Sunday, 24 February 2013

Curator of Butterflies

The idea for this song started with a short newspaper article. The article was about the Natural History Museum and had a sub-heading of Curator of Butterflies which caught my eye. I was also interested in the final paragraph where Blanca Huertas, the Museum's Curator Lepidoptera describes how, as a teacher, she can explain 'everything with butterflies: genetics, taxonomy, camouflage, life and death'. As you can see from the scan of the cutting above, I underlined the final three words of the article. I tore the article out of the paper and placed it in the trunk where I keep ideas for songs.

When writing began for English Electric I opened the trunk, came upon the article and started work on a song which I called Curator of Butterflies. The chord sequence was composed on an acoustic 12-string guitar with the second string tuned up to 'C'. The melody was written very much with David's vocal abilities in mind. Much of the later musical arrangement was by Dave Desmond (brass) and Danny (piano.) Dave Gregory also came up with one of the main musical motifs of the song so this is very much a track where a lot of people have made significant contributions.

Many of the songs on English Electric have a story to tell but this one is a more philosophical piece. There is a female character in the song but I must stress that this person is not Blanca Huertas. I do not know Ms Huertas and would not presume to write about her. However, that short article about Ms Huertas was the direct inspiration for the lyrics and, in particular, those final three words: 'life and death'. The song is about the fine line between those two extremes. As I grow older I become more aware of my mortality and the mortality of my family and friends. The knowledge that we hold about our mortality means that life can be a beautiful burden.

Curator of Butterflies is the final song on English Electric Part Two and therefore brings to a close this series of pieces about the songs on the two BBT blogs. We do hope listeners find some music to enjoy on the album and we would like to thank all listeners to our music for their support and interest. We would especially like to thank the wonderful community of music lovers which has come together on the BBT Facebook group. If you can judge a band by its listeners, then BBT is a good band.

There will be a special double CD edition of English Electric later on in 2013. This will feature three additional songs and we will revise the track sequencing in the light of it being a double album rather than two separate releases. As we have made clear elsewhere, the three additional songs will also appear on an EP release and will be available for separate purchase as downloads so we are giving listeners various opportunities to purchase the extra songs without feeling the need to buy the albums again. We are also in discussion with Plane Groovy about releasing EE2 on vinyl (with the additional songs on the 4th side of a double release.)

We will tell you about these releases and other things when there is news.

6 comments:

MatD said...

Hi Greg,
I was very astonished as I saw (when returning from work) that English Electric Pt. 2 had arrived! A very big big thank you that it was delivered so quickly, as I live in Germany! I had one listen to it and it sounds fantastic.
Many greetings to England and keep on the great work!
Uwe.

Tyler Stewart said...

Hi Greg,

Very interesting to hear of the inspiration behind the song! I also appreciated the insights.

Was just listening to EE part 2 and really enjoying it, so I wanted to come by and express my gratitude to you and the rest of BBT for making such wonderful music. It is truly moving.

You guys have leaped into the upper echelon, and are getting some much-deserved recognition for it. Congratulations! :)

Best regards,
Tyler

Clive said...

Just to say that I think EE1 & EE2 are two of the finest albums I have listened to for many years.
Great songwriting, playing & singing the are close to perfection.
I love the subject matter especially the inland navigators of the permanant way - i cycle alot & often notice the mark on the landscape of old railway lines...I think waiting to be relaid & used again!
the other inland navigators would be the canal builders...do you have a song (?one of the 3 to come) about the marvelous canal engineers?
All the best - see you live sometime?? You should play EE1&2 through in one go! That would be a treat!
Clive

Gregory Spawton said...

Thank you for the kind words chaps. I do have an idea for a song about the canal builders and we are planning a live show. Cheers, Greg

Jumatate opal said...

I love this song.

andygam77 said...

I've just listened to "Curator" three times!!

I recently bought Parts 1 and 2 and think that this is by far the most moving track on the two albums. I note that you consider it a "philosophical" song. The subtext in between the lines of the lyrics tells a very sad story - even if it isn't a story.

I was disparinging of ever finding any modern music that appealed to me but a chance excursion into the byways of Youtube brought me the gates of Underfall Yard and the rest of the BBT cataogue. Great work - keep it up.
Andrew