During the 1980s and 90s, Phil and his sister Finella played music and made collages in a band called The Gingerbread Tree. A selection of the collages titled The Practical Senior Teacher will be published soon by Knives Forks and Spoons press and meanwhile the music is gradually being uploaded on YouTube as an online archive. The latest, is Burnt.
Our family did much of its growing up in Northern Ireland (Finella was born there) at a time of civil war. I find that watching any war footage brings memories of that weird semi-war, my own personal interior footage. As a family we got away un-shot, un-beaten, un-raped. But the disquiet always is there when I see pictures of a war, be it Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, wherever. If it is associated with unfairness or bullying, the disquiet turns into a blaze of anger. It rarely gets the oxygen of release, because the feelings are so unsettling. In this song, the anger comes cotton-wrapped in the gentleness of Finella's voice, Catherine's violin.
Damian and I rehearsed the acoustic guitars sitting in my parents' garden, him on the rhythm part which frogmarches everything along. It seemed appropriate that we played Burnt there because it is a telling in a far-off way of family history. The video for this track is made with collaged images from the Iraq/Afghanistan conflicts, but the song is more general. It's trying to balance up two basic human needs: defiance against survival. All the firepower in the world can't hurt you if you yourself are made of flames.
Finella Davenport vox
Philip Davenport acoustic gtr, keys, backing vox
Damian Lawrence, acoustic gtr
Catherine Carrara, violins
Paul Dillon, production
For more from The Gingerbread Tree go to:
The Gingerbread Tree on YouTube
Playlists of related material:
The Margaret Thatcher Museum
Collage of Heck