I have been motivated to writing something about an interesting point raised in a post on the Big Country in Deutschland Page. The post was generally about why artists always refer to their latest album as 'their best album so far'.
This comment resonated with me because, I believe it to be true for a few reasons. I would imagine, any creative artist, whether of the painting variety, author or any other art-form creator, will view their most recent project in this way.
My view (particularly referring to my fantastic years with BC) is that with each album project, particularly when it had been conceived and created, was the best album at that time. The next album will always be better because of the experiences (particularly in the writing stage) from the previous experience. The desire and will to strive for an artistic zenith of ones creativity is like an intoxicating drug. The sheer desire to be better is the order of the day. To say that this statement becomes diluted subsequently is also a valid comment in my mind, basically for the same reasons - the will to move forward.
I do remember when writing and recording musical ideas for the band, there was always a deep feeling of staying honest with your musical integrity, but also to be more and more experimental or mature in advancing tried and tested concepts. As Stuart Adamson was the lyricist in the band, my only baseline was to make sure the chord sequences and melody lines where strong enough to evoke a creative response from Stuart, in order for him to develop lyrics and a top line melody.
Writing for myself was something I knew I had to develop, which I started in earnest when I first had the idea to do something in a solo capacity; which I did with 'The Great Unknown'. I always regarded Stuart's capacity for writing intelligent, heart-felt, poetic and thought provoking lyrics as such a great gift to have, but in no way did I feel that I could even compete (I remember nervously playing a demo of a track I wrote and sang called 'World On Fire' to the guys when we were recording some cover versions for singles, and to my surprise they said, yeah, lets do it).
The first song I wrote that I thought lyrically worthy of recording was a song called 'The Mayqueen Leads Her Parade'. It was a song written to celebrate the fact that my family and I had found an idyllic place to live, in a community that made us feel very welcome (if I was half decent at writing lyrics beforehand, I would have written the same about Scotland). But through this song, I realised that writing about my own life and experiences would be valid. I have, and still do, toil over my lyric writing, just because it is important to me that what I write about has credibility and a reasonable level of intelligence; more so that the listener can engage with the lyric which will provoke thought, empathy and be stimulating (Stuarts lyrics were always stimulating in all emotional areas).
There were two songs I wrote during this fledgling time that really made me feel my lyric writing was developing - 'One Day to the Next' which I had to tell the story of an extremely debilitating medical condition suffered by my daughter and her mother back in the the 90's, and a song called 'Lucky Man' (from 'Demos of Dreams and Other Themes) - about a good friend living through a very upsetting situation, which I was desperate to articulate well.
I will be bold enough to say that I consider my forthcoming album 'My Time' to be my best work to date. I say this because it is the first recording project I have done outside of the 'Big Country' bubble, that I consider being good enough to stand up and be counted for. As I have said in recent conversations, interviews and Facebook communications, I am no longer in a band; I have spent, since 2002, teaching, and now at 60 years old, I need to do this for deep musically artistic reasons and also, I have to earn as much money as I can to look after my grandchildren and their parents.
So, in response to the FB string, I will also say my next album will be better, simply because it will have to be, but for now, I am really happy with what I have done now