Songwriting Sessions – Don’t be Scared

This is the first in, possibly, a series of blogs explaining a bit behind my songwriting process, on a new song by song basis, with visits to some old favourites.

I hope someone might find a ‘glimpse behind the curtain’ interesting at least, but if not, maybe I’ll learn something by writing this down!

The first track I’m going to write about is called ‘Don’t be Scared’, and you can listen to it here:

Don’t be scared

I wrote and recorded this in late 2020 after discussing Paul McCartney’s ‘Put it there‘ on my Beatles podcast, and wanting to try something that captures the same feeling of simple, pleasing cadences but with augmented finger picking and that emotional minor shift.

Naturally, I started on the open D chord which lends itself to this style of acoustic, resonant, song. However, I eventually needed to change key so I could hit the high notes slightly more comfortably, so the guitar is tuned down a tone to C so I could still play it in open chords for the main part.

It is still a little high for me on the ‘Now go back to sleep’ lines, but it’s better than it was in ‘D’. Ah well, the singing is always the hardest part for me, but I like to stick with it so I can get songs finished at least.

Instrumentation wise, I kept this to a double tracked acoustic guitar and single vocal. I am still considering doing a fully arranged version with bass, a Cajon, and maybe some other bits, but we will see. I learned it on the Ukulele and that sounded quite nice!

Lyrics:

CHORUS

Don’t be scared of the world. Don’t be scared to sleep. There are people here who will always love you, now go back to sleep.

VERSE 1

The dark nights seems lonely only if you let them in. The sun might seem low we know somewhere its shining. Waiting.

VERSE 2

Dark corners, where secrets greet us in the shadow light. Are empty, there’s plenty love to keep us in plain sight. It’s alright.

This is part a lullaby for my daughter, part advice to me. With the anxiety of the current situation, my mind races at night and has a tendency to imagine the worst. So, this is a self soothing song mixed with a lullaby.

Lyrically, I am quite happy with it, especially the inner line rhymes in the verses: lonely/only, low/we know, secrets/greet us, empty/theres plenty. It’s satisfying to find and see through a consistent pattern when writing lyrics.

Overall I am happy with the song, though as always the home recording has scope to be improved, and the arrangement layered up in this case. I may revisit.

If you have read this and listened to the song (and liked it) please let me, or preferably someone else, know! And if you are an artist yourself and are interested in working with me, or my songs, get in touch! I’m open to ideas and would love to collaborate or just hear what someone else does with my music.

The Big Beatles Sort Out Episode 19

Hello! Episode 19 has been released this morning and wow, is it a biggie! Our longest ep yet, purely due to the amount of unpacking needed for at least 3 of the songs in the pick – this is one of my favourites so far, and really shakes up the charts!

Find it linked below, or on all your usual podcast platforms:

Episode 19 on Anchor!

Happy listening!

PS – If you are reading this and do like the podcast, or even if you haven’t yet tried it, please consider sharing this or the podcast links with your friends – the only way we can reach people, is by people, like you, sparing is a few clicks! Thanks.

The Big Beatles Sort Out Ep 18

It has literally just struck me that I haven’t been sharing on here when new episodes of my Beatles podcast are published!

In this podcast, my brother and I discuss 5 random Beatles tracks and I score each for music, production and lyrics, so that eventually I will have my personal list of my favourite Beatles songs!

The best part is really Paul, my brother, who is a super Beatles fan and does tons of awesome research to help me along the way.

Anyway, we are 18 eps in with 2 bonuses, so you’ve got a lot to listen to! The show is linked below, from there you can listen, follow, like, share and review! And please do! It is also available on all major podcast platforms.

Thanks! I will try and remember to post each week when new episodes are released.

https://anchor.fm/garry-abbott

Vegan Menu

I’ve not posted many recipes the last few days as mostly all my meals have been straightforward or from recipe books or other sites.

So, I thought I’d share a list of some recent vegan meals I’ve had, in case it helps inspire anyone else scrabbling around for Veganuary!

Vegan Pizza.

You don’t really need me to tell you to swap out the cheese for a vegan alternative and load up with as much veg as you can! I went for broccoli, mushroom, pineapple, sun dried tomatoes and peppers! I also favour tinned tomatoes with herbs for my base sauce.

Avacado Sauce Pasta.

My first attempts at cooking with avacado worked out nicely! You basically blitz the avacado flesh with olive oil, garlic, lemon and whatever else you fancy (I used sun dried tomatoes again as I’ve got some open!) and mix it into cooked pasta. I had this with some vegan sausages and it was creamy and quite like carbonara!

Sunday Roast!

Sounds obvious again, but finding out my usual gluten free beef gravy was already vegan meant all I had to do was cut out the meat and Yorkshire pudding for a massive treat meal! I replace the meat with either a vegan burger or Butternut Squash fondant, plus make sure to have lots of textures of roasted, steamed and mashed veg.

Mushroom Risotto

I made a standard mushroom risotto without the butter, and with vegan cheese, and it worked just as well. Had it with asparagus and green beans and a bit of toasted GF bread for extra bulk.

Actifry Tofu with peanut sauce.

This one had mixed results. Air frying the tofu gave an interesting crunchy texture but not quite found the way of using this versatile ingredient the way I like it yet, though was perfectly tasty with a peanut butter and coconut milk based sauce and coconut rice!

Potato and Spinach Saag Aloo

This made a nice simple side to my usual veg curry. The spinach was very tasty. I used normal potatoes which went a little mushy. Next time I’ll use tinned new potatoes.

Anyway, hope this gives some people some ideas! Let me know any you think I should try or if you’ve had a go at any of these!

Mushroom and pepper with pasta in an avacado and sun dried tomato sauce.

Serves 1

Ingredients

1 avacado, peeled, halved, stone removed

2 large flat mushrooms, sliced

4 spring onions

Splash of dry vermouth

1/2 red pepper, sliced

1 clove of garlic

Half lemon juice

Handful of fresh parsley

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

4 sun dried tomatoes

A splash of almond/rice/soya milk

5 bundles Tagliatelle, or enough for 1 person if using another pasta

Steps

Boil pasta according to packet instructions, (try and keep al dente, especially if using gluten free)

While pasta is cooking, put avacado, 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil, splash of milk alternative, sun dried tomatoes, salt and pepper and parsley into blender and mix until smooth (it’s okay if there are still chunks of sundried tomatoes!) If needed, add a splash of water to loosen up.

In a pan over medium low heat, add remaining olive oil and fry spring onions for 2-3 minutes.

Add garlic and peppers to pan and fry for 2-3 minutes.

Add a splash of vermouth and turn up heat to reduce for a few minutes.

Add mushrooms and fry until just starting to cook through.

Drain pasta and add to pan off the heat.

Pour over avocado sauce and replace on low heat while stirring to mix it all together for 2 minutes.

Serve with steamed broccoli for a light dinner, or with sliced vegan sausages for a larger appetite!

Vegan Cottage Pie

Serves 4

I adapted this from a recipe given to me by a friend. Thanks Bishop!

Ingredient

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 onion, peeled and diced

1 large carrot, peeled and sliced

1 parsnip, peeled and diced

1/4 Butternut Squash, peeled and diced (from the top section without the seeds)

1 clove garlic, crushed.

1 teaspoon Miso paste

Pack of vegan mince alternative (optional, just increase the other veg if not)

1 tablespoon tomato puree

200ml veggie stock

2 teaspoons vegan gravy granules (I use Tesco gluten free and vegan beef gravy which thickens well)

3 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered

3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and quartered

50 grams smoky vegan cheese

Steps

Steam the sweet potatoes and potatoes for 25 mins or until soft.

While potatoes are cooking, gently fry the onion, carrot, parsnip and butternut squash in the oil for 15 mins to soften and caramelize.

Add the garlic and fry for another minutes.

Add the tomato puree, Miso paste and vegan mince and stir to combine.

Add the gravy granules to the hot vegetable stock, stir to combine and then add to pan.

Stir well and cover for 10-15 mins while sorting out the potatoes.

Mash the steamed potatoes and sweet potatoes together with a little vegetable spread and the vegan cheese.

Remove lid from the pan and allow mixture to reduce if needed for a while.

Pour mix into an oven dish and top with the mash in an even layer.

Bake for 25 mins at 180 degrees.

Serve with more veggies of choice! I had it with roast potatoes (done in actifryer), steamed broccoli and green beans!

Butternut Squash and Caulfower Curry

Serves 2

Ingredients

1/2 Buttetnut Squash, peeled, cut into 2cm chunks

1/2 head of Cauliflower, cut into florets

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, diced

1 garlic clove, crushed

2cm root ginger, peeled and grated.

1 tablespoon Garam Masala

1 tablespoon Cumin Seeds

2 tablespoons mild curry powder

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 tablespoon tomato puree

1 tin light coconut milk

1 vegetable stock cube/pot

Steps

Cook butternut squash on a tray in preheated oven, coated in a little oil for 45 mins – 1 hr at 180 degrees, or approx 30 mins in an Actifryer. They should feel soft and look caramelized before taking out. In meantime make sauce:

Heat oil in a wide pan over a low heat, add onions and soften for 5 mins.

Add cumin, garam masala, curry powder and turmeric. Stir and simmer for another 5 mins.

Add ginger and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes.

If needed, add a splash of water to loosen spices and onions into almost a paste.

Add caulfower florets and tomato puree. Stir until coated in spices.

Add coconut milk and vegetable stock. Stir, cover and simmer.

After 20 minutes, add in the cooked butternut squash and simmer for a further 15 mins (enough time to boil some rice!). If mixture is a little loose, uncover and allow to reduce.

Serve with rice, naan and poppadoms!

Suspended

Suspended.

A garden in winter.

Branches hanging low with the weight of the snow-capped, frozen splinters waiting to happen.

Shattered grass, ice rubble borders.

Uneasy chill harmony poised to spring into moreish discord.

Disgorged from light, dark nights over glazed blood orange, greet us, put us down.

Still.

Waiting.

Crunchy Mayo Veg filled Baked Sweet Potato

Ingredients

1 large sweet potato (bigger the better!)

Handful of plum or cherry tomatoes

Two thick slices of cucumber

A quarter bell pepper (your preferred colour!)

3 pickled gherkin slices

1 dessert spoon of vegan Mayo

Vegan cheese

Steps

Bake sweet potato for at least 1 hour at 200 degrees in oven or airfryer with paddle taken out, until soft all the way through.

Cut the tomatoes, cucumber, pepper and gherkin into small chunks and mix with the mayo. Season well with salt and pepper.

Slice open sweet potato, spoon in crunchy filling, top with grated vegan cheese… enjoy!

Veganuary Recipe. Aubergine and Onion Bake.

Serves 2.

Ingredients

1 aubergine

1 onion

50g breadcrumbs (can use gluten free to make whole recipe GF)

50g grated vegan cheddar style cheese

1 vegetable stock cube

1 clove of garlic

400g tin chopped tomatoes (or just chop up whole tomatoes in the tin!)

1 tsp smoked paprika

Sweet potatoes chips/fries

Corn on the cob

Steps.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees.

Cut 1 aubergine into chunks, sprinkle with salt and leave aside.

Mix 50g vegan cheese and 50g breadcrumbs, leave aside.

Cut 1 onion into thick slices and fry in 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat until soft.

Add aubergine and fry for another 5 mins. Add more oil or vegan spread if pan seems dry.

Add 1 clove crushed garlic. Fry for 1 min.

Add 1 tin of chopped tomatoes, 1 veg stock cube and 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika.Mix and heat until bubbling.

Pour mix into oven dish, cover with cheese and breadcrumbs mix.

Put in oven for 25 mins.

Serve with sweet potato chips and corn on the cob.