The 12 Weeks of Fate Line (aka Fate Line Friday) – The Snatching of Hannah Twynnoy
This is it – our tiger song! Doesn’t every band have one? I have to say it is one of my favourites both musically (quirky as it is) and lyrically as a re-telling of the first woman to have ever been killed by a tiger in England. The off-centre subject came to me when Simon was travelling to the UK and visiting Malmesbury Abbey, a medieval monastery in the west country of England. I learnt about a famous gravestone that marks the resting place of Hannah Twynnoy – an 18th Century (pregnant) barmaid who was fatally maimed by a tiger from a visiting travelling circus. Inspired by the mysterious bit of poetry engraved on the stone (“In bloom of Life, She’s snatchd from hence”), out flowed this cautionary tale and allegory for testing boundaries.
Another tiger-obsessed artist sent props about this song after my book publicist mother shared a copy of the record with him – I was well chuffed to get the message from Yann Martel. He could appreciate the lure and potent symbolic nature of the tiger. And in this tune, that ominous presence is recreated by Sarah Foster’s bass clarinet. Perfect!
Simon says: This song is the most daring on the record in instrumentation and production. I wanted to bring out the strangeness and haunting quality of this odd story from the 1700s. There is an old beautiful Roland space echo treatment on my Rhodes part which floats around a bit like Hannah’s ghost and the creepy sound of Sarah’s bass clarinet is the predatory tiger’s thoughts. We also put on Jon’s violin parts in the chorus, which were definitely influenced by David Bowie’s Starman – we covered it at some gigs at the time. It’s kind of like Hannah Twynnoy’s wafer-thin state of bliss.
The Good Doctor John says: This song started off with a fairly stark and sparse arrangement – mainly Jen’s finger-picked guitar and a shaker, with Jonathan and me providing some call-and-response commentary. In the studio, it was transformed into something lusher, with spacey keyboard tones from Simon, shimmering strings in the chorus from Jonathan, and of course Sarah’s menacing bass clarinet. The other interesting feature of this song is that it can’t really decide if it is based in G major or G minor, keeping it sounding a little off-kilter throughout.