I just put the kid down.

It’s another typical Saturday with family, driving around in the rain, looking for nature’s sweet succour.

I see glimpses of it. I see it in the view from the top of a shopping centre car park. I see it in the only visible corner of a loch that I know stretches like a dagger into the low heart of the highlands. But I see only glimpses.

England beat Scotland at the rugby with sickening inevitability.

My tinnitus turns on again like a car warning light to spoil everything.

And I’m nervous.

Not an entirely shitty nervous. Not a full on anxiety/depression nervous, Thank God. And if the tinnitus would just shut the hell up and stop boxing my brain in, I could tell you what sort of nervous.

I always get this nervous feeling, but it still seems new every time. And it has to do with carrying around artistic ideas, but not having the immediate means to realise them. For that you need the coercion of people: a band, a record label, a willing audience. I guess I get nervous thinking that there are many people and problems and situations standing in the way of me making music.

But I need them. The people, that is.

Now, in black and white –

I want to make records. I always want to make records. Outwith actually writing songs and having an overwhelming urge to express oneself in the musical medium, I still want to make records.

I want to record, I want to be in a studio and feel the amps hum, and the red lights move ever so slightly in an analog type of way. I want to be sat behind the wheel of a large mixing desk. I want to be sat in a black swivel chair with a clipboard on my knee, and I want to be listening to amplified sound.

I want to record. I want to make a record. I want to be part of a record. And I want that record to say something about our lives that has previously not been said. Maybe we just felt it. And if we can catch that feeling and perhaps preserve it for a few bedtime listeners, sneaking under duvets,  that would be a good thing.

Or a few bleary eyed morning tube-travellers who demand revelations of otherness at 440Hz – we can give it to you. We are the guys for that.

It makes me nervous though – the gulf between the nothing I have in my hands right now, and the warmth and dynamic abstract of sound that is demanded of me, by life and by my situation. It is a hill to climb, and not only do I have to climb it, but I have to push many people up the hill.

The good thing is that it’s no different from the situation I was in 20 years ago. I had songs, I got to know some musicians, I orchestrated some recordings. That became our first and second LPs.

Nothing changes. I thought about writing an email to the group with reasons why I thought we should move faster. It would have been the same sort of manifesto type letter that I used to bother Stevie, or Isobel with 20 years ago.

But nothing has changed. We’re back full circle. We should move faster. We need to get into the studio. We are trying to work without ‘a producer’ this time. We are not recording an album as such, just some tracks. We are trying not to spend ages in the practice room nailing the song and arrangement, but instead, we are trying to get the song into the studio fast, so that it has a chance to breath and live on tape, before we kill it with listing and filing and overpractice.

I just know what to do. I’ve always known. And the bits you don’t know, you just have to find someone who does, and ask them to help. And that’s it. That’s how you make anything from a haiku to a Hollywood movie.

And it bothers me a little that i always end up taking over. I’m a passive aggressive tyrant, and probably a little bit of an asshole. We just need to get started though. I don’t know what people are waiting for. Beatles would have recorded 2 albums by now.

But I still get nervous. Nervous I’m going to run out of energy. Nervous I’m going to piss people off and not have the energy or will to make it ok.

But you know there’s no escape. There’s no other road, not really. You know that feeling, whether you’re going to have a baby, or having to sit your driving test, or you have to have an operation or something. It’s inevitable. There’s no denying it, it’s happening.

Inevitable as England beating Scotland at the rugby.

  1. Erin says:

    I somehow did not know that you have tinnitus too.

    The ocean keeps rolling. It seems that if we turn away from it then the tides will stop their cycles. As long as the urge to chase the moment is there, though, the moment, however elusive, will be there.

  2. Victoria Targett says:

    I’m glad it’s inevitable. I look forward to more albums and gigs. But if it ain’t broke….

  3. benni says:

    thanks for this. i somehow felt okay while i ve been reading this. this is so remarkable. it actually sounds so mundane. it is not. greetings from germany.

  4. Anne says:

    For my selfish sake I hope it all works.
    Sport – 2 words. Andy Murray

  5. Virginia says:

    “And if we can catch that feeling and perhaps preserve it for a few bedtime listeners, sneaking under duvets, that would be a good thing.” Recently I took leave from university because of depression and anxiety. Home hasn’t been as safe a place as I’d hoped. But for some reason, when I listen to your music, to Belle & Sebastian – to which I’m relatively new – existence doesn’t seem like such a burden. I can kind of just be for a while, and everything else sort of disappears in the background. It drowns out the noise. I just wanted to let you know how powerful the kind of beautiful melancholy that I find in your work has been in my life in the last couple of weeks especially. Keep writing xxxxxx

  6. Dougie says:

    Hooray for nervous Stuart. Without him none of this beautiful, binding music that has decorated my life since I first slept over at my girlfriend’s house in 1999 with these strange Christmas-coloured CDs played in rotation. The older I become, the more I rely on revelations of otherness. Thank you.

  7. Jim McAteer says:

    This was a very serendipitous post to read by happenstance and chance! Thank you! I’m soon to record an album too (just off my own back) but I’m also feeling the impatience and want to get it rolling too but, because of lack of experience, I’m nervous about how to make and orchestrate that record but I should and will climb that hill!. So thank you.

  8. Miki says:

    I think most of us, Belle and Sebastian fans, the older ones at least, are willing to wait indefinitely for the band’s next record. We know that something great and touching and special will eventually brew and see the light in due course.

    Parts of this entry feel like a song to me already! The way you express yourself in written form is so lyrical; maybe that’s why I feel a little bit intimidated to make a comment here. But anyway, I feel excited at the idea of listening to a new record of yours! May your health be good, all the people involved surpass your expectations and have a blast making such record!



    1. Stuart says:

      thanks miki
      i feel excited to make a new record, in fact we’re recording a song of stevie’s today!
      all the best

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