Softly Softly Catchee Monkeyposted Mar 03 2010 · No Comments
My fellow monkeys,
Woohoo, here’s some new music! “Softly Softly Catchee Monkey: an über-acoustic, inter-album EP, made for primates, by primates,” has been released! Produced by Neil Shah and featuring Massimo Majorana on drums and percussion, it’s been a whole lot of fun to record this three-song acoustic project and release it as something a little different in between full-length albums. It’s now available on iTunes and the usual online retailers. Click here for more details.
A word about the title:
Softly Softly Catchee Monkey is an expression I first heard used by my dad as I was growing up – I have some vague recollection of hearing him say it during a chess match when I was a kid (nerd alert!). Bemused by the absurdity of the phrase, I would shake my head at its use (it’s not unusual to hear it in New Zealand), but began to understand that the phrase was used to indicate a cunning, patient and determined tactic. I’m going to simplify here, because I’ve heard variations on the same theme (even the phrase itself alternatively appears as “Slowly Slowly”, rather than “Softly Softly”), but the origins can be found in a strategy used to catch monkeys in the wild – namely a stealthy, measured and persistent approach.
When I began playing some unplugged duo shows with Neil Shah in New York, I joked one day about our acoustic renditions of the ALL or NOTHING songs being “Softly Softly Catchee Monkey” versions, for no other reason than we were playing them quieter and more softly than usual. The name stuck. When our enjoyment of the stripped-back versions of the songs led to the recording of new songs for this EP, and the time came to choose a title, it struck me that not only did Softly Softly Catchee Monkey make musical sense, but it also encapsulated an underlying theme of the songs.
It sometimes seems that the journey of self-discovery is a little like catching monkeys in the wild – no sooner has a layer of self-deception been dispensed with, than another appears, in the same way that a monkey will dart off just as the would-be catcher is certain that the game is over. There’s always more waiting to be revealed, and the further one goes, the more the mystery deepens.
I wrote No Solid Ground during a time of being frustrated with my tendency to chase after some idea of perfection, and in doing so, miss the perfection that was already here. And that pretty much sums up the title for me: hunting for something that can’t be grasped, held or contained, and so missing it again and again between glimpses and near misses. Until, finally, the hunt is abandoned, only to reveal that damned little monkey laughing and pointing from a nearby tree, having all the while been following close behind.