Rob Dunsford

Three Blinks

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About Rob Dunsford

My exposure to music as a child included The Barron Knights, The Brighouse & Rastrick Brass Band and enough classical music to put me off it for life. Thankfully my cool step-sister Penny took me to some stellar gigs in my teens - Billy Bragg, Martin Carthy, Dave Swarbrick, John Martyn.

In my late teens I dabbled nervously in a few bands, but hearing Tracey Chapman cemented my love of acoustic guitar and inspired me to start write songs.

It wasn’t until my mid thirties that a friend dragged me to my first open-mic night. I’d had no idea people did this; congregate in pubs to play music together - and not just covers, but often their own compositions! It was a revelation, and I went away to write, play, sing and practice with newfound zeal.

Hundreds of local gigs followed, centring around a handful of benevolent Shropshire venues who treated all musicians like extended family.

One such venue was The Bridges (AKA The Horseshoe Inn), in Ratlinghope, Shropshire. Publicans Mo & Bob ran the warmest, friendliest and best open-mic night around, and pub-regular Miles Hunt of the Wonder Stuff invited me to contribute three songs to his “Shared” album project, along with himself, Erica Nockalls, Wayne Hussey of the Mission, Kevin Weatherill (Immaculate Fools), among others.

The following year I appeared on a Townes Van Zandt tribute album with The Magic Numbers, Shane MacGowan, Stan Ridgway, Devon Sproule, Boo Hewerdine.

I've supported Miles Hunt, Ian Gomm (Brinsley Schwarz), Jeb Loy Nichols, Henry Priestman (Christians), Mark Morriss (The Bluetones), John Smith, Pete Coe and Nell Bryden, among many others, and have performed with Babytwin, EL Heath and Neve Spencer-Möller.

 

I’m in a covers band called Harry & The Ramsdens with my work colleagues/friends and we’ve raised nearly £30k for Cancer Research UK through playing to capacity crowds up and down the country.

Writing a song entry for a songwriting competition introduced me to the rest of the LNF gang, and I’m delighted to be counted among their number!



Three Blinks - LYRICS

So it’s you again, the ghost I barely knew
an imagined photograph, I never framed or put on show,
you were brighter than the full moon, on any cloudless starry night,
or sea-bloom kissing ankles, an effervescing light,

I could’ve seen us going steady, arm in arm,
You’d have been the tortoise, and me the mad March hare,
sewing names in scarves and mittens, for the little leverets
making precious memories, the kind you don’t forget

Your smile, warm as the Spanish sun, we pirouetted under
I wheeled around, on the cobbled ground, and you had done the same
would-be lovers dancing, both in step but out of time
Three blinks, hello, I love you, and goodbye.
hello, I love you, and goodbye

We’d grown old together, reminisced about the past,
tended our allotment, pruned the roses back in March,
watched our children’s children, as they melted both our hearts,
and though we wouldn’t know it, one kiss would be the last

I know it must seem crazy, and I suppose it is,
It’s over before I’ve learnt how to say your name

I know it must seem crazy, and I suppose it is,
Three blinks - hello, I love you, and goodbye.

The Story Behind The Song

Most of my limited repertoire of self-penned songs spill out uncontrollably from intense feelings of sadness or elation, but Three Blinks was one of the first songs I ever wrote with deliberate intention. I'd heard about a songwriting competition and decided to submit a song - but not one of my old ones - something new.

I'd not written a song for over ten years so this was a daunting prospect. I'd been reading a few books about songwriting and a few pieces of advice resonated with me; start with a single detail (rather than some overarching ephemeral concept), and write for the senses.

So I scoured my memory banks for a simple event that could be the 'seed' from which my song could bloom, and settled on a vivid memory of a fleeting encounter I had with a beautiful girl in Spain some thirty years ago.

We passed each other on a cobbled square in a quaint old Spanish town during the Golden Hour - when everyone and everything is bathed in a gorgeous, flattering warm light. As we passed each other, an arms length apart, I spun round on my heels to eke out a few more seconds of this momentary experience, and to my surprise she'd done the same. We exchanged embarrassed grins before continuing our respective journeys.

The song imagines how life might have turned out for us if either of us had had the courage to talk.

(With thanks to Kim Williams & Sylvia Grove for their beautiful Spanish voices on the recording)


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