This is the only song I have ever written on a ukulele. It was a borrowed instrument, from Cavan, and I was using it to practise a song for our 2016 Phoenix Theatre show – “Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head”, as I recall. I’d had the optimistic phrase “I’ve Fallen on my Feet” running through my head for about a year previously so the line may have been influenced by the Burt Bacharach title or that may just be coincidence. (Incidentally, I’m astonished that no one else seems to have written a song with this title.)
It wasn’t long before the title phrase dragged along the rest of the song in its wake and I used one of my favourite chord sequences for the “They say that every cloud has a silver lining” section. I had used this same sequence in an earlier song “Seize the Day” which I wrote for my daughter Rebecca’s wedding back in 2007. I had borrowed the chord sequence from George Harrison’s “Something” (the “I don’t wanna leave her now” line) and it’s a sequence that works well on a ukulele. When Paul McCartney plays George’s “Something” these days he always begins it with a ukulele introduction as a tribute to his fellow Beatle. However, I was afraid of overdoing this chord sequence (you can have too much of a good thing, you know) so I changed it to another, related sequence for the “But don’t you know that just a little while ago” line to give more harmonic variety.
I made an initial demo of the song using ukulele in the style of Bruno Mars but it didn’t seem to work. After briefly considering a Tamla Motown approach to the song, I settled on a style which was much closer to my comfort zone: the Beatles in their Sergeant Pepper and Magical Mystery Tour periods. “With a Little Help from my friends”, “Getting Better” and “Your Mother Should Know” all feature a repeated four-in-a-bar chord pattern on piano and guitar and I can remember being blown away by Paul McCartney’s bass lines when first I heard them – especially that of “With a Little Help”. It is that melodic bass style which I have tried to reproduce in “Fallen on my Feet”.
The lyrics to “Fallen” are more optimistic and upbeat than many of my songs. I can remember friends being surprised that I had included the Americanism “Sweeter than the candy from a soda-pop store” but this was quite intentional. I wanted to recapture that American small-town homeliness which pervades my favourite Christmas movie “It’s a Wonderful Life”. The scene with the young George Bailey, Mary and Violet in the soda store has always struck a chord with me – I have no idea why!
For the video to “Fallen on my Feet”, which is available on YouTube, I chose an earlier American movie theme – that of Harold Lloyd and Buster Keaton, who were constantly getting themselves in and out of catastrophic scrapes in spectacular fashion. And I couldn’t resist using the famous falling building sequence for the opening of the video. As I write this, the song has had over 800 views on YouTube and seems to be my most popular video.