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concrete and cherry blossom

Written by Kerr / Burchill

℗ JKMC–Bucks Music Group Ltd / Hornall Brothers Music Ltd (2014 - 2017)
℗ BMG Rights Management (UK) Ltd (2018 - )

This song was originally written during the Graffiti Soul sessions when it was originally called On The Rooftop. The song title On The Rooftop was used on some of the Big Music promos.

"Just last week we were in London doing a video shoot and some photographs, but in the morning Charlie dropped me off a two minute piece of music that I wrote on and we’ve got a new song called "Concrete And Cherry Blossom" and it's just fantastic. It’s really, really something. And it just goes on." - Jim, May 2009.

It was originally planned to debut the song at Bataclan, Paris on the 18th June 2010, but it was left out of the encore due to time contraints.

"Back in Real World Studios. Working on Blood Diamonds, Concrete And Cherry Blossom, Honest Town and an updated Planet Zero. It's all good, very good." - Jim, 31st May 2012

MH: Moving onto the next track, on the Big Music, Simple Minds' new record, we come to Concrete And The Cherry Blossom. I remember luckily enough being in the studio when you were working on this track, you recorded the vocal in Jez Coad's studio and sent it back and the combination of those two words was great and the imagery you came up with. Going from what was in your head and getting from that thing in your head to the music – what's the journey on that Jim?
JK: Well, the journey is Charlie Burchill to begin with, even though we're talking about Iain Cook there and stuff, still primarily the music that I work with is Charlie. He had – it's amazing how we work – because 99% of the time we are so in sync without even talking to each other. I mean, Charlie and I, the one thing we have in common, outside of our friendship, is that Simple Minds has been the crusade of our life and I don't mean crusade as something heavy we've had to carry on – it's been an absolute blast but we made this cause central to our lives whereas other people we've worked with after ten years or whatever – have said "that's enough." Charlie and I can't relate to that – it is our life, it's not a career, it's our life.
JK: Anyway, we're great mates but we're very, very different people. We've got – we keep different times of the day, we're different social animals and all that – but nevertheless what is amazing is say having not seen Charlie for two months, and then we hook up, you can almost bet that he'll be reading three books that I'm reading, the same three books, or he'll have found some obscure movie, some Columbian movie that I'll have found, or we'll just have the same things. So when he sends me a tune, quite often I'll have perhaps been thinking about some words anyway – I think about words almost every day – I'll be thinking about some words, I'll have made some notes and he'll send me a tune and not just a tune, there'll be an atmosphere in the sounds he uses because Charlie – I'm very lucky with Charlie, he just doesn't send a melody, he sends me these soundscapes and for me it's very easy to see a picture them, or feel that I can see a picture in it and usually the kind of atmosphere he's been sending me, I'll have been writing words for that kind of atmosphere a few days previously.
JK: And indeed, in the case of Concrete And The Cherry Blossom, we're talking about Glasgow earlier and it was only after the album was done that I realise there are three songs: Broken Glass Park (which we'll come to probably next or soon) and they're all written in some way about Glasgow – either ourselves or whatever. The story of Concrete And The Cherry Blossom is pretty funny in the sense that Charlie and I grew up in this – I guess in the States you would call it a project – they were these council housing schemes that they moved the working class families when we were kids into these areas. And they were all new buildings and they were made from cheap materials and they fell apart very quickly. But we loved them. However, it was just all concrete. [Laughs] They forgot to build facilities. So like any anywhere else, you would hang around and this was the modern world.
JK: But, anyway, on a recent journey back there while I was doing stuff for my solo album Lostboy, one of the promo things was to go back our neck of the woods and have a look around and talk about growing up there. And as I was doing it I realised that in amongst all the concrete of these buildings they'd made, someone in their wisdom had made the decision to plant some beautiful cherry blossom trees. And we were there in March/April and they were coming through and I had this great, great feeling because even though when I was a kid, I loved those trees – not because I was a nature freak but because when the blossoms came it was "Hey – summer's coming. We're going be able to stay out all night." And it was just a great, great feeling after the long darkness, these trees were a feeling of "Great. We can hang out." Anyway I was back there in March/April and I was being interviewed, and as I was being interviewed there were people with cameras, it draws the kids, and people were coming up with young kids there. And one of them said "Hey Mister. Are you in a band?" and all that stuff. And I said "Yeah." And one of the wee guys said, and it made me laugh, one of the wee guys said "What band are you in?" and I said "What band am I in?" and they said "The Beatles!" [Laughs] I said "Is that the only band you know?" and the he was like "I dunno" but, anyway, he goes "You're a rock star" and I said "Well... thanks."
JK: So, anyway, they kept interrupting – in a nice way. And finally one of them said to me "Where do you live?" And I said "That's a good question. I don't really know where I live" and this other little one chipped in with "You could live anywhere!" and I said "I know" and then his little mate went "If I were you, I'd live in Japan." And I said "Why would you live in Japan?" And he said "On the videos, a lot of games are made in Japan. All the video games. All the PlayStation stuff – they're Japanese. I would live there." And as he was saying that to me, I was looking over to these cherry blossom trees – which, of course, as we all know, is the symbol of Japan. I don't know how that ends up being Concrete And The Cherry Blossom the song – and I talk about this little kid having dreams – he lives in a tower block but, as far as he's concerned, he's going to be in Shinjuko that night and he's going to be living in Japan and he's going to be embracing that world.
MH: It's a Glasgow thing isn't it? Young kids and dreams and they happened to us and here we are – yours ends up on a record. This is a beautiful song called Concrete And The Cherry Blossom by Simple Minds.

Martin Hanlin
The Real McCoy
KX 93.5

"I wanted to go back to Toryglen, the housing estate we came from, and have a trip down memory lane. The building we grew up in is no longer there. No disrespect to the place but it looked like a bombsite, like Sarajevo. The one thing sticking out is that in all this concrete someone had the wisdom to plant beautiful cherry blossom trees. When I was a kid, I didn't know what they were, but I remember they symbolised the light nights and springtime coming and being able to play outside."

"There were some really young kids, maybe 10 or 12, hanging around, and they recognised me and we got talking about Japan and computer games, and I thought it was amazing that these kids were talking about Japan surrounded by these cherry blossom trees, the symbol of Japan of course. That kind of poetry came out in the lyric when Charlie and I were writing about our early days."

Jim Kerr
Classic Pop Magazine #14
December 2014/January 2015

People circle round the atomical sun,
Mid the concrete shapes and the cherry blossom.
Walking up and down over Moonacre Square,
It was aeons ago but I still feel there.

On the rooftop, yeah, yeah,
Got my sunshades on and I feel fine.
Up on the rooftops, yeah yeah,
Got my sunscreen on, leaving this world behind.

Album Version (3:31)
Produced by Andy Wright, Gavin Goldberg and Simple Minds
Mixed by Gavin Goldberg
Assisted by Lewis Chapman
Backing Vocals by Sarah Brown

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