Track-by-Track: Belle and Sebastian on “Third Eye Centre” Part 3

Stuart Murdoch and Stevie Jackson on Tracks 13 – 19 on Their New Compilation

Aug 23, 2013 Web Exclusive
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For our Track-by-Track feature, we go in-depth with an artist about each song on their new album. This week we are featuring Belle and Sebastian's Third Eye Centre, and for three days this week we'll post commentary by the band on all of the album's songs.

In the lead up to the release of The Third Eye Centre, their second compilation of ephemera and B-sides, Belle and Sebastian's Stuart Murdoch and Stevie Jackson spoke to Under the Radar about the provenance, recording, and other interesting facts regarding the songs.

The record is carefully sequenced by the band, in direct opposition to 2005's Push Barman to Open Old Wounds, which collected the act's Jeepster singles in chronological order. This time Belle and Sebastian took painstaking steps to ensure the album sustained a mood, which it does, albeit one of the serendipity of hunting in a junk shop—you find some vintage treasure, esoteric world music flourishes, occasional detritus, and some failed experiments, but ultimately the fascinating sound of a band transitioning into a fully functioning egalitarian unit exploring myriad stylistic avenues, a contrast to Barman.

On Wednesday we posted commentary on the compilation's first six songs and yesterday we featured the next six songs. Here's part three, where Murdoch and Jackson discuss the final seven songs on the album.

"Stop, Look, and Listen"

Stuart Murdoch: The band was in a great rush between LPs, after we'd returned from tour, and needed to record an easy track from the past. So we spruced it up a bit. I think I wrote the last couple of verses just at that time, added them on, and then we recorded it.

Stevie Jackson: It's a very early Stuart song. I think he had it back in 1995, and we recorded it all completely live. It's a great memory of playing acoustic guitar on it live back in 2003 or 2004 again.

"Passion Fruit"

Stuart: That's just an instrumental written by Mick [Cooke]. Not a lot I can say about that one.

"Desperation Made a Fool of Me"

Stuart: It had this kind of laidback quality. One of the very old songs I had written with the band at the time, who were playing really well. Nothing really much to add. Just the spirit of a young boy and a life and relationship song.

"Blue Eyes of a Millionaire"

Stuart: A Tony Hoffer production. I love the production. It had a quality for a while where something moved, and it lost it. If it had that movement, a sort of funk thing to it, it would've made the LP, but it didn't so we left it off. The lyrics were about a girl I used to know in Glasgow. A girl I didn't know that well. She was quite the opposite of a millionaire. Rich people can buy many things but they can't buy grace and beauty, which this girl had in spades.

"Mr. Richard" 

Stevie: A lot of these songs are more experimental pieces that were always meant to end up as B-sides. This one has the stamp of Mick because it has the odd time signature, 3/4 then 4/4. The melody, which sounds kind of Latin, was one of the first things I wrote on my guitar when I was 14. It just came into my head. And it needed some words, and it's really just a companion piece to "Long Black Scarf" in that it's about being a teenager. It's looking back on being a huge Rolling Stones fan. I must've been in a reflective period at that time.

"Meat and Potatoes" 

Stuart: It was a candidate for Dear Catastrophe Waitress. I remember talking to Tony Hoffer and I thought it was a candidate for the LP, but I don't think the band cared for it all that much. I realize at the time hearing a few comments as to why I didn't write songs from an adult perspective than a student's sort of look at life, so I wrote a song about the practicalities of sex in an existing relationship and some of the pitfalls that arrive, and actually I was kind of criticized for that more. [Laughs] Sometimes you can't win.

"The Life Pursuit"

Stuart: Quite predictably that was meant to be on the record The Life Pursuit, and Tony was a big fan of it, and we spent a lot of time working on the structure of that song, possibly more than any other song, but by the time it was worked out everybody was fed up with it. But I think it does what I wanted to do, to start off with the trivialities and annoyances of life, and it tries to soothe the listener and take them to a slightly spiritual place. It was a good one to fit on the end of the record.

www.belleandsebastian.com



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