The Story Behind "I know which way to go"
There are certain songs that you create and that seem to become a part of who you are - this song is one of those. I was made redundant for the first time in 2008 – the job I had at that time, in the Purchasing department of a further education college, was evolving from an administrative role to one requiring more skills and responsibility, skills that were not in line with my strengths. I had already been studying for an accounts qualification, and applying for jobs in this field which was more in line with what I wanted to do, but it was still a shock when the news of the redundancy was relayed to me.
My husband suggested writing a song about the experience to help me deal with it. I started with “In the beginning” as it felt like I was telling a story, and as I had borrowed the phrase from the opening of the creation story in the bible I started to write my own description of the Big Bang Theory as the opening verse: “They say there was a blinding flash; atoms were forming, new life began as the atoms clashed.” Reading it afterwards I couldn’t work out where it was going, so instead I wrote about things from childhood, i.e. my own beginning, “Life was full of exciting things - games and brand new toys, balloons and dolls and painted wings”. A few days or so later we were about to go out somewhere when the idea for the chorus came to me: “The crossroads show me the paths I need to know – I know which way to go”, with a tune. As what often happens when I get an idea for a chorus, the tune and lyrics kept going round in my mind until I was sure I wouldn’t forget it.
Just over a year before I had bought a mandolin – I had seen someone performing with one and I thought it had just the sound I wanted to accompany a song that I had written. I had only written one or two other songs using the mandolin, and the new one had a simple enough chord structure to enable me to play it (I was self-taught, so I was picking up new chords as I went along.)
The title “I know which way to go” seemed appropriate, and exactly what I wanted to say – finding a job which involved data entry and attention to detail was the path that I wanted to follow. As well as continuing to apply for jobs externally I was also given details of internal vacancies, and one came up within the Learner Records department which involved that type of work. I had to take an aptitude test involving data checking as part of the application, and apparently I achieved the highest ever score. I seemed to have landed on my feet.
I also continued with the accounts qualification as I was part way through it.
The song became part of my repertoire, and after some good feedback I had when I played it at an open day at work, I decided to include it on my album Middle England which I recorded in 2010. Not only that, I placed it as the opening track. Although the theme was the Midlands area of the UK I felt that it fitted in with the other tracks on the album.
That’s not where the story ends. I mentioned at the start that I was made redundant for the first time in 2008 – the second time was in 2011 when cutbacks were being made. Although I am accurate I am also slow at data entry, and not the greatest at face-to-face communication, so that time it was goodbye. So another crossroads showing me a path I needed to know; and this time I secured a voluntary position as treasurer for a local community centre which I still hold, and a job with an accounting practice where I stayed for two years. I am now responsible for the finances for October Books in Southampton (see my first blog post for a related story).
And now…here’s a link to the song: