British singer-songwriter Dan Croll was barely out of his performing arts college when he won a national songwriting award and a sit-down meeting with none other than Paul McCartney. The 23-year-old goes on the road this month, playing songs from his debut album, Sweet Disarray — but before taking off, he sat down with NPR's Audie Cornish to talk about one song that means a lot to him. It's called "Home," and he says it was inspired by his days as a broke student, coming home after an ill-advised and ill-prepared-for winter weekend getaway to Berlin. Hear their conversation at the audio link.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "COMPLIMENT YOUR SOUL")
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
British singer-songwriter Dan Croll was barely out of his performing arts college when he won a national songwriting award and a sit-down meeting with none other than Sir Paul McCartney. This song, "Compliment Your Soul" is from Croll's debut album, "Sweet Disarray." It's full of cheeky pop and infectious harmony.
(SOUNDBITE FROM SONG, "COMPLIMENT YOUR SOUL")
DAN CROLL: (Singing) Yeah, I just want to compliment your soul...
CORNISH: Dan Croll goes on the road this month, but before he took off, we asked him about one song that means a lot to him. It's called "Home," and he says it was inspired by his days as a broke student, coming home after an ill-advised and ill-prepared-for winter weekend getaway to Berlin.
CROLL: My dad picked me up from the airport and took me back to my home in Stoke-on-Trent. And it was just - kind of pulling up outside of my house, just my dad taking me in and walking through the door and there being like, this beautiful wood fire burning and a nice, hot meal on the table, and just like lovely carpets all over the place. And it was just amazing to just kind of get back home, really.
(SOUNDBITE FROM SONG, "HOME")
CROLL: (Singing) When the cold shakes my bones, it's the rug that warms my soul. It's the textile to the skin, and the sensation alone feels like home...
I was just really hit by that sense of how much I love home, and how grateful I am for having this roof over my head and this family here, and everything. So as soon as I go back to Liverpool, back to my guitar, I just started writing this song. And it came to me really quickly.
(SOUNDBITE FROM SONG, "HOME")
CROLL: (Singing) When you're down and you're alone it's the train that brings you home, and your mother, brother, sister, father, waitin' at the door. It's so sweet...
CORNISH: You painted this very warm picture of your home in Stoke-on-Trent and yet I read that in Liverpool, you lived above a bordello. Is that true?
CROLL: A bordello, I think we - yeah, we just call it a strip club.
CORNISH: OK. I thought to say - I gave it a very romantic name.
CROLL: You did. Yeah, I wouldn't give it that romantic - it doesn't deserve that name. But yeah, I did. I was on holiday and forgot that the tenancy of my flat ran out and my flat mate was like, we're going to have to find somewhere new. You're going to have to trust me with wherever I get. I was like, oh, God. And he sent me this email saying, I found this fantastic place. It's really cheap, right in the city center. And I was like, cool, can you send me some pictures? And he sent me these pictures. Oh, yeah, it looks really nice. It's good. Nice work.
CORNISH: Were there beautiful women hanging out in the photo, just kind of by the door?
CROLL: I wish. I wish. It just looked like a very clean, nice place to live, and I thought, great! I can remember getting back to Liverpool with all of my bags and furniture and everything, and pulling up in the van outside the strip club and him standing outside just being like, yeah, we live right above this. How cool is that? I was like, oh, man. And so I had to put up with stripper music for a few years kind of leaking through the floors and stuff. It was quite funny.
CORNISH: I don't quite hear the influence.
CROLL: Thankfully not, no.
CORNISH: A lot of pop stars out of the U.K., people talking about them springing out of these same kind of well of neighborhoods in London. And do you have a kind of point of pride in calling somewhere else home?
CROLL: Definitely. I do. Yeah, I think there's a lot of pressure on musicians to move straight down to London. And you're kind of told from peers that you've got to live in London if you want to make it, and everything like that. But I really love Liverpool, and I live well there. I've got a lot of friends and family there, you know. I feel very proud that I've managed to get this far by living in Liverpool.
I like London, don't get me wrong, but it's just quite claustrophobic for me, and I love the kind of openness to Liverpool, yeah.
CORNISH: You've been on the road a lot and opening for, you know, huge bands - like the American band Imagine Dragons. When you're traveling like this, does this song take on some significance; like, as you get farther and farther away from home?
CROLL: Yeah, I do. I do get a bit homesick on the road, especially if it's like, a long stint. Just towards the end of the tour, it starts to get to you that you're kind of just living out of a suitcase, and you're always in a van; and you're in a hotel room, but you're in a hotel room only long enough to kind of chuck some new clothes on and get out of there. You don't kind of - I've actually started to try and hang up my clothes in the wardrobe so it feels a bit more home-ly.
CROLL: But that's - that sounded really sad then. You kind of gave me a sympathetic aww.
CORNISH: Well, I'd be worried if you said: I have to - I raid the mini bar.
CROLL: No, none of that. I can't afford those mini bars. But yeah, I do miss home and it's definitely a nice song to listen to, to remind you of what is back home.
CORNISH: Well, Dan Croll, thank you so much for sharing the stories behind the song. We really appreciate it.
CROLL: No problem. Thank you very much for having me.
CORNISH: Dan Croll - the song is called "Home." It's off his new album, "Sweet Disarray."
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HOME") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.