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‘lost’ clifford

My recent loft clear-out yielded all sorts of forgotten treasures.

And so today seems an appropriate one on which to publish a ‘lost’ interview I did with the singer-songwriter Clifford T Ward, who sadly died on 18th December 2001, aged 57.

I blogged earlier in the year (‘Home Thoughts’ – 4th April 2012) about doing the interview in 1987.

But it was never published, and I had given up hope of ever finding the typed A4 sheets of quotes I knew were somewhere in the house.

So I’m delighted to post extracts from the conversation we had all those years ago, and hope that fans and readers who don’t know his music will enjoy it.

The interview took place following the release of CTW’s 1986 album ‘Sometime Next Year.’

Extracts from Clifford T Ward interview – 21st February 1987.

STARTING OFF

Back in the early days, I was teaching in school and playing semi-pro in a band and writing songs, and I sent a tape to John Peel. Why him I don’t know. He’s always been someone I’ve admired. I thought he was a man of musical integrity.

‘I sent him a tape of my earlier songs, didn’t expect to hear any more and the man phoned us and offered me a contract. So I went down to London and made a record of the songs, and it was released on his label (Dandelion) and died a death.

‘I only saw him a couple of times then. He was a very unobtrusive sort of man. I can remember late one night in a studio in London and I was doing some voice overdubs or something. There was only me and the engineer in there, and I remember the engineer saying ‘who’s that out there?’ And there was this man with this long hair, leaning over the piano and it turned out to be John Peel. I then met him, we had a little chat and he went. He was a lovely man. and I’m sure he still is.’

SONGWRITING

‘I just enjoy writing songs. I came back from Ireland saying ‘that’s it. I don’t want to sign another record contract. I’ve had enough.’ And my wife said ‘Well, how do we live?’ I was still writing songs, so Pat took some of them to Tembo (Roger Whittaker’s label), they liked them and offered me a contract.

‘Without sounding very glib, I suppose to someone starting off, if they have material, they have the talent; that many around them are saying, you’re an excellent, marvellous writer; you’re very original. Then I would say, try and retain control of as much of the process as you can.

‘That means form your own record company, form your own publishing company and keep the lot. Putting it like that sounds glib and horrible, so I would then say that knowing many artistic people who write are also starving and don’t have much money, then go to a record company and try and get a deal.’   

THE LOST CHORD

‘My chord inversions are how they should be and they match the melody at the same time. It’s so important to keep those inversions absolutely correct. I’ve seen it when I’m working with a producer and he takes over, and musicians – they just see the chord. You can play a chord, and if it’s a straight F chord, you can make it sound entirely different to the F chord I may play in a particular song because of the inversions I use to make it.’

HOME STUDIO

‘It’s very unsophisticated. Modest would be the way to put it in print. It’s only 8-track, but it does very well. I did most of the recording (‘Sometime Next Year’) here in the cowshed. I renovated it with help from my son and my wife. Creatively, artistically that’s how I wanted the album to sound pretty well. Technically it’s not as good as being able to put it on two inch or even one inch tape. But it’s a good album. It beats having to book time in a studio and it’s cheaper.

‘Fresh with me from past experience in studios, working with four or five piece bands, is the feeling of the time it took to get those musicians totally routined into a song, and then going through it and then feeling, yeah we’ve got it, and it’s working so well. And then suddenly your hear that one chord being played wrongly and you have top stop and go back to the top. And the engineer has to rewind and you have to do it again and again and again.’ 

LIVE IN IRELAND

‘It was the first time I’d played live in several years, and I was waiting to go on, and the stage manager came up to me and said “Will you be getting changed now, Mr.Ward. You’re on in 5 minutes.’ To which I replied ‘But I am changed.’

COVER VERSIONS

‘It always comes as a real surprise to me that other people record my songs. The first I usually know about it is when a record arrives in the post. But it’s always a thrill.’

THE FUTURE

‘I think that for certain music has changed. Popular music has changed considerably over recent years. Hopefully it’ll turn round again and face in a much more worthwhile direction. That’s my hope. So is there a future for songwriters with integrity? Yes, dammit, yes.’ 

Home Thoughts – blogpost – 4th April 2012

Clifford T Ward – Time The Magician

4 Responses to “‘lost’ clifford”

  1. Paul Orsler says:

    Wonderful!

    Thank you.

  2. philip freeman says:

    very interesting and particularly poignant how CTW is still thinking ahead with his music when it sadly turned out to be his last album; but a charming one with some great songs but a poor production which I have always felt sounds more like demos than finished product.

  3. cliff webb says:

    Thanks for that, Dave. ‘Sometime Next Year’ – excellent album. Have the framed cover hanging in my hallway plus 12 singles on show in the middle of hallway. All the best, Cliff Webb

  4. Carol Quaile says:

    It is such a pleasure to read something new about Cliff. Thank you !

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