"The Captain"

Acoustic fingerstyle guitar stuff. A song for seafarers but it’s not a hornpipe.

if you are in high spirits
don’t play it right away
download it and save it
for a rainy day.

The Captain

That’s only a 256 kilobytes-per-second mp3. If you PM me I’ll send you the wave. If you send me a ticket I’ll play it for you live! :smiley:

Mostly I hope you like it but all opinions and hints and suggestions welcome.


Stubborn bastard that I am, I didn’t take your advice and I listened right away,
thinking my high spirits unassailable.
Then I listened - kicked the cat, and I’m left thinking you’ve got a lotta nerve posting this here.
Ya callin’ this music, Mr. Keir? :angry:

Well, I did warn ya Lenny!

(Sorry 'bout the cat! :frowning: )

thats good ,paints a dark picture.i was just watching the late news , colonel gaddafi was telling his followers to chant and dance to keep their spirits up for maybe their last fight .it`s strange how music can affect you.

HA… :mrgreen: how funny…I started listening (nice track too) and almost immediately started thinking…“it sounds…umm, sort of…Celtic”…then I check out your bio and lo and behold!

Nice. Sparse and forlorn yes, but in an engaging way. Two thoughts came to mind…first was; what if you put some background sound underneath it? Initially I thought…how bout an ocean sound…not crashing waves or anything, more of a calm sea type of thing…but thats really quite cliche.

Then I thought, what about some almost subliminal wind noise? This actually was prompted by the header picture on your web site. imagine what you would hear if you were standing on one of the rocky cragg’s in the picture on your web site header?

Add to this some extremely sparse pan pipes maybe??? By sparse, i mean almost non-existant…2 or 3 notes, or a short trill of some sort sprinkled in at a few strategic points?

An interesting tune and good guitar playing too.


Hi Dave

I think this is great. I wouldn’t change a thing. sure you could add stuff … but would it be better.

However… :mrgreen: and I’m not suggesting you try it.

I’d also love to hear this with some one like Glyn playing the guitar part on piano. Some of thouse accents would be so powerful.


Kark & Dave,

Thanks for the scrutiny! :sunglasses:

I don’t doubt at all that very nice arrangements could be made of this song. It is indeed a sparse thing. But as Dave implied, there is the question about “improvement”. I could go all purist and say that all of my stuff is solo guitar and vox and leave it at that, but I’m also conscious that “modern ear” expects more layers of interest. Ear candy would be perjorative term but that’s not what I mean. I also like complexity but it’s maybe just not what I habitually “do”. I frankly have a tough enough time just making my guitar and singing sound half-pro.

But, I agree - your particular ideas are particularly tempting! One day when I’ve got more spare time I’m going to at least expreriment or solicit a collab. Some of the collabs I hear here are mindblowing quality-wise and I confess to feeling a wee bit envious. :sunglasses:

Oooh… NIce! Dark and broody… Great playing/not playing, and lucious guitar sound as always. :slight_smile:

It is sparse, and I know you’re largely comitted to just guitar and vocal, but you know me… I like to throw lots of colour on the canvas and here I was hearing all sorts of potential in this for really exploiting and maximising the atmosphere and vibe.

Still, regardless, you thoroughly convinced me so…


My thinking, on the wind background thing, was not really about adding to the song per se…more a thought of adding a soundscape element that would let you listen to the tune and the backing soundscape (again, almost at a subliminal level) would put the listener in “a place”. ind of transport them from the room they’re in to another environment.

Might not work…might take some playing with to find just the right soundscape. Just a thought.

Hi Dave :slight_smile:

I accidentally clicked into this part of the forum and ! …

Very nice.



With the same genetic robustness with which Ian hungers for orchestration - more colours, I revel in the sense of 'empty except for the minimum notes and words needed to make bare statements. I typically fail when I attempt to create it, but I can appreciate it in the work of others. Ian is no stranger to creating beauty in fullness as he describes a world rather of flesh than of skeletons, and of prairies and streams than of desert parch.

In my ideal vision of this song, I would not go for sheets of rain, billows of waves, sounds of seagulls, albatrosses, puffins, spouting whales, distant cannonfire or timber-creak; Nor screams prompted by events of death-by-giant-seafood, which suggest different meaning to ‘The calamari did not agree with me’.
No matter how subtle.

What you’ve done here affects me by making my imagination build the world you describe, build it in My Colours and thus, by filling the gaps you provide with my own imaginings, generate a richness of personal meaning with which to ‘meet’ your message.

Would I ‘listen better’ if you placed a virtual room on the master bus? Or am I better off with your present ‘in my ear’ performance, which, by depriving me of a ‘stage’ and 'audience-distance from it, keeps me ‘close’ to your meanings? I really like it just the way it is. Though it would be a worthy experiment for the purpose of testing the hypotheses.

Dave S … hi :slight_smile: I went through your suggestion with my inner ear. I believe the result would be valid. The piano provides resonance of many strings over a very wide frequency spectrum … hear it with the sustain-pedal applied; it would provide space and ambiance without adding ‘beyond’ itself. I concur with you and Dave K that it may add perspective, but not a jot of improvement. My central theme here is that I reckon Dave did something he often does, which is to achieve perfection. By which specifically I mean he has not generated at much as a single note or word too many or too few, nor an instrument too many. There is no water in this whisky.

Hah … I’m about to go to sleep, because I’m tired, so this may or may not make sense - Imagine this: Dave and I have done a joint concert. Perhaps we’ve done a duet accompanied by his guitar and my piano. Now I’m seeing a version of ‘Captain’ in which the piano IS Present … and I am sitting at the piano; however, I am not playing it. I am sitting sideways on the pianostool, attending his renditon, as he emanates the same sparse authority which we have just heard. I am outwith his spotlight - close, but not in it with him. The piano is present, but only as a recent memory in the concert. All our attention is focussed on him; all else is darkness and silence apart from the inner experience of the listeners.

Best wishes

This put me in mind of the song Johnny Cash covered not long before he died - is it called ‘Hurt’? The same kind of beautiful, haunting melancholy.

I really like the lack of embroidery. (At the same time I can also hear this with other stuff that might sound in keeping - I’m hearing either a penny whistle type recorder, or bagpipes.)

Great tune!



Thanks for listening so closely and taking the time to write that. Your “death-by-giant-seafood” image will stay with me for a long time. I immediately thought of a couple of muscular mussels jumping from my fork and wrapping a couple of strands of al dente spaghetti round my throat! I’ll never look at a steaming bowl of the things with same appetite I used to.

A well-voiced (chords-wise) piano part would maybe be better than a guitar. There are a couple of points fingering changes on the guitar chokes off notes that would be better sustained through the next chord.

But regarding instrumentation, so far we have:

  • A piano
    An ocean
    Some Wind noise
    Pan pipes
    A penny whistle
    Bagpipes (one set - or massed ranks?)

It’ll all work! It’ll all work!

On the other hand, I wonder, since other sounds seem to be suggesting themselves, whether the thing partly works because they are implicit.

I’m greatly relieved it the song meets with some approval - I had a nagging feeling it might have crossed the border into maudlin-land. Anyhoo, I promise to bring back something more cheerful next time!

Steve, I dunno if I know the Johnny Cash song - I’m going to go listen. Funnily enough, some kind person pointed out a few years ago that a riff in another of my songs bore more than a passing resemblance to Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire. When I checked, it was uncomfortably close but I had a clear conscience since there were many years between hearing one and writing the other. I still don’t know if I had been aware at the time whether I would have proceeded with my song, though.


No No :wink: …I said “first thought was ocean background”, but it’s too cliche. If someone saw the title, then heard that come in at the start it would be almost instant…“oh yeah…been there, done that”. :mrgreen:

Hi Dave,

I like this, the ‘less is more’ approach works very well.
Guitar sounds great!


Just to be clear Dave, I don’t think this sounds anything like the Johnny Cash song - I mean it elicits the same sort of response in me.

I think you’re dead right - the fact that so many people can ‘hear’ so many other instruments shows that it works perfectly as it is - it’s all about what you’ve elicited in the listener.


Gotcha Steve. :wink: And thanks - you’re absolutely right: there is a world between “the song needs a …” and “the song implies a …” If The Captain is in the latter camp, I’m a happy camper!


We had a brief chat over at Facebook. Same sentiment here, great song.
Change nothing. You could easily add the sea, some background hornpipey stuff but we’d lose the bleak for cliche. Unforgiveable.
All is well with thisun Cap’n :sunglasses:


Cheers again, Phil!

( :bulb: I’m considering promoting it as a candidate for the closing credits music-over in the next Pirates Of The Carribean flick)

Then you will need the ocean sounds afterall, perhaps some swashbuckling fx as well. :bulb:
Remember, it’s Hollywood, where too much is never enough. :sunglasses:

Oops - wrong thread. :blush: