Track-by-Track: Belle and Sebastian on “Third Eye Centre” Part 2 - Interview with Stuart Murdoch and Stevie Jackson | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Track-by-Track: Belle and Sebastian on “Third Eye Centre” Part 2

Stuart Murdoch and Stevie Jackson on Tracks 7 – 12 on Their New Compilation

Aug 22, 2013 Belle and Sebastian
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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.

Yesterday we posted commentary on the compilation’s first six songs. Here’s part two, where Murdoch and Jackson discuss the next six songs on the album. Come back tomorrow for part three and their thoughts on the final seven songs.

“I Took a Long Hard Look”

Stevie Jackson: I really like that one. The main theme of it is about growing up and trying to create your own magic as opposed to basking in the glow of magic that’s come before. I’m thinking of this in the context of a kid who used to read a lot about musicians and watch documentaries on bands realizing that he should be living his own life and not reading about other peoples’—“I took a long hard look at the heroes of my youth/And the antics of the page they’re on can no longer sustain me.” It’s quite direct, and it’s a personal take about growing up and taking responsibility for creating things.

“Heaven in the Afternoon

Stuart Murdoch: When I wrote that song, I can’t quite remember why I didn’t sing it, but it sounds nice with Sara [Martin] singing it. It’s somewhat inspired by the Edie Sedgwick biography. She just got into such a bad way with drugs and her mental state. She was stuck in her house, and the only stuff she could take in were baby stories like Winnie the Pooh. That was written for Edie.

Long Black Scarf”

Stuart: It’s one of my favorite Belle and Sebastian moments, and it doesn’t feature on any records. I know that Stevie and Chris [Geddes] clashed somewhat. It’s genuinely quite jazzy, but not in a boring way at all.

Stevie: Chris brought that in, and I started singing over it. I have a CD of the rehearsal. A lot of jazzy changes, which appeals to me. I just like the idea of a long black scarf. I suppose it’s because when I was a kid there was always an article of clothing, maybe a jacket or shirt that could make you feel attractive, a piece of clothing that you think’s really cool and makes you feel good about yourself. It’s the same idea of a long black scarf. I had one as a teenager, and taking the idea further, it has magical powers. In my charged teenage life I think it had magic powers, in a sense. It enables you to have a power, but it backfires on you. It’s kind of fantasy with a touch of reality.

“The Eighth Station of the Cross Kebab House”

Stuart: I do like songs with long song titles, like with Felt. This is based on a trip Chris and I took to Israel-Palestine to go to check out the situation. They were building more and walls between communities in Palestine five our six years ago when they were going through a particularly rough patch. We went there with a magazine and they took our pictures and we were there to report back and see what good we could do. You can watch as much television as you like, but it’s not until you visit the area and speak to some of the people and you feel their anger that you realize what’s going on. Gaza’s like a big prison camp, really, and so many people live there and they’re so restricted, and 20 miles away, Israel’s so tiny, and in Tel Aviv, everyone’s very nice there, and they’re very welcoming, and you have this conflict that’s very distinct. In Jerusalem we met up with these people at this kebab house, and that’s what I wrote the song about when I got home.

“I Didn’t See It Coming (Richard X Mix)”

Stuart: [The original version] was on Write About Love, but we featured it on an EP because we thought the remix was sort of distinctive. Distinctive enough that we wanted to include it.

”(I Believe In) Travelin’ Light”

Stevie: It was my take on a Cliff Richards song called “Traveling Light.” The song’s about not traveling with very much luggage. I just like the idea of traveling light. I just wrote it one morning. The chord sequence isn’t far away from “Mother’s Nature’s Son” by The Beatles—just picking a D chord and D minor, and it has that kind of feel to it. Chris and Mick [Cooke] wrote the string arrangement, and there’s a spaceship sound in the middle of it. I can’t remember who came up with it. I think Stuart took it off [the album] because there were stronger songs, but we still play it live occasionally. Just a folk song. It’s a good quality B-side.

Check back tomorrow for part three.


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