I’m delighted to have been included in The Bert Jansch Foundation’s Around the World in 80 Plays. I chose to cover one of Bert Jansch’s songs for it – Dreams of Love.
If you’re not familiar with the project, Around the World in 80 Plays is sending a special guitar similar to Bert’s all over the UK and Ireland to have a Bert Jansch-inspired piece performed on it by different artists, including people such as Jonny Marr (The Smiths), Richard Thompson and Steve Tilston.
I’ve written a number of pieces influenced by the playing of Bert Jansch over the years but felt I’d rather play one of his for this. I hadn’t played this song for years, then it just popped into my head one day and hadn’t been able to stop playing it since. Three days later I found out about Around the World in 80 Plays. I don’t really believe in fate, but if I did I’d think this was meant to be!
There are a number of things I love about this relatively short song. The lyrics are haunting and evoke a powerful sense of unrequited love, though they have a little bit of an edge and leave the song open to questioning. What is the underlying cause of the situation being sung about? What changed? It is rather wonderfully clear in its emotional message while being very much open to interpretation.
Musically the song uses chords from one of the Greek modes, C# Dorian. The chord sequence’s sudden transition to and heavy focus on the second chord gives it a very distinctive, melancholic edge that works wonderfully with the haunting lyrics (and almost pushes you to think of it as Phrygian). I also like the accidentals in the melody that help turn it around so effectively once the song has moved on from that heavily emphasised second chord.
You can check out more information on the Around the World in 80 Plays project site.