James Cook

James Cook

“I first approached TLC in 2013 with the first three chapters of Memory Songs. The reader report, by Doug Johnstone, was immensely positive, containing much encouragement. However, he also suggested I attempt a rewrite with several guidelines in mind. I referred to the report many times during the rewrite of the book . . . Five drafts later I finally had a book I was proud of. I owe TLC – Becky, Aki and reader Doug – a huge debt of thanks; their help has been invaluable.”

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“Ever since writing my first callow lyrics aged 14, I’d been striving to develop as a songwriter, learning different instruments, mastering the studio (we recorded and rehearsed day and night in a place called La Rocka – our very own Paisley Park, only in Tottenham Hale). But up to this point, there was very little to show for it. I don’t mean fame. The mission was never to be famous, in some kind of X Factor-ish way, but to escape a Hertfordshire small town and make great records. That was the mantra. To experience those moments of glory from having created a work of art – an album – that my twin was fond of talking about. (How close the language of earnest young men who form groups is to that of radical fundamentalism.) ‘Why don’t you both just form a boy band, and get it over with?’ a former girlfriend suggested, my brother and I being passably presentable. Maybe she meant something similar to Bros. But Bros wasn’t what I had in mind when I first picked up a guitar. Oh, no. John Lennon and Jimmy Page were the role models, and I laboured every day to produce music that even touched the hems of their Carnaby Street garments. Brian Wilson and Burt Bacharach too – serious songwriters. Songwriters’ songwriters.” Extract from ‘Memory Songs’ – included in the showcase

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