City of Lights

Along with Mirrors, City of Lights is one of the two oldest tracks on the album, written when I was 16. I couldn’t tell you which of the two I wrote first, but City of Lights is the most special song on the album to me. It is the first song I ever performed solo on stage as a singer/songwriter, at a concert at my high school. I have a visceral memory of that night – I can picture myself sitting at that piano on stage in front of the audience for the first time as if it was yesterday. The feeling of having a crowd hanging on my words; the hot stage lights on me; my sweaty palms. The nerves disappearing, and losing myself in the moment as soon as I started playing. That night is the night I became a performer, and I will always remember it. 

The song itself is about consumerism; greed; corruption. The feeling of disconnect from a society that is stuck in a vicious, inescapable cycle. Pretty deep stuff for 16! I wrote the first line of the song while in the car at night. It’s not even about a city! We were traveling on the freeway past the town of Sunbury on the way home to Gisborne, and you could see the lights of the town. “City of Lights” sounds a bit better than “Suburban Town of Lights” though don’t you think? 

In 2014 I’d recorded and released (on Youtube) a version of this song with an old band I used to be in with Bruce Pagunsan, who I worked on a few early versions of album tracks with. I loved that version, but there was definitely room to update and take it in new directions. Working with Nick, we took some elements from that version like the groove in the bridge, and some of the vocal arranging that I’d done, and breathed new life into it to build the track you hear now. I love the exposed vocals that draw you in at the start, and the gradual build throughout the track to the stadium rock climax. Nick’s guitar solo in City of Lights is my favourite of his across the album, and there are several moments in this song that I just can’t get enough of. I’m so proud of what this song has become, but at its core it is the same song that a much younger Patrick Earley got on stage and performed solo in front of an audience for the first time at Sacred Heart College in Kyneton. 

Photo is of Patrick performing City of Lights at his high school. He's wearing his school uniform, sitting at a black upright piano, on stage in front of the audience.
I mentioned the night I performed City of Lights at high school - here's a photo courtesy of my parents.