Five Questions … Chris Wood
Chris Wood is one of Britain’s best singer-songwriters. He is self-taught on both guitar and violin and writes songs with contemporary themes. With Hugh Lupton he wrote ‘One in a Million’, a song about romance in a fish and chip shop. If you haven’t heard it please listen and tell me afterwards you didn’t end up with a tear in your eye. Here Chris takes out time to answer some our devilish questions …
SF: Some of your songs have a political edge. Do you think we have been losing the protest song in folk music over the years?
CW: I’ve grown up through folk music and I take my lead from the greatest songwriter of them all ...’ – Anon. All I am doing is trying to get to the heart, or maybe the soul of the matter. You ask if the protest song is disappearing from the folk cannon ... yes, I think it is, but protest itself is disappearing. The old ‘which side are you on?’ form of protest no longer looks so obvious in this neo-liberal age.
I do try and write about what’s going on, about what I see, about how I think things really are. Maybe this looks political. Maybe in a world so spun and manipulated and pumped with froth ... maybe simply trying to get to the nub of something ends up looking political.
SF: Many of your songs mention your family, daughter, son, and wife. Are these songs autobiographical or are your ‘personal’ lyrics based on imaginary situations?
CW: The cliché with a lot of writers is that they have to break everything up just to feel alive, from hotel rooms to marriages. I don’t see why. The stuff of life is the soil from which the songs grow. But I’m not going to plaster my home life all over the internet just to sell a few records and so lines get blurred, poetic licence employed, because ‘a deception that elevates us is dearer than a host of low truths’.
SF: Which writers, poets, lyricists have been the most inspirational/influential to Chris Wood?
CW: Jimmy Webb wrote ‘Galveston’ and ‘Wichita Lineman’ – in his book Tunesmith he writes briefly about folk songs ... ‘those seamless masterpieces that someone once said had been “worn smooth by millions of voices like pebbles in the bottom of a stream” and benefited from being fitted together in a vivid New World mosaic. Such songwriting entailed collaboration through time and space. No single human being lives long enough to write a song in this way’. So, given that Anon. has to be the greatest poet of all time, I tend to go for people who seem to embrace that in their own work – Gillian Welch, Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, Alan Garner, Daniel Woodrell, Big Joe Louis ...
SF: You have played for many years in a duo with Andy Cutting. Have you ever been tempted to cook any of the recipes he often gives out at gigs?
CW: I’ve heard about these recipes; he’s never done one when I’ve been on stage with him. I remember we’d sit down to a schnitzel in a motorway services in Germany or some place and he’d say ‘I’m so hungry I could eat a scabby horse!’ Is that the sort of thing you mean?
SF: What can we expect next from Chris Wood? Do you plan more solo gigs, more collaboration or a mixture of both?
CW: I have no idea. I’m trying to let go a bit more, see what comes out. Take a back seat, let the music take the strain. I’ve got an old electric guitar, which I can’t put down. It’ll probably end in tears ; )