The first track off the debut album, Thief & Love. London Town was inspired by the first Sherlock Holmes novel, A Study in Scarlet, specifically Part II: The Country of the Saints. I remember reading this and being struck by the sheer motivating power of revenge, such that the main character makes this the singular focus of his life. Sometimes this drive is glorified and entertaining, (V for Vendetta?), and you could even argue that it usually plays a role in a hero’s journey. But if revenge becomes all-consuming, then the possessor leads a cruel, empty life. (In the novel, the main character systematically tracks down his wife’s killers and eventually confronts them in London, hence the song title).
I think this was one of the first truly character-driven songs I had ever written, drawing inspiration from material other than my own life and experiences (many of the songs on Thief & Love benefit from this exercise). A few of the personal highlights for me:
- I wanted to describe Lucy as having beautiful blonde hair, but do so through a picture or image rather than say those words exactly. So the line “golden streams of daisies falling like sunrise, sunset on the banks of your neck” came to mind and I dug it!
- “Your father stood on his good leg, and offered his right hand,” I love the economy in that line; it rolls off the tongue so easily and aligns well with the rhythm of the song.
- “I cradled your head, and drove a makeshift cross down into the sand!” I wrestled with this line for a long time. Not so much the line itself, but how to communicate transpiring events in a short space. In the Holmes novel (SPOILER alert!), Lucy is killed by a cult, which then plunges the protagonist on a lifelong pursuit of vengeance. I finally landed on that short description of driving a makeshift cross down into the sand. I loved the imagery enough to sacrifice the potential for the listener to not connect the dots.
- Stu Perkins (a wonderful singer and songwriter himself), added lead guitar and harmony parts that really brought this song to life!
© Wes Gow
My God – Lucy, no fairer bloom in all the unknown West
And I won’t soon forget, no I can’t forget
The golden streams of daisies falling like sunrise
Sunset on the banks of your neck
I asked you to marry me underneath that great oak tree,
Your father stood on his good leg and offered his right hand.
One more fall of cattle drives, you would sell that old upright
Yeah we were savin’ our dimes, and we’d have made our vows
Oh but London town, London town
I’ll swing your gallows before I go down!
The leery eyes of that hell-bound cult
They wouldn’t loose your hand, they said I wasn’t one of them
So we ran for our lives, and they gave chase our flight
And I cradled your head, and drove a makeshift cross down into the sand
For twelve long years I’ve feasted at the banquet of my vengeance
And I’ve tracked these sons of devils ‘cross three continents,
I’ve not lost a moment’s sleep for all my sins,
And tonight I’m gonna dip my goblet in the wine of sweet revenge!