Did we dream it, or did we really witness a saw being played with a hammer and cello bow – by a woman with a voice like an angel – accompanied by author, pianist, and songwriter Neil Williamson? And did that music not send shivers down our spines?
Phew! It wasn’t just us then. Rapturous applause and a healthy turnout last night, for a fascinatingly offbeat event. Neil led us through his personal quest for the “storification of songs”, i.e. getting music into his short stories and prose into his music. Neil explored the art of concision in writing/songwriting with reference to the lyrically evocative work of Tom Waits, and by demonstration with piano. Then, he treated us to a musical rendition of his award-winning short story Arrhythmia (and drew our eyes to the hidden delights of Glasgow’s thriving cabaret scene).
Finally, we were astounded by two of the “sets” which he and his musical partner Markee De Saw have performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe: extraordinary collages of popular songs threaded together with new poetic narratives, accompanied by – yes – the tools of a carpenter deployed to hithero undreamt uses! As Neil disarmingly reminded us, “it is natural for people to sing to each other” – and the possibilities of both storytelling and song seemed pushed to new limits by his hands.