If you look through the music on my iPod, you’ll find some that you’ve heard of (Coldplay, Snow Patrol, Mumford and Sons) and some you probably haven’t (Swell Season – aka Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova of Once fame, Dawes, David Ford). And a little bit of Savage Garden – purely for nostalgia purposes, obviously.
Anyway, the one I’d like to talk about today is David Ford. If you don’t know who he is, you’re not the only one; not a lot of people do. I was first introduced to his music by my friend (who I think it’s fair to say had a bit of a crush) and her friend (who had a lot of one). This was back in the days when he went by Dav, wore a lot of make up and was in a band called Easyworld. I don’t really know how to describe Easyworld; the band was made up of two guys, one girl and a whole lot of angst. I only saw them play once, at a small festival in Leicester. We’d already met ‘Dav’ once, and had our photos taken, then a bit later headed for the signing tent to meet him again. Personally, I thought that was probably enough stalking, but apparently not, because the day ended with a fairly embarrassing incident where we chased the poor guy across a field. In my defence, I was running after my friend, who was following her friend. But even so, I still don’t think I’d be able to look him in the eye even now, a good ten years later, because from his perspective it probably looked like I was – well, chasing him across a field.
Anyway, not long after that Easyworld split up (hopefully not as a result of his Leicester chasing trauma) and Dav went solo, switching back to David, which I was quite happy about, not least because I never knew how to pronounce it (Davv? Dave?). And ironically, although I go to far fewer of his shows these days, I actually enjoy his recent music more; the old stuff had an occasional tendency toward the whiney and was basically an excuse for a rant. Don’t get me wrong, a live performance of State of the Union, where he uses every instrument on stage through the magic of a looping pedal machine thingy, is amazing to watch, but it’s not exactly relaxing to listen to, and is pretty much a tantrum set to music. On the other hand, these days I enjoy listening to his songs as music, as well as for the point they’re making.
One of my favourite songs, not even just of David’s but generally, is called ‘Stephen’. It was inspired by a radio interview with Kate Carroll, whose husband, a police officer, was murdered by terrorists in Northern Ireland in 2009. Needless to say, it’s a horribly sad song that brings home the human cost of the struggles going on in the world today: ‘A piece of land’s only a piece of land… and you will not come home tonight.’
It would be very easy for Kate Carroll to want revenge for her husband’s senseless death, but instead she’s decided to honour his memory by launching the Steve Carroll Foundation to work with young people in Northern Ireland, promoting peace and equality. I won’t try and speak for her: please take a few minutes to listen to her TEDx talk about the work of the foundation and her vision for the future.
I know that all the conflicts in the world aren’t going to suddenly stop just because some obscure musician wrote a song. But I like to think the story of Stephen and Kate Carroll teaches us an important lesson: we should focus on the things that matter in life, because before we know it they could be gone.
Also, it’s a really good song.