SWAG 10: “The Weaver”

The Weaver is a love song. Amy’s personal lyrics are beautifully delivered and her love of traditional English folk music is here for all to see. The song is very sparse instrumentally and despite earlier versions having string sections etc, this worked so much better with just voice, acoustic guitar, and the upright bass played by Brad.

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This song started as an acoustic guitar piece. I was listening to Nick Drake one day, and the sounds he was getting from an acoustic guitar just sounded so emotional that I determined to discover what he was doing. Nick’s thing turned out to be obscure tunings for the guitar, tunings he never wrote down and nobody knows for sure. Luckily, the internet provided a ‘likely’ tuning for the track I was listening to and I duly tuned my guitar the same and worked out the track. Now, standard guitar tuning is a bit of a ‘jack of all trades’ tuning enabling a wide variety of songs to be played relatively easily. Most variant tunings have a character that’s very specific. For example, ‘open d’ tuning presents you with a guitar where pretty much everything you play sounds like a delta blues track. The Nick Drake tuning I started playing with (one of many Nick Drake tunings it has to be said) made the track I was listening to very easy to reproduce, at least in terms of the left hand finger positioning (Nick Drake’s right hand picking is something different altogether). I started playing round with the tuning to see what else was possible and soon came up with a number of figures using hammer-ons and finger picking that I really liked. Eager not to lose the moment, I set up some microphones and proceeded to record me noodling on these ideas for about an hour. The acoustic guitar on The Weaver is a section from that very recording. Although not the cleanest thing I’ve ever played or recorded, there’s something about that particular performance that makes it all work, and I never wanted to re-record it.

This was the first song Amy recorded her vocals for, and that was a magical afternoon I can tell you. Having been very concerned about the 11th hour nature of the lyric writing, I heard “Tirra Lirra” for the first time that day and knew that everything was going to be alright.

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