A Ghost

Album: 10 Songs (2020)
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • "A Ghost" is the lead single from 10 Songs, an album co-produced by Travis frontman Fran Healy and by Robin Baynton (Coldplay, Florence & The Machine). The record finds Healy returning to the sole songwriting role for the first time since 2003's 12 Memories.
  • In 2006, Healy took a step back from the role of Travis' core songwriter after the birth of his son, Clay. He explained to NME that "he wanted to be the dad that I'd never had," so for the next 14 years Clay was his "sole focus and main project in the center of the table."

    Back in late 2019, Clay told his father, "Papa, you should really go for it with the band this time - I know you haven't been pushing as hard as you could but I want you to do that now."

    The lyrics to this song are about Healy re-adopting his role as Travis' main songwriter and relocating his creative drive. "It's about looking at yourself in the mirror and seeing the ghost of someone," he explained. "This reflection talks back to you and says, 'It's easier to be alive than hide under your pillow while your life is passing you by.'"
  • Just when the song's music video was ready to shoot, the world went into lockdown because of the coronavirus. A former student at Glasgow School Of Art, Healy is a good draughtsman, so he decided to create the clip himself using his drawing skills. Starting out with a mocked-up picture of himself and three ghosts playing the last chorus of the song in a deserted alleyway, Healy painstakingly drew the whole visual with Clay's help. He told NME:

    "It took four weeks working at 17 hours a day – almost without ever looking up. Every 10 seconds is like 12 hours of drawing. It was an all-or-nothing situation so I just went for it. It also keeps your mind occupied and stops you going on Twitter."
  • According to Healy, the drums were influenced by Grant Lee Buffalo's 1993 song "The Shining Hour" from the alt-rock band's debut album.
  • Healy told American Songwriter why he chose to call the album 10 Songs: "For me, writing a song in this day and age is a radical statement. A song is something with a soul. A song has a pulse. It has a heartbeat and it's alive and it makes you feel something when you hear it. Therefore, writing a song is radical. Writing a song in this day and age is punk. It's a real statement. So calling it 10 Songs, I thought was very powerful. It's a statement of intent."
  • Travis had their own encounter with a ghost while recording at RAK Studios: its founder, record producer Mickie Most. Healy told Apple Music: "Mickie died in 2003, but his office is still there. They haven't touched his room. It's exactly the way it was the day he died. I was sitting in the control room, and our guitarist [Andy Dunlop] said to me, 'I'm going to make a cup of tea. Do you want a cup of tea?' I was like, 'Yeah, sure.' So he goes and makes a cup of tea. I can hear Neil [Primrose, drummer] around the corner, like in the studio just out of sight maybe six feet away, looking through a magazine. I can hear Dougie [Payne, bassist] downstairs playing around with the bass in the live room, and this goes on for 20 minutes. I'm just surfing on my computer. Then I look over, and I look up. Neil walks in, and I was like, 'You're not sitting around there?' And he's like, 'No.' And I'm like, 'Well, who's that then?' I turn my head around the corner, and there's nobody there. It happens a lot in that studio, and it's Mickie; he's not left the studio yet. Lights flicker on and off and things fall over, and no one's near them, and you see shadows. We call it the Ghost of the Most, because he's Mickie Most."

Comments

Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks

Bass Player Scott Edwards

Bass Player Scott EdwardsSong Writing

Scott was Stevie Wonder's bass player before becoming a top session player. Hits he played on include "I Will Survive," "Being With You" and "Sara Smile."

John Parr

John ParrSongwriter Interviews

John tells the "St. Elmo's Fire (Man In Motion)" story and explains why he disappeared for so long.

Richard Butler of The Psychedelic Furs

Richard Butler of The Psychedelic FursSongwriter Interviews

Psychedelic Furs lead singer Richard Butler talks about their first album since 1991 and explains what's really going on in "Pretty In Pink."

Kim Thayil of Soundgarden

Kim Thayil of SoundgardenSongwriter Interviews

Their frontman (Chris Cornell) started out as their drummer, so Soundgarden takes a linear approach when it comes to songwriting. Kim explains how they do it.

Arrested For Your Art - The Story Of 2 Live Crew's "Obscene" Album

Arrested For Your Art - The Story Of 2 Live Crew's "Obscene" AlbumSong Writing

In the summer of 1990, you could get arrested for selling a 2 Live Crew album or performing their songs in Southern Florida. And that's exactly what happened.

Butch Vig

Butch VigSongwriter Interviews

The Garbage drummer/songwriter produced the Nirvana album Nevermind, and Smashing Pumpkins' Gish and Siamese Dream.