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, …

Friday Song: Andrew Bird, HOW YOU GONNA KEEP THEM DOWN ON THE FARM? (Young, Lewis and Donaldson, 1918)

Something rather interesting happens when a good contemporary artist decides to cover a song from the distant past.  When James Taylor sang ‘Oh! Susanna!’, a Stephen Foster from the mid nineteenth century came out out like a modern(-ish) folk song. Jen Chapin’s version of ‘Over There’ the stirring patriotic song from 1917 turns it into …

Friday Song: Eddie Cantor, HUNGRY WOMEN (Jack Yellen and Milton Ager, 1928)

Should there be a trigger warning for listeners of this week’d Friday Song? Almost certainly. It makes gender assumptions that some might find offensive. Its premise is based on the patronising assumption that, on a date,  men will pay for dinner. And was it really acceptable to make a joke about hunger when the Great …

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 …