Song Story Paris By Air

SUNDAY SONG STORY: I mentioned Toni Haliday (CURVE) last week so let’s continue that story. At first I was giving Toni songs to sing that I had lying around but I realised that if I wanted to get her a record deal I needed to write stuff that matched her age and attitude. I was sitting in a London pub with my publisher of the time (1979-ish) and he was giving me tips on where to find inspiration for songs. “Take this pub for instance”, he said, waving his hand around the room “you could write a song called The Duke Of Wellington”. My eyes alighted on a poster and I replied “No, I’m going to write a song called Paris By Air”, (as the poster declared). I then described what the story would be, a young girl trapped in a council estate and a hum drum life longing to escape.

“I walk down the street with time on my hands,
The sign on the walls show far off lands,
But I don’t know a soul in this neighbourhood,
Can afford the fare, I’m stuck here for good.”

I was drawing on some of the things Toni had told me about her life. I always planned the song would be for her. Back home in Whitley Bay I put together the song. The first sequence on the sound file is my rough demo from the time. Toni was young and an unseasoned singer at the time and I put together a very simple melody which revolved mostly around just three notes. The next part of the audio sequence is Tonis demo. I had a bunch of mates record the track with me and I’m on a Rickenbacker 12 string.

Now at this time the house I was living at in Whitley Bay contained various members of The Tygers of Pan Tang. Singer Jon Deverill and also oddly the singer he replaced Jess Cox. I seem to recall this led to the odd bit of tension. Also living there was guitarist John Sykes. John Sykes played his guitar through an old record player incessantly. When I came home from the studio each day he would stop and ask me what I’d been recording that day and been doing and I’d often play rough or finished mixes of tracks. Rocky, the bass player didn’t live there but he must have been visiting on the day I played them “Paris By Air” because I later learned that Rocky had lobbied the band to record the song for a year or so. And so it came to pass that the Tyger recorded Paris By Air for their fourth album, The Cage. This necessitated some changes of lyrics to suit a male singer. For me the lyrics don’t work quite so well in the male context. John Deverill made his own minor changes (misunderstandings perhaps) that again threw the context off. I had Toni sing that she didn’t know anyone in her neighbourhood who could afford the fare so they were stuck there. Jon sang that he didn’t know anyone in his neighbourhood AND HE couldn’t afford the fare so he was stuck there. Subtle, but a world of difference. However, it had no effect on the songs success and it came out as a single and became a minor hit. The album was a huge success and went top 20. The third segment on the audio collage is the Tygers version and the fourth is their live rendition.

Paris-by-air by Stevie_T