Although I updated the score for it last week, I didn't talk about Bereft specifically. But today marks the anniversary of the death of the person for whom it was written.
Here are all the recorded versions: the download also includes the score, in concert and transposed versions.
In 2002 Bernadette Coles was killed while crossing the road after work, by someone who was driving while using a mobile phone. Because we'd had a bit of a disagreement a few days before, I didn't find out until a few days later. At the time I was distraught: Bernie and I used to hang out all the time and chat on MSN [remember doing that?], and were just really good friends. She had a great effect on people and her friends and I know there are a bunch of us that still miss her—we keep in touch.
At the time I had no real way of expressing how I felt, so I wrote three songs. One of them has never been played; the other used to be played by my old quartet and once with Josh when he used to live in Derby; but Bereft was first played on 23rd February 2002, with Walt and Tracey Hague [previously Sutcliffe].
I then stopped playing it, as I found I could not play it. I felt almost detached from the meaning of the song, and thus practised it—playing the melody on the piano or singing it in quiet moments, and reading.
I re-visited it in 2007, first in January with Robert Mitchell for our first ever duo gig; then in March that year for Argentum, with words written by Deborah Jordan. I don't remember telling anyone what the song was about: I thought it better to have people interpret it as they wished. The only thing I asked at the time was that people understood what the word "bereft" meant.
I hesitated playing it again, after the Argentum gig. At the time I felt I perhaps moved on. But then in 2011 I played it with Robert for the Adventures In Sound gig in November; and I felt more at home with the piece, more able to find the voice I needed to use for the song; and hearing it reminds me of Bernie but in a more positive way than previously. It is a love song, but not of the romantic nature; and it does not have to be sung.
I hope you enjoy listening/playing it as much as I do now.