Walk Like A King
Updated: Nov 14, 2022
I'm very happy to release Terry's album, Walk Like a King: Songs For Dylan Thomas. It is the last one he recorded with Wes McGhee and Terry was keen to get it out of his archives and into the wild. It was a lot of fun being around Terry and Wes while they recorded this one, and Terry was pleased to have his son, Joseph, play on the record, too.
I think the songs are some of Terry's best. But then I always say that.
Big love and thanks to Wes for helping me to get this over the line (and for putting up with my abject terror of the microphone when he coaxed some harmonies out of me.)
Here are Terry's sleeve-notes, to explain a little about the record:
"Peter Blake's collage which adorned the cover of The Beatles Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band release of 1967 featured, among other 20th century luminaries, Dylan Thomas and Dion DiMucci. Dion being placed to the immediate left of Mr. Thomas... with Tom Mix, Diana Dors, Terry Southern, Tony Curtis, Sonny Liston and Marilyn Monroe and others ... all of them lined up like faces in a fairground shooting gallery.
Dylan and Dion: two of the biggest influences in my life as a writer and performer.
I remembered Dylan being set in this rock 'n' roll/showbiz parade when I began writing this collection of songs.
I'd discovered the poetry of Dylan Thomas a few years earlier and was especially enchanted by his play for voices Under Milk Wood. The sleeve notes for my 1991 release The Shelly River carried an acknowledgment of Dylan Thomas as an inspiration. His shadow was in the room while writing many of the songs on the Mother Indigo and The Sound of the Moon albums, in fact This is Morningtown, on the latter, was written after playing a show in Dylan's birthplace of Swansea, the first time I visited there.
The Dylan Thomas who sailed into New York in 1949, left behind a bombed out, impoverished, austerity ridden Great Britain. It was a Britain where lives and choices were still ruled by rationing and darkened by memories of air raids and fear.
He sailed into a neon-drenched world where be-bop was spoken, where the dreams of; Elvis Presley, The Drifters, Johnny Cash, West Side Story, Dion DiMucci and Jack Kerouac were about to be born.
I imagine Dylan Thomas sitting in the Cadillac's back seat, dropping Almond Joy wrappers in the foot-well while up front, Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty are scanning the road like hawks on jazz in Kerouac's On The Road.
The first song I wrote for this album was The Blue Doors.
Shortly after moving to Carmarthenshire, West Wales in 2005, my wife Kate and I visited the house in Laugharne, overlooking the Afon Taf estuary, where Dylan and Caitlin lived with their children. The writing shed where he worked is a few yards along the lane and these days has a window cut into the doors so visitors can see inside. The opposite window, on the seaward side, affords a beautiful view across the estuary to Carmarthen Bay.
The original blue painted doors are on permanent display at the Dylan Thomas Centre in Swansea. The song led me to being commissioned by the Centre to write a suite of songs based on Dylan's life and friends. I only performed it in its entirety twice; at The Boathouse in Laugharne during the summer of 2006 and as part of the Dylan Thomas Festival in Swansea later that year.
Only three songs from my original commission remain here ... I spent the Christmas, New Year's, winter's nights writing, sipping bourbon, red wine, wearing out guitar strings, trying out new songs on Kate, my sometime-writing collaborator, carousing through Neil Diamond's New York lullabies, re-visiting my favourite Willy DeVille/Lou Reed/Bruce Springsteen visions of New York to find MY Dylan Thomas.
This is an abstract album, where, Dylan sits snugly alongside Shelly Winters, Mickey Spillane and Walter Hyatt. Blame Peter Blake for the juxtapositions!
Those characters all have a place here, as devotees of the Dylan Thomas story will tell you. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Walter – please put that right. A writer of the utmost grace and charm, Walter takes his place in these songs because he and his brother-in-music, my friend Champ Hood, are always on my shoulder these days.
Champ told me once how Walter held the attention of a noisy, drinking crowd in a bar in their native Spartanburg one night when the power went out, by reciting a long, sparkling Dylan Thomas classic from memory. Speaking of angels, I like to think that Dylan is in his heaven and that he's spent the last fifty years or so showing the angels what beauty is."