concrete and cherry blossom
Written by Kerr /
JKMCBucks Music Group Ltd / Hornall Brothers Music Ltd
This song was originally written during the
Graffiti Soul sessions when it was originally
called On The Rooftop. The song title On The Rooftop was used on some
of the Big Music promos.
"Just last week we were in London doing a video shoot and some photographs, but in the morning Charlie
dropped me off a two minute piece of music that I wrote on and weve got a new song called "Concrete And Cherry Blossom" and it's
just fantastic. Its really, really something. And it just goes on." - Jim, May 2009.
It was originally planned to debut the song at Bataclan, Paris on the 18th June 2010, but it was left out of the
encore due to time contraints.
"Back in Real World Studios. Working on Blood Diamonds, Concrete And Cherry Blossom,
Honest Town and an updated Planet Zero. It's all good, very good." - Jim, 31st May 2012
MH: Moving onto the next track, on the Big Music,
Simple Minds' new record, we come to Concrete And The Cherry Blossom.
I remember luckily enough being in the studio when you were working on this track, you recorded the vocal in
Jez Coad's studio and sent it back and the combination of those
two words was great and the imagery you came up with. Going from what was in your head and getting from that
thing in your head to the music what's the journey on that Jim?
JK: Well, the journey is Charlie Burchill to begin with,
even though we're talking about Iain Cook there and stuff, still primarily
the music that I work with is Charlie. He had it's amazing how we work because
99% of the time we are so in sync without even talking to each other. I mean, Charlie
and I, the one thing we have in common, outside of our friendship, is that Simple Minds has been
the crusade of our life and I don't mean crusade as something heavy we've had to carry on it's been an absolute
blast but we made this cause central to our lives whereas other people we've worked with after ten years or
whatever have said "that's enough." Charlie and I can't relate to
that it is our life, it's not a career, it's our life.
JK: Anyway, we're great mates but we're very, very different people. We've got we keep
different times of the day, we're different social animals and all that but nevertheless what is amazing is say
having not seen Charlie for two months, and then we hook up, you can
almost bet that he'll be reading three books that I'm reading, the same three books, or he'll have found some
obscure movie, some Columbian movie that I'll have found, or we'll just have the same things. So when he sends me
a tune, quite often I'll have perhaps been thinking about some words anyway I think about words almost every
day I'll be thinking about some words, I'll have made some notes and he'll send me a tune and not just a
tune, there'll be an atmosphere in the sounds he uses because Charlie I'm
very lucky with Charlie, he just doesn't send a melody, he sends me these
soundscapes and for me it's very easy to see a picture them, or feel that I can see a picture in it and usually the
kind of atmosphere he's been sending me, I'll have been writing words for that kind of atmosphere a few days previously.
JK: And indeed, in the case of Concrete And The Cherry Blossom,
we're talking about Glasgow earlier and it was only after the album was done that I realise there are three songs:
Broken Glass Park (which we'll come to probably next or soon) and
they're all written in some way about Glasgow either ourselves or whatever. The story of Concrete And The Cherry Blossom
is pretty funny in the sense that Charlie and I grew up in this I guess
in the States you would call it a project they were these council housing schemes that they moved the working class
families when we were kids into these areas. And they were all new buildings and they were made from cheap materials
and they fell apart very quickly. But we loved them. However, it was just all concrete. [Laughs] They forgot to build
facilities. So like any anywhere else, you would hang around and this was the modern world.
JK: But, anyway, on a recent journey back there while I was doing stuff for my solo album
Lostboy, one of the promo things was to go back our neck of the
woods and have a look around and talk about growing up there. And as I was doing it I realised that in amongst all
the concrete of these buildings they'd made, someone in their wisdom had made the decision to plant some beautiful
cherry blossom trees. And we were there in March/April and they were coming through and I had this great, great
feeling because even though when I was a kid, I loved those trees not because I was a nature freak but because
when the blossoms came it was "Hey summer's coming. We're going be able to stay out all night." And it was just
a great, great feeling after the long darkness, these trees were a feeling of "Great. We can hang out." Anyway I
was back there in March/April and I was being interviewed, and as I was being interviewed there were people with
cameras, it draws the kids, and people were coming up with young kids there. And one of them said "Hey Mister.
Are you in a band?" and all that stuff. And I said "Yeah." And one of the wee guys said, and it made me laugh,
one of the wee guys said "What band are you in?" and I said "What band am I in?" and they said "The Beatles!" [Laughs]
I said "Is that the only band you know?" and the he was like "I dunno" but, anyway, he goes "You're a rock star"
and I said "Well... thanks."
JK: So, anyway, they kept interrupting in a nice way. And finally one of them said to me "Where
do you live?" And I said "That's a good question. I don't really know where I live" and this other little one
chipped in with "You could live anywhere!" and I said "I know" and then his little mate went "If I were you, I'd
live in Japan." And I said "Why would you live in Japan?" And he said "On the videos, a lot of games are made in Japan.
All the video games. All the PlayStation stuff they're Japanese. I would live there." And as he was saying that to me,
I was looking over to these cherry blossom trees which, of course, as we all know, is the symbol of Japan. I don't
know how that ends up being Concrete And The Cherry Blossom the song and
I talk about this little kid having dreams he lives in a tower block but, as far as he's concerned, he's going to be
in Shinjuko that night and he's going to be living in Japan and he's going to be embracing that world.
MH: It's a Glasgow thing isn't it? Young kids and dreams and they happened to us and here we
are yours ends up on a record. This is a beautiful song called Concrete And The Cherry Blossom
by Simple Minds.
The Real McCoy
"I wanted to go back to Toryglen, the housing estate we came from, and have a trip down memory lane. The building we grew up in
is no longer there. No disrespect to the place but it looked like a bombsite, like Sarajevo. The one thing sticking out is that
in all this concrete someone had the wisdom to plant beautiful cherry blossom trees. When I was a kid, I didn't know what they were,
but I remember they symbolised the light nights and springtime coming and being able to play outside."
"There were some really young kids, maybe 10 or 12, hanging around, and they recognised me and we got talking about
Japan and computer games, and I thought it was amazing that these kids were talking about Japan surrounded by these cherry blossom
trees, the symbol of Japan of course. That kind of poetry came out in the lyric when Charlie
and I were writing about our early days."
Classic Pop Magazine #14
December 2014/January 2015
People circle round the atomical sun,
Mid the concrete shapes and the cherry blossom.
Walking up and down over Moonacre Square,
It was aeons ago but I still feel there.
On the rooftop, yeah, yeah,
Got my sunshades on and I feel fine.
Up on the rooftops, yeah yeah,
Got my sunscreen on, leaving this world behind.
Album Version (3:31)
Produced by Andy Wright, Gavin Goldberg and Simple Minds
Mixed by Gavin Goldberg
Assisted by Lewis Chapman
Backing Vocals by Sarah Brown