Friday Song: Clara Sanabras, THE DANCE OF SOLITUDE (DANCA DA SOLIDAO, 1972)

One of the more unusual CDs in my collection – and one of the most frequently played – is Clara and the Real Lowdown by Clara Sanabras,  which was produced by her musician husband Harvey Brough. It was this album which introduced me to the genius of Paolo Conte, a previous Friday songster, whose ‘Sparring …

Friday Song: Paul Simon, STILL CRAZY AFTER ALL THESE YEARS (1975)

If ever there were a song which showed how far songwriting travelled in the late 1960s and early 1970s, it is Paul Simon’s extraordinary, enigmatic ‘Still Crazy After All These Years’. In its story, its melody, the atmosphere it evokes,  its general air of mysterious confession, it is in my view one of the best …

Friday Song: Gene Austin, I’VE GOT A FEELING I’M FALLING (Fats Waller, Harry Link and Billy Rose, 1929)

Fats Waller was quite often in trouble. A man who lived the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle back in the 1920s, he had impressive appetites  –  gin, food, women, cars – and was mind-bogglingly hopeless in the making and losing of money. The word ‘unreliable’ doesn’t begin to cover his eventful career. And in late 1929, …

Friday Song: Dan Hicks, BOTTOMS UP (1994)

How did I miss Dan Hicks? His seductive blend of gypsy jazz and bluegrass, his cool and sassy lyrics, his bloody-minded determination not to fit it into any particular genre  – all of that is tailor-made for me. Yet, until a couple of years ago, he was no more than a fringe figure to me. …

Friday Song, Georges Brassens, FERNANDE (1972)

This week’s Friday Song will be a great encouragement to those brave British patriots who fear that too great a proximity to Europe will corrupt and pollute our glorious culture. The story of Georges Brassens, and more specifically his song ‘Fernande’, is proof that across the English Channel,  a world exists that, in matters of …

Hoagy Carmichael, HONG KONG BLUES (1939)

The killer words ‘Tin Pan Alley’ frequently appear in  accounts of Hoagy Carmichael’s career. That seems to me inaccurate. He was in many ways one of the first authentic singer-songwriters. Whereas the often brilliant Tin Pan Alley composers were writing songs for a market – they could be sung by anyone –  Carmichael had a …

Friday Song: Carsie Blanton, BABY CAN DANCE (2009)

Soon after I became aware of the sparky brilliance of the New Orleans songwriter Carsie Blanton, I sent her one of my novels. She had announced on social media that she was, for reeasons I couldn’t quite work out, prepared to barter one of her CDs  for goods rather money. If you sent her something …

Friday Song: Nick Lucas, I’M LOOKING OVER A FOUR-LEAF CLOVER (Dixon-Woods, 1927)

I suffered a bad attack of the 1920s a few years ago, and have never completely recovered. It seemed to me then (and now) that there has never been such a glorious flowering of popular song, from Broadway to the blues, from vaudeville to country, as there was between the years of 1926 and 1931. …

Friday Song: Dr John, YOUR AVERAGE KIND OF GUY, written by Doc Pomus and Dr John

I had been looking forward to including something by Mac Rebennack , better known as Dr John, in this blog for two reasons – firstly, because his best songs are terrific and, secondly and less importantly, he was alive. It’s a gloomy fact that many of my Friday Songs have been by people who are …

Friday Song: Jesse Winchester, SHAM-A-LING-DONG-DING

It’s rare to come across a piece of film that captures the moment when one song transforms a show, but Jesse Winchester’s performance of ‘Sham-a-Ling-Dong-Ding’ on Elvis Costello’s TV show Spectacle in 2010 does just that. When I found it online, I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t paid more attention to Winchester down the years. …