My Dear Friends
It was during one of our Tuesday evening Zoom catch ups that our tenor, Lorna, said the line that inspired me to write the song, My Dear Friends. We had sung through one of our repertoire pieces using the now standard trick of one person singing with the sound on and the rest muting whilst also singing along. We all agreed that for the time being, it was the best we were going to get and it was better than not singing at all. “Yes,” agreed Lorna, “but it’s not the same.”
She was right. It isn’t the same. Although the internet gave The Firebirds, and other quartets and choruses across the world, the opportunity to keep on seeing and to some extent to keep singing together, it’s never going to replace the joy that I know we as a quartet feel when we actually meet together and sing. We’re incredibly lucky that we live within reasonable distance of each other so meeting up on a weekly basis has never been a problem. With lockdown coming to the UK in late March of this year, all of that changed. We managed to stay fairly proactive but it wasn’t easy. Problems with poor connection, people freezing, robotic sound, no sound, cameras not working and the dreaded video lag are some of the issues we have had to work around. To be honest, the complexity of adapting to singing online and all the problems that brings have, at times, left us feeling a bit dejected.
The song coming together
Back to the song. What Lorna said really stuck in my mind and quickly began to shape itself into lyrics and a melody line. I really enjoy the song writing process and have always found it to be both a creative outlet and a useful therapeutic tool. By the start of May, those early lyrics had morphed into a complete track arranged into four parts. We recorded these separately: lead, then bass, then baritone and finally tenor, and I gradually layered them into a complete song. We don’t have any fancy equipment, in fact all four recordings were made on our phones, and our ‘recording booths’ ranged from duvet forts to sleeping bags! The video which accompanies it is also simplistic (and I have been told, a little cheesy). Nonetheless, we are very proud of it and had great fun putting it together.
Those who have heard My Dear Friends have shared with us that the messages in the lyrics really resonate with them. It is a song that reflects a particular time period and acts as a reminder as to how challenging this time was.
We have now met up and sung the song together (in a 3-metre square to comply with social distancing), and it was incredibly poignant. We do hope that you enjoy listening to it, too.