April 20, 2017
There’s no place like home…
‘Over My Shoulder’ tries to imagine what it must be like to have to leave your home with your partner and young family, to set out on an incredibly dangerous journey in a desperate search for a safe place; somewhere to live peacefully and raise a family without the daily threat of bombs, starvation, drought or the constant fear of losing someone you love.
I wrote this song with one of Britain’s finest songwriters, Boo Hewerdine. We were sat at a piano in a basement studio in London on September 9th 2015, just a few days after the deeply disturbing and heart-shattering photograph of Aylan Kurdi, a three-year old Syrian boy, had gone viral on social media.
The powerful image of a dead child, face down and fully clothed, lying on a beach on the Aegean coast, brought the reality of the refugee crisis crashing in to our consciousness – if it hadn’t been there already. It felt as if the whole world had stopped and finally taken notice; what had previously seemed unimaginable was brought in to stark focus by this simple photograph. For many watching from the safety and comfort of their own homes, this young boy, with his little trainers and his red t-shirt, looked like he could be one of our own children.
Like many others before and after them, Aylan’s family had been attempting to sail to the Greek island of Kos to escape the devastation of war in their home country. Like so many others, they did not survive the treacherous journey across the Mediterranean.
This is a time when we all need to show generosity and compassion and recognise that we are in a position to help others that have suffered so much loss; loss on a scale most of us can barely comprehend. Most of the time it doesn’t need much – a simple show of empathy and understanding can go a long way. It shouldn’t need a photograph of a dead child on a beach for us to empathise with human suffering. I hope this song might serve as a reminder to us to be grateful for the beauty in our lives, and for the things we often take for granted, such as food, water, safety, shelter, family and loved ones. Above all, let us not forget how, from time to time, we have all relied upon those around us for help, support, connection and love to pull us through.
The video was filmed and edited by Jake Gavin, the writer and director of Hector (which starred Peter Mullan in a Scottish Bafta-winning performance).