Hamish Hawk is an Edinburgh-based songwriter who is gearing up to release his new album Heavy Elevator on September 17. With a couple of singles already out, today he delivers “The Mauritian Doubles Badminton Champion, 1973” which lives up to – and possibly even outdoes – the promise of its title. He introduces it by saying:
“The Mauritian Badminton Doubles Champion, 1973 is a pop song, and as such it covers all the classic pop bases,namely death, badminton, and cathedrals. The initial idea for the song came to me when I was standing on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral in London. I’d previously failed to notice just how colossal a structure it really is. For Christopher Wren to have designed it, and for him to have seen its construction finished in his lifetime, the thought just staggered me. Not only had he fashioned a legacy for himself, unlike no other, he was able to pay witness to his own legacy whilst he was still alive.
“I suppose it got me thinking: if I were to fashion a legacy for myself, it might well be a song. I imagined what it would sound like, and in turn, the song became a wider rumination on matters of life, family, marriage, and ultimately, death. It was a song I knew I had in me; all it took was Andy Pearson’s beautiful guitar line to squeeze the blood out the stone. It’s one of my favourites on the album, and very close to my heart.”
The emotional scope and musical ambition of “The Mauritian Badminston Doubles Champion, 1973” is summed up perfectly in the song’s opening lines: “To write a cathedral I need a ballpoint pen / It’ll sound like “Common People” sung by Christopher Wren.” With buffeting, festival-ready guitar bounding beneath his storytelling, Hamish Hawk continues this mental journey from London to Paris, filled with joy as he effuses “isn’t this living?!” Even as he sees his family “in an ugly cemetery”, crying with shovels at the ready, he doesn’t let it dampen his dreams: “I’d prefer to burn my body in Varanasi” he admits, and goes on about his merry way. He’s soon imagining his future wife and brilliant children – brilliantly wrapping it up “just like the Mauritian Badminton Doubles Champion, 1973 / Then Christopher Wren would smile down on me.” You just have to hear it to get it, I suppose.
August 17 Edinburgh Fringe, Summerhall September 15 Hidden Door Festival Edinburgh September 25 The Gathering Sounds Festival Stockton-on-Tees October 16 Live At Leeds Festival November 14 Record Junkee Sheffield (headline) November 15 Bootleg Social Blackpool (headline) November 18 The Victoria Birmingham (headline) November 19 Mood Swings Manchester (headline) November 21 McChuills Glasgow (headline) November 27 The Great Eastern Festival Edinburgh