Trevor Datson on attending Ray's Arvon songwriting course ca. 2009

27 August 2023

A few years ago (2009 or so) I was fortunate enough to take part in a week-long Arvon songwriting course with Ray at Ted Hughes’ old house at Hebden bridge. We were all a bit starstruck (appropriately enough) to start with, but Ray was very relaxed and demure and it was a really productive week. As an aside, it makes me laugh to remember Ray showing up in a sharp suit and shades before changing into a comfy track suit for the rest of the week. Just before he left, he changed back into his rock star clothes.

Anyway, on the last day Ray ran a fantastic, fun exercise in which the group of us had to write a musical between us over the course of a few hours. It was exhausting, but somehow we did it. Afterwards we decided to hold a little celebratory party, at which course participants were invited to perform one of their own songs.

I’m not much of a singer, so I asked Lorraine, one of the other participants, if she would sing a song of mine for me while I accompanied her. She kindly agreed, and we went next door to the main house to give it a run through on an old upright piano in there. I have to admit it sounded great with Lorraine singing it. What I didn’t know, however, was that Ray was chilling in the dark, in the next room. Just as we were finishing up, he came in to where we were sitting and told us: “Beautiful. That was exactly what I wanted to hear.” I’ve been floating on air ever since.

If you’d like to hear the song it’s here:!Ap-kxN3ao_XLjalCGTIIfIaqDPdBbw, but I’m afraid it’s me singing and not Lorraine 😊.