Cambridge, UK-based singer-songwriter Jim Jagger gives us an inspiring tear-inducing musical piece with his latest single Memories of Spring. The genesis of the song is from his fundraising efforts with Motor Neuron Disease Association. It deals with the trials and tribulations faced by a woman and deals with them with strength. The song uses various gardening metaphors as the subject is an avid gardener.
The track begins with tastefully played guitar lines that fit optimally with Jagger’s vocal flow. Addition of the string section really fits well with the acoustic guitar rhythm section. Jagger uses beautiful earthy lyricism which is easy to relate to and truly brings the emotions in the song. Vocal harmonies and layering at the outro of the song sound incredibly beautiful, almost divine. After the peak of vocal harmonies, we come back to the strong core melodic idea of the song.
The song is masterfully mixed and produced by Jagger himself. It has an inspiring outflow with austere instrumentation. Memories of Spring is a sentimental uplifting acoustic folk ballad with strong symphonic elements which you’ll keep listening to.
We have Jim Jagger answering some questions about the song, his recording and songwriting process, and his artistic philosophy.
1. Who are your greatest musical influences?
If I’m honest, I have never been truly fanatical about a band or song; I’ve never worshipped celebrity, only respected creation and briefly acknowledged the vessel through which it is presented. So perhaps, rather than make up something about how I’ve been influenced by band X Y and Z that sound a bit like me or not like me at all, it would be better to say this. I am influenced strongly, emotionally, by every second of every sound I have ever heard, and everything I have come to know since I was conceived. Music has influenced me in different moments, consciously or subconsciously linked to memory in different ways. But to rank the importance of moments, or the influence of music heard in those moments, is impossible. Equally the future is unknown, the impact of my memory on my future behaviour is not predictable, as what I feel in one moment to the next is never the same. And on another level, as a vessel, what I am given will be, however that presents itself and links to my memories. So, I believe the category / genre / style is irrelevant, there is no way to box influence or creation but just to accept it as it is given.
2. Was anyone else involved in the production of the song? Like for the string section, mixing, etc? What was the production and recording process like? No actually, I recorded the song out of my humble home studio using VSTs and a midi keyboard to design the stringed sections. Took me about 4 days from start to finish to record, produce, mix and master it.
3. You’ve mentioned that the song was written in a moment of inspiration. That being said how is your normal songwriting process? Usually I just start playing whatever instrument and see where it leads. Sometimes I’ll have an idea in mind before hand and try and re-create it. It’s rare even when organically letting it flow out that it flows out as a clear finished piece; patience is key sometimes.
There isn’t much of a pattern, other than an initial idea will come (guitar, piano, midi drums, vocals). I’ll start with whatever instrument feels right to start with. For example for Cup of Coffee (another song I have released), I started by recording some cafetiere and boiling water sounds, and went from there.
More often the lyrics start to come once the basic instrumental melody and vocal melody is there, sometimes the lyrics come first. Rarely do they flow out so formed with the instrumental as with Memories of Spring. However, if the instrumental comes first often I find the lyrical content is matched to the tone and phrasing of the instrumental, as if the instrumental was pre-written for the content in the vocals, rather than the vocals influenced by the instrumental.
As I’m producing a song can go through any number of stages of chopping up and moving, adding or removing parts, re-writing parts, changing sounds etc. I just go with the flow and try to imagine what will improve each part in conjunction with the whole. Although I often have an idea of what will work, I never know what’s actually going to be given. Sometimes it sounds different, but in keeping with the style of music that’s developing.
There are plenty of ideas that don’t make it to the point of being produced and mastered. However, whilst some artists flit from one idea to the next, it’s very rare that I give up on an idea without significantly investigating every possibility that there’s something in it worth developing. So, I can spend anywhere from a couple of minutes and done (ish), to years reshaping and perfecting songs (maybe not to everyone’s satisfaction but perfecting them from my perspective). Nothing is ever fully finished but I like to think that the music I’m given has been well considered and crafted once it’s finished, given the best opportunity to influence.
If I can compare producing music to painted art, more often my writing approach is like a Michelangelo Sistine Chapel, considering every fine detail, rather than a Jackson Pollock throwing emotion onto a page approach (my opinion of how these artists created). However I have written music in both ways, using the two approaches in combination at any stage of a song’s development.
Hence, it was such a lovely surprise that this song was so quick to create and finish, it was more of a Jackson Pollock, finished with a hint of Michelango. Very natural and effortless, only complex in the way that it blends beautifully at various points, and different instruments and vocals have priority at the right times.
4. This song had its genesis in your fundraising for the Motor Neuron Disease Association. You have also pledged 50% of the lifetime earnings of two other songs written by you, to the Red Cross. What inspired you to contribute to society and community with your music?
About 2 years ago I found renewed faith in God. I wasn’t working full time in music at the time. I received a word on an Alpha course from someone who didn’t know me, that told me she saw a drum, and sound echoing out like a soundwave to the community. “God’s desire is to hear it often as it is a blessing to others. He wants more of it to be released into the light. The drum beat plays an important part in the community.” I felt it so strongly that I quit my job to focus on music full time and am focusing my given ability, my time, and my money on helping people in need, which includes charities of all kinds. I would give 100% to charity but for the fact that I need to somehow make a meagre living in order to support my family. I’m hoping to build a portfolio that will have a positive impact through multiple different charitable organisations and obviously I hope the music will also help people positively emotionally.
5. How different is it writing and releasing as a solo artist versus your past collaborative project Cloudshapes? It’s easier to finish things in a shorter time. But working with Rien is incredibly inspiring. He is an amazing song writer and musician, better than anyone I’ve ever met, so gifted.
6. Could you please tell us about your upcoming musical projects? With Cloudshapes there are so many ideas in development. But we’re not in any rush. They are being ‘Michelangelo’d’ and will be ready when the time is right.
I’ve launched a tailored song business called Music Wrapped. It allows people to commission a tailored song for someone (or for themselves). The Music Wrapped mission is “to intensify love, joy and compassion through shared musical gifts”. The songs created by the business are not intended to be gimmicky, but created to radio ready standard, really well considered pieces of art that people can put their or someone else’s story / message into. So, God willing, I’m hoping to have an increasingly positive impact on people’s lives through that venture, in the same way that Memories of Spring has helped the person it was written about, and her friendship with the lady who requested it.
I’m also hoping it will support other artists in their careers, by giving them a fair way they can generate income and continue their work. Creating music is time intensive, and only a very small fraction of artists are well paid, but ironically a lot of music is so valuable regardless of how many people hear it and value it. One piece of music can change someone’s life in a profound way. So, if it has reached that one person, then it was invaluable. And, I believe it can be such a powerful tool for good. So, massive respect to you for what you do, finding new artists and using your influence to get their message out into the world is good work.
Music Wrapped’s profits will also generate money for charities specified by artists on the roster and selected by customers at check out. So at some point it is intended that there will be a lot of music coming from Music Wrapped, not necessarily in keeping with the style of this song, all of which will generate money for charity and get people thinking empathetically about those in need. But, who knows where it’ll go; I don’t assume to know God’s plan, only to act in a way which promotes love and peace.
I’m also volunteering at The Lighthouse Church in Ely, I’m one of their Sound Engineers and a Youth Worker there. So I’m on the lookout for ways I can get involved musically with community outreach as and when it feels right to do so. On that note, shout out to anyone who this message reaches; let me know if you feel a strong pull that we are meant to do something together that can help people through music; my heart is open.
I have been called to exemplify people’s needs in song e.g. to help to intensify love wherever it already exists, and help people work through difficulties and disagreements to promote forgiveness and create peace where it is lacking. So I’m just living in the present and will wait to see what the future holds, what God’s plan is for me.
You can listen to the beautiful Memories of Spring here!