The people we can be

A lot of the lyrics to my songs come out ad lib when I have a go at recording a first-pass demo of a new tune. I usually then edit them into shape as the song evolves. But, sometimes they have a bit more of a story, and although the basics just emerge as I’m putting it together, they do get more craft occasionally. My latest conflates a couple of encounters Mrs Sciencebase and I have had with Paris over the years. The most recent encounter was from a high altitude, a few years ago we were flying back at night from a trip to Croatia and could see Paris from the airliner. The Eiffel Tower was illuminated and looked like a tiny golden dagger poking up from the cityscape.

The earlier encounter was a cold and snowy winter trip to the city back in the very early 1990s. We did all the usual sights including a trip to the top of the tower during the day. That evening we searched for a nice restaurant near our lodgings and stumbled upon a rather rustic place near the Bastille and shared a table with a couple of French gents. Neither of them spoke a lot of English and our French was Franglais at best, but we had a chat over a couple of carafes of red wine and ate some food. One of the things they were keen to know was what we thought of living in a monarchy…how we interpreted that conversation I don’t know, I think we lost the thread at one point, but basically, they wanted to know what we thought of The Queen. It was funny.

The airport race was our return from wintry Paris, we almost missed the flight, we hadn’t heard it called, and I think actually at the time they didn’t call flights at that airport. An airport attendant sought us out, mooching in the bucket seats, and chucked us on to the back of a luggage trailer and drove us like baggage to the aeroplane, threw us up the steps. The business travellers were might irritated that we’d delayed their flight home, but we thought it was funny and we didn’t miss our takeoff slot, so no harm done…and a story to tell.

I waited until we visited Greece the following year before I offered a proposal of marriage to Ms Sciencebase, who as you know accepted, long before Sciencebase was even a thing. Incidentally, the lock with T&D wasn’t ours, but it was clipped around a fence on a walk way in Dubrovnic we spotted on our visit to that beautiful city.

This song is for her, a rarity. Its tongue-in-cheek working title was Parisian Nights and then it became C’est la Vie but both phrases have been used a lot, so I’ve not settled on it being called People we can be.

You can listen on SoundCloud or BandCamp

People we can be

You remember how we flew home at night?
Head full of memories, I could tell
You shone when we caught sight of Paris
and smiled at the lights of the Tour Eiffel

It was so small, a golden dagger
In a playground of street life and bars
Full of the memories that make me stagger
A flashlight on streetlights and cars

Oh, how I wish I could find a way
To take us back to those nights, we’d see
The secret to happiness isn’t time or place
It’s the laissez faire of the c’est la vie
The secret to happiness isn’t time or place
It’s the finding the people we can be

The mighty drinkers in that old cafe
Who asked us all about The Queen
We shared their wine and spirit, I have to say
But we lost the thread, I felt so mean

We headed home along the banks of the Seine
I headed out on a limb
The easiest thing to do was to stake a claim
But, my mind was dulled and my eyes were dim

Oh, how I wish I could find a way
To take us back to those nights, we’d see
The secret to happiness isn’t time or place
It’s the laissez faire of the c’est la vie
The secret to happiness isn’t time or place
It’s finding the people we can be

We chased the plane in an airport race
Entangled in our own youth
Although I’d held back just to check out the place
What more did I need, in truth?

Just in from the critics: “Great song! Beautiful lyrics and melody, and it’s always good to hear that stripped-back acoustic guitar sound.”