The Zen House

by Friends

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about

The Zen House, the tenth studio album by London band Friends, is out now.

The ultra-acoustic album kicks off with the glorious pop sunshine of When You Smile, and features 16 songs in stripped-down arrangements which showcase the voice and acoustic guitar playing of songwriter William Jones, percussion of Martin Parker and double bass of Edwin Pearson.

The album has a close, intimate feel, and many of the tracks were recorded ‘live’ in the studio in single takes. Two of the tracks are enhanced by sumptuous string quartet arrangements, and the songs span a range of moods and styles, from the lazy, jazz-tinged feel of London. Sunday Morning, to the raw, emotional bareness of Still Feelings and Your Will, the elegiac regret of Remember Me, and the mystical weirdness of the title track. The sparsity of the arrangements puts all the focus on the quality of songwriting and playing and, from the reaction at the Japanese concerts, Friends do not disappoint.

The Zen House shows a band that are still stretching themselves musically, seeking variety and contrast after 25 years of playing and recording, and determined never to stand still.

credits

released May 23, 2011

William Jones: voice, acoustic, electric, acoustic 12-string and Spanish guitars
Andrew Price: violin
Bob Wild: violin
Nick Howson: viola
Elise Towler: cello
Jon Kirby: keyboards
Edwin Pearson: bass, double bass
Martin Parker: drums, percussion

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Friends City Of London, UK

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Track Name: When You Smile
The bells are ringing nine
Yesterday is years away now
Tomorrow’s looking brighter than today
Come on now and join me on my way

Wipe away those dreams
Wake and catch the blinding morning
Let the sunlight burn them all away
Hear the children coming out to play
Getting closer, warmer every day

And when you smile like you do
With summer in your eyes
I don’t know why but it’s true
Just never realised

Float along the stream
Will it widen to a river?
Drifting down the river to the sea
Come together, only you and me
Tell me whether, say how will it be

And when you smile like you do
With summer in your eyes
You shine a light on me too
There’s nowhere left to hide

And when you smile like you do
With music in your words
You turn the sky back to blue
With songs I’ve never heard

Summer sunshine in your hair
Summer breezes everywhere
Laughter ringing through the day
Midnight singing fades away
Time, time, time
Slips so slowly by
Where, when, why
Must this moment die?

The whole world may not know your name
But recognise your smile
Your perfect picture fills the frame
So hold it now, just hold it for a while

And when you smile like you do
With summer in your eyes
I’m flying higher with you
You took me by surprise

And when you smile like you do
With summer in your eyes
I don’t know why, it’s just true
I never realised


Written by William Jones
Published by Summerhouse Music Ltd
Track Name: London. Sunday Morning
Wake up to the sun
The child beneath my window singing
St Martin’s and St John’s
Their open-air alarm clocks ringing
Something to remind me that I’m here

Kaleidoscopes of sounds
The cool canal and crowded market
The creatures under ground
Are crawling home from last night’s parties
Laughter plays and echoes round the square
Tells me to remember I was there

High on Parliament Hill
Through the haze above the silver skyline
Lying silently still
You can gaze beyond the blue horizon
Everything to show that we’re alive
Saved and burned and printed in my eyes

The landmarks on my way
The avenues and parks and gardens
Around me every day
Familiar friends and long departed
Every time that I leave
There will always be just one more journey home

The café down the lane
I read the news and nothing changes
The sweetness after rain
The scent of sun on drying pavements
Nothing left to show where it has been


Written by William Jones
Published by Summerhouse Music Ltd
Track Name: Still Feelings
Looking out from here
I still enjoy the perfect view
Part-remembered days
And half-forgotten friends
Disappointed times
And disconnected lines
However much I try
To bring it back again

Things from long ago
I thought about so many times
People that I met
Got lost along the way
I was wandering too
But always there was you
Even after many years
There are still feelings
Maybe if you’re ever near
There are still feelings
I’ll tell you that I’ll still be here
For a while

Evenings fade to night
And hours grow into days
I let the precious seasons slip away
I still repeat the words I couldn’t say

The so restrained goodbyes
I thought I’d soon forget about
Didn’t happen then
And hasn’t happened now
Often when I dream
I know it’s you I’ve seen
Even after many years
There are still feelings
Didn’t ever disappear
It’s the same meaning
Come around and find me here
There’s a good reason
Even after many years
Have gone by
It’s just fine
I don’t mind
There’s still time
There’s still time


Written by William Jones
Published by Summerhouse Music Ltd
Track Name: Your Will
I don’t believe in meant-to-be
And even more I don’t believe you do
I’ve given up on wait-and-see
I only know that this must come from you

You can’t rely on circumstance
And always leaving everything to chance

Let it be your will
Let it be, let it be your will
Let it be your will
Let it be, let it be your will

I can’t agree with make-believe
Or pick-and-choose or let’s see how it goes
I’ll do without the fantasy
The only guarantee is no-one knows

I only hope you’re hoping for
The same as me, or maybe even more

Let it be your will
Let it be, let it be your will
Let it be your will
Let it be, let it be your will

Your will
Your will

I’m nearly through with talking now
My promises and wishes and my doubts
I’ve used all my persuasive power
The fires and all the candles are burned out

We both know what it’s all about
So you decide what you can do without
There’s nothing more that I can say
To make it be so now I’ll back away

Let it be your will
Let it be, let it be your will
Let it be your will
Let it be, let it be your will

Let it be, let it be


Written by William Jones
Published by Summerhouse Music Ltd
Track Name: Good Morning Gorgeous
Wake up to the day
And the first thing that I say
Did you hear the rain and thunder in the night?
Turn round unaware
Then I see you lying there
And you’re framed inside a narrow stream of light

Staring at your sleeping face
Just makes me want to smile
I’ll hang around this perfect place a long while

Good morning gorgeous
It’s good to see you there
Good morning gorgeous
Be with me everywhere

Something that you said
And it’s buzzing round my head
‘cause I never really think of things that way
Then I look at you
From another point of view
And it’s easy to decipher what you say

Something in your character
I never understand
We’ll keep it just the way you are and I am

Good morning gorgeous
I’m glad to see you there
Good morning gorgeous
Be with me everywhere

I believe you when you say you mean it
Things are never how they seem

Stand and catch the news
Sing the Monday morning blues
And I’m running down the stairs and through the door
Vanish in the crowd
And I want to shout it loud
That there’s nothing I can’t deal with any more

You’ve taken me someotherwhere
I’ve never been before
Now I’ve breathed this fresher air I need more

Good morning gorgeous
It’s good to see you there
Good morning gorgeous
Be with me everywhere

Good morning gorgeous
It feels so good to say
Good morning gorgeous
Today and every day
Of my life, of my life, of my life


Written by William Jones
Published by Summerhouse Music Ltd
Track Name: Nightlife
Day to day
Home, away
Where do you go?
Can’t you say?

Now and then
Back again
Why do you do
Shall we pretend?

Come and go
Hide or show
Take me along
Yes and then no

What are we
You and me?
Time and again
How will it be?

Gone all night
It’s alright
Out of your mind
Out of my sight

Lose your name
Play your game
See how I feel
Always the same

Tell me please
What you see
Once and for all
Say it to me


Written by William Jones
Published by Summerhouse Music Ltd
Track Name: Meaning To Write
I’ve been meaning to write
And couldn’t find the time
I’ve been spending the nights
Trying hard to find to say
The things you want to hear

I’ve been wanting to say
And couldn’t find the words
I’ve been filling the days
Making plans that I’ll forget
Before the time arrives

Looking for the easy way
Wondering what the hell I’d say
To let you know I care

I was thinking I’d call
But never got the chance
It was nothing at all
Only trying to stay in touch
And tell you how I am

Lying awake and counting time
I tell you that I’m feeling fine
A pile of letters on the floor
I wrote the start then nothing more
I will some other day

Meaning to write
Meaning to write

I was hoping you’d ask
And didn’t make the move
But the moment has passed
Nothing ventured, something gained
The chance to start again

I’ve been meaning to write
And couldn’t find the time


Written by William Jones
Published by Summerhouse Music Ltd
Track Name: Bird
I watched you as you landed
On the branch above my door
And suddenly the warm air
Wasn’t quiet any more
You held my gaze, I looked away
Like staring at the sun
And now instead of nothing there was one

And every summer morning
At the same time you return
And all our conversations
There’s so many things to learn
I tried to mend your broken wing
The time you couldn’t fly
Just sat and counted clouds and days go by

You glide and swoop and soar away
Dive deep and climb so high
Your colours painting circles in the sky
And now in late September
All our time has gone
You’ve caught the southern breezes heading home

The tree woke up from winter
And the leaves are green again
I scan the blue sky hoping
That I’ll recognise a friend
And every day I listen
For the song you used to sing
And every year I’m waiting for next spring


Written by William Jones
Published by Summerhouse Music Ltd
Track Name: Remember Me
I call you on your wedding day
To offer my congratulations
Could be my last chance to say
Through all the background celebrations
I wish you all the best and tell you
Whatever happens next
Remember me

I heard about your sudden rise
I followed all the fame and glory
A world I barely recognise
The classic rags to riches story
The truth was something else completely
Whatever happens next
Remember me, remember me

We never planned beyond tomorrow
You would lead and I would follow there, everywhere
Always saw a happy ending
We really ought to keep in touch till then

I called when I was passing by
To share some ancient reminiscence
They showed me where you chose to lie
When all the noise and glare had finished
I offer my respects and whisper
Whatever happens next
Remember me, remember me
Remember me, remember me


Written by William Jones
Published by Summerhouse Music Ltd
Track Name: Fine Again
Round, round, up and down
Dead-eyed kids, dead-end town
“Find that idiot child
Special needs, simple smile
The knives, hoods, sticks and the stones
Alright, there’ll be some broken bones
All those films that I’ve seen
We’ll make him squeal, we’ll make him scream”
Here, there, back again
Bitter hearts, bitter end

Who said everything would turn out fine again?
Who said anything about a quiet weekend?
Who believes in rock and roll
In gods and everlasting souls?
What about the life that would be mine, my friend?

And so who speaks poison words
Overdone, overheard?
Look and you will find
Dirty thoughts, toxic minds
“All you look just the same
Your different face, your funny names
Blah, blah, the things you say
Are all around me, keep away”
Breathe and you’ll inhale
Filthy air, something stale

Thirty-six inch screen
Or land of broken dreams
You’re going to be a star
Or stay right where you are
A world of opportunity
Win the game show you’ll be free
Your family had a black and white TV

You know we don’t read the news
Narrow streets, normal views
Just a bit of fun
Keep it quick, and get it done
“Hey, lads, here’s my scheme
I’ve planned it all, I’ve had a dream
You all know what I mean
We’ll wipe the whole place pure and clean”
No more days to lose
It’s time to act, it’s time to choose

Another neighbourhood
The boys and girls come out to play
So tell me something good
And what you learned at school today
I read about a world
With seven wonders, long ago
A voice I’d never heard
A king who had a dream of hope here
So when did it come true?
Was that about me too?
So all of this was new?
And then what did he do?

Who’s the guilty man?
Bloody deed, bloody hands
We know who you are
Where you live and park your car
You see weak or strong
And never pay, no right and wrong
You talk of family
Of free speech and democracy
“We’ll work out a few good lies
Our story straight, our alibis”

Who said everything would turn out fine again?


Written by William Jones
Published by Summerhouse Music Ltd
Track Name: Go Home
Go home, go home
It’s the end of the day
Let go, let go
And it all blows away

Lie down, lie down
In the peace of the night
Be calm, be calm
With the cool and the quiet

No more, no more
It’s the end of the line
It’s gone, it’s gone
And you’ve run out of time

Go home, go home
It’s the end of the day
Let go, let go
And it all blows away


Written by William Jones
Published by Summerhouse Music Ltd
Track Name: Other Bird
I watched you as you landed
On the branch above my door
And suddenly the warm air
Wasn’t quiet any more
You held my gaze, I looked away
Like staring at the sun
And now instead of nothing there was one

And every summer morning
At the same time you return
And all our conversations
There’s so many things to learn
I tried to mend your broken wing
The time you couldn’t fly
Just sat and counted clouds and days go by

You glide and swoop and soar away
Dive deep and climb so high
Your colours painting circles in the sky
And now in late September
All our time has gone
You’ve caught the southern breezes heading home

The tree woke up from winter
And the leaves are green again
I scan the blue sky hoping
That I’ll recognise a friend
And every day I listen
For the song you used to sing
And every year I’m waiting for next spring


Written by William Jones
Published by Summerhouse Music Ltd
Track Name: Get Together Again
Come here today
From near and from far away
Journeying hard
From wherever you are
It’s closer now
And it can’t be long
Though it’s years too soon
That our hero will be gone

“Come to me” (who’s saying?)
“Come to me” (who’s saying?)

All that he hears
Is a call from the darkness outside

Yeah yeah yeah yeah
You know we’ve all been there
All known grief
But nothing like this
It’s the end of time
And then there’ll be
Nothing, nothing, nothing
But emptiness drowning us

“Come to me” (are you saying?)
“Come to me” (are you saying?)

Hang on, hang on
For a day more and then one more day

Get together, whenever it comes
Whenever it comes, get together
Get together, whenever it comes
Whenever it comes, get together
Get together

Get together again, get together again
Get together again, get together again
Get together, get together
Get together, get together

No no no no
Don’t leave us alone now
Be there at the end
Family and friends
For the only man
With no enemies
It’s time now, it’s time
And time we should be there

“Come to me” (are you saying?)
“Come to me” (are you saying?)

The call goes round
The word goes around once again

Get together, whenever it comes
Whenever it comes, get together
Get together, whenever it comes
Whenever it comes, get together
Get together

Get together again, get together again
Get together again, get together again

All that he hears
Is a call from the darkness outside


Written by William Jones
Published by Summerhouse Music Ltd
Track Name: The Zen House
I broke down
By a long and open road
From the city heights
Out to the east

I was found
Lying by a stony path
In the fading light
And dying heat

High on the hillside
Under the trees
They tended my fever
Showed me the way
To be free
From the distant life
That I don’t need

And I lay
On a wooden floor
Listened to the silence
Needed nothing more

So I stayed
And then after many years
They set me on my way
Towards the sun
Towards the sun
Towards the sun
Towards the sun
Towards the sun
Towards the sun
Towards the sun
Towards the sun


Written by William Jones
Published by Summerhouse Music Ltd
Track Name: The Road
Down the road where your favourite memories go
Down the road where the wandering river flows
Down the road where the shadows of autumn grow
Down the road where the summers are made of gold

Down the road where your favourite memories go
Down the road where the wandering river flows
Down the road where the shadows of autumn grow
Down the road where the summers are made of gold


Written by William Jones
Published by Summerhouse Music Ltd