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SONGS

Someone recently asked me: did you make the songs you wanted to make?


It seems a fairly simple question, but I actually couldn't answer it. I never thought: come on, let's make Starlight Dancer. I didn't notice it was Starlight Dancer until the song was finished. You cannot think in advance which song you are going to write. You can think: I'm going to make some kind of song. But that can work out differently. You are who you are, and therefore you write what you write, whether you like it or not.


In the case of Starlight Dancer, I had a vague idea of the first verses. A bit hymn-like, but in an intimate way and strongly based on church chords and progressions. A kind of Wilhelmus, but different, say. I laid the foundation for this somewhere in 1977, in a dressing room in Preston, England, when we were touring there with Kayak as support of Jan Akkerman. There happened to be a piano and because that idea (which was no more than a vague conjecture) wanted to get out of it, I took the opportunity to start on the spot. When that piece was pretty much primed in terms of chords, I only thought that it might be nice to make it a bit longer, symphonic piece with an uptempo middle part.


I don't remember where and how I wrote it, I think a few weeks later when we were back home. And from which moment it was called Starlight Dancer, I no longer remember, but that I also had to 'go back' in the song, because I did not want to end with that uptempo piece. After all, the song would then consist of two separate parts, which although nicely connected, but which actually had no mutual connection. Then I might as well have made two different songs out of it. There had to be a connecting and closing part 3.


So it almost made sense, after a gradual halving in tempo, to return to the verses of part 1. To get there I used the lead-up to that uptempo piece, but in reverse (descending) direction. The difference was that these 'repetition' verses were performed instrumentally and with full electrical equipment. With that heavy accompaniment it lends itself better to jubilant guitars than to lead vocals, because that would require a lot of strength from the singer, which would be diametrically opposed to the somewhat melancholy melody and chords.


Finally, after part 3, we end up in the quiet coda, which consists of the theme of (the end of) the verse from part 1 and the chorus motif from part 2. Which, incidentally, is the four-measure intro of the entire song. So that intro was put on later, simply because I didn't have the 'Starlight Dancer' chorus at the time of writing the verses. With that the circle was complete - the song ended after all kinds of wanderings as it started.


Did I know all this in advance? Of course not. That's why I didn't know I was going to make Starlight Dancer.


The only answer to the question initially asked is: I made the songs that came out. They are what they are. Some worked well, others less well. Some are surprisingly 'caught on' by a wider audience, others to my surprise have barely been noticed. I also wanted to make a lot of other songs, but that hasn't happened (yet?). So I'm surprised.