SONG STORY: Empty Pockets

SUNDAY SONG STORY: The previous two stories have included Toni Haliday and this is the third and final in a song story trilogy. You may have noted in the preceding stories that I was striving to develop material that would work for Toni as an artist. She was young and edgy and I needed material that reflected that. I felt I was getting close with Paris By Air. I also looked around for younger musicians for her to work with as my session guys were decrepit 25-26 year olds!

I attended many scruffy rehearsal rooms auditioning bands for Toni and As I eventually hooked Toni up with Hot Snax who were a cooking young band of the time with quite a large following. We arranged a TV show “Check It Out” where Toni and Hot Snax performed live and she and I recorded an interview to camera in the recording studio for inclusion on the show. The day after the show I got a call from Dave Stewart of Eurythmics fame. Toni had said in the interview that one of her influences was Annie Lennox. Dave said, The Eurythmics were on tour and although Annie had gone off to Scotland, Toni could meet him for a chat if she wished. I arranged a car and took Toni over to a cafe in Sunderland (Daves home town) where he was holding a kind of royal court. I don’t recall much of this but after a couple of hours I had to head back to the studio in Wallsend to do a session and Dave came with us. I just got on with the session and the entourage went off to the green room.

Anyway, afterwards I started to develop the song that is the subject of this weeks story. “Empty Pockets”. This has some elements of “Paris By Air” but is far more edgy. I wove into it some of the things Toni had told me such as the fact she had her handbag stolen at a party. She was bemused that such a thing should happen at a “posh” party. I recorded the track and gave it as much edge as possible even double tracking the snare drum with a dustbin lid. I called Toni to come in and have a go at Vocals but could not raise her after several tries. I then sent a couple of letters which went unanswered. This was frustrating as I believed I now had the track that would achieve what we had been striving for. Then one day I got a call from a Lawyer. He said “do you realise that this girl is below the age of consent to enter into contract”. I just said “yes, I do” and hung up. Everything that we’d done had been done with Toni’s Mothers approval and clearly Toni had desperately wanted every opportunity that had been put her way. However, when an artist decides they want out there is little point in discussion or coercion so I just let it go. From the day I introduced Toni to Mr Stewart I never heard from nor saw her again. Your conjecture about what happened that day will probably be as accurate as mine. I believe she went on to have a fairly successful career but I never received any gratitude for the efforts I made in her formative stages. This was not the first nor the last time this had happened so I did not spend too much time thinking about it.

And what of the track? Well I shelved it because it was very hybrid and not suitable for pitching about to other artists. However, in the studio one day there was a young guy called David Baird and I cajoled him into to singing it. He did a fine job and added a blistering sax. In retrospect, maybe we should have put his version out.

Anyway, here it is after 32 years: EMPTY POCKETS by Rewind. Available for download now (follow the link below). Lets see if we can beat the X Factor to the Christmas number one!

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