“..a witty, angry and emotional account of two years in the life of a touring musician unable to ply his trade due to government edict.”
**** The Daily Telegraph
May You Live In Interesting Times is the new album from acclaimed singer-songwriter David Ford. The Eastbourne-based musician’s seventh long-player has been informed by recent history, from the pandemic to the divisive politics of populist leaders. The phrase “may you live in interesting times”, whilst masquerading as some kind of blessing, is reputedly a translation of a Chinese curse and is only ever used as an ironic threat: in truth, life is better in uninteresting times of peace and tranquillity.
“May You Live in Interesting Times is a document of a still quite unbelievable two years,” says Ford. “The rise of Covid set against the decline of Trump made for a deep well of subject matter for one who has always felt compelled to write about events of the age.”
Ford approaches these weighty topics with a light touch and with melodies to die for. Rousing lead single “The Wall Has Come Between Us” (‘Build it up high / And build it up strong / Everybody choose a side / Switch off and sing along”) is a song about “the metaphorical divide between people, the polarisation of political opinion, as well as the literal wall that Donald Trump wanted to build.” Elsewhere, “2 Shots” is an elegiac nod in the general direction of the Astra-Zeneca vaccine, which, along with the development of several other Covid 19 vaccines, Ford believes to be “one of the greatest achievements of humanity. I was at the mercy of scientists to come up with a vaccine – so I could go to work.”
“6ft Apart” is a beautiful song composed whilst Ford was attempting to come to terms with the first stages of lockdown. Ford gently converses with his young daughter – “I’m sorry my darling but you can’t go to school / Or play with your cousins or go to the pool”. “I left that line in about September,” says Ford now – ‘Maybe September, well, there’ll be a bright, sunny day’ – “cos I genuinely thought it was going to be a brief thing, not an endless nightmare.” The title track “May You Live In Interesting Times” is a kind of secular ode to redemption: “May you break from the fashion / May you smuggle compassion behind enemy lines / May you walk with respect for the journey” intones Ford in an apocalyptical mantra.
David Ford’s journey through the many worlds of the modern music industry has not always been an easy one to navigate. Initially making a splash in the public arena with indie rock outfit Easyworld, it wasn’t until late 2005 and the release of his self-recorded debut solo album, I Sincerely Apologise For All The Trouble I’ve Caused that Ford became something of a contender. The album was named ‘Album Of The Year’ in both the Sunday Times and Word magazine, and led to Ford touring the world, opening for artists like KT Tunstall, Gomez, Elvis Costello, Ingrid Michaelson and Ray LaMontagne. Ford subsequently toured with Starsailor and Suzanne Vega, before going on to sell out his own headline tour in 2006, the Guardian hailing him as “unmissable… one of Britain’s best.” And then, something happened.
“At the time, I was signed to Independiente in the UK,” says Ford, “and Sony and Columbia worldwide. According to Columbia (in particular), I was the next Bob Dylan, so they gave me free reign to make the second record – but everybody hated it. I had never experienced this sense of rejection in my life and I flipped. To be honest, I had a full-on nervous breakdown.”
That second record, Songs For The Road, was released in October 2007 and prompted one reviewer to remark, ‘Ford’s depression ain’t of the self-wallowing kind. He’s the kind of bloke who makes fun of misery and discovers humour and catharsis’ – presumably, before Ford had noticed any kind of depression himself.
“I was permanently changed psychologically by the release of that record,” says Ford now. “Since then, for the sake of my own happiness and sanity, I make music for my own ends, and no one else. It is important that the music gets made, but fame and wealth do not concern me. And you can forget about social media, streams or the internet.”
Nevertheless, despite his utter distaste for self-promotion, over his four subsequent albums and multiple headline tours David Ford has cultivated a passionate, devoted fan base that exists something like a secret society.