Richard Hawley – Swan Song

The perpetual pessimist considers his own mortality.

From Britpop nearlymen The Longpigs to session guitar-slinger and acclaimed solo career, Richard Hawley is fast becoming a British national treasure. The Sheffield native released his ‘Truelove’s Gutter’ album earlier this year, a worthy successor to ‘Lady’s Bridge’ and ‘Coles Corner’. For our Swan Song feature we asked him to consider how he’d spend his last day on Earth.

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Richard Hawley – For Your Lover, Give Some Time

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Where would you wake up?
I know this is cheesy, but probably in bed next to my wife, like I wake up most mornings. That would be just enough.

What would there be left to achieve on your last day?
Hopefully you’ve achieved what you’ve wanted to achieve already. My granddad used to say to me, ‘when is enough enough?’ He was talking about money and things, you know, to know when enough’s enough. I hope I would be able to rest easy in the morning over breakfast knowing that at least I’ve got somewhere near to being happy.

Who would you invite for your final dinner?
Can I have a party as well? What would be really ace is to be able to go out for a really nice family meal and then probably ruin it all by inviting all my mates and their wives back to mine for the mother of all parties to have a really good laugh with friends. Go out to a nice restaurant, and then pile back to mine for loads of Guinness and ace music!

What would be on the menu?
Anything from a good, old school Italian restaurant.

What would be your greatest regret?
Too few to mention, as the song once said. There’s not one I can pick out, but it’s better to look forward than back. Everybody has little regrets. If you look back it’s too negative; you’re always facing the future with the back of your head.

What would be the last album you’d listen to?
Santo And Johnny [Brooklyn rock ‘n’ roll duo]. Anything by them.

Who is the last person you would kiss?
That’s tricky because I’ve got three kids as well as the wife. I’d have to demand four, one for each of my kids and then one for the missus. Also, I’d have to have a pat on the head for the dog!

Which lifelong secret will you admit to before you go?
Lifelong secret? (Laughs) I’m not telling you!

How would you like to snuff it?
Probably when I’m not looking. “How would you like to snuff it?” It’s a bit of a different question to ‘How would you like your eggs to be cooked’ isn’t it! (Laughs) Actually, seeing as I’d drunk so much Guinness and I’m really pissed, probably just quietly in my sleep, that’d be the easy way out! (Laughs).

What would your final words be?
‘Thank you and goodnight.’

What song would you play at your funeral?
‘One Day Like This’, that Elbow tune. It’s just so celebratory of life, there’s a bitter sweetness to it. There’s a million pieces of music that I could play but it’s those lines, “Throw those curtains wide / One day like this a year would see me right”. Hopefully my last day on Earth would be like the day in the song.

What would it say on your gravestone?
My manager, in his wisdom, found a gravestone from 1690-something on the Internet, in Salem, which said, “Here lies Richard Hawley”, and to see your own name on a gravestone is really creepy – my name’s not exactly John Smith is it! I’d probably let other people write it, but then it’d be a bit of a worry if someone you didn’t like wrote it. What would I like people to write? Hopefully they’d write ‘We miss you!’

Which dead star would welcome you at the Pearly Gates and why?
I lost my dad recently, and he was a great musician/ I know it’s cheesy again, but I’d hope he would be waiting for me there. Someone famous? Billy Lee Reilly’s only just died, so it’d be nice if he were up there to show me the chords to a song of his that I’ve never been able to fucking learn!

If you were resurrected the day after tomorrow, who or what would you come back as?
A seahorse. They’re the strangest creatures on Earth, and I’ve always longed for a life under the sea, I think that would be quite interesting!

Words by Ben Homewood

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