Ollie Wearne talks with Songwriter, Composer and Recording Artist Nick Hinton
Nick Hinton: Excuse me Mr. Reeve, how do you fly?
Christopher Reeve: With magic wires kid.
They say most great things come from simple ideas, and UK artist Nick Hinton’s beautiful song ‘Reeve’ is certainly that. Based on Nick’s brief encounter with Reeve as a young child back in 1987, he has successfully managed to blend words and music into a tribute certainly worthy of a fan.
Since releasing ‘Reeve’ on the EP ‘Haunted’ (available at iTunes) and on Soundcloud, Nick has been amazed by the overwhelming support. Not only is this a true reflection of people’s love and admiration for Christopher Reeve, it is also a testament to Nick’s music and the fact that good things will reach many. Due to this outpouring of support and interest from fans alike, Nick was generous enough to complete this short interview.
I want to personally thank Nick for offering up his valuable time and wish him well with all his future endeavours.
The 2005 Interview
Ollie Wearne: What inspired you to write a song about Christopher Reeve?
Nick Hinton: I was in complete shock when I heard of his death. I remember being one of many people my age back in the good old ’80s who loved the Superman films, and it’s safe to say that I was a huge fan. I was a little too young in 1978 to go and see Superman – The Movie, so I guess it started for me around 1983, when the third film was released in the UK. I met him as a kid in 1987 and remember looking up at this very tall man and saying the first thing that came into my head, which was “how do you fly?”
The song came from that, just a memory that returned to me on the day he died. It was a sad day for me as I’d watched the DVDs recently and been very enthused by hearing Richard Donner say that Chris had convinced him that he would walk again. I guess somewhere in the back of my mind I was waiting for the day when he did walk and perhaps starting making movies again. I really did not expect the news that he had died. I felt quite angry at the unfairness of it, and I think that’s why I started writing a song. It was all I could do really.
I did write the song on the guitar at first, as it’s sometimes an easier way to express instant emotions, I can carry it around and sort of think on my feet. The chorus was, I suppose, an outpouring of how I felt on that day, and thank God for my trusty tape recorder otherwise I may not have remembered it. I went back to it a few hours later and played it over and over and sang with it to find the melody. The words were really all there at the start, I just made sure that I only used them if they made sense to me. That for me is always the best reason to keep a lyric or a melody when I write songs. There is a demo I have lying around somewhere which is very long and I think captured the whole process.
Ollie Wearne: So you’re obviously a big fan of Christopher’s portrayal of Superman?
Nick Hinton: Absolutely. He really filled the screen. He had a very unusual way of acting in that it made you believe that he really was Superman, but he is the only person I saw in that role and so I’m afraid anyone before or since has never made sense to me. In the first film, when he is standing over the body of Lois Lane, he is absolutely beside himself with frustration because he knows he can’t do anything about it, the conflict in him is real. That scene was very powerful. Another favourite is in the second film when he realises he has made a mistake in giving up his powers, and he is pleading into the darkness for his father’s help. Classic moviemaking where they left the actors to do their best work and used it. He also played the cartoon role brilliantly with Clark Kent and it was never cliched, it was always very amusing, the gags were excellent.
Ollie Wearne: One particular lyric I quite like is “Because of you so many lives are changing”. Would this be a reference to Reeve’s status as a symbol of hope and the public face he put on paralysis?
Nick Hinton: Yes, definitely. I saw him as a man with hope and I followed his struggle from the day of his accident until the day he died. I felt that he sent a very powerful message to other people who lived with similar disabilities. His work in research speaks for itself and it was brave of him to remain in the public eye. I am sure that in his quietest moments he must have felt great annoyance at his disability, but to maintain that strength and resolve was incredible. Actually it is still a great message to anyone who feels that hope is useless, it never is. And he was an example of why hope and strength are so important.
Ollie Wearne: Do you think we might hear the track on an album of yours in the future?
Nick Hinton: It will most definitely be on the next album, though it may be re-recorded.
Ollie Wearne: Not that I don’t love the piano as the main instrument to the track ‘Reeve’, but do you ever entertain performing or recording other musical versions? As a big Nick Drake fan it would be interesting to hear a solo guitar version.
Nick Hinton: I’m a huge Nick Drake fan myself, and love his music. When recording ‘Reeve’, I felt that the piano held the chords a little better, it’s also my first instrument and so I tend to experiment a little more with the piano. It’s a great idea though, and it would certainly be how I would play the song live if there were no piano available. I would also love to record this with a very small orchestra to bring out the arrangement a little more. It is such a simple song that so much could be done with it. I guess watch this space!
Ollie Wearne: Obviously Dana Reeve was a very inspirational person. In what way does your song ‘Reunion’ honour the legacy of Chris and Dana?
Nick Hinton: The truth is that both Christopher and Dana Reeve’s deaths have had a profound effect on my life, both personally and professionally. When Christopher Reeve died in 2004, my immediate response was to write a song about my thoughts – and my experience meeting him was at the front of my mind. Writing Reeve was my way of grieving from a far I suppose, whilst trying to give credit to a man who had inspired me as a child and as an adult.
Soon after Dana Reeve died, I visited CapedWonder™.com and saw a cartoon that inspired what became ‘Reunion’. The image of Dana being reunited with her husband somehow replaced the sadness and unfairness of it all with some hope and comfort. The instrumental ‘Reunion’ is a story of the year that passed after Christopher’s death – the thought that Dana and Chris are now together again, after some time apart. The piano solo at the end of the piece is their reunion, and to quote the cartoon that inspired me – a musical interpretation of “Don’t worry, Dana, I’ve got you…”
Ollie Wearne: Would you care to explain the process for your compositions, right from the initial writing stage through to the actual performance?
Nick Hinton: Layer by layer is usually the way I work. With ‘Reeve’, for example – I wrote it in a few hours one afternoon whilst recording straight to tape – and listening to it recently helped me figure out how I write. Lyrics and music sort of develop over several hours or sometimes over a few minutes. With my recent instrumental work – I may use an image or a story that inspires me and I’ll usually start on the piano as it’s where I feel at home. Creating a musical space is what I aim to do – so an instrument usually won’t be there unless it adds something to the track. ‘Reunion’ has a simple synth pad, a piano, a string quartet and a celesta. Like other composers, I’m very critical of my work so it has to sound right to my ears before anyone else hears it!!! Writing and performing often go together and I’ll also mix a song as I go along.
I was so touched by the response to ‘Reeve’ that I remixed it last year in my studio and then had the song mastered by Ian Cooper – one of the most talented mastering engineers in the world – ironically at Metropolis Mastering in London.
Ollie Wearne: What does the future hold for Nick Hinton?
Nick Hinton: I am writing and recording new songs for a second release, a first full-length album. At the moment there are so many ideas and so many styles that I enjoy writing in, it can be tricky choosing songs. I am also a composer for television and film, and that is a particularly new area in my career. The interest and support has been overwhelming. I decided some time ago that I wanted to share the song ‘Reeve’ and so it is available for downloading at my site. I think the next album will be a mixture of rock and pop arrangements and very stripped-down acoustic tracks as that sort of encompasses what I do. Most of my songs are very personal and so it is important to get it right. Oh, and I will be playing live in 2006 too!
Thanks for allowing me to share my thoughts on Christopher Reeve and my music.