The first verses and chorus of this song were written at the time of my father’s death, some of it as I sat by his bedside, some as I walked beside the River Usk in Brecon a few hours later. (If you are interested you can read my version of those events here.) The people named are his brother Don, sister’s Joyce, Joan, Hilda and May, mother Laura, father Charles, and wife Mary.
The rest of the song followed quite quickly, apart from the usual tweaks and alterations that happened during the recording, a few months later. As well as the sadness of the death and its impact on me, I wanted to capture the joy of nostalgia – stories and memories of his life, both his own early memories, and some of my later ones. The river Nene runs through Wisbech, where Dad lived for almost 80 years. As a child he lived right on the riverbank but the river featured throughout his whole life and was the obvious place for his ashes.
Writing songs is clearly how I deal with things – I wrote two when my mum died … ‘Do you still walk?’ and ‘Before time‘.