Why “Writing’s On The Wall” Rocked For Me.

I first heard Sam Smith’s new song ‘Writing’s on the Wall’ whilst driving down the M20 with London behind me, headed into the heart of Kent, the Garden of England. I was listening to Dominic King, on BBC Radio Kent Drivetime and he was unapologetically not-a-fan-of-the-song. Twenty minutes later, I was home, so I sent Dominic a tweet. This tweet actually…

That was a Friday. My partner Ritchie Swann and I spent the entire weekend analysing the lyrics and translating my emotional response to the lyrics into a physical sound. We planned to take it to our band, Rhonda and The Great Unknown, on that Monday to record it.

Ritchie Swann, Rhonda Merrick, Jim Dawkins, James Plows (Rhonda and The Great Unknown)

I told Ritchie, in the context of a 007 movie, I wanted a 1970s and 80s rock power ballad, with a spaghetti western show-down at high noon moment including trumpets, with the 007 theme woven in as a potential menacing threat should James Bond choose love over duty… I wanted anguish, suspicion and desperate need to connect with something…someone real. We met up with the band in a recording studio that used to be an old office building, until we put up thick partition walls and other sound-proofing stuff, filled the room with 2nd and 3rd hand equipment and started recording stuff there. I messaged Dominic at BBC Radio Kent with the Dropbox link and he immediately invited us to be on his show.

This video will give you a good idea of what he heard.

I’m lucky to have seasoned session players, jobbing musicians, a composer and a music producer in the band, and they’re all multi-instrumentalists. We’ve moved on to other stuff.

I usually write my own songs, perhaps that’s why the lyrics in Sams Smiths song made an impression on me, but I was hearing the words differently from the way he was singing them. Maybe some people will get that.

But whenever I hear Sam singing this song on the radio, my mind ventures off from the heart-wrenching ballad he’s singing, because I hear it rocking large. Sort of like Joe Cocker singing the Beatles song ‘I get by with a little help from my friends’ or Whitney Houston belting out Dolly Parton’s song ‘I will always love you’. It’s not better or worse, just true to the emotions the lyrics bring out in me.

Can’t wait for the movie to come out. I really enjoy the James Bond series. If you were hoping to hear a Bond theme that rocks out a bit more, hopefully, we’ve delivered. It was fun, thrilling, unexpected and encouraging for us to keep going.

Rock and roll.