Monday, 5 October 2009

Thanks (Part 1)

I've got a long line of blog posts that I need to write at the minute and the next in line is a series of thank yous to various people. There is so much good work and support going on behind the scenes and you'll soon realise what a great team effort this is as I write and thank those kind folk who have made a valuable contribution to the cause. I'll spread these blog posts over the coming days but starting today is a thank you to THE EXILES (aka Tim Readman (left) and Alan Millen (below right)). Tim is based in Canada and Alan in Switzerland. Which is where they get their name from I guess!

Regular readers will remember that Tim and Alan sent me 2 of their CDs to listen to during the 874 mile run from John O'Groats to Lands End back in 2007. Click here to read in greater detail about what happened back then. In a nutshell, I contacted the lads back in July last year and they were kind enough to agree to write and record a couple of songs in the spirit of the next big run across the USA in 2011. We exchanged emails and after putting my thoughts into what I'd like the songs to be about it seemed like no time at all before Alan came up with a draft set of lyrics. These were tweaked very slightly and a rough recording was made before Alan then sent them over to Tim to do his stuff in the studio.

I took delivery of the final songs in July 2009. The first track I listened to was Runner on a Lonely Road. Within the first 10 seconds of listening to it I couldn't believe just how catchy it was. Brilliant! This was a song that delivered a message of never ever giving up and getting to the finish line against all the odds! Intertwined in all of that was also a message that the run would be done in memory and dedication of those people who were dearly important to the runner. This is evident in the lines of the song that start "I'll go another mile for.....".

Next up was Beneath The Angel's Wings Once More. This beautifully written and performed piece is a lot slower in tempo than the first track and opens with the line "I'm a Geordie Boy a long way from home....". It tells a story of a lad on a very testing journey and once again there is a theme of sheer determination and of never giving up which is explained lyrically as " surrender, no turning back". If the first song was about the run itself then this song talks more about the return home to the North East of England. "and when it's over, I'll walk through that old familiar door, home at last, the day I stand, beneath the angel's wings once more." is a line I certainly look forward to being a reality.

If there's one thing that you soon realise when you listen to the Exiles' songs it's that they don't half know how to relay a good story. Back this up with that seemingly familiar Geordie "twang" in Tim's vocals and you've got a recipe for some quality tunes that us common Tyneside folk can really relate to and in our mind's eye be a part of.

It was interesting to hear Alan's take on things just after he'd heard the songs for the first time:

"It has been many years since I read The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner
and saw the movie with Tom Courtenay, but that book title and some of the imagery from the film helped spark the lyrics. I wanted to underscore the sense of sheer determination that keeps a runner going beyond the pain and fatigue barrier.

The Angel of the North was the central inspiration for Beneath The Angel's Wings Once More, especially given its powerful symbolism for anyone returning to The North after having been away. Including the Northumbrian pipes really drives that point home for me."

Also, just as interesting is listening to Tim as he talks about creating the melody to Alan's lyrics:

"As soon as I got my teeth into Runner on a Lonely Road I knew it was going to be an anthem. Beneath the Angel’s Wings Once More took a bit longer to get into but once the melody came to me it all flowed from that. Bill Buckingham had a huge part to play in the arrangements and production of the tunes. I hope loads of people download the tunes and contribute to the cause and I hope the songs inspire you to keep on running! Howay the Lad!!!"

The Run Geordie Run CD by The Exiles is available for a minimum donation of £3. This can be paid at either (St Benedict's Hospice) or (The Children's Foundation). Then drop me a line at with your address and I'll pop a CD in the post. The songs are also available to download as a pair from at $2.58 with about $1.94 going to the 2 charities. That's about £1.21 at today's exchange rate.

So I'm sure you'll agree that Tim and Alan aka THE EXILES are due a great deal of thanks. Thanks, that is, for contributing all of their time, materials, studio costs and effort for no charge whatsoever and producing 2 wonderful and very marketable songs for 2 very worthwhile local charities. I fully expect these songs to sell very well over the coming years and make a real difference to the overall fund. By doing that, of course, they will make a real difference to people's lives in our region. Thanks lads!