Compact Disc version of Never Closer by Raphael Doyle with artwork by Guy Sexty. Supplied shrinkwrapped in a jewel case. CD price includes instant high quality 24 bit FLAC download of the album. Additional postage & packing will be charged at checkout: £1.50 in UK and EU, airmail to rest of the world: £5.
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The songs for the album were chosen and work was well underway. I was looking back through a notebook and came on this poem, which I'd forgotten about, from a few months previously. I had come home from Spain to work as a postman in Leeds, living in digs on my own, slogging the streets, in order to wrestle with the next stage. A kind of hard-labour meditation. It was a time when I found myself looking back over my life and sitting at the kitchen table one night I picked up my pen and went on a journey through it all. It was intensely personal and intensely real.
So last summer I wondered if there was something we could do with it for the album. I knew Gerry Diver had done great spoken word work - and loved the music he'd woven over and around speech on his album The Speech Project.
We had spent a long day in Miloco Studios, building a couple of the tracks. When everyone else had gone home except for my son Louis and engineer Dan Moyler, I went into the vocal booth and took a breath and spoke it out: the recording was done in one take. Back in the control room Louis and Dan were looking a bit shellshocked - they'd had no knowledge of what was coming.
I sent it off to Gerry and at that point it took on a life of its own. He's done an amazing job, putting a musical counterpoint and landscape around the words, around the scenes as they unfold. It's a brilliantly creative, responsive piece of work.
Still the poem needed finishing. The uncomfortable reality of much of the journey it describes is only truly told in the context of where I am now. I needed to show the full circle - how the journey resolves. I wrote and recorded the end section and sent it to Gerry. The dark and uncomfortable truths become meaningful in the context of resolution and acceptance. And in the intervening months I had had my diagnosis of Motor Neurone disease. It gave a sense of completion and overview to the whole thing which underscores what I was saying.
I come from Ireland,
Calm and lovely,
Unsteady and unsettled.
Paisleys boys had drawn the lines, Bernie Devlin was still in plaits.
But accommodation was made.
You walked unhindered, but wary.
How did I end up in this golden age? Walking under the banner of entitlement?
Money spilled out of the USA like opium
And spread the dream that we could have it all,
New and fresh and better and Ours. And riding on its box cars we pinned our colours
To the album covers and poetry books of the new beat.
And believed this wind would blow us all
To the shores of plenty and pleasure. A new Eden.
I threw my troubled knapsack through those rolling doors
And never learned to walk or build,
But ran and jumped and played in infantile certainty.
Would that I could tell you that in the ports of my calling
I grew and learned and honed a fruitful skill.
Like many of my ilk I learned to flash my badge,
A phoney ID, a backstage pass to shows I had no hand in.
A sneer or a smile, which ever would win regard, admittance,
To take the seat of privilege,
To sit by the head of the table
While others bought and cooked and served.
And as time went by, a new skill,
Of excuses, justifications, pleas and promises
Until the whole threadbare coat fell off in tatters
And the world had moved on.
I come from Ireland.
My dear sister Pauline
Walked the childhood paths
To mass, to school, to birthday parties.
Her presence as familiar as the hedgerows.
She, dazzled by my new clothes, wanted more.
To step into my rocket and burst upwards into the new day,
A shower of coloured stars spraying back down on the upturned faces.
But I would have none of it.
She was not of the inner circle. When I surged off on my glory train to nowhere
She started to hunt for a secret entrance.
The sweet girl. The good girl. died with her head in the oven.
The collapsing walls of a sham endeavour piling onto her bruised body.
God will not let that pass. I will stand before that agony until I feel every inch of it's truth.
I come from Ireland.
The Bay of Biscay tests the careless venturer
But then the seasons were kind.
My friends and I sang under star-filled nights.
The hard edges of Britain were stones under my jacket-pillow
As I slept between bodies at the Bath festival.
English gentility offered me respite from familial distress,
But my engine was broken.
The bodywork buffed up well, but I was going nowhere.
England became my default setting and I became a pretence.
We called him Uncle Ray.
On the promenade in Whitehead Paddy Zeoli and I sang
Dead End Street and
Where Have All The Good Times Gone.
Now the puppet master took us in on a sunny afternoon,
Morphed into the demon headmaster
And left us on the pavement
In a broken Waterloo sunset.
It is what it is. Nobody's fault but mine.
I see him now
Doing duets with some current star on the Royal variety,
Palpably trying not to obtrude,
On best behaviour,
Like the elephant in the back seat.
I wish him well. Paddy and I loved that stuff.
My peers are checking their pension pots.
This far I've come.
The letters arrive from Zürich or Prudential
To tell of prospective incomes.
Mine are a bad joke from an old cracker.
They say life is not a rehearsal. Carpe Diem.
I never got past the script review. Nobody's fault but mine.
I come from Ireland.
Drinkers we were. Loud noise in smoky places.
When Mammy died my cousins took me
To Jimmy D's on the harbour.
An upstairs room with dark brown music
And their friends wanting to comfort this waif.
A line of Guinness pints spread across the table
and snaked out into the future.
Music and a drink. Nobody's fault but mine.
A fine girl. A good girl. A sweet girl. This story should
have miscarried too
But her tenacity held the day,
And many days. Too many days
Of draining strength and still she'd not let go.
And in the glasshouse she moulded I was given prestige and devotion undeserved,
comforts and companionship. Chance after chance.
And children. Amazing, unexpected,
World upon world.
My best and truest friends.
Two girls, two boys and their mother on a driverless coach. Nights of collision and grief that
Even in this luxury of pen I cannot look at.
The pain I caused. Nobody's fault but mine.
But by her heart and toil the years have passed.
The Elastoplast held. The children grew
To beauty - no hesitation - to beauty.
My cracked bowl filled with healing grace.
No heavy hand, sorting and rejecting damaged goods,
But a rescue.
Seen and known.
To stand on good ground.
To see through clear eyes.
To affirm in turn this wellspring.
Nothing is lost.
I come from the hour before dawn
I will step out into an approaching night, gladly,
And lift my face to the vast, luminous dark.
from Never Closer,
released January 27, 2017
Words: Raphael Doyle
Music: Gerry Diver
Raphael Doyle – vocals, Gerry Diver - all other instruments, except:
Brendan McAuley - pipes
Recorded by Gerry Diver, Louis Doyle, Daniel Moyler
Produced and mixed by Gerry Diver
Mastered at Alchemy by Barry Grint
First discovered by Alexis Korner, Raphael Doyle formed the acoustic trio Café Society with Hereward Kaye & Tom Robinson in
1973. Ray Davies of The Kinks produced their debut album in 1975.
4 decades on Raphael has recorded his definitive solo album Never Closer with help from his son Louis Doyle, producer Gerry Diver and old friend Tom Robinson. It was released on Cooking Vinyl in January 2017....more