Weller Wednesday :: “Wings of Speed”
Welcome back to This Week’s Weller Wednesday, where we Listen to, Learn about, and Play Loudly the Music of Paul Weller, in all his many evolutions and incarnations. This Week’s Weller Wednesday we are spinning the Top Tune “Wings of Speed”, from Paul Weller’s third Solo Album, 1995’s Stanley Road. The Album and Song seems to be categorized as BritPop when you do a search online. Let’s have a listen and decide if that is what we Hear when we Press Play.
“Wings of Speed” (live)
“Now as night is falling,
a candle left to light the way.
Sailing hope to morning,
she comes to me calling,
to brighten up my darkest day.
And, the world fades away,
with her smile.”
“Wings of Speed” is the closing Track on Paul Weller’s third solo Album, Stanley Road. A beautiful Song with a tell-tale Weller mention of water (see above Lyrics), despite the song’s reference to wings.
The Song features vocal collaboration from former Young Disciples singer, Carleen Anderson. Weller was taken by Carleen’s vocals on this song, telling The Independent in May of 2005 that her voice was “the nearest I’ll get to hearing angels sing.”
He went on to say, “It’s heavenly. She sang one verse free-form and we put it down. Then she did another take, then another, and she wouldn’t play them back so we put them all together, weaved them in and out of each other.”
Carleen has described the experience of singing her part of the song as singing from her temples, because of the high notes in the song, and how high she had to reach to meet them.
In an “art inspires art” vein, Weller has stated that the lyrics to “Wings of Speed” illustrate his feelings when he looks at John William Waterhouse’s painting, The Lady of Shalott.
The oil-on-canvas painting (see above) is a representation of a scene from Lord Alfred Tennyson’s poem of the same name, written in 1832, which is based on Elaine of Astolat, a woman who yearned with an unrequited love for the knight Sir Lancelot. Elaine eventually died of grief and heartbreak.
Weller has explained that “The lines ‘With Jesus at the helm’ and ‘one candle left to light the way’ refer directly to the painting. I love Waterhouse’s paintings, the drama in them, and I was trying to capture that in music.”
Weller also went on to say that beyond the Waterhouse painting connection, the song was also part of his reaction to a personal upheaval in his life. He told Daniel Rachel in an interview:
“It’s [the song] also about splitting up with my wife at the time and feeling removed from her and my childrena nd even becoming a different person.”
Weller has rarely played “Wings of Speed” live, sans the above video from Jools Holland. He has stated emotional reasons for not playing it live saying “I think I would break down on stage and cry if I sang it.” (from the book, Paul Weller – The Changingman)
“Wings of Speed” (Album version)
“Wings of Speed” is definitely one of the Most Beautiful Paul Weller solo Songs. Inspired by Art and personal reflection, “Wings of Speed” is an Perfect example of Weller’s Craft and Artistry, and Soul. Come back around next week to see what’s on the Turntable for the next Weller Wednesday – you won’t want to miss it.