4. One 'L'ong 'S'unny 'D'ay (One in a Million)

With the summer slowly approaching, the days were becoming stuffier in our little country flat, assisted by a severe lack of air flow thanks to the location of the property being sandwiched in amongst the adjacent warehouses and storage units.

Katie and her family had organised a week long holiday in Spain which I was unsurprisingly unable to commit to thanks to a combination of not having enough cash and needing to fulfil various gigs. Additionally, I also wanted to use opportunity of an empty flat to carry on with my writing with minimal distraction on further solo creative marathons.

I’d been struggling to write anything ‘outside of the box’ for a little while and wanted to experiment with taking a small tab of LSD for the first time in the hope it would break down a few barriers, perhaps lead me onto pastures anew and steer me towards a creatively productive streak, devoid of inhibition. All I needed to do to convince myself that this was a good idea was to rationalise it as some sort of new ‘writing approach’ which demanded immediate exploration.

I’d dedicated a particular day to tying up a few unmixed demos before embarking on my little solo psychedelic experiment. Admittedly, I was going through a bit of a Hendrix phase for the hundredth time in my life and was fascinated with some of his ideas and lyrics.

In comparison, the stuff I had been writing and the style I have probably subconsciously been developing for over 10 years had become a little too literal for my liking and too predictable to myself. I was frustrated and desperate for a break-through. The artist's constant dilemma.

The little inconspicuous tab looked absolutely harmless and I was sure it couldn’t possibly have the mind bending powers we’ve all heard about in Hunter S Thompson books, though from previous experience of psychedelics, I gave it its due respect and at least made sure the day was clear of responsibility.

And so I placed the tiny piece of cardboard under my tongue and took off with my guitar and a small backpack, made up of a list of contents that included a notebook, pen, voice recorder and bottle of water.

Like some sort of cliched character, I sat under a tree up on a hill, seeking refuge from the beating sun yet still only 10 minutes away from the safe haven of the flat should things go awry. Around me were uninterrupted views of the local countryside, a patchwork of various green fields and orchards. The air was warm, still and pure as I looked down upon long waves of grass swaying from side to side as if in a hypnotic dance synchronised to a light breeze sweeping below. The movement of flying insects darted past me in different directions like frantic traffic on an invisible motorway.

I picked up my pen and began to log the experience, clearly beginning to feel some of the effects I had been longing for. The pen was a particularly challenging instrument to control and the legibility of my cursive writing quickly descended into the messy scribbles of my childhood.

I could sense that this solo venture had the potential of quickly descending into chaos with me left stranded on top of a hill, lost and rambling at a tree, so I retreated home not long after. The deciding factor for my departure from my hill top spot was a desperate need for the toilet which by the time I got there felt like psychological torture when trapped in the confines of the small warping room.

When finally able to compose myself, I escaped the toilet’s mind bending claustrophobic grip and set up camp in the living room with my guitar and writing tools hoping to finally hit that creative streak I was so drawn towards. If using a pen was proving to be a challenge, playing a guitar was way beyond me as both of my hands rendered themselves useless.

It was time to resort to my back-up plan and go upstairs to finish off a few mixes that I’d left set up on the computer for this very scenario. Surely I could at least do that? When my eyes met the contours on the open window of my DAW program, the screen seemed to suck me in and made me feel as if I had severe travel sickness.

My first encounter with acid had turned my idea of an exciting productive and creative day into a disaster. I should never have set such expectations on myself or the LSD in the first place.

I decided to then spend the afternoon trying to 'walk it off', through the rows and rows of apple orchards that lined the peaceful fields behind our home. I must have looked like a complete lunatic for a couple of hours as I paced back and forth through the endless formations of flowering apple trees before finally returning to the flat inspired by a desire to revisit the T.V. series ‘Scrubs;’ - probably the best idea I’d come up with all day.

I hadn’t told Katie about my idiotic run in with LSD as I didn’t want to worry her on holiday but the guilt of hiding an experience I’d never had before (albeit a disappointing one) consumed me. When I did, she was most annoyed about the fact that I didn’t let her know beforehand and that I felt like I had to hide my curiosity from her.

When the dust settled, the inescapable truth was that the songs still weren’t coming. My self-esteem in general was shot anyway and I was spending far too much time on my own in the house writing but without bearing any real fruits. There was no shortage of little chord sequences, riffs or melodies, but nothing ever truly felt meaningful or sincere once I really got going with them.

The only thing fresh in my mind from my little drug riddled escapade was a proverbial T-shirt, a fragmented memory for a souvenir and an overwhelming feeling of disappointment in myself at the dishonesty I’d shown to the one person who believed in me with love, support and patience from the beginning- Katie.

Marrying my personal sense of inadequacy to the appreciation I had for my partner was a uniquely tough angle to articulate within the simple framework of a song but it was one that finally tapped into a sincere cavern in my heart.

Yes it may not have been wise to take acid on my own, yes it may not have been a great trip and yes - it may have been a long winded approach to write a song; but write a song I did and ultimately that was all I needed at that moment in time. It was a reminder that I wasn’t entirely useless as a songwriter. That and that ‘Scrubs’ is (or was) a great a TV series.


One in a Million

I’m stuck again, I know

These chains are mine, alone

You’re one in a million - yeah you are.

I wish I could, Step up,

Is my love enough?

You’re one in a million - yeah you are.

You’re the only one I need when my senses fail,

Yeah you pick me up when I’m off the rails,

Like a voice of reason I can lean upon,

A direction home when the light has gone,

Wrapped up again, in myself

Sometimes I’m, somewhere else,

Well I know it’s hard for you,

But don’t worry girl, I do,

You’re one in a million - yeah you are.

You’re the only one I need when my senses fail,

Yeah you pick me up when I’m off the rails,

Like a voice of reason coming through the mist,

A direction out of the emptiness.

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