Track of the Day: Saint Leonard’s Horses – 1969 Revisited

Track of the Day: Saint Leonard’s Horses – 1969 Revisited 1

Saint Leonard’s Horses is the musical project of the artist formerly known as Kieran Leonard whose stellar songwriting abilities showcased on his DIY debut Out of Work Astronaut earned him fans and support gigs with artists such as Ryan Adams, Father John Misty, Jonathan Wilson, and Wolfmother. Four years after the release of his stunning debut, Leonard returns with the album Good Luck Everybody released on Xtra Mile Recordings 14th October. Track of the Day ‘1969 Revisited’ features on this opus which has been described by early reviewers as mystical, surreal, intriguing, magical, astounding, fiercely original, one of the best of 2016, and more.

Some albums are more of a journey than others, and Good Luck Everybody is one of those. This musical journey began in Hollywood when a high profile recording artist who admired Leonard’s work put him in touch with a studio in LA in 2013. This is when I first saw Leonard perform and was immediately smitten by a combination of brilliant songwriting and the uncompromising authenticity of an artist who embodies his craft. Today’s track of the day, ‘1969 Revisited’ was already part of those early LA acoustic show setlists. Leonard’s journey would then take him from Hollywood, to the Mojave Desert, to Nashville, to the Yorkshire moors where he inhabited a gothic church, and ultimately to Stanley Kubrick’s mansion where Good Luck Everybody would be recorded.

The trajectory of the track ‘1969 Revisited’ is in itself a cluster of peregrinations within the wider wayfaring adventure of the album. Leonard explains, “To begin at the beginning, this song is a sphinx that had a difficult quickening. In a figurative and quite literal sense it’s the oldest song on the record. It’s been kicking around the womb in one form or another for several years.” Leonard relates that the song was recorded in two studios in London, one in New York, and two in Hollywood before emerging in its current form at Kubrick’s mansion.

Leonard continues, “To be honest I had almost unconsciously written it off as a sort of melodic impossibility…We have performed various incarnations live and in studios and it’s always been met with a tremendously visceral response. However, it just seemed to refuse to surrender to the same ephemeral immutability on record…Sort of like the ‘one that got away’ that keeps you tossing and turning at night.”

Saint Leonard’s Horses

In the studio, six days into the recording process, a series of minor calamities struck: data loss and the loss of a notebook containing important recording notes. The band awoke after that bad day to find producer Nick Trepka wearing a contextually unsettling smile. “I don’t think he had slept in the conventional sense of the word…” surmised Leonard, “but a key turned in a lock. We somehow had all been strangely polarized by the previous night’s events…. it was as if we had all suddenly tuned in further to what the sound was that we just couldn’t find for 1969 previously. Something to do with being wounded or the shock of losing such precious piece of work.”

So back to the studio they headed. “We were going to launch into the song, narrative first, do away with the howling pomp of the guitars and the endless highways of jazz ambiguities. It was brass tacks and it was going to prove a point to the gods who had so smited us the previous night… Something took over in those four walls, something was conjured, the clockwork of combined experience heaved and breathlessly ticked, then for a short time we all left the current space time reality and the song that for several years defied every endeavour to be taken into captivity, had so dexterously avoided all baits and traps, seemingly without resistance save a slight leaping flourish at the end, presented itself, lay back, lit a Camel Light and after 3 minutes 56 seconds allowed itself to be known. ”

And thus ‘1969 Revisited’ was revisited and recorded live in a 6th version, the one that currently graces Good Luck Everybody, alongside 11 other tracks, releasing 14th October 2016.

Good Luck Everybody Track Listing

1. Well Well Well
2. Long John Silver
3. Rise Up
4. Spooky Lover
5. Little Girl Scientist
6. Goddess of Electric Gold
7. A Muse
8. The Strangelove Hotel Suite
9. Hell & High Water
10. 1969 Revisited
11. Underwood Milk
12. The Ever Open Door

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