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What's All About Katie All About?

Welcome to All About Katie. This site is an appreciation of Katie Melua - the beautiful and talented singer-songwriter with the caramel eyes and sublime voice, and the finest interpreter of a song I have ever heard.

It is also a repository of information about her music, DVDs, videos, tour dates, images, and anything else of interest to her fans. I have put my heart and soul into this project. Katie has given me so much and this is my way of saying thank-you. I hope Ketefans all over the world will find something interesting here about our favourite artist. Enjoy!
Any opinions expressed here are mine, not Katie's!!






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Eva Cassidy Fan Club

If you are a fan of Katie, why not check out this great site for Eva Cassidy?

Eva Cassidy Fan Club

20.08.19   >   Lyric Card: Secret Symphony

secret symphony

19.09.19   >   Birdfair 2019

I had a great time at Birdfair 2019, Rutland Water. The 3-day event is known as the Birdwatcher’s Glastonbury (it was easy to see why on Friday when an inch of rain turned the place into a mud bath). I was beyond chuffed to find some Georgians who had made the trip just to have a stand at the event—they were from The Georgian Center for Conservation of Wildlife. Not only did they show me some great places to see birds in Georgia (feathered variety, obvs) but, more importantly, they gave me my first ever taste of Georgian Sulguni cheese. It was a cold cube, like a saltier version of mozzarella. Next time I taste it, in Kutaisi in a couple of weeks, it’ll be hot and oozing out of a khachapuri. I’m putting on weight just thinking about it.

I also had a serendipitous meeting with Dr Rob Sheldon of OSME, The Ornithological Society of the Middle East, the Caucasus and Central Asia. It turns out that Rob is heading to Georgia himself in early September for the Batumi Birdwatching Festival. I didn’t know the BBF was even a thing so it is rather fortuitous that I’ll happen to be in Batumi for most of the week it is on. The Batumi Raptor Count is a nature conservation NGO that keeps tabs on the million+ birds of prey that migrate every autumn through the so-called “Batumi Bottleneck”. Katie's parents are from the area so they are probably familiar with the spectacle. That said, birdwatching isn't much of a thing amongst Georgians even though it is one of the best countries in the world for diversity of species, though the large amount of tourist twitchers are beginning to inspire more locals to discover the joys of it. A million migrating raptors has got to be a sight worth seeing, especially if your picnic contains Kindzmarauli and khachapuri. You may well have to put up with pictures in the coming weeks (of the raptors, not the Kindzmarauli and khachapuri—what am I talking about, of course there’ll be pictures of khachapuri.) Anyway, I feel a song coming on...

There are nigh-on a million raptors in Batumi
That's a fact; it's a thing you can't deny
Like the fact that hawks and buzzards can't half fly...

(Yes, I know that contradicts my rant last week about changing lyrics but I have absolutely zero intention of recording and releasing a bird themed version of Nine Million Bicycles. Katie is more than welcome to do so...)

18.08.19   >   Because She's Worth It?

wotw10

17.08.19   >   Playlist: Songs From The Batt Cave

If you are a big fan of Mike Batt then this is the playlist for you. Here's a bunch of his songs shown in the best possible light by you know who. This list only has songs that are credited solely to Mike, and even then it isn't definitive but there are enough to get you to the shops and back with a stop-off for a latte and croissant in between. Note that this list is in alphabetical order. Some people cannot stand playing lists of songs ordered thus (i.e. me) so all I will say is hallelujah to the shuffle button.

Songs From The Batt Cave

  1. Better Than A Dream
  2. Blame It On The Moon
  3. Blue Shoes
  4. Call Off The Search
  5. I Will Be There
  6. Idiot School
  7. If The Lights Go Out
  8. If You Were A Sailboat
  9. Mad, Mad Men
  10. Market Day In Guernica
  11. Mary Pickford
  12. Mockingbird Song
  13. My Aphrodisiac Is You
  14. Never Felt Less Like Dancing
  15. Nine Million Bicycles
  16. Sailing Ships From Heaven
  17. Scary Films
  18. Secret Symphony
  19. Shy Boy
  20. Straight To DVD
  21. Thank You, Stars
  22. The Bit That I Don't Get
  23. The Closest Thing To Crazy
  24. The Walls Of The World
  25. Tiger In The Night
  26. What It Says On The Tin

16.08.19   >   Beatles Songs

You could say that Katie’s Beatles song covers are like buses—you wait for ages and then two come along at once… Actually, those who bought the bonus edition of Piece By Piece were rewarded with an acoustic version of “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” which I consider to be the best version of the song I’ve heard. But it was on the digital-only (god knows why) album B-Sides: The Tracks That Got Away where we were treated to “Cry Baby Cry” from the Beatles White Album and followed the very next track by a live version of “Lucy In The Sky”.

Now, there’s little to add to the phenomenon that were The Beatles that you don’t already know. Pioneers, innovators, inspirers, etc. Yes, they were a boy band, but one that contained three of the greatest singer-songwriters you could Imagine (see what I did there :-) Lennon and McCartney were hailed as the dream team but when you step back and look at their careers it is clear that George Harrison was their equal. It was an incredible talent pool. I think also it is worth noting that Lennon and McCartney primarily wrote songs alone and it is only back in the studio where they would tweak and polish each other’s efforts. That is why I don’t consider them the best songwriting duo ever—for me, that would be Benny and Bjorn of Abba, who always shut themselves in a room together to write. However, unlike the two B’s, the three Beatles musketeers were able to effortlessly carry their talents into solo careers. Between them they have created a rich vein of songs that other artists will continue to mine for years to come.

As for Katie, well it’s been a while since she’s dabbled with the Fab Four. I for one would like to hear her sing “Norwegian Wood”, which I think is made for her voice and picking style. Everyone has covered “Yesterday”, even my window cleaner I reckon, but I’m convinced Katie could freshen it up with a new take. As a nod to George, perhaps she could tackle “Something” or how about “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” where she could let her brother Zurab off the leash with his electric guitar? I’m in less of a hurry to hear her sing “I Am The Walrus”.

15.08.19   >   Katie Bite: Anniversary Song

anniversary song

14.08.19   >   What is written stays written

Is it ever okay to change the lyrics of an established song? Well, you cannot undo what has been done but if you are the copyright owner then you can write modified or even new lyrics if you want to. Remember Elton John changing Candle In The Wind to make it about Princess Diana instead of Marilyn Monroe? It was his song, so it was his prerogative to do that—but the new version had to live alongside the original, it could not replace it. Many artists tweak lyrics during live performances—sometimes for the sake of the audience, such as replacing the name of a city with the one they are currently in, or sometimes just because they don’t quite remember the lyrics correctly. It’s all fine, really. The issues come when you start changing lyrics that aren’t your own.

Last Christmas there was a sudden furore over the song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” after a radio station banned it. If you want to know more about it then Google it, but the thing is we are talking about a song written 75 years ago. Those were more innocent times and you can’t apply 21st century values to it. There are a million things that people have done in the past that we find shocking today but they cannot be undone. What irked me was that someone wrote new lyrics for “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” and recorded it. To me, that’s just a breach of copyright. If the song offends you then don’t listen to it. Some artists such as Lady Gaga and Zooey Deschanel have turned the song on its head by singing the male lines whilst their partner takes the female ones. But really, just watch Katie’s gorgeous version with Nick Schilder (it’s on YouTube, link on the YouTube page of this site) and you’ll wonder what all the fuss was about.

A similar fuss was made about “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” when anyone with half a brain understands that song is referring to Daddy in a Santa costume. As for Katie, she gets regular tweets pointing out that the facts in “Nine Million Bicycles” are wrong. When challenged about “12 million light years from the edge” she famously knocked it back by delivering a more accurate but lyrically ludicrous version. At the time the song was written there were 6 billion people in the world and 9 million bicycles in Beijing. And Mike Batt wrote the song anyway, not Katie. A song, like any piece of art, is a snapshot from a moment in time. If you want to do a new version then that will become something different, created at a different point in time, but the original will always be locked down into history like a bug in amber. I wonder how long it will be before the crooner’s classic “Music To Watch Girls By” comes under attack as being creepy and stalky. If I was managing a boy band I’d have them release a cover of it but I’d quietly slip an extra “u” into the title—“Music To Watch Girls Buy”.

If someone painted a nose ring and a tattoo on the Mona Lisa it would be declared vandalism and I feel the same way about modifying someone else’s lyrics. What is written stays written.

13.08.19   >   Track Notes 62: Secret Symphony

Album:  

Writer(s)

Mike Batt

Length:

3:51

Trivia:

Another typically Batty offering, effortlessly beautiful, to close out this short album (a little over 37 minutes, though the bonus version has four extra tracks.)

YouTube:

There isn't a really good video for this track on YouTube so here is a mini documentary about the making of the album. It was made to help promote the album so it is a bit on the promotey side but still interesting and worth a watch. Katie is just ridiculously photogenic, bordering on mesmeric, but my favourite scene shows her browsing through old albums in a record store and at one point thumbing Bob Dylan (careful). I noticed though that she didn't bloody buy anything...
Secret Symphony - Sneak Preview

Lyrics:

Secret Symphony 

12.08.19   >   Jabs for Georgia

Sounds like a charity concert but don’t get excited, it’s just me announcing that I’ve had my requisite jabs for my upcoming visit to Georgia. I needed three. I’m hoping one of them was an anti-hangover for surviving a supra—a never-ending toast-driven feast (toast as in “raise your glass”, not crispy bread), should I be lucky enough to be invited to a supra. Since merely looking at a Georgian is generally enough to be dragged into a supra, my hopes are reasonably high.

I hope to continue with regular updates whilst I’m there but I’m expecting shenanigans and large moments in the midst of such wonderful people so who knows how things will pan out. If there are no updates to the blog for a few days in September then just talk amongst yourselves, defrost the freezer, clean the oven, make flapjacks, tickle the cat, whatever—normal service will not be far away. If you’re lucky I’ll post some pics from Georgia. If you’re less lucky they may be selfies.

11.08.19   >   Lyric Card: The Walls Of The World

walls of the world

10.08.19   >   Fact Of The Day

To date I can only find one song that both Katie and Bob Dylan have recorded: “Stardust”. But Katie has performed Bob’s “Blowin’ In The Wind”, and she has recorded “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out” — Bob hasn’t, but he did once sing it during an audition!

09.08.19   >   Katie Bite: Sailing Ships From Heaven

sailing ships from heaven

08.08.19   >   Nebraska

In 1982 Bruce Springsteen bought a 4-track tape recorder and laid it down on his bed. Then he sat down, picked up his guitar and began to record some songs that would eventually become Nebraska. That makes it sound like he was intending to record a stripped-back lo-fi album but that wasn’t in his mind. The Tascam Portastudio was no kids toy—it was state of the art technology at the time—but was generally used for creating demo tapes. However, when Bruce took his demo tapes into the studio and set about recording them professionally with the E. Street Band he found the songs had lost all their power. Polished, sanitised and with backing musicians, the songs he’d sung in his bedroom had somehow been neutered. In the end Bruce took the bold decision to release an album from his 4-track cassette recordings. And it is widely regarded as one of his finest. If you listen to Born To Run, with its Spector-esque production, and then listen to Nebraska the contrast is staggering. Whilst Born To Run is a high-octane, energetic rock and roll extravaganza, Nebraska is the mother of all reality checks. It is the real world exposed—grim, dark, depressing and racked with pain. Nebraska is not an album to play at birthday parties. It is to be listened to alone. If you are feeling a bit down, so much the better. That way it feels like you are sitting down on the bed next to Bruce watching him play these songs and realising that you are not alone. If an American superstar can share these feelings with you then countless people around the world must do too. They are songs about ordinary people who have made mistakes and paid for them or who have simply never caught a break and just struggled to survive any way they can. There are so many lines on this album that I can identify with but I’ll just give you one example, from “Used Cars”—

"Now my ma she fingers her wedding band
and watches the salesman stare at my old man's hands
He's tellin' us all 'bout the break he'd give us if he could but he just can't"

I could write an entire book based on the information given in those three lines. It paints a picture of three distinct characters by telling you virtually nothing about any of them. I can see the scene in my mind, the expressions on their faces, what they are thinking and feeling and even how they have come to be the people they are—all from those three simple lines. If you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth then you’ll have no idea what I am, or indeed Bruce is, talking about. But if you grew up knowing the excitement of a “brand new used car” then I suspect there is much of Nebraska that you will get. That said, if you can’t generally handle a melancholic forty minutes or so then this is probably not the album for you. (Nebraska is the only album Springsteen did not promote with a tour. His concerts have always been about giving people a good time and there was never any way that was going to happen with these songs, though there would probably have been a bunch of Goths at the front wallowing in the misery and having a great time.)

My hope is that one day Katie will pick up her guitar and make an album like Nebraska, perhaps drawing on her early childhood in Georgia. If she does I’m calling it now—it’ll be her masterpiece.

07.08.19   >   Lyric Card: Heartstrings

heartstrings

06.08.19   >   Summer Tour recess

The first part of Katie's Summer Tour has wrapped. There are now just three gigs left in Germany at the end of August. As of 30 seconds ago there were still tickets remaining at all three venues—Schwerin, Bochum and Aachen (sounds like a firm of German solicitors). You'll find links for tickets on the On Tour page so if you want tickets for when Katie's on I suggest you'd better get your skaties on.

So, what might be in the pipeline now? Well, after manically flitting around Europe like a hyperactive butterfly for the past few weeks, perhaps Katie will want to sip tea and dead-head the flowers in her garden for a day or two. But with only four publicly announced events in the pipeline over the next two or three months I suggest we all keep our fingers (and anything else crossable) crossed that she might creep into a studio and cut some wax, or whatever the digital equivalent of that might be (burn some bytes?).

05.08.19   >   Katiewatch: Starlite Festival

On to Marbella for tonight's gig at the Starlite Festival, another ridiculous location. Katie will then get a three-week break, and she'll need it after slumming it around some of Europe's ghastliest dumps ( 😉 ). Actually, big congrats to Starlite for the following blurb about Katie. No awkward translations here, just the truth.

katie at starlite

What? Oh, you want to know where it is, don't you. In a quarry. Maybe Katie will play some rock music. Look, stop groaning, I'm trying okay. Very trying at times.

starlite marbella

04.08.19   >   Katie Bite: The Walls Of The World

the walls of the world

03.08.19   >   Katiewatch: Cap Roig Festival

Spain's turn to get spoilt. Tonight, Katie performs at the Cap Roig Festival in Girona. The ticket site describes it as "The thrilling elegance and sensitivity of a whole career's greatest hits". Mmm...well, for 'whole career' you should add 'so far.' I'm not sure what thrilling elegance is either but it sounds good so I'll go with it. It's another stunning location—seems Katie doesn't play dives.

caproig aerial shot

02.08.19   >   Track Notes 61: The Walls Of The World

Album:  

Writer(s)

Mike Batt

Length:

3:25

Trivia:

The penultimate single from Secret Symphony. By this point in time the UK Singles Chart had changed forever. "The Flood" had made the Top 40 in May 2010 but none of the 6 singles from Secret Symphony troubled the Top 100. She would scrape in at 99 for a week with "I Will Be There" in 2013, on the back of a performance for The Queen, but since then only the covers of "Wonderful Life" (73 in 2015) and "Fields Of Gold" (29 in 2017) have charted. Thankfully, and more importantly, all 7 of her studio albums to date have made the Top 10 cementing her position as one of the most successful female artists in the UK of all time. Given her passion for music and young age it is surely only a matter of time before she becomes the most successful.

Mike wrote this song for his 1977 album Schizophonia. With respect, he's a far better writer than singer and Katie's version is light years ahead even though Mike kept pretty much the same arrangement, which is another nod to Katie's stunning skill of interpretation.

YouTube:

One of Katie's loveliest videos, showing her performing and going all Julie Andrews in the stunning hills around Tromsø in northern Norway. I could watch this non-stop for the rest of my life so if you don't hear from me for a while it's the first thing to check.
The Walls Of The World

Lyrics:

The Walls Of The World 

01.08.19   >   Lyric Card: The Cry Of The Lone Wolf

cry of the lone wolf

31.07.19   >   Katiewatch: Leipzig

Part One of the Germany Concerts comes to a close tonight at Clara Zetkin Park in Leipzig. She has a couple of festival appearances in Spain in a few days and then a three-week break until ending the summer tour with three more concerts in Germany at the end of August. If you describe fans as being "blown away" then it is fair to say Katie is leaving a trail of destruction in that country. No funnies from Google Translate today, which has been working hard on its German, though most of today's gig info is copied from Dresden's, so marks lost for cheating. But it does get one bit bang on: "Katie Melua is in her element on stage. With her incomparable charisma, she knows how to inspire crowds of fans." I couldn't have put it better myself.

leipzig aerial shot

30.07.19   >   Entry 666

.gnola evoM .ereh ees ot gnihtoN .lla s'taht ,666 rebmun yrtne golb si sihT

30.07.19   >   Katiewatch: Dresden

And so on to Dresden. Today, Google Translate tells us that "Katie does not put herself in any drawer." Except when she's playing hide and seek, maybe. Also, "In her songs she combines blues, jazz, pop, rock and chanson." I hasten to point out, not all of those in every song. I'm intrigued to see "chanson" in that list. Chanson is French for "song". So she puts song into her songs. Always helpful.
Anyway, a lovely open air amphitheatre venue for this concert (fingers crossed for the weather) in a big park next to Dresden Zoo, which means some people may turn up not expecting to see Katie but The Animals. Okay, okay, hand me my hat, I'm outta here...

dresden aerial shot

29.07.19   >   Katiewatch: Berlin

Another week, another trio of shows in Germany. Tonight, the Stage Theater in Potsdamer Platz, Berlin. Obligatory aerial shot below.

Once again, Google Translate is nailing the blurb on the German ticket site. I would have thought it had German down pat but it is clearly a pretty complex language. So, "The basis of the nine shows in band occupation is a 2018 published retrospective of the Georgians living in London with the crystal clear voice. " Erm... okay. Then, "the 34-year-old reveals himself again in the seasonally appropriate mode with the cozy, warm timbre". Seems Katie can swap gender at will. But I'm glad to see he, sorry she, reveals himself, sorry herself, in seasonally appropriate mode. I can't be doing with seasonally inappropriate revelations. Finally, "Essence-reduced version of the James Bond classic Diamonds Are Forever." I tend to use the term "stripped back" but I think GT has hit on something here. I may well be tempted to describe Katie as "essence-reduced" myself in future writings...

berlin aerial shot

28.07.19   >   One Track Minds event

A day off for Katie in Berlin today after three consecutive nights of wonderful gigs, with three more to come early next week. So just time to tell you about an event she will be involved with in London on September 15th. It is called One Track Minds and is part of the Beautiful Word Campaign. It isn't a concert; Katie will be one of six guests that will talk about a song that has inspired them and changed their life. Tickets are from £20 to £125, so you may want to make sure you are a fan of some of the other participants before deciding to go. I'll be in Georgia on that date otherwise I'd have been interested. I hope someone that does go will be good enough to spill the beans on Katie's choice of song!

Further details can be found here

27.07.19   >   Katiewatch: Trier

Katie is playing in Trier tonight. Should be popular—everyone loves a Trier. If anyone reading this is going then you need to see this message from Katie. She is apologizing but believe me she will blow you away wherever you see her perform.

trier tweet

I know, I've been spoiling you. Now you want to see an aerial shot of tonight's venue too. Oh go on then, here you are. (I'm assuming the gig is still in Trier, and not Fort Worth, Texas.)

trier aerial shot

Actually, the new venue is out of shot. Let's try that again.

trier aerial shot

26.07.19   >   Katiewatch: SchlossKapfenburg

Tonight, Katie is playing at SchlossKapfenburg in Lauchheim, Germany. It's another castle venue, leading me to wonder if she has a thing about castles. Has she told her agent to only book her gigs at castles? Anyway, I know you are dying to see an aerial shot so here you go.

schlosskapfenburg

Can't help but wonder where everyone is going to park. The car park only seems to hold about 20 cars. Oh well, it's Germany, they'll have something efficient sorted out.

26.07.19   >   Katie Bite: If You Were A Sailboat

If You Were A Sailboat

25.07.19   >   A Week in Germany

Katie gets stuck into the heart of her summer tour tonight in the Leiderhalle, Stuttgart. It is the first of six nights in a week in Germany. Lucky Germany. (That luck might have something to do with Katie now having the German company BMG Rights Management as her record label. I did tell the LMG, Lincolnshire Music Group, to grab her while they could...)

24.07.19   >   Katie: Bringer Of Mars

Catherine Tate's Nan might say "She did what? What you talkin about?" Bet you didn't know Katie has dipped a toe in the murky waters of children's educational programs did you? Well, she has. Proving once again what a natural she is in front of a camera, here she is presenting a little film about Mars, Bringer Of War from Holst's Planet Suite. She manages to convey just the right level of enthusiasm for kids—i.e. too much for adults. Could've been a Blue Peter presenter...

katie

23.07.19   >   Track Notes 60: Heartstrings

Album:  

Writer(s)

Katie Melua, Mike Batt

Length:

2:53

Trivia:

Yet another jolly little number written by Katie and Mike, or, given the modern trend for name merging, Mitie Katt.

YouTube:

Here is Katie performing the song with a bunch of musicians I've never seen before (or since) on the breakfast show "Lorraine". Except it wasn't Lorraine, but Myleene Klass. No matter. Effortless performance as ever from Katie.
Heartstrings

Lyrics:

Heartstrings 

22.07.19   >   Blue Balls Festival

Another day, another plane trip... Tonight Katie performs at the Blue Balls Festival in Lucerne, Switzerland. And she can get a good night's sleep afterwards because she is playing there tomorrow night too. I'm assuming the two-night thing is due to the fact she is considered a superstar in Switzerland rather than just being down to an admin cock-up. Still, it's an extra day without traipsing around an airport, which should be a relief to Joe Yoshida, who has a ruddy drum kit to cart around in addition to his suitcase and hat.

blue balls festival

Now, I know what you're all thinking. (Actually, I haven't a clue—could be about the gestation period of an aardvark or the price of a pencil in Somalia.) Some of you, at least, will be wondering why this festival is so named. Well, it seems no one has a clue but I doubt it has anything to do with temperature. My theory is that it was inspired by this picture of Katie. (Okay, technically that should have made it the Blue Octagons Festival but it doesn't have the same ring, does it?)

katie live

21.07.19   >   Invisible wine glass

its all in my head

"So, you can add the wine glass digitally afterwards with CGI?"
"Yep, no problem."

20.07.19   >   Katie Bite: It's All In My Head

its all in my head

19.07.19   >   Katie in Estonia

From one castle to another for Katie. After the stunning Trakai yesterday tonight she is 500km north in Estonia, no doubt leaving the inhabitants of Latvia, sandwiched between Lithuania and Estonia, wondering what the hell they did wrong to get ignored and merely flown over. Anyway, Haapsalu it is. And so to the gift that keeps on giving, Google Translate. So, in Estonian, Chris De Burgh is Chris De Burgh and Katie Melua is Every Black. Can't wait for the next Every Black album. I may have to change this site to All About Every.


haapsalu artists

This is what the Rock In Haapsalu web site has to say about Katie (according to Google Translate). I have to agree—I have always considered Katie to be one of the most demanding concert magnets in her field.

haapsalu concert description

18.07.19   >   Katie in Lithuania

Tonight Katie will perform in the dramatic setting of Trakai Castle in Lithuania. If you don't believe me when I say "dramatic" then take a look at this aerial shot:
trakai castle aerial view

Google Translate is fast becoming one of my favourite things ever. Below is GT's manful attempt at the Lithuanian description of Katie's gig. I'm glad to see she was the romantic star of the British scene on July 18th. I'm also excited that her performance tonight pretends to become the most romantic concert of next year.

trakai concert description

17.07.19   >   The Demise Of Dramatico

Katie's former record label Dramatico has quietly slipped into the abyss. It was on the verge of being dissolved in 2017 but has been kept technically alive though dormant, with Julianne Batt being the only named director. Mike Batt formed the company in 2002, ostensibly because he had been unable to get Katie a record contract elsewhere. By 2005, Dramatico had become one of the UK's top indie labels but that was pretty much down to Katie's stunning success, and though other artists were signed up none of them had the same kind of impact. When Katie decided to move on in 2014 after six studio albums, I think the writing was clearly on the wall. Personally, I believe Katie was absolutely right to go her own way after twelve years—In Winter is proof of that—but it is a stark reminder that nothing lasts forever. Life changes, people change, the world keeps turning. I've said it before: music is a business, and a particularly tough one at that. There is little room for sentiment. But I will forever be grateful to Dramatico for launching my favourite artist into the stratosphere.

If Dramatico is dead in the water it does raise questions regarding Katie's music though. What becomes of the rights to her Dramatico recordings? Who now owns them? It is a thorny issue for many musicians. Nils Lofgren, for example, owns none of his own music from the first thirty years or so of his career, and he is far from alone in finding himself in such a situation. Some of his early albums are out of print and he can do nothing about it. I don't know for sure, but Katie is smart and I have the impression she has been able to keep control of at least some of her music and I'm really hoping she has got the rights to her Dramatico back catalogue. Ultimate Collection gave me hope in this respect since it was put together in just a few weeks, which suggests rights hadn't been an obstacle. Some people may think "what does it matter?" It matters.

16.07.19   >   Wish List updates

If you read this blog regularly then God help you you’ll know that I have a wish list of songs I’d like to hear Katie sing, preferably before I die—so I guess it’s a bucket wish list. There are two problems with this list: almost every day I think of another song I’d like to hear Katie sing so it is now a *very* long list; also, Katie is her own woman and she will sing what she wants, not what Lincolnshire’s answer to Homer Simpson opines. You might wonder why I even bother mentioning these songs but, well, you never know, squeaky wheel gets the oil and all of that nonsense.
Anyway, here are a few tunes I’ve had stuck in my brain recently:

If You Could Read My Mind. This timeless classic from 1970 is by Gordon Lightfoot, sometimes thought of as the Canadian Dylan, though Leonard Cohen fans may snort at the mere suggestion. Dylan has though called Lightfoot one of his favourite songwriters, and praise doesn’t come much higher than that. This song has been covered by the likes of Barbra Streisand, Johnny Cash, Petula Clark, Liza Minelli, Don McLean, Olivia Newton-John, Glen Campbell and even Neil Young. That should tell you it’s a decent number, even if your ears don’t. But I know Katie could put a new twist on it and it would be pretty special.

Solitaire. I’ve mentioned this song before. It is by Neil Sedaka, though his version is a bit too cruise ship. Karen Carpenter took it to a new dimension, as she did with every song, and hers is the definitive interpretation. Stunning Norwegian soprano Sissel (that would have read even better had she been Swedish) also recorded a cracking version but since I’m more of a bass head than a treble junkie I have to give the 12 points to KC. Karen weighed around 7 stone when she recorded the song but she was like a Bang & Olufsen speaker—you looked at her and wondered where on earth that rich tone came from. Again though, Katie, with her delicate guitar picking, would give it a fresh angle.

This Girl’s In Love With You. If you want to know how to write a classic song then you need to study the work of the Godfather of Easy, Burt Bacharach. This dreamy number was written as “This Guy’s…” but there was no way the girls were gonna let the guys have this song to themselves and it soon got adapted and recorded by the likes of Dionne Warwick, Aretha Franklin, Dusty Springfield and even the Queen herself, (no, not her madge, don’t be daft) Ella Fitzgerald. More recently, there has been a lovely cover by She & Him, the musical vehicle for quirky cute movie starlet Zooey Deschanel, who turns out to have a gorgeous singing voice—who knew? Well, me. Surely Katie has to cover Bacharach at some point… oh wait, actually she has. She did record Alfie as a bonus track for The Love I’m Frightened Of and a tv special about Cilla Black. But that only proves she ain’t scared of the great man. This Girl’s In Love With You is a better song though, and I’d love to see what Katie could do with it.

Fast Car. What. A. Song. There have been many covers of it over the years but mostly by people you’ve never heard of (Sam Smith perhaps the most notable—he had a crack at it for Radio 1’s Live Lounge in 2014). But Tracy Chapman’s original is nigh on perfect. Katie’s old guitar coach Justin Sandercoe has a video on his site about how to play the hypnotic guitar accompaniment (though clearly he can’t teach you how to sing it, as evidenced by some unexplained woman doing the singing for him, and from 11:30 in the video you understand why). He makes it look fairly easy but my horse fingers have yet to master it. But it’d be fascinating to hear Katie work her magic on it.

15.07.19   >   Hungarian Update

How would you like an in-depth review and analysis of Katie's gig in Hungary on Saturday? Yeah, well that makes two of us. I'm sure somebody somewhere must have written something about it but I can't find it. Maybe it will appear in Well Hung, the monthly journal of the Hungarian One-Legged Morris Dancers Society. Failing that I can just copy and paste from my standard summary of all Katie's concerts—it was bloody amazing. Anyway, Katie herself posted these images from Hungary on Instagram. Now I know that sunflowers don't give much information about the actual concert but come on, who in their right mind would share pictures of themselves with sunflowers unless their show had been a success? That would just be perverse.

anniversary song

14.07.19   >   Katie Bite: If You Were A Sailboat

If You Were A Sailboat

13.07.19   >   Hungary For More Music

No time for Katie to frolic across Austrian hillsides singing like a nun (shame, but I'll keep that fantasy to myself) for she has hopped across the border into Hungary and made the 300km trip to Veszprem for tonight's concert at the VeszpremFest "Premium Music Festival" (last night it was UB40, so you decide). I'm assuming the weather there isn't great since the venue has already been changed from the History Garden to the Veszprem Arena almost twelve hours before Katie is due on stage.

The image below is from the festival web site, helpfully translated from the utterly baffling Hungarian by Google. Note the breathtaking AI algorithms straining their sinews to decide that Melua in Hungarian must be Melu in English. And I'm sure Joe Yoshida must be proud to be considered part of an orchestra! I'm assuming the 11,900 Ft - 15,900 Ft thing is something to do with ticket prices and not the elevation Katie will be performing at. Sounds like you need a mortgage but I understand we're talking about thirty-odd quid. (That's Pounds Sterling for non-Brits).

veszprem

12.07.19   >   Summer Tour Gets Under Way!

Katie kicks off (no, not like that) in Austria tonight at the "Classic At The Dom" event. She's too much of a pro to need luck but let's all wish it to her anyway. With actors, they say "break a leg", so what do they say to singer/songwriters? Break a string, perhaps? Why not. Break a string, Katie!

Disclaimer: If Katie actually does break a string and decides to come after me with murderous intent I should declare that I am a master of disguise—my Turkish taxi driver could go unrumbled for weeks.

klassik am dom 2019

11.07.19   >   Playlist: Quaint And Quirky

Katie has never shied away from trying different things and most of her albums have had one or two songs I'd describe as eyebrow-raisers. Some elicit the response "interesting", and are therefore Spock's eyebrow-raisers. Others are double-eyebrow raisers, which generally accompany a "W.T.A.F." We should be clear on one thing—they are all good songs. They wouldn't make it on to an album otherwise. But they also have something a bit different about them, whether it be the subject matter, lyrics, arrangement or some musical magic that I can't explain. For example, in "Tiny Alien" the line "who are you my tiny alien" always reminds me of those famous five notes in Close Encounters Of The Third Kind. I would also add that whilst some of these songs are clearly a little tongue-in-cheek, most are not and it is probably only my warped mind that would include them on a list such as this but I find this a fun playlist to listen to.

Quaint And Quirky

  1. Tiny Alien
  2. A Moment Of Madness
  3. God On The Drums, Devil On The Bass
  4. Idiot School
  5. Jack’s Room
  6. Twisted
  7. Straight To DVD
  8. Shiver And Shake
  9. Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out
  10. Looking For Clues
  11. A Happy Place (Sparks vs. Katie Melua remix)

10.07.19   >   Lyrics: Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out

nobody knows you

09.07.19   >   Track Notes 59: The Cry Of The Lone Wolf

Album:  

Writer(s)

Katie Melua, Mike Batt

Length:

3:59

Trivia:

This little beauty has slipped under the radar somewhat. It wasn't released as a single, nor was it included on Ultimate Collection. Yet it is a gem of a song written by Katie and Mike, though you could easily mistake it for another fish they'd caught from the sea that is the Great American Song Book. It has that feel about it.

YouTube:

Check out this sumptuous performance of the song. It is labelled as "acoustic". Ignore the bloke on the electric guitar sat next to Katie and yes, it is.
The Cry Of The Lone Wolf

Lyrics:

The Cry Of The Lone Wolf 

08.07.19   >   Katie Bite: The Bit That I Don't Get

the bit that I dont get

07.07.19   >   Katie's Summer Tour

Good luck and safe travels to Katie as she embarks on her summer tour this week, beginning in Austria on Friday. No need to tell her to dust off the passport since her passport gathers less dust than a broken vacuum cleaner. She will be performing in Austria, Hungary, Lithuania, Estonia, Switzerland, Germany, Spain and Germany (again). Those lucky Germans are getting spoilt rotten whilst we parched Brits will be forced to lick our vinyl to quench our Katie thirst. So ist das leben.
I don't know about ticket availability but if you go to the On Tour section there are links to the appropriate places for you to find out for yourself.

Itinn Itinery Itina List of Dates

12/07/19 — Klassik Am Dom, Linz, Austria
13/07/19 — VeszprémFest, Veszprém, Hungary
18/07/19 — Trakai Castle, Trakai, Lithuania
19/07/19 — Rock In Haapsalu, Haapsalu, Estonia
22/07/19 — Blue Balls Festival, Lucerne, Switzerland
23/07/19 — Blue Balls Festival, Lucerne, Switzerland
25/07/19 — Leiderhalle, Stuttgart, Germany
26/07/19 — Schloss Kapfenburg, Lauchheim, Germany
27/07/19 — Amphitheater, Trier, Germany
29/07/19 — Stage Theater, Berlin, Germany
30/07/19 — Junge Garde, Dresden, Germany
31/07/19 — Parkbühne, Leipzig, Germany
03/08/19 — Cap Roig Festival, Calella de Palafrugell, Spain
05/08/19 — Starlite Festival, Marbella, Spain
29/08/19 — Freilichtbühne, Schwerin, Germany
30/08/19 — Kemnader See, Witten, Germany
31/08/19 — Kurpark Classix, Aachen, Germany

06.07.19   >   Katie's Web Site Woes

Sadly, Katie’s web site is still not getting the tlc she deserves. I should stress that this isn’t Katie’s fault—the upkeep of the site is farmed out to a web development company by her agent. But her agent could do with switching the account to a company that actually cares about how their client is perceived. I won’t delve into my ongoing list of problems with the site but just highlight the latest issue. When you first go to katiemelua.com you are greeted with a full page image of Ultimate Collection with the invitation to “Listen Now”. If you click that link you are given a list of options such as Amazon and iTunes. However, the first option is a link to Katie’s online store. This is just as it should be—music is a business after all—the trouble is the link takes you to tmstores.com, a third-party music store that no longer handles Katie’s merchandise. If you enter her site and go to the store you will see her merch is now handled by kontrabandstores.com. They will happily sell you Ultimate Collection. But the link to Katie’s store on the landing page of her website will merely whisk you off to buy albums from the likes of Emma Bunton and Stormzy. It is obvious that whoever is maintaining Katie’s website couldn’t give a monkey’s pilates DVD about it. A world class recording artist deserves so much better, which is one of the reasons I created AAK. It is not an official site but I do care about making it as good as it can be. I’ve said it before—an artist’s web site is the first port of call for potential new fans. It matters to get it right. If you want an example of how it can be done take a look at neilyoung.com It is an extraordinary site and even offers archives to everything he has recorded. That is a site that has been made with real love. (Just like AAK.)

05.07.19   >   Kid In A Sweetshop?

sweetshop

04.07.19   >   Playlist: Katie At The Movies

Now, as a resource for film-makers I consider Katie to be seriously underused. Her material is an absolute gold mine, not just for romcoms but all kinds of genres, including sci-fi (don't forget Peter Skellern's "One More Kiss Dear" made it into Blade Runner). "Tiny Alien" is the obvious candidate, but it all depends on what is required and fits the context at a particular point of the movie. And of course, it doesn't have to be a song from Katie's back catalogue—it can be written specifically for the movie with Katie in mind to sing, as was the case for "When You Taught Me How To Dance". But the following (criminally short) playlist is for the songs that have made it into movies and I duly doff my cap to the enlightened directors for their wisdom. The Tourist sees a lovely montage of Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie in Venice, set to "No Fear Of Heights", and who could forget Miss Potter, with Renee Zellwegger and Ewen McGregor grinning idiotically to the sound of "When You Taught Me How To Dance".

Katie At The Movies

  1. Just Like Heaven (Just Like Heaven)
  2. Call Off The Search (Mia Sarah)
  3. Tiger In The Night (Mia Sarah)
  4. When You Taught Me How To Dance (Miss Potter)
  5. Looking For Clues (Nancy Drew)
  6. Toy Collection (Faintheart)
  7. No Fear Of Heights (The Tourist, 5 Days Of War)

03.07.19   >   Katie Bite: Anniversary Song

anniversary song

02.07.19   >   Dylan Cover Challenge

Okay, so who’s up for setting Katie a Dylan Cover Challenge? Oh, come on, I can’t be the only muppet with my hand in the air. No, actually, I probably am. Anyway, the thing is Katie did a cracking live cover of Blowin' In The Wind. (That video has had over 2 million hits by the way, despite having the resolution of an 80s video game.)

So the challenge is simply to get Katie to sing another Bob song. There's a few to choose from for sure, but I think a nice easy option would be "If Not For You". This little gem was recorded by Dylan in 1970. George Harrison polished it a bit and released his version a month later, but it wasn't until cutesy seventies starlet Olivia Newton-John released a version (based on Harrison's arrangement) in 1971 that the general public pricked up its ears and ONJ reached number 7 in the UK charts. The song was later covered by the likes of Rod Stewart and Bryan Ferry. If you want to check out the song on YouTube here are Olivia's sweet version, George Harrison's version and George and Bob performing live together.
If anyone fancies a bash at it here are the guitar chords and lyrics.

I did say that was an easy option. A more interesting challenge might be Subterranean Homesick Blues - at least Bob kindly provides lyric prompts for it 😂

01.07.19   >   Lyric Card: All Over The World

all over the world

30.06.19   >   Track Notes 58: Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out

Album:  

Writer(s)

Jimmy Cox

Length:

4:33

Trivia:

A blues standard written by Jimmy Cox in 1923, making it one of the oldest songs Katie has recorded. Old Jim would no doubt have been chuffed to know the song would be given such a lovely treatment almost a century later by a gorgeous Georglish girl (a shortcut for Georgian-English, though this explanation has rather defeated the object of it). The landmark recording was by Bessie Smith in September 1929. It was released as a 10-inch 78rpm record. For the Spotify generation, that last sentence might as well have been written backwards in Icelandic. Bessie's version is quite possibly the most prophetic record ever released since two weeks later the Wall Street Crash happened and many millionaires found themselves without a penny in their pocket (and presumably no friends either).

YouTube:

Here's the song set to some gorgeous art which fits the song very well -
Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out

Lyrics:

Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out 

29.06.19   >   In Praise of the Interpreters

These days the singer-songwriter is held in high esteem. And rightly so, for performing your own music is something special. In theory, nobody should perform a song better than the writer since they are the only ones that know exactly why it was written—it has special meaning to them because it was born in their mind. However, it wasn’t always that way. At one time it was all about the interpreters—singers that took other people’s songs and made them their own, stamping their own personality and musical quirks upon them. Greats like Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole didn’t need to write songs—they had writers queueing up to write for them. Nor did they need to play an instrument, for they had mastered the greatest one of all, the human voice.

Over the past couple of decades interpreters have begun to lose kudos as the public have developed the perception that it is easier to sing other people’s songs than to write your own. This, of course, is a fallacy. Take, for example, the seemingly simple catchy pop of ABBA. ABBA songs are actually pretty complex and often far from simple to sing, as you can easily discover in any Karaoke bar. But interpreting a song is not just being able to sing it; you need to understand the song and it needs to have meaning for you. Only then can you perform it in your own way. Interpretation can be subtle, remaining faithful to the original and just adding your own vocal nuances. Or it can be a complete reworking, with deviations to both melody and lyrics, with a different beat and tempo, almost transforming it into a new song.

Interpreters really score when they take an established favourite and manage to improve it. This was a common occurrence for Eva Cassidy—“Fields Of Gold” and “Time After Time” to name but two. Another example would be Johnny Cash’s version of “Hurt”. Now I have repeatedly said I consider Katie to be the finest interpreter of song around, and I do, so I won’t play that broken record again here (except I just did. Oops.) The reason behind this article is a far more unexpected one. Bob Dylan. That’s right, the Bobmeister himself. This may come as mild surprise to some, and even a defibrillation-requiring shock to others, after all Dylan has written like a gazillion songs and won a nobel prize for his lyrics, so why on earth would he need to sing other people’s songs? Well, he doesn’t need to, that’s why. He does it because he wants to. Like anyone who understands music he appreciates the rich vein of quality that is the Great American Songbook, as it has come to be known. (You could shorten that to Sinatra stuff, since he pretty much sang every one of them at some point).

So, in his seventies, Dylan released some albums of covers from the GAS. Most notable was a triple album, cunningly called Triplicate. This album is nothing short of a revelation. Now whenever anyone says Dylan can’t sing I just LOL. Sometimes I even ROFL. Such people might as well proclaim their ignorance by having “IDIOT” tattooed on their foreheads. Listen to Triplicate. Not only can His Royal Bobness sing, he can interpret a song as well as anyone you may dare to name. I cannot overestimate the craftsmanship that has gone into those 3 CDs. Some of the songs are obscure, others are standards—all are delivered with consummate skill and backed by music of the very highest quality. It is a love letter from Dylan to the Great American Songbook, delivered with all the devotion and tenderness of a lover. In a career of remarkable achievements it is one more notch on a stick where you’d find it hard to find room to carve any more. After his stunning 2012 album Tempest, Dylan, far from slowing down in his old age, has produced some of his finest work in the last decade.

One track that particularly caught my eye on Triplicate was “Stardust”. This has been a favourite of mine since childhood and a few weeks ago I posted a piece on how it had been covered both by Katie and by Sammy Davis Jr. It is joyous to be able to throw Dylan into the mix too. His version is much different—sung at a faster tempo with more of a Jazz-lounge feel. It is fabulous just for being Dylan, but Katie’s version remains my all-time favourite and the fact that she performed it live at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival is one of my personal life treasures.

So, if you are one of those that dismisses interpreters as lazy or somehow second-rate then think again. Interpreting a song is an art-form that is difficult to master and worthy of admiration from all of us. And I’m prepared to write that down in Triplicate.

triplicate

28.06.19   >   Katie Bite: When You Taught Me How To Dance

when you taught me how to dance

27.06.19   >   The Incessant Traveller

Since I saw Katie at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival last month she has spent quality time with her family in Georgia, performed at the Age of Sing concert in Legnica, Poland, returned to London for the Summer Song Festival at the Georgian School and then headed out with James to the Amalfi Coast in Italy. Now I know a lot of you will be thinking that sounds wonderful but just think of all that travelling—waiting around in airports, customs, being strapped into a metal can in the sky for hours, checking in and out of hotels, hailing taxis, etc. I need a lie down after just typing that last sentence.

Maybe she just has itchy feet or doesn’t subscribe to the notion of “no place like home” but sometimes I think she spends more time in the air than she does at home. If you consider that technically cars and coaches ride on cushions of air in the tyres then that statement might even be true. As a writer I spend most of my time alone in my office and see maybe a handful of people each week. The very idea of all that travelling makes me anxious. People say it’s about the journey, not the destination. What rot. I want to live in a Star Trek world where I can beam over to Ertikava Cafe in Tbilisi for morning coffee and khachapuri, then over to a Cumbrian forest for a ramble in the woods and still be home for lunch. In that world, I too might become an incessant traveller.

26.06.19   >   Lyric Card: Forgetting All My Troubles

forgetting all my troubles

25.06.19   >   Katie's Been Gone

Listening to Bob Dylan's The Basement Tapes from 1975, one track tickled me particularly. "Katie's Been Gone" was written by J.R. Robertson and Richard Manuel (that's right—Dylan may have written thousands of songs but he has still recorded some written by others). Over the last few weeks Katie has been flitting around Europe (more on that in a couple of days) and it left me wondering how much time she actually spends at home. The following verse put it very nicely:

Katie's been gone and now her face is slowly fading from my mind.

She's gone to find some newer places,

Left the old life far behind.

Dear Katie, dont ya miss your home?

I dont see why you had to roam.

24.06.19   >   Track Notes 57: All Over The World

Album:  

Writer(s)

Françoise Hardy

Length:

2:56

Trivia:

French singer/songwriter Françoise Hardy remained in the Top 50 for 15 weeks back in 1965 with this song, peaking at number 16. In 1966 it appeared on her album Françoise Hardy Sings In English in which she, er, sings English adaptations of her French songs. "All Over The World" was originally called "Dans Le Monde Entier". How Katie came across it is anyone's guess (mine would be that Mike Batt stuck it under her nose. He'd have been 16 when the single was released and may well have had a crush on Hardy).

More than half the tracks on Secret Symphony were released as singles but despite the 1965 success, this was not one of them. Interestingly, neither was the title track. We will never know if either would have fared better than the six that were released, none of which proved hits even though the album itself made the top 10. That may have been the catalyst for Katie stepping back from the singles game altogether (Ketevan produced just two, despite having plenty of strong contenders, and In Winter none. It remains to be seen if Katie has become an albums-only artist but if that is indeed the case it is a perfectly viable model that many great artists have successfully adopted. Once you have a solid core fan base then hit singles are far less crucial—In Winter quickly reached silver certification (60,000+ certified UK sales).

YouTube:

No official video but here's the album version set to a few (and I mean a few) photos -
All Over The World

If you fancy hearing the original version check out Francoise Hardy - All Over The World. It is enough to make goo out of any adolescent boy.

Lyrics:

 All Over The World 

23.06.19   >   Katie Bite: Red Balloons

rb4_card

22.06.19   >   Quiet, Genius at work!

genius at work

21.06.19   >   Lyric Card: Moonshine

moonshine

20.06.19   >   Old Dogs, New Tricks

You are never too old to blow people away with your creativity. Nils Lofgren and Bruce Springsteen both released albums in the early 1970s. In 2019, with both of them approaching 70, they have, within a month of each other, released new albums that rank amongst their finest work to date. You are never too old to create something wonderful. I hope I’m still around to witness another critically acclaimed release from Katie in 2053...

Blue With Lou contains a mix of new songs and some previously unused material Nils wrote with Lou Reed in the late 1970s. Western Stars sees the Boss giving the E. Street Band some time off while he travels alone again and gives us insights like no one else can of what it is to be American. You know you’ve made it when you can release an album that doesn’t even have your name on the cover 🤣. The running time of Western Stars is 51 minutes. A 12” vinyl record can hold around 46 minutes. So the vinyl version comes as a gatefold double album, three sides of which contain just three songs each. You’ll certainly keep fit listening to the vinyl version of the album!

blue with lou and western stars

19.06.19   >   Katie Bite: Plane Song

ps6_card

18.06.19   >   Asteroid 25131, aka Katiemelua

The International Astronomical Union Minor Planet Center has an asteroid on its database that is named after Katie. It has to be said, Katiemelua sounds more inviting than Asteroid 25131, though whether an icy-cold dark lump of rock drifting through the vacuum of space can be considered inviting is a matter of opinion.

If you are the nerdiest of geek-nerds, or even the geekiest of nerd-geeks, then you will no doubt be beyond excited to learn that 25131 Katiemelua has its own web page with an absolute ton of data about it. For example, Katiemelua has an eccentricity of 0.1569054. Sounds about right to me. As of today (18th June) the latest recorded observation was on May 1st at the Purple Mountain Observatory. You may do what you wish with that information. (One suggestion would be to ring the Daily Mirror and tell them Katie Melua has been spotted at the Purple Mountain, then hang up and let some junior hack spend half a day chasing his tail.)

If you’d like to know more about Katiemelua and what she is up to visit Asteroid 25131 (Katiemelua)

You can even play around with an interactive orbit sketch of her position. Hours of fun.

asteroid katiemelua orbit

17.06.19   >   Track Notes 56: Forgetting All My Troubles

Album:  

Writer(s)

Katie Melua

Length:

3:22

Trivia:

Another cracking Katie song. When she goes it alone, she more than holds her own. (That would make a good line in a song.) The sixth and final single from Secret Symphony, released on 3rd December 2012. Lovely though it is it was never going to be in contention for the Christmas number 1, apart from in my mind.

YouTube:

A live version for French television. Just Katie and her guitar, showing yet again that nothing else is needed. It has to be said, she does spend most of this video frowning, ostensibly in concentration at the sheet music. I could understand such concentration if the music was unfamiliar but for a song she wrote herself? No matter, even frowning she looks lovely and sounds divine.
Forgetting All My Troubles

It is interesting to compare this performance with the one used for the Official video. Though the montage of video clips is lovely, the track itself, imho, is diminished by the thumping drum playing, which adds nothing to the song and distracts from Katie's nuanced vocals. I know I'm like a stuck record, but a guitar is all the accompaniment required. These two videos demonstrate that perfectly.

Lyrics:

 Forgetting All My Troubles 

16.06.19   >   Lyric Card: The Bit That I Don't Get

kl_tbtidg

15.06.19   >   The Henry Westons Sessions

Here's an enchanting performance of "Plane Song" Katie recorded for The Henry Westons Sessions at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival last month. As I've said before, Katie plus guitar is all you need...

14.06.19   >   100% Quality

Nils Lofgren, Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan all have more songs I like than Katie…

“Wait. What!!” I hear your disgruntled wails of uncontrolled outrage, and instinctively duck as mice get thrown at me. Whoa, I think someone threw their cat at the screen. Calm down dears, calm down. Let me explain myself, hastily I might add.

For a start, they are all much older than me, whereas Katie is much younger than me. Even if maths is not your ideal Mastermind subject you can probably deduce then that Nils, Bruce and Bob are therefore much, much older than Katie. I shall spare the blushes of all concerned by not revealing actual ages, but you get the point. The elderly gentlemen in question have all released maybe four or five times as many studio albums as Katie. So they all have a massive back catalogue. Which sounds vaguely rude, I know. But they’ve all sung a ton of songs.

Now here’s the thing though. All three of those artists have recorded songs that I don’t much care for. At various times in their long careers they have all wandered off down paths I didn’t feel inclined to follow. For whatever reason they just didn’t seem that inviting to me. Interestingly, they have all since tried other directions that have got me chasing back after them. But each of them have tracks I will skip when they start playing.

Which brings me to Katie. For me, personally, she is unique in having a 100 per cent strike rate. That’s right—I like every single thing I’ve heard her sing. I can shuffle her entire playlist and never once think about skipping a track. (Actually, that’s not technically true. I have sometimes skipped “O Holy Night” in the middle of summer, but that’s because I don’t feel Christmassy rather than not liking the song.) What this shows is how much care Katie takes over the material she records. Her bar is set high.

Every path Katie has explored I have enjoyed following her tracks (geddit?) as much as she has making them. A lot of fans jumped ship at The House. I was elated. More fans wavered at In Winter. I was in a winter wonderland. I’m eager to see where she wanders off to next and by now I trust her enough to start following blindly because I know she’ll lead me somewhere wonderful. I can’t see that 100% record being threatened any time soon and I don’t think it will be too much longer before I like more of her songs than anyone else’s.

13.06.19   >   Katie Bite: If You Were A Sailboat

iywas3_card

12.06.19   >   Track Notes 55: Moonshine

Album:  

Writer(s)

Fran Healy

Length:

2:41

Trivia:

The fourth single from Secret Symphony, released on 4th June 2012.

This song was the closing track on Fran Healy's (the Travis bloke) 2010 debut solo album Wreckorder.

YouTube:

Here's the gorgeous official video, probably my favourite of them all. Most musicians are a bit shy of cameras. Katie absolutely owns them.
Moonshine

Lyrics:

 Moonshine 

11.06.19   >   Versatility

My favourite artists seem to have one thing (at least) in common: versatility. Katie, like Bruce Springsteen and Nils Lofgren to name but two, are associated with playing guitar but in fact they are all competent pianists and could easily accompany themselves on that instrument if they wished. Indeed, they all have. (Lofgren, widely regarded as one of the greatest guitarists in the world, actually played keyboards for Neil Young on his After The Goldrush album.) And they probably sit at a piano a lot when composing songs rather than picking up their guitars. Don’t ask me why, ask them. Maybe it’s just easier to make notes that way (no pun intended). But it seems to be the hallmark of great musicians that they are multi-talented. Katie can play violin, Springsteen plays harmonica, and Nils Lofgren can play the accordion and even the harp—I’ve seen him play it live and he is amazing. I’ll never forget him sitting down behind it and confiding to the audience “this thing still freaks me out whenever I see it”.

Lofgren is relatively new to the harp and that is another sign of a versatile artist—one who can try new things and have the courage to incorporate them into their performances. Springsteen, after two decades of his customary gravelly growl, suddenly channelled his inner Bee Gee and learned how to sing falsetto—which he does to great effect on songs like "Lift Me Up" and "Sad Eyes". Katie has also demonstrated her versatility by using the Gori Women’s Choir on In Winter—effectively utilising a new instrument she didn’t even have to learn to play! Katie also has time on her side so who knows what she might do in future. Perhaps she’ll visit Australia and return with a digeridoo sticking out of her rucksack (about eight feet out of it) or a Polynesian nose flute. I don’t really mind because whatever she does she always does it well. She has versatility.

10.06.19   >   Generation Gap

Here's a perfect illustration of the generation gap. During a break, Katie's phone-fiddling whilst Henry's havin' a brew. 😂

phone fiddling

09.06.19   >   Lyric Card: Better Than A Dream

better than a dream

08.06.19   >   Playlist: Katie's Little Gems

If anyone ever tells you that Mike Batt wrote all of Katie's songs you have my permission to place a cold mushroom omelette on top of their head. Whilst they sheepishly wear the omelette of enlightenment you may then proceed to recite this list of beautiful songs written by non other than a certain K. Melua herself. If these twelve songs had been released on an album of their own (albeit with a better title than my playlist) it would have been hailed a classic.


Katie's Little Gems

  1. Belfast
  2. Faraway Voice
  3. Forgetting All My Troubles
  4. I Cried For You
  5. I Do Believe In Love
  6. No Fear Of Heights
  7. Perfect World
  8. Piece By Piece
  9. Plane Song
  10. Spellbound
  11. Spider's Web
  12. The House

07.06.19   >   Track Notes 54: The Bit That I Don't Get

Album:  

Writer(s)

Mike Batt

Length:

3:12

Trivia:

The second of six songs from the album to be released as a single, this one on 10th February 2012. None of them troubled the charts and indeed Secret Symphony spent the least amount of time in the album charts of all Katie's studio albums. The fact that "Better Than A Dream" was released on 9th March, just four weeks later, shows how much they were struggling to gain traction with this material. It is all quality music, of course, but orchestra-backed ballads were just not where the chart music audience were at back then. The fact that a week after this song was released the top 20 singles contained no less than nine songs whose artist had "ft." another artist tells you all you need to know. If this song had been released by Katie Melua ft. Burnt Gristle (or whatever) then perhaps it might have fared better. I guess Burnt Gristle could have been Mike Batt dressed as a hip-hop Womble.

YouTube:

Here's the official video, in case you haven't seen it. And very lovely it is too.
The Bit That I Don't Get

Lyrics:

 The Bit That I Don't Get 

06.06.19   >   The Agony And Ecstasy Of Bipolarity

My mother was bipolar. Except it wasn’t called that then since the condition was barely recognised or understood. She could be so full of life and bursting with creativity—painting, writing poetry, baking, making costumes for dolls—and then the darkness would descend and she would disappear to her room, sometimes for days. My Dad’s usual advice of “snap out of it” was as helpful as a paper sword. But the truth is, none of us could do anything to help her. She had to find her own way back to the light. Whether she was up or down, we never knew how long it would last. My Dad, raised a simple farmer’s son, could no more understand her manic bursts of creativity and whirlwind of ideas than he could her black silences. His lack of understanding made him seem harsh and cold but he loved her and it must have been a struggle for him to comprehend what was going on in her mind.

The reason I mention this is that one of Mum’s greatest passions was dancing. And Katie has recorded two gorgeous but very different songs about dancing. “When You Taught Me How To Dance” and “Never Felt Less Like Dancing”. Mum loved Katie but she passed before either of those songs were recorded. She’d have played them both non-stop, of that I have no doubt. What fascinates me is that those two songs capture polar opposite moods around a subject that was so close to Mum’s heart. If you listen to them back to back, within seven minutes you will know my Mum. That is why they will always be such special songs to me.

05.06.19   >   Katie Bite: The One I Love Is Gone

toilig1_card

04.06.19   >   Katie on Instagram

katie on instagram

Don't worry! Katie hasn't suddenly produced daughters you didn't know about, though the girl on the left *so* could be. This is all about the song festival at the Georgian School in London, where budding young Katies perform her songs and leave a pool of melted hearts on the floor. Last year, it was this very event that inspired Katie to put together Ultimate Collection. I wonder what it will inspire this year...

03.06.19   >   BBC Radio 2 Piano Room 2019

bbc piano room

There's now a CD available of performances from Radio 2's Piano Room. It contains 42 tracks by all kinds of people from Paul McCartney to Rick Astley. Unless you've got *extremely* broad tastes I wouldn't recommend it, especially since it gets some pretty scathing reviews. So why do I even mention the thing? Well, Katie's performance of "Fields Of Gold" is on it, and it is worth noting she is the only female artist to have her pic on the cover. And it is no surprise that she comes out of the reviews in better shape than the others. This review sums it up nicely:

02.06.19   >   Lyric card: Gold In Them Hills

gold in them hills

01.06.19   >   Tempest: A Lyrics Masterclass

I’ve always been fascinated by the Titanic story. But how do you even begin to put it into words? James Cameron needed three hours to tell the story on the big screen, so how could anyone ever do it justice in a song? Well, leave it to the Master of course. Bob Dylan’s song Tempest, from the album of the same name, is a fourteen-minute lyrical tour-de-force that distils the tragedy into an epic song which, I warn you, is positively tear-inducing. I urge you to seek out those lyrics and read them closely. That is how you do it. They go on forever. How can he possibly remember them?

Tempest is an album packed with great songs written by a man in his seventies at the time—clearly blowing away any hint that his powers may be diminishing. I wonder if Katie will be making new albums in her seventies. I’d like to think so, though I don’t expect to be around to see it; ah but that’s forty years away and a lot can happen in that time…



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