Thursday 4 February 2021

Don't Look Back

Gerry Love

Trust Me #21

After highlighting the genius of Norman Blake's songwriting in my last Trust Me blog, I felt it was only fair to feature messrs Gerard Love and Raymond McGinley over the next couple of months. 

I usually choose a song to write about in the Trust Me series on a whim. I listen to it and think - yes I'll write about that this month or next. I don't normally plan the song I am writing about in advance.

So I didn't give any thought to choosing Did I Say by Norman, I just really enjoyed listening to it and then blogged on it. How do I go about choosing songs from Gerry and Raymond?!

From So Far Gone (read a previous interview with Gerry on this song HERE) through to It's A Sign from 2016's Here album, Love has peppered albums with sky scraping anthems like Ain't That Enough, power pop perfection like Sparky's Dream, Radio and Take The Long Way Round, to more mellow (yet powerful) moments like Sometimes I Don't Need To Believe In Anything. Not to mention b-sides like Getting Real and his exquisite Lightships material, with Sunlight To The Dawn being a real favourite.

I've chosen to feature Don't Look Back from 1995's Grand Prix album.  It's classic Love with mentions of the sunshine, city skies, reflection and romanticism, a beautiful song ending with the excellent advice in the refrain don't look back on an empty feeling.

Pic by me! From the Creation shows at the Barrowland, 2018

Opening with warm guitar chords before a piercing and soaring lead kicks in, Love sings heartfelt lines of brightening city skies, stealing a car to drive his love home and stretching time to stay.

That line she lives in your life every day, stretching time to stay is one I hadn't fully appreciated until my friend Ruthie Blaney highlighted it for this blog. I immediately thought back to younger, more innocent times, when every minute with the person you were in love or lust with felt so important - stretching time to stay beyond your last train or curfew was something you would do.

Don't Look Back has mellow verses that build to a punchy and euphoric chorus. The first time is like a relief, it builds so naturally and feels so good, the second time, after Love sings I don't need a guiding light to lead me in the dark, is utterly joyous and euphoric, leading to the closing refrain and then into the glorious sound of Teenage Fanclub in full flight, Raymond's guitar sounds beautifully scuzzy and fuzzy, there is an acoustic behind it, at 3 minutes 15 things are turned up further to a beautiful conclusion. Stunning!

The acoustic version released on the Teenage Fanclub Have Lost It EP (BLOG ON THAT HERE) is tender and arguably even more beautiful for being stripped back. I love the electric guitars, but oh man, this is just heart melting gorgeousness.

If I could find the words to say .... well I tried my best to capture what an amazing song this is, but I called upon friends from the Teenage Fanclub Fanclub to help me. 

Don't Look Back - album version

Don't Look Back - Teenage Fanclub Have Lost It version

Don't Look Back - live from 1995

You can find a playlist of songs in my Trust Me series by searching for Everything Flows Trust Me on Spotify, or CLICK HERE

Teenage Fanclub Fanclub on Don't Look Back

Donald Soutar

For the longest time, this was, and probably still is, my favourite TFC song, and was always the highlight of live shows. Don't Look Back is the first thing I play when I pick up a guitar (capo fr. 3), it's a beautifully constructed song stripped down, love the TFC Have Lost It version, but the arrangement on Grand Prix is perfect, from the way the intro builds to the thumping drums at the chorus, to the call and response outro and guitar solo. The lyrics, vocals and harmonies are all different class, but the bit that always gets me is the slight strain in the she lives in your life every day line.

Alistair Braidwood

I was working in Sydney when GP came out and listening to it caused homesickness to kick-in immediately, but the power pop also made complete sense in the Aussie sunshine. Don't Look Back, more than any other song, captured the essence of where I had come from & where I was going.

Terje Lynnebakken

This should have been another single from Grand Prix. Possibly the song I sang loudest to at concerts (sorry!). 


First heard them doing DLB on a Clyde 1 session promoting Grand Prix and instantly fell in love with the band. Still got it on a tape somewhere. Also might love the Teenage Fanclub Have Lost It version more than the album version. What a classic and very inspiring EP.

Ruthie Blaney

It's a highlight live, isn't it? Everybody seems so enthusiastic when it starts, like we've all just realised en masse that it's our favourite song, looking around smiling at strangers 'Aw I love this one!' and the mood lifts.

Some clever lyrics about the sun. Is he ever so slightly behind the beat when he sings the morning sun's a fire in space? Whatever it is, it's a beautiful touch. 

She lives in your life every day, stretching time to stay always makes me think of how no day is exactly the same length as the next. As we head out of winter and into spring, the sun hangs around a little bit longer every day, it's a hopeful thing to know in winter in the middle of a pandemic.

The Have Lost It version is stunning in every way too. No harmony on got my mind set on something else so it's hard to see. Who can resist replacing it with their own, particularly if you're on your own and no one can judge you?

And sometimes we all need to hear those lyrics in the chorus, it's good advice after all

Neil Macleod

Love the major going into minor from chorus to verse. I think Gerry is great at big sunny choruses and almost slightly gloomy (but still melodic) verse.

Pedro Delanotte

This is one of my Top 10 Fanclub tunes. The understatement of the simple guitar line which is folky and the big unashamedly emotional, declarative quite poppy chorus. I'd steal a car to drive you home.

One of his "sun" songs too. I always think of how connected to the very stuff of life Gerry's songs tend to be and I think his seeming obsession with the sun is what does that. The giver of life. These song are elemental. 

I love the line hope's never gonna teach me as well. It's pretty much perfect, really.

Kevin Robertson

For me, one of the best intros in pop music. I rate this along with The Only Ones Another Girl, Another Planet on that front, only mellower. For me this sums up Gerry's songwriting in Teenage Fanclub in one song, i.e. beautiful!

Keith Bell

I love this song ... If I could find the words to say ...

Matt Moir

One of the finest vocal performances by anyone. I love, love, love the stripped back version on the Teenage Fanclub Have Lost It EP. Love also that my Mum, who's seen them a fair few times, always thought the lyrics were don't look back on empty fields .... poor farmers!! :-)

John Wallace

Gerry Love sings like an angel.

Mark Hannah

I'd steal a car to drive you home is one of my favourite lines in any song ever. It conjures up brilliant imagery buoyed by that brilliant melody.

Anne-Marie Feeney

As others have said I'd steal a car ... is a great line but don't look back on an empty feeling - one line that manages to be optimistic and melancholic simultaneously. I simply love this song. No pun intended!

Stephen Forsyth

Gerry's singing on this is amazing. Love the urgency in the chorus. The guitar outro is so uplifting. 

If I could find the words to say, 

The sun shines in your eyes, 

So brighten up my city skies

Break out the news, it's back again

The voice that tried to sing

She don't hang on

And hope's never gonna teach me

Wake up the story's over

Climb aboard, I'm going nowhere

And understand if I must say

I'd give both these wings away

I'd steal a car to drive you home

I don't look back on an empty feeling

Repaint the blues, my saving grace

Is lost without a trace

The morning sun's a fire in space

She lives in your life every day

Stretching time to stay

Got my mind set on something else so it's hard to see

I don't need a guiding light to lead me in the dark

And understand if I must say

I'd give both these wings away

I'd steal a car to drive you home

I don't look back on an empty feeling

(Don't look back) on an empty feeling

(Don't look back) on an empty feeling

(Don't look back) on an empty feeling

(Don't look back) 

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