Musician and lyricist Chris Difford shares his soundtrack to the Bay. Listen to the playlist on Spotify.
Photo: Grace Difford
Chris Difford is a founding member of Squeeze, the new wave band we have to thank for classic, enduring tracks such as ‘Cool for Cats’, ‘Up the Junction’ and ‘Tempted’. Here, the double Ivor Novello Award-winner recalls some musical moments in Cornwall before sharing his top tracks for Watergate Bay.
Musical Moments in Cornwall
The first time I came to Cornwall I was a small boy on a school trip. It was a very long journey by coach, with the only entertainment being 35 boys and girls all singing ‘In the stores’ and other such childish folk songs. These days, of course, the buses are full of children looking at screens, their headphones filled with all types of music.
Cornwall’s coastline, though, has changed little since then. My wife, Louise, and I stayed at Watergate Bay Hotel last year and had a wonderful time letting go and letting the waves do the talking with the kids. We felt safe that they were safe and having fun while we read the papers and lost ourselves in the wet summer days.
Boardmasters music festival was taking place on the hill and The Strypes, who I manage, were playing, so the week made perfect sense: a bit of relaxation and a bit of fun – or ‘work’ as some might call it. The wind licked the stages on the hill while we licked our ice cream cones and once again I was taken back in time to the days when school supplied a short summer break part funded by my dad.
Creatively Cornwall is hard to beat. It’s amazing for the imagination. You can sit on the rocks and be taken away into the ‘now’ of songwriting. It’s a joyful place. Music festivals have blossomed over the last five years and Cornwall has hosted its fair share of wonderful events. I have played a few with Jools Holland, a former member of Squeeze. People like a drink and a singsong, and we love that too.
I’m blessed to have returned many times to Cornwall over the years. The drive has become much easier and these days I don’t have to share a school bus and sing folk songs along the way. I cruise down and open my heart to the fresh air and the sky, which you can almost touch.
In Cornwall, I feel so much closer to heaven than I do when I’m in the dusty back streets of London.
Playlist for Watergate Bay
Listen on Spotify
1. Ain’t Got No Home, Clarence ‘Frogman’ Henry
A good mix tape should always begin with something upbeat and from the past, a song that pulls you to the dashboard and summons you to take part. For me this song does all of the above. With a middle name like Frogman who could fail?
2. The Boys of Summer, Don Henley
I saw Don Henley last summer and was knocked out by his band. His songs had passed me by over the years and I’m not sure why. So I’m a newcomer to this one but it fits the bill – a sing-along summer beauty.
3. Girl on the Train (2009 Remaster), Pete Atkin
Train journeys are where the mind and the imagination can meet and inspire. This song takes me back to train journeys where I would fall in love with reflections on a window, as a pretty girl might look at her magazine and ignore me. The lyrics are by Clive James – his poetic genius ever present.
4. Indian Queens, Nick Lowe
Indian Queens. There it is on the signpost as Cornwall grabs you from a long journey, but what goes on there? Nick seems to know more than most. His tailor-made songs always embrace me and make me feel like I’m being taken on a journey.
5. God Knows I’m Good, David Bowie
David Bowie is always on my mix tapes – he was the one, after all, who inspired me to write lyrics in the first place. ‘God Knows I’m Good’ is something of a mantra to me. He knows it, if no one else has a clue.
6. Satellite of Love, Lou Reed
You can’t have David without Lou. Some say I sing a little like Lou Reed and I think that’s right: my voice lives very happily down in the boots. I met him once in a Chinese restaurant in New York – and he agreed.
7. Paper Sun, Traffic
A paper sun shines down on us all. I have always loved Traffic and Steve Winwood’s voice. It takes me back to school jackets on a park bench, a fag and a dream to be in a band, which came true.
8. Country Honk, The Rolling Stones
So laidback, just like summer, just like Cornwall, this song almost falls backwards it’s so laidback. Perfect for a lazy beach afternoon with the waves crashing softly on the rocks. Sun optional.
9. Lazy Sunday, The Small Faces
The Small Faces were my heroes as I grew up; the band I most wanted to be in. They were the lads and I was one of them. Being in a band is like being with the lads some days. Other days, it’s work.
10. Waterloo Sunset, The Kinks
Sadly you have to come back to reality from any good holiday and being back in London feels safe. It’s home, or it used to be. And this song makes me feel so at home in London. It reminds me that I am proud to be a Londoner even though I’m now a country sausage.
Listen to the playlist on Spotify.
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