Here I repeat my thoughts from another topic as it may have gone unnoticed. I hope it will induce some reflections now.


For a while I’ve been wondering how much was in reality Tim’s contribution to the songs on Phil Manzanera’s album „Southern Cross”. I know that the subject has been touched upon several times in earlier threads. For the most part, I read: Tim has added lyrics to Manzanera’s instrumental pieces, and that’s how the album came into being.

Officially one can read on the picture sleeve of the later released „A Million Reasons Why” CD: „Tim helped me [sc. Manzanera] gather my lyrical [italics mine] thoughts, and together... we came up with, what we thought was a new musical genre, ’Southern Cross’!”. This wording seems to me misleading, to say the least. One can easily think that Tim’s contribution to the songs was not more than add lyrics.  See, for example, on the Roxy Music web page ( „Tim helped Phil with lyrical thoughts...” In my opinion, there’s something wrong with this interpretation, and I would like to give expression to my doubts here.


1) There is one song on the album, „Astrud” (sung by Ana Maria Velez) which goes only with Tim’s credits (lyrics and music written by Tim). It is peculiar that this is one of the most Latin sounding pieces on the album  – beside „Tambor” and „Guantanamera” –, and still it has nothing to do with Manzanera as to the writing credits.


2) Those songs with Tim’s cooperation are hard to imagine having the same melodies in their original forms as in their later phases when lyrics were added. To put it differently, the instrumental pieces are likely to have been without definite melodies, and definite melodies came along with the lyrics. As many songs as I know from Manzanera do not have such lines of melody as I find in the songs co-written by Tim.


3) The melodies of the songs co-written by Tim seem to be very typical of Tim’s works at the time – especially his eponymous album „Tim Finn” (1989). This fact has been recognized by fans in this forum before. Musically, Tim was on his acme.


4) Looking at the credits one can see that Finn’s name as a rule is written in the second place like this: (Manzanera/Finn). The same holds true for cooperations with other musicians, like in „Tambor” (Manzanera/MacCormick), and „Blood Brother” (Manzanera/Dyson). In the latter cases it would be hard to believe that MacCormick and Dyson helped Manzanera with lyrical thoughts. They must have written the melody as well (or at least, the melody must have been the result of a common work).


5) In a review, I have read that „The Great Leveller” would have fitted well in a Tim Finn solo album, it would have sounded good on Tim’s voice, and I must agree. Gary Dyson is also the lead singer of the first and last songs of the album, „A Million Reasons Why” and „Venceremos”. In „Venceremos” we have the usual (Manzanera/Finn) label while in „A Million Reasons Why” we have either (Finn/Manzanera/Dyson) or (Manzanera/Dyson/Finn). The first one seems to me the more proper. As I imagine, the song may have been written by the pair Manzanera/Dyson like „Blood Brother”, with Tim adding some integral parts like, for example, the chorus which sounds to me very much like Tim Finn. In this point I might be mistaken as I could even go so far as to assume that Tim was somehow involved even in „Blood Brother”. But my imagination may have gone too far...


Gryph, or anyone who is in a familiar relation with Tim, could you tell me something certain about this, or perhaps ask Tim on occasion? The collaboration with Manzanera was not even mentioned in Jeff Apter’s recent book as far as I know.

Original Post

In 1995, Phil Manzanera released a double CD collection with the title The Manzanera Collection. As we know, a song with vocal by Tim titled "Fifth Wheel" was on CD2 (track 21), a great tune indeed. The song is credited (Manzanera/Finn) as usual. Although this song appeared first on this double CD collection, it must have been written and recorded back in 1988-1989 (the time of Southern Cross). On Discogs, I could now check the scans of the CD covers, and I have found that the same musicians had participated in the song as in several ones of Southern Cross (Chucho Merchan, Phil Todd, Guy Barker, Chris Davis), so my supposition seems to be confirmed.


Another interesting thing is that "A Million Reasons Why" is also on the double CD collection (track 20). And the credits are indicated like (Manzanera/Finn). This time, the name of Gary Dyson, who sings the lead vocal on this track, is lacking from the credits. In opposition to what I had thought before, the song may have been written more by Tim, which would account for the fact that Gary Dyson's name has been dropped. This may sound speculative, but let's not forget that the same is true of "Venceremos", a song with lead vocal by Gary Dyson and written by (Manzanera/Finn). "A Million Reasons Why" is the opening track, "Venceremos" the closing track of Southern Cross, both having, in my opinion, most of their song writing credits from Tim. (Most means in this case that lyrics and melody must have been written for the most part by Tim.)

Thanks for alerting me to "Fifth Wheel".  I can't believe there's yet another Tim Finn sung song from those sessions!  And I thought I had everything on my bonus CD for the Tim Finn album.  Honestly, I'm not a big fan of the Southern Cross songs, but I've ordered The Manzanera Collection just to complete the set.


I haven't really listened to Southern Cross beyond the songs with Tim on lead vocals, so I can't really comment on those tracks.  I do quite like "Verde" from that album, but that's pretty much it.  "Rich & Poor" is disturbingly awful and "Dr. Fidel" and "Dance (break this trance)" are quite odd.

I'd probably have to re-listen to Southern Cross to address specificities, but to the weight of Tim's co-writing input, allow me to point to Persuasion. Initially a purely Richard Thompson instrumental, I've heard both stripped-back versions that are more Richard's original piece with Tim's lyrics sung over the, whereas, as Tim fans, we can see how Tim has taken the song and really made it his own over the years. Perhaps his work with Manzanera is an early incarnation of such powerful incarnations, that he might have added lyrics to an initially sparse instrumental which in turn added to the melody itself. 

Also, as I've said to you privately buddabuddabudda but would like to stress again for others, please don't place such importance on Apter's book, which is nothing more than a rehash of already existing publications with a few unsubstantiated rumours thrown in to add some cosmetic "juciness" to it all.

Thanks for your comments, mummakook. "Persuasion" is an interesting case. I have only heard the soundtrack version of Richard Thompson from 1991. Here the melody is essentially the same as in the later version of Tim (credits for the original are Richard Thompson / Peter Filleul). So in this case, Tim's credit must concern chiefly the lyrics.


I wonder whether the same holds true for Manzanera. I don't know too many songs of this great guitarist, but aren't his compositions more of an instrumental kind in the sense that they are without well-defined melody lines? At any rate, "Persuasion" in its original form has these definite lines of melody which Tim furnished with lyrics.

Now I’ve got some first hand information to be able to modify at least part of my view on Tim’s contributions to Phil Manzanera’s album. But this will go rather in Tim’s favour than otherwise.

In the case of "Blood Brother" (Manzanera/Dyson), Gary Dyson was given a backing track and the credit goes to him alone to have written the lyrics and the melody. A great song, indeed, which is not very far in style from other songs on the album.


"A Million Reasons Why" (Manzanera/Finn[/Dyson]) was almost finished when Gary Dyson came in to sing the lead vocal. This as well as all the other songs on the album which were written in collaboration with Manzanera were meant to be sung by Tim (these are "The Great Leveller", "Venceremos", and "Astrud"). The reason for this not taking place was that Tim had left the project unfinished for making his solo album.


When Tim had left, some of the songs remained without the lead vocal sung ("A Million Reasons Why" ,"The Great Leveller", "Venceremos", and "Astrud"), and others even without the lyrics and melody written ("Blood Brother").


All these make it very likely that my earlier presumption on Tim’s credits were not mistaken. It may be the case that Tim was given, as Gary Dyson later, some backing tracks, but a more close collaboration between Manzanera and Finn would even presuppose that they also worked together on the backing tracks and the principal conceptions of the songs. The song "Astrud" (Finn) even attests to Tim’s working out everything alone in this special case. Otherwise why would Manzanera's name have been omitted from the credits?


At any rate, it seems certain that the lyrics and melody of the songs in which Tim took part, are to be mainly ascribed to Tim. Here I give, again, the complete list of the songs in which Tim was involved:


"A Million Reasons Why" (Manzanera/Finn[/Dyson]) [lead vocal: Gary Dyson]

"The Great Leveller" (Manzanera/Finn) [lead vocal: Gary Dyson]

"Astrud" (Finn) [lead vocal: Ana Maria Velez]

"The Rich And The Poor" (Manzanera/Finn) [lead vocal: Tim Finn]

"Dance (Break This Trance)" (Manzanera/Finn) [lead vocal: Tim Finn]

"Verde" (Manzanera/Finn) [lead vocal: Tim Finn]

"Dr. Fidel" (Manzanera/Finn) [lead vocal: Tim Finn]

"Venceremos" (Manzanera/Finn) [lead vocal: Gary Dyson]

"Fifth Wheel" (Manzanera/Finn) [lead vocal: Tim Finn]


Finally, it is interesting to read of Phil Manzanera’s song-writing process which he himself talked about at the time:


"I know the direction I want to go in. But the details of it, the ideas, tend to all be written spontaneously in the studio. You start something going and then it’s like one thing leads to another. I can’t sit down and write a whole song at one go. A lot of people can. I can’t. And that’s sort of a tradition of Roxy [sc. Roxy Music]. With all of the songs in Roxy we’d do all the music first, and then try to think of the top line and see what the music suggests in terms of the lyrics. Once the clue comes, then you create something and then, 'Ah, right, now I know how to put the details onto this.' What I try to do is make each song create a mood or an atmosphere that you go to that’s unique to that song."


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