The pop gospeller with a voice uncannily like Sir Cliff, SIMON GOODALL talks us through the tracks on his new album
"Stay With Me"
I really like the Britpop stuff currently emerging in the charts, and wanted this particular song to have a similar feel, you know, lots of guitars, the "wall of sound" effect, which probably explains why it sounds a bit Robbie. However there are definitely other musical influences on this track including the Beatles! I grew up with the Merseybeat scene and although I was only a young lad, I definitely think these influences have "stayed with me" (excuse the pun!). I wrote this song with a close friend in mind, who was really struggling through a very difficult time. Yet I'm sure we can ALL relate directly to the sentiment of this song. I know I can! It's like this - when you include God in your life you know you're safe; you know you can lean on him and it's great! Its only when we walk away we get hurt. I know myself that as a father I want the best for my kids, and would do anything for them. They know they can always come to me and everything will be all right. When they hurt, I do. When they're in trouble, it affects me. I want to help them. As I began to write this song I wondered what God must think when he sees us in trouble? How must he feel and what would he say to us in the different choices we make? The words of this song are what I imagine he would say to us if we would take the time to listen.
"You Have Been So Good To Us"
This song has a similar groove to "Torn" by Natalie Imbruglia, which is where the original idea came from. Although I finished this song recently, it had been on the shelf for about a year. I had the verses pretty much sorted, but no chorus. I felt that although the verses were good the song needed some kind of a "hook" or response for it to work. Sometimes when you write a song, you can get stuck with half a song, which is really no good to anyone. When I came back to this song, I eventually got the chorus and I'm pleased I did or the song would never have happened! If ever there was a reason for a party it would be this, God is good to us always! Sometimes we forget just how good! This was the first new song I wrote during our move as a family to the south of England in the summer of '97. We had just left all our friends in our old church in Leeds, which was very hard, to be involved in a new work! You need to know God's goodness in these situations. I began to think of the times he has been good and this is what triggered the song. God's provision to us as a family has been nothing short of a miracle. I have two beautiful children and a wonderful wife. I have known his physical healing from a skin disorder, his forgiveness is unparalleled, his peace brings calm in troubled times, his grace is amazing and his love, well, I'm still discovering this more and more. If ever there was a reason to party it would be because of his goodness to me!
Everyone has an opinion about what love is and how it suits him or her, you only have to switch on the radio to hear the many different versions of what people perceive love to be. All I know is, how the world portrays love is very different to what God says it is! I'm sure you know what I mean! So I am reminded as I sing this song what God says his love is like and I need to show others this same love without reservation. Put another way, if I don't show love then I am nothing - a bit harsh you might say, but I didn't write the book! I think the more you adopt this way of living your life; it becomes easier to show love. I never expected when I first recorded this song on my debut album, that people would take me seriously in the area of sanctified dance music. How wrong can you be? They loved it! Often this song would happen two or three times in one concert. I often play in Germany and one of my favourite recollections of this song would be in Hanover, Germany. I was invited to an event called The Lords Party. There were about 500 young people there. When this song came up in the set they went absolutely wild! All of them were on the chairs, really going for it! It was wild. I bet a few church leaders saw some of their members in a different light (a good one that is!) The last time I played Germany I promised them that next time I played I would do some more dancey stuff! So I hope you like it!
"Just A Memory"
It's a funny thing, you can go to all the trouble of putting a live band together and yet the songs that mean the most to people are the ones I play on my own, just me and my guitar. So I thought it would be nice to have at least one song on the album that reflects what I seem to do best. So here it is! As I think back to my childhood one of the most vivid memories is that of how me and my twin brother used to sit at the top of the stairs at home. I would have my guitar and we would sing the Simon and Garfunkle song "The Sounds Of Silence" in perfect two-part harmony. It was our favourite song and favourite place in the house. We used to get this great big reverb effect on our voices which made us sound great, and just for a moment we would become pop stars in the privacy of our own home. My parents would often tell us to sing another song 'cause we'd sung that one dry. Problem was, we only knew that one! Another recollection was I used to sit in the living room whilst my mother would plough through heaps of ironing (I'm from a family of six). We used to talk about anything and everything, sometimes I would come with my list of questions and she would have an answer for every one. It was in those times I came to know who my mother really was. She was like a pillar to me and I loved her deeply. Looking back now I realise how precious those memories really are. I wrote this song "Just A Memory" only this year, it's taken me until now to be able to put pen to paper. My parents are no longer here but the memories linger on. I dedicate this song to them and thank God for them.
"Deep Within My Heart"
On a personal level this is my favourite song on the album. There is just something in the simplicity of this song that helps me focus on Jesus and truly worship him. After all, that's what worship is about! Jesus. I wrote this song after I was asked to do a teaching series on worship in our local church. I was looking for a song that would help people worship God in a new and meaningful way. You know what it's like when you hear a song for the first time and it really gets you, and you can't stop singing it! I wanted to write a song like that, one that would draw an emotional response in people's hearts to worship God. As a songwriter I am a great believer that a good worship song should be simple and to the point. You shouldn't have to have an interpretation! The message should be clear, the melody singable and easy to remember. "Deep Within My Heart" is a simple song of adoration that doesn't particularly say anything new, but rather captures an old truth in a fresh and new way. I like to think of it this way, it's a bit like climbing up a mountain but from a different angle, you suddenly discover something new.
"Anchor Me In Your Love"
There is no doubt about it, we live in a topsy turvy world, where doubts and fears seem to be the order of the day. It all seems so volatile, like it could go seriously wrong any minute. These were the thoughts running through my head about an hour before I was due on stage one time. I was playing my guitar in soundcheck and these words came to me, a bit like a prayer, "Anchor me in your love, anchor me in your love." I was obviously troubled by what I was thinking, my response was to pray to God! I wasn't really thinking of writing a song as such. I did my concert and on my way home it came back to me, "Anchor me. in your love, anchor me in your love, anchor me deeply in your love." I now had the melody but what good's a melody when you're driving down the M1? This is not the first time I've written a song driving home. I eventually finished the song. Fortunately this one was not going to meet some of its friends in the filing cabinet! It's a great comfort for me to know I'm safe with God, I don't need to live my life like someone without hope, day by day wondering what if? God came to change all that. I hope you take comfort from this song.
"All I Can Say"
When I first played this song to my daughter Becky, she said it sounded like the theme tune from the recent film Titanic! You can imagine, it didn't go down too well, excuse the pun, but who am I to argue? It's funny though sometimes how songs turn out. Originally this song had a country feel to it, which I wasn't too keen on. However I liked the sentiment of the song and decided to include it on the album. I teamed up with my close friend Richard Lacy from Eden's Bridge and I explained to him I didn't really want the country thing! So this is how we ended up doing it. I have to say some of the instruments on this track look like they belong in the kitchen, yet people play em! I've never seen anything like it before in my life. I can see why Celtic music sounds a little different!
"Testify To Love"
I had just returned home after I'd been invited to sing in a church in Franklin in Nashville in 1998. Whilst I was there I also got the opportunity to visit EMI Gospel. As I walked around the building I was given different CDs from various record companies represented there, who were keen for me to hear some of their recent releases from new and established artists. The Avalon album cover looked good so I gave it a blast. The opening track is "Testify To Love". I'm thinking to myself, "What a fantastic song!" Immediately I'm looking through the credits to find out who wrote it. Paul Field and Ralph Van Manen were the main writers so it's not surprising I like this song! The line that stuck with me was, "I'll be your witness in the silences when words are not enough." I thought, "Yeah!" I remember when I first became a Christian my biggest disappointment was that I'd not witnessed to anyone at work, and I used to give myself a real hard time about it. Now looking back I realise that was nonsense, just because I didn't preach to people didn't necessarily mean I wasn't a good witness! What about the way I lived my life, didn't that count for something? I eventually realised it did. It really took the pressure off. So often we think the way for people to find God is through our words, when in actual fact it's about just being true to ourselves. I pray this song will be a real encouragement to you and help you to just be yourself.
There was just no way I was going to do an exact copy of this song, besides which I'm not Martin Smith. I just think this is a brilliant song so I decided to cover it! Do you need another reason? My producer has never actually heard the D: version and still hasn't, he simply went with his instincts. The only version he heard was me belting it out on my acoustic and that was it! He had an idea that it would work in a similar way to a Kula Shaker song he had heard. Anyway, I realise that there may be some who will think this was a brave move for me to take. I wouldn't disagree, but then I'm a brave person. I certainly wouldn't attempt the song if I didn't think I could cut it! Hope you like this version!
"Now To Live The Life (Remix)"
One of the things I decided to do whilst recording this album was to include some well-known covers. Normally, I would only record my own songs, but I thought it would be good to include some well-known songs as well. After saying all that, at my producer's request we decided to do a remix - which completely changed this one. There's nothing like being radical! I was a little reluctant initially to change it so much, but felt it suited the rest of the album better this way. Besides which you have to be able to trust the guy who's producing, which I did. I like the groove on this one. I like the sentiment of this song too, it really says it all. After we've said all we need to say, sung all we need to sing, we need to be true to our calling and live this life.