Soul Sneeze has been on a mighty journey. The song was born in 2018 when Buddy Fonzarelli starting jamming the bass riff in a rehearsal. Before we knew it the whole song had been sneezed out in one sitting. To make things complicated the timing shifts half way through from a conventional 4/4 beat to 7/8 which is typical of Weasel and Buddy when left alone in a room together. After experimenting with the song in front of live audiences, we performed it when recording the 'Abbey House Session' album and were really happy with the live take that we captured.
We felt that the second half of the song needed some spoken word and set about trying to find someone who could do this. Whilst driving, Will heard Brian Reid (aka 'Midweek Mojo') reading the papers on BBC Wiltshire breakfast show. Will and Brian already knew each other through the local music scene and asked Brian if he would be up for contributing some of his legendary ramblings on the recording. With experience as a stand up comic, Brian is natural when it comes to ad-libbing and we wanted a casual, pub-chat-type piece of West Country wisdom in this recording. Brian came over to Wills studio and listened to the music before going off to compose his thoughts. He returned a few days later and recorded the words heard in this song starting with "let's talk about happiness".
However, the journey for this song was only just beginning.
Ed Deedigan runs an organisation in Chippenham called 'Kandu Arts'. They are a community based organisation that use art and activities to nurture and engage individuals and increase community cohesion and development. Ed heard 'Soul Sneeze' and asked the band if (a) we would play at a festival he was planning and (b) suggested that his team at Kandu record a music video to accompany the film. Several weeks later, we found ourselves meeting at 4.30am in Cherhill an hour before the sun was due to rise.
Kandu had the production of this video totally licked. The film crew, drone operators, catering and production was all taken care of. The film follows Brian from sunrise at Cherhill across the Wiltshire landscape passing the band playing en-route. He then walks into Chippenham and heads through the town, down the causeway, through Emery Gate Shopping Centre and Monkton Park before ending up at the legendary pub and live music venue, The Old Road Tavern. Here he is served a pint by landlord Lindsey Eliot before walking into the barn where he finds the band playing.
The creation of this song and video involved one gigantic collaboration between so many people and this is the essence of what the song is about. As Brian says in his ramblings, "the final part of happiness is humanity" - kindness, community, generosity, the celebration of being connected to others. This is what this song is about and this film captures this spirit in many dimensions. After the day filming, Brian composed this beautiful poem 'Sunrise on Cherhill' which captures his reflections on the experience.
Will Lawton and the Alchemists would like to give special thanks to the following people and organisations who helped create this film:
Ed Deedigan and Donna Lee (film producers)
Che Deedigan (director of photography)
Jules Webb (assistant director of photography)
Jules Webb (editing)
Maff Couthouope and Keith Lardner (drone operators)
Annie Walker-Trafford (production manager)
John Savage and Tom Mallard (production assistants)
Jack Frost and all the crew at Emery Gate Shopping Centre (especially for temporarily suspending Will Lawton's lifetime ban)
Martin and Yvonne at Shoestrings Lindsey Eliot and The Old Road Tavern Chippenham Borough Lands Charity for the loan of the upright piano The amazing team of truly wonderful humans at Kandu Arts for Sustainable Development.
Filmed on location at Cherhill, Emery Gate Shopping Centre, Chippenham, The Social Hub of Positivity S.H.O.P and The Old Road Tavern.
Let's talk about happiness. What makes you happy? Getting up early in the morning? Seeing in the sunrise? Listening to the cock crow? Waking up next to the warmness of your partner? So many things to be happy about but what really floats your boat? It's gotta be the big stuff hasn't it? You know, but you can't do the big stuff every day. Cos it's too big. So you gotta concentrate on the small stuff. A bit like pennies taking care of pounds. When you get down to it if you can cultivate it then maybe you got a shot. You cant legislate for a runaway train or an act of God, a lightning strike. Alright. Just sheer bad luck. But you can celebrate making it thru the assault course, thru another day. You ever walked a mile in another man's shoes? It's a lonely mile, in ill fitting boots. You ever really listened to another point of view. Given a little understanding instead of the barbs of dismissal or envy. Seeing the other guys side. Maybe the final part of happiness is humanity. I think the goodness you send out into the world comes back to you. It might not come back when you want it to, but it's definitely coming. Because its a boomerang.
Brian Reid 2019