This song is dedicated first to my wonderful mother, teller of takes and cake maker extraordinaire, and then to my three sons, Stuart, Ben and Rowan. Here’s the story behind the song.
When I was growing up, there was an unshakeable tradition around birthdays that started the night before. At bedtime before any birthday, my mother would say, “On this day, [x] years ago, I was…” and would go on to tell the tale of how that birthday child came into the world. I think this tradition started with her mother, who had seven children and was also a wonderful storyteller.
My mother also made amazing cakes. This was (of course) pre-internet. It was the time of the Women’s Weekly Birthday Cake book, but my mother didn’t have a copy. All of her cakes came straight from her imagination. They included witches, gingerbread houses, the Magic Faraway Tree, and many more.
My sixth birthday party, with a Magic Faraway Tree cake.
When my own children were born, these two traditions came very naturally, and we always tell the birth tale the night before any birthday. And I also love cake making. Over the years, I often found myself rushing downstairs after telling the birth story to make an extravagant cake, and while I laboured over the cake, thinking back to that original labour years before. Somehow, I liked the thought that I was labouring alongside the me of many years ago, and giving her encouragement. My labour was of course never as hard, and nor was the reward as great, but it was my own way of remembering and honouring the special day.
(My husband has a habit of coming in several hours into a complicated cake-making process and saying, ”You know, it would have been easier just to buy a cake.” So perhaps this idea of labouring with my past self is just an excuse I’ve made up subconsciously to support my cake-making… I’ll let you decide!)
A selection of Palethorpe birthday cakes from over the years.
So to me, it seemed obvious that a song about birth could only contain a combination of storytelling and cake-making.
The wonderful thing about this song is how it was taken on board by my family. After I finished writing it, I played it to my three boys to ask their permission to release such a personal song into the world. They all liked it and were happy for me to release it. But after listening, Stuart asked me to play a few phrases again, then asked me to change a few chords… and in a few minutes had deftly reharmonized my prechorus, making a significant improvement! After that, he took an interest in the arranging of the song, and ended up writing several of the instrumental parts for me and becoming a co-writer. Also, my husband Hugh and two of my boys recorded backing vocals for the song, and the third boy is in the recorded voice-over that runs throughout the introduction. And all three boys feature in the music video.
Stuart, Ben and Rowan.
So I hope you enjoyed listening to it! As always, if you liked it, please stream, download, add to playlists and follow me on your favourite streaming service (Spotify, Apple Music, etc), and subscribe to my YouTube channel!