Fran Healy of Travis treats Atlanta to origin of his songs

By Maria Saporta

One of my very favorite bands is Travis, a secret treasure of our time.

I was introduced to the Scottish band through 99X during its prime, and I have caught the band just about every time they’ve come to town. The last time was at the Tabernacle a couple of years ago.

Because I’m a true fan, when I heard that lead singer, songwriter Fran Healy was coming to town to do an acoustic set with guitarist Andy Dunlop, I knew I had to be there.

They did not disappoint. On Saturday night, Healy and Dunlop played in at the Loft, one of the venues that’s part of Earthlink Live in Midtown.

It was an amazingly intimate show where Healy interspersed his harmonious songs with a running dialogue on how they came to be. It was an artist talking about the magic of art, and then fulfilling the build-up with some of Travis’ greatest tunes.

It was my first time at the Loft, which holds about 800 people in a large room creating the feeling of a family gathering complete with a slide show.

Just about everyone in the room were fellow Travis fans, singing along to just about every song. And they hung on every word that Healy shared about how the songs had come to be.

One funny moment was when he was talking and someone’s cell phone rang. He stopped and asked if they could turn it off. It all became a funny moment when the person in the audience didn’t realize it was her phone that was ringing. “I can’t believe you don’t know your own ringtone,” Healy said laughingly to the very apologetic fan.

The background of “Why Does It Always Rain on Me” came when Healy went to Israel. Instead of finding sunny skies, Healy was forced indoors because of the rain. And the song was born.

“Side,” perhaps my very favorite Travis song, had started as a rap song. But Healy said that Scots don’t make for good rappers. So some of the phrases were turned into beautiful verses.

“Flowers in the Window” was written on a hotel envelope. Healy had a photo to prove the point.

At one point, he described writing songs as trying to figure out a crossword puzzle. He’ll get a few clues that come in his head, and then he tries to string together melodies and words into a song.

I just hope Fran Healy will continue solving his crossword puzzles and treating those of us in the United States many more.

For those of you who don’t know Travis, give yourself a treat and discover one of the best bands out there.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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