - The block chords of the chorus in this song of yearning were originally found on the piano and I still think of that instrument whenever I play it. It was written in Bristol around 1985. From Life By Misadventure (Run River Records).
14 GOODBYE TO THE SNOW - Snow can fall late in the Pennines and outstay its welcome, but spring always forces its way through to triumph in the end. Originally from And So It Goes, 1995 (Run River Records & Flying Fish Records). This version is played on a 10 string guitar tuned to DGDAD.
15 LIFE IS NOT KIND TO THE DRINKING MAN - This is not meant as a preachy song and I make no bones about enjoying a tipple or two, but I know a number of good people whose lives have unravelled and ended due to alcoholism. Originally from Solorubato, (Fellside Records) 1998.
16 SLOW AIR IN DROPPED D - Predominantly Celtic with a dash of Tex/Mex and a hint of Schubert. Where does this stuff come from? Not recorded before but written in the 1990s and rediscovered in a notebook. Tuning DADGBE.
17 KING OF THE COINERS - David Hartley (King David) was the king of the ‘Cragg Vale Coiners’. He led a gang of gold coin clippers who operated in the valleys around the Yorkshire town of Hebden Bridge in the late eighteenth century. He was arrested and ultimately hanged in York for being complicit in the murder of an exciseman in Halifax. From the album Ziggurat. Tuning DADGBD.
18 WATERHOLE - The bow and arrow arrived relatively late in the Americas, roughly 1,500 years ago. This song imagines the devastating effect of being on the receiving end of such comparatively advanced technology. First recorded on Such And Such in 2003.
19 THE SLIP JIGS & REELS - My most covered song; versions of it crop up all over and it seems to have out-travelled me by miles. A tale of emigration from the Old World to the New, and a dusty death in the US Southwest. Originally from Of Moor And Mesa (Run River Records and Green Linnet US) 1992. Tuning DADGAD.
Steve Tilston: acoustic guitar, vocals and banjo
All songs written by Steve Tilston All songs published by Riverboat UK Music (MCPS), except for tracks 4, 7 & 14 (Happy Valley) and track 5 (Logo Music)
Produced and engineered by David Crickmore Mastered by Ben Turner, Finesplice
Sleeve notes by Steve Tilston Front cover photograph by Shay Rowan Design by Brad Haynes Coordinated by Neil Record
Thanks to Phil Stanton, Neil Record and Brad Haynes of World Music Network. Also, to Johnny Fewings for the loan of his banjo.