Here's a fellow I think you should know about. Musicians that have raved about Clifford T. Ward's unique talent include: Jimmy Page, Paul McCartney, Jeff Lynne, Tim Rice, and the like. And yet he remains largely under-rated. Well I'm no musician and I don't know much, but I knows what I like!
Born in Worcestershire, England, singer-songwriter Clifford T. Ward studied literature and this track - "Home Thoughts From Abroad" - re-interprets the Browning poem - substituting Browning’s gentle romanticism for monochrome 1970s British domesticity. As a boy, I found the song spellbinding - and still do today. His enduring storytelling is simple yet complex, aching yet jaunty, sad yet joyful. Much like his life.
In '62 Ward formed a beat band - Cliff Ward and The Cruisers. Popular in Birmingham they were also on demand at American Army bases in France and during a long spell abroad Ward wrote 'Home Thoughts ..'. He had married his childhood sweetheart and with 2 children, money was tight. As Ward recalls: ..'The other men were able to pocket their money and have nights out in Paris. I would mail my money to my wife to help pay the rent and feed the kids'.
The song is from the album of the same name released on the Charisma label in April 1973. One of the other tremendous tracks released from that album - ‘Gaye’ reached 8 in the UK singles chart. (The string arrangement tears you up). Sadly, he became an enigmatic one-hit hero, yet continued to write and record (with a certain peace and purity), but ironically reluctant to travel far from home, he made fewer and fewer performances. In 1984 he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and despite the frustration of his growing disability he continued to write and record at his home studio. He released his last album 'Julia and Other Stories' in 1994. "I'm like a bat" he said at the time, "I function best at night, but I had to make some of it on all fours!" Clifford T Ward died of pneumonia at Christmas 2001.
There are a quite a few albums to check out. The compilation 'Gaye And Other Stories' is highly rated and can be bought here. There are some cracking tribute sites on the net too.
So, all you thrusting indie/punky/hip-hoppin crazee mothers, if there's still room for carefully crafted lyrics and beautiful melody in your life then - homesick or not - find 3 minutes of complete peace and quiet ... and listen.