Ricky Ross On This Is The Life 
E Card March 2002

Ricky Ross talks us through his latest album This Is The Life 

Northern Soul

I realised soon after I came up with this idea that the chords were the same as "This Is The Life" but in different places. I played it to my pal Charlie (Dore) and she encouraged me to go on. Eventually she suggested some changes (mainly lyrical) that really made it work.

Without being over specific it's based on every parent's nightmare - a missing child. I'm more than aware how corny it is to start writing songs about your offspring. At the same time I'm resolutely determined to write about what is now not then or might happen soon. So this is love defined by loss.

London Comes Alive

Originally I wanted to write an album of songs for my friends. I also wanted to put things down which wouldn't get left until after people died. I'd spent so much time talking about my late father I thought it wrong I hadn't written something for my mother. So here it is. Inspired by a rail journey into London one July morning in 1999 as I came into London and realised how beautiful and exciting it is as you get close and closer to the centre.

Rodeo Boy

This was a guitar based work-out I'd recorded on a walkman. I brought the rough idea to rehearsal where we just played it through then Davie added a great hook in the chorus which really makes it.

Lyrically it started with an idea based on one of my favourite films; Bus Stop with Marilyn Monroe. The tale is live with nearly everything kept.

Angel & Mercedes

Angel and Mercedes are two people (I think I can now call them friends) I met in 1997. I was doing a gig in The Mean Fiddler in Dublin the night after I'd played the worst show of my life. I'd been booked (by my now ex-agent!!) to play the most inappropriate gig in Manchester. It was wrong, there was hardly anyone there and after it I though I was making a big mistake playing shows on my own. I got to Dublin and was scared at the idea of doing a show as bad as the night before. As we sat downstairs in the bar, however, we were aware of people coming up and chatting and saying they were coming to the show. Two of these people were Angel and Mercedes from Madrid who seemed to symbolise the healing that night offered me. It was one of the best shows I've ever done and was a real turning point in my life.

I Sing About You

This was written with Mick Slaven and recorded a couple of different ways before we got this version down. It's another song of loss but I firmly believe you can never have too many.

Nothing Cures That

This is a quote on unrequited love from a man who knew - Philip Larkin. The full quote was in Martin Amis biography of his father ... People dream "of all they might have done had they been loved. Nothing cures that."

This is The Life

This idea ran through my head throughout 1999. I had a great year in '98 and realised I was enjoying life despite it being different to how I'd imagined it going.
Suddenly I was doing a variety of different things and I was happy without ever having the "big popular event" we've come to associate with "success" in the music business. I remarked to a friend on holiday in that summer that this was now my axiom: This is the life......i.e. there is not another one waiting in the wings. It expresses the belief that happiness is not possible without first embracing the reality of where you now are. It's (hopefully) not smug but honest.

Threatening Rain

Written the day before the eclipse in the summer of '99. Dedicated to two good friends who were going through a painful separation.

Starring Love

There is really nothing I can say about this is that isn't obvious from listening to it!

Hippy Girl

For my eldest daughter, Caitlin. When she first went to Disneyland aged seven she remarked that it was the happiest day of her life

My Girl Going to Town

I think it's important to write lots of songs about parenthood. That's why I deliberately put the last song and this one beside each other. If you only write one you'll end up creating a version of Dumbo's "Mother of Mine." And let's face it - great as it is - we don't need any more!

A few years ago a woman was interviewed on the news after the murder of a prostitute in Glasgow. The woman was a voluntary care worker in the red-light area of the city. When she talked about the murdered woman she described her as "like a daughter to her." In all the mess of this story and in the criminal way these events are reported this phrase cut through like a knife. I guess that formed the background to a song which is one of many I continue to write about being a father.

Looking for my Own Lone Ranger

This is a beautiful song written by Charlie Dore. She played it to me when we first met and despite my moaning she couldn't finish it. In covering the song I've managed to get her to complete it and let everyone else hear it.

The Way to Work

My favourite song on the album. As soon as we cut it I knew it had to be the final track. I suppose it is the song representing one of my recurring themes: the exotic transcending the humdrum. The possibility that imagination and beauty can allow any of us to experience the extraordinary; that in some way is what enjoying music is about.