Blogs and Journalism

Friday Song: Dan Hicks, BOTTOMS UP (1994)

Blog

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...

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Friday Song, Georges Brassens, FERNANDE (1972)

Blog

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...

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Hoagy Carmichael, HONG KONG BLUES (1939)

Blog

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...

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

Blog

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...

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

Blog

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...

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Friday Song: Oliver Mtukudzi, HEAR ME, LORD

Blog

When the daily news is a grim daily carnival of human inadequacy and ugliness, that's when we need music most. A rhythm, a tune, feeling - perhaps even a thought or two  - put to a melody can remind us...

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