SC#09: Careless Hands – When Dreams Slip Through

$20
When Dreams Slip Through

“Jim and I met at university in Liverpool in nineteen seventy-five and immediately began making music together. We both had rooms in the same big Victorian house in the centre of town and our evenings were spent hanging out in the nightclubs of Toxteth, like Dutch Eddie’s where the DJ played Trinidadian music all night long.\
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Liverpool has always been somewhere with its own distinctive culture, poetry, and music. In the nineteen seventies it was absolutely magical. The city was still bathed in the afterglow of the Beatles and there was a kind of creative anarchy about the place. There was this band called Death Kit who used to put on multi-media events with people in fancy dress and random bits of theatre. We’d turn up completely out of our heads and it felt like we were deconstructing ourselves as individuals.\
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After we left college, Jim began living in Cambridge and I returned to London where I’d grown up, but our musical relationship continued. We knew people who were making commercial sounds and having success with them but that wasn’t what we wanted to do. We performed occasionally, albeit very erratically, mostly as a duo but sometimes with other musicians.\
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What we were really interested in was musical exploration. Jim built a studio in his back garden, bought some multi-track recording equipment, and began experimenting. We wanted to produce something that was just for ourselves. We were undoubtedly very naïve but naivety and innocence were hallmarks of that time.\
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In my childhood, I’d been fascinated with the story of Aladdin. Now that fascination began to be reflected in the music we were making. Here was a story about a boy who transforms his world and enters the magical realm. That seemed to be exactly what was happening to me. For all sorts of reasons, I hadn’t particularly enjoyed my childhood but now I had managed to step out of the everyday reality, to find a place where I belonged and where I had a kind of power.\
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The name we used for the band came from a song recorded in 1949 by a singer called Mel Torme. There’s a line in that song that goes, “Careless Hands don’t care when dreams slip through.” That seemed appropriate since dreams were part of the territory we were exploring.\
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I had got married immediately after leaving college and by now I had a daughter who was afraid to go to sleep at night. She wanted me to be present in her dreams with her. That became the inspiration for a period during which Jim and I tried to recreate the shifting landscape of the night-time imagination.\
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Unfortunately, the choice of name turned out to be horribly prophetic when in a freak accident Jim fell into a lake and was drowned. It seemed to me that for some time, he had not been paying enough attention to his own life. So I wasn’t exactly surprised when I heard the news but I was completely devastated. After Jim’s death, I put away his guitar and never played again. I went on to make a career as a novelist.\
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Most of the recordings we produced were lost over the years. A bunch of master tapes was accidentally thrown into a dumpster and others were left in the attic of a house I lived in at some time during the nineteen nineties. This album has been pieced together from fragments that somehow survived the cull.”\
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  • Brian Keaney November 2020