PLAYING FOR TIME, the new album, is now launched!

When I started recording the songs on my new album called PLAYING FOR TIME last autumn, first in southern Italy and then at David Booth’s recording studio in Suffolk, the world felt a bit odd (the UK and the EU were involved in a messy divorce) but basically normal. 27th March 2020 seemed a good …

FRIDAY SONG: Fred Astaire, LET’S FACE THE MUSIC AND DANCE (Irving Berlin, 1936)

Here is  a song that has been part of our lives for so long that it has become easy to forget how odd and unusual it is. That problem has been compounded by the countless woeful interpretations down the years – Frank Sinatra and Robbie Williams top a long list of singers who have robbed …

FRIDAY SONG: Chas & Dave, AIN’T NO PLEASING YOU (Chas Hodges, 1982)

When, a few days ago, the BBC showed a music documentary, there was a sniffy online reaction from a  resident of Twittertown. ‘What is it that bothers me about this? Am I a music snob, an art snob, a massive something else snob? Culture snob? Dunno. I just don’t see this as a BBC Four …

FRIDAY SONG: Yves Montand, LES FEUILLES MORTES (Jacques Prévert and Joseph Kosma, 1946)

If you want to see the difference between a great lyric and a moderately good one,  here’s a place to start  –  compare and contrast Jacques Prévert’s 1946 song ‘Les Feuilles Mortes’  to the later American version,by Johnny Mercer, released in 1950. One tells a story; the other expresses a general feeling. One feels original …

Adios, auf wiedersehen, Europa, Mein Amour – a song for Europe

A few months ago, I went to Maurizio Sarnicola’s Goldmine studio two hours south of Naples and, with my German friend, the accordionist Hartmut Saam, and new Italian friends Fortunata Monzo (vocals), Giovanni Rago (guitar), Domenice de Marco (drums), Gianni Crescenzi (bass) and Mario Perazzi (engineer), we recorded this song. It was a happy international …

Holidaying in a catastrophe: letter from Australia

Camping was off. That much was clear as we took our flight from Heathrow to Australia on the last day of 2019. Our first destination, a campsite at Cape Conran on the coast of Victoria, had declared that the risk of fire was too great. By the time we arrived in Melbourne, the risk had …

Derek Hewitson, MY MEATLESS DAY (RP Weston and Bert Lee, 1917)

This week’s Friday Song is so obscure that posting the video which accompanies it feels like a bit of positive musical archaeology. As far as I can see, this version of ‘My Meatless Day, a wonderful comic song from 1917, does not exist anywhere online. In fact, apart from the original version sung by Ernie …

Daoirí Farrell, A PINT OF PLAIN (Pat Goode and Flann O’Brien)

My plan for the next Friday Song was to celebrate an intense, passionate and slightly strange love song (of which more later). Then I thought again. It’s Friday the 13th. The mood today is exceptionally grim. If ever there were a moment when we a need song to lift the spirits, and raise a defiant …

Friday Song, Rudy Vallee, LIFE IS JUST A BOWL OF CHERRIES (Ray Henderson and Lew Brown, 1931)

Here’s an odd one. Until a few years ago, I thought I couldn’t stand the song I have now chosen as my Friday Song. I found it schmaltzy, melodically uninteresting  – the worst kind of middle-of-the-road crowd-pleaser. I defy anyone to listen to  the Judy Garland version or the song, or Dean Martin and  Bing …

Friday Song: Harry Nilsson, WITHOUT HER (1967)

When he died in 1994 at the age of 52, Harry Nilsson left behind several versions of himself. There was the almost spookily pure-voiced singer of ‘Everybody’s Talkin’ (written by Fred Neil) for the film Midnight Cowboy; or the fringe figure who appears in documentaries about as the Beatles’ favourite American band; or the misfit, …