Today's date


Made by Craggie.

admin@allaboutkatie.co.uk

  Instagram



In Winter


COUNTING DOWN TO...

Blue Balls Festival



A Lovely Random Photo:



( Click a heading to expand/collapse an entry. Click the banner above to toggle list of articles. Click here for the > ARCHIVES)

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!!






AAK on Instagram




Note:

You can collapse the blog entries to just their headings by clicking on the Craggie's Blog banner. Click again to expand them. Click on an individual heading to hide/show it.






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

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

anniversary song

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…

31.05.19   >   Expressive Katie

8faces

30.05.19   >   Top 30 Calming Songs

A recent study has come up with the Top 30 Songs that Brits like to play to keep calm. And guess what? That's right, our Katie is in at number 24 with "Nine Million Bicycles". Now, to be honest, my top 30 calming songs would probably all be Katie Melua songs (though Dylan's Blowin' In The Wind and Springsteen's Atlantic City **might** get a look in—I don't know, I haven't given much thought to a calming playlist before) but the eagle-eyed among you may already have spotted what made number 1 on the list: What A Wonderful World. And I feel it is only right to point out that Katie's duet of that song with Eva Cassidy is even more calming than Louis Armstrong's. So as far as I'm concerned that's Katie at number one then. Oh, and by the way—no Eva Cassidy in that list? Seriously? But two Adele, who I find as calming as a slap round the chops with a damp haddock. Who actually makes these lists?

top30

29.05.19   >   Katie Bite: Crawling Up A Hill

cuah4_card

28.05.19   >   Dreaming again??

Maybe I dreamt it

27.05.19   >   Your greatest song ever?

What do you think is the greatest song of all time? The answer will be personal to you; there can be no definitive answer although if everybody voted a winner would be crowned even though it would still only be the greatest song to those who voted for it. Winning a vote would not change the minds of the remaining voters. Something about a melody could lift the heart of one person yet leave someone else cold. Similarly, a lyric can be identified with deeply on a personal level by some where others see no meaning in it at all. Even if you do have an answer to this question you may find it could change as you grow older and your perspective on life changes. I suspect very few people would give the same answer at 70 as they gave at 17.

If you are a lover of music it is a difficult question to answer since there are some amazing songs amongst the millions that have been written. In trying to decide I would ask myself “if you were stranded alone on a desert island which one song would give you most joy and comfort day upon day?” Actually, that didn’t make it a great deal easier—except in as much as I would want to hear Katie singing it. That requirement narrows down the shortlist to the candidates that Katie has covered (or indeed written—Faraway Voice could make the shortlist). Songs like Bridge Over Troubled Water, Fields Of Gold and Stardust would all merit consideration. In the end, based on the criteria of lovely melody, meaningful lyrics and Katie having to have sung it, my choice would be Dylan’s Blowin’ In The Wind. Whether my mood is pensive, vacant, melancholy or jubilant, it is a song that will always give me a lift despite lyrics some find depressing (I don’t—I find them hopeful. But that’s me.) I wonder what your greatest song ever might be?

26.05.19   >   Lyric card: The House

the house

25.05.19   >   Track Notes 53: Better Than A Dream

Album:  

Writer(s)

Mike Batt

Length:

3:10

Trivia:

Originally recorded by Mike Batt and used over the closing credits of 90s animated series The Dreamstone. (No, me neither).

Katie's version was released as a single on 9th March 2012. It only charted in Belgium. That's one for trivia quiz writers. I don't know how it is decided which tracks are used for singles but personally I'd have gone with The Cry Of The Lone Wolf instead. But then, what do I know?

YouTube:

Now, I know what you are thinking: wouldn't it be awesome to see a video of Katie performing this live at the legendary Ronnie Scott's? Hah, well I'm one step ahead of ya...
Better Than A Dream (Live at Ronnie Scott's)

Lyrics:

 Better Than A Dream 

24.05.19   >   100% All Natural!

How could I resist this? Well, clearly I couldn't. Katie: 100% All Natural. Hell, yeah. I did feel a tad sheepish at the counter since I don't really look like a Katie but I stoically brushed personal embarrassment aside to own this magnificent guardian of the water which is destined to become my faithful companion on my many adventures.

katiebottle

23.05.19   >   Imeruli Khachapuri

khachapuri

Imeruli khachapuri is a staple food in Georgia. It is a thin flat bread stuffed with cheese. What could be better than that? (Actually, megruli khachapuri: a thin flat bread stuffed with cheese with more cheese piled on top.) I make megruli khachapuri regularly but I thought I'd have a go at imeruli for a change since I'd had a hands-on lesson from Keti at the GeoCafe in Reading and kindly been given her recipe. The picture shows my first attempt and it wasn't too bad, though perhaps a little crispier than it should have been. I need to experiment with a lower heat setting when I pan-fry. I quite like it crispy mind, but I wanted to replicate what I had in Reading which was the authentic khachapuri (well almost: Keti can't get Georgian sulguni cheese so she uses a blend of feta and mozzarella.)

I'm not going to post the recipe. That would be no fun. The best way to learn how to make it is to visit the GeoCafe in Reading, ask for Keti, smile at her nicely and say "gamarjoba" and ask her if she could please show you how to make khachapuri. Because Keti is Georgian and wonderful you'll probably find yourself in her kitchen within minutes.

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

katie bite

21.05.19   >   Springsteen: The Stories Behind The Songs

bruce

Until recently, my copy of the lyrics of Bob Dylan had pride of place on the coffee table. Said table is now groaning after the addition of another weighty tome—Bruce Springsteen: The Stories Behind The Songs. Where Dylan’s book is just the lyrics, and nothing but the lyrics, this wonderful creation is a look at each and every song on Bruce’s studio albums with notes and insights on how those songs came to be and what they mean. No Boss fan should be without a copy—it is pure gold—but it is of interest to anyone with a passion for the craft of songwriting and you can follow the progress of one of the giants of the industry from a raw 20-year-old through almost five decades of constant development and reinvention.

In an ideal world, Springsteen would have written this book himself and provided even more detail and insight. But the world is, of course, far from ideal and Bruce would probably never have either the time or inclination for such a project. As much as fans have an insatiable appetite for this kind of in-depth information I suspect most artists would rather keep a hat on their inner workings and let their final creations retain some aura of mystery and wonder. A bit like a magician not revealing his secrets. Perfectly understandable, and something fans must reluctantly accept with a large sigh of sadness. But Hiatt has done a decent job of prising some secrets out of the Boss, helped by the collusion of E-Street members and other individuals with inside information, and the result is the closest we are likely to get to understanding our favourite Springsteen songs.

I have a dream that in twenty years from now I will sweep the coffee table clear for a new masterpiece entitled “Katie Melua on the Art of Songwriting”. She may not have the body of work to produce a book of lyrics like Dylan’s and her albums contain too many songs written for her, along with covers and collaborations, for a book like Stories Behind The Songs. But, having worked and performed with some of the biggest names in the industry since she was a teenager, Katie has served one of the greatest apprenticeships you could imagine and after a decade or two as a fully-fledged artisan of song craft she will surely have an unrivalled depth of knowledge she could pass on to future songwriters. We may have to wait a while but good things are worth waiting for, though sadly I doubt it will see light of day in time to help me become the next Ed Sheeran. That’s probably not a bad thing.

20.05.19   >   Track Notes 52: Gold In Them Hills

Album:  

Writer(s)

Ron Sexsmith

Length:

3:31

Trivia:

The first single from Secret Symphony, released on 11th November 2011.

This song is from the sixth album, Cobblestone Runway, of Canadian melancholic-pop guru Ron Sexsmith. He liked the song so much he included it on the album twice, the second version featuring a vocal duet with Coldplay's Chris Martin.

YouTube:

Here's a gorgeous live performance for television which has the bonus of Katie being accompanied by babes with violins.
Gold In Them Hills

And here's an alternative performance. This one, inexplicably, has Katie sharing the stage with a burglar blowing down a length of lead pipe. Luckily, Katie's stunningness keeps us distracted while he does whatever it is he's doing. Oh, and those heels... I could almost walk under those arches.
Gold In Them Hills (Titanic Commemoration)

Lyrics:

 Gold In Them Hills 

19.05.19   >   Creatives v consumers

Katie often speaks of her love of music and it led me to wonder if her own musical abilities enable her to appreciate songs more than the average Joe on the street (e.g. yours truly). I thought about it for a while and concluded that no, it doesn’t. If anything, a non-musician can have greater appreciation—though it depends how you define appreciation. I’ll try to explain my thinking. I needed a way to relate to how Katie might compare other music with her own. For me, the answer lay in programming. Now I’m no whizz kid hacker but I’ve programmed computers for over thirty years so I know what is involved. That means when I look at a piece of software or an app or a web site, I’ll see it with a programmer’s eye. I’ll spot little things that most people would never notice (or indeed care about) and I’ll wonder how the programmer achieved that. Other times a feature may irritate me and I think ruefully about how I’d have done it differently. In other words, as a software creative I see software with different eyes to a software consumer. But I have had the best of both worlds since at one point I worked as a software tester which involved me having to look at software from the point of view of an end-user. Whichever hat I wore, I consequently viewed the software differently. As a consumer I want to enjoy using it and connect with it without being confused and struggling to understand it. As a creator I can appreciate the skill and thought that other programmers have put into it—or growl at their incompetence.

I imagine it is much the same for musicians. When Katie listens to a song she’ll probably be noticing chord progressions, key changes, lyrical styles and countless other subtleties that most of us would be oblivious to. As a non-musician, a listener only cares about whether the melody is catchy or inspiring, or whether the lyrics are something they can identify with. An enormously popular song may be eschewed by other musicians for using some musical trick they personally frown upon. All the consumer knows is that they like the song. The flip side is that a piece of music that might well be impressive in its musical technique and draw appreciative nods from other musicians may leave the general public cold. So the question of whether a musician can appreciate a song more than a general listener is something of a moot point since they have entirely different perspectives. That’s not to say a musician can’t “switch off” and enjoy a piece of music for what it is—but as I know from looking at other web sites and software, sometimes you just can’t keep your inside knowledge locked up for very long. I guess this applies to any creative genre. I can well imagine a top movie director watching the latest blockbuster with his children and while something might have them cooing “whoa” the director might be thinking “cheap trick, I wouldn’t have done it like that”. I think the phrase that might well sum this up is “ignorance is bliss!”

18.05.19   >   Trivia: Lilac Wine

Katie holds the last note of this song for 20 seconds. 😲


17.05.19   >   Sketch effect

sketch effect

16.05.19   >   My Top Ten Katie Songs

The other day someone asked me what my favourite Katie Melua song was. I looked at them blankly—you might as well ask me to name a favourite child. In fact, that would be easier since I don’t have children. I can name my favourite album: In Winter. But pick one song when every one is a winner? If I was an android my positronic neural circuits would be shorting out at the sheer impossibility of such a task.

But it got me thinking—perhaps I could come up with a top ten? So I had a go. Now, I have a slight feeling I may have done a list like this before back in the mists of daily bloggery but if I have I’ve forgotten it so I’ve no doubt you will have too. I could trawl through all the archives to check but it really isn’t that important, is it? And anyway, such lists have a habit of changing over time. Without further ado then, here is my current top ten favourite Katie songs. (One is a cover. Shoot me.) Oh, and they are in alphabetical order—my sanity could not withstand trying to place them in order of favouriteness.

Belfast
Dirty Dice
Dreams On Fire
Faraway Voice
If The Lights Go Out
Never Felt Less Like Dancing
Plane Song
Shiver And Shake
Stardust
Straight To DVD
Thank You, Stars
The Flood
What I Miss About You
When You Taught Me How To Dance

By the way, if you’re thinking there’s more than ten in that list—shut up. Go away. Look, I did my best okay?


15.05.19   >   Katie Bite: My Aphrodisiac Is You

maiy_card

14.05.19   >   Katie limericks

Because, well, why not?

There was a young girl from Kutaisi
Where the bread is commendably cheesy
She captured the hearts
Of countless old farts
By making her singing look easy

There was a young lady from Georgia
The country, not state, I implores ya
With her songs so heartfelt
You’d think butter wouldn’t melt
Though she could be Lucrezia Borgia

13.05.19   >   Lyric card: Twisted

12.05.19   >   Track Notes 51: The House

Album:  

Writer(s)

Katie Melua

Length:

5:00

Trivia:

Katie told The Daily Telegraph back in 2010: "If this album is about something, it's the puzzle of being alive, the mind maze of going inside your head and trying to figure out what the hell is going on in there."
"These apples I love, these apples I loathe"
I always love Katie's lyrics but I haven't the foggiest notion what this is all about. Good song all the same.

Bass player Tim Harries plays piano on this track. It's anyone's guess what that's about.

YouTube:

Here's the album version set to some mostly interesting, if random, art. I don't know why people do things like this but I'm glad they do.
The House

Lyrics:

 The House 

11.05.19   >   A million colours in your mind...

rainbow

Took this from my kitchen window last week. I could actually see where it touched the ground. No pot of gold though. Gave up digging at about six feet.

10.05.19   >   On the art of lyrics

One thing that always stands out with Katie’s music is the lyrics. They are important to her and she chooses carefully, and rightly so. And she has worked with some amazing lyricists—Mike Batt is a cunning linguist (auto-correct remained unusually tight-lipped with that) and she has also collaborated with the legendary Don Black, as well as performing songs by legends such as Leonard Cohen and Paul Simon. But when it comes to lyrics there is an undisputed master—Bob Dylan. He has a Nobel Prize for heaven’s sake, unprecedented for a lyricist. If you’re still not convinced name me any other artist that has a 650-page book just of their lyrics.

dylan

I can’t really do justice to this subject in a blog post and I have no doubt there are books out there detailing Dylan’s prowess with words. What I will do is throw out a few of my favourite snippets. I’m also a massive fan of Bob’s most eminent disciple, Bruce Springsteen, and I’ll quote some of his gems too for comparison. For Bob, I’m not even going near his best known work but just poking around in one album—Infidels. This wonderful album from the eighties is often overlooked but it caught my attention when he enlisted Mark Knopfler to play guitar. Without further ado, here are some snippets…

“Resting in the fields, far from the turbulent space
Half asleep ‘neath the stars with a small dog licking your face”

(Jokerman)

“Now, he’s hell-bent for destruction, he’s afraid and confused
And his brain has been mismanaged with great skill
All he believes are his eyes
And his eyes, they just tell him lies”

(License To Kill)

“I wish I’d have been a doctor
Maybe I’d have saved some life that had been lost
Maybe I’d have done some good in the world
’Stead of burning every bridge I crossed”

(Don’t Fall Apart On Me Tonight)

“But it’s like I’m stuck inside a painting
That’s hanging in the Louvre
My throat starts to tickle and my nose itches
But I know that I can’t move”

(Don’t Fall Apart On Me Tonight)

“Yesterday’s just a memory
Tomorrow is never what it’s supposed to be”

(Don’t Fall Apart On Me Tonight)

You could pick out wonderful quotes from just about every song Dylan has written. And he has written *a lot* of songs. That 650-page book I mentioned only goes up to 2012. It is a quite staggering body of work. But then, Nobel prizes aren’t handed out lightly.

Bruce Springsteen is widely regarded as the greatest live performer in the world but he doesn’t always get the credit he deserves for his lyrics. He once said he tries to write a song every day. Considering his career has lasted 50 years I’ll let you try to work out how many songs he may have written. Even though the majority of them have never seen the light of day we have still been treated to hundreds of songs over the years. He may not be Dylan but you can see how the Master has influenced the Boss.

“Seen a man standin' over a dead dog lyin' by the highway in a ditch 
He's lookin' down kinda puzzled pokin' that dog with a stick 
Got his car door flung open he's standin' out on highway 31 
Like if he stood there long enough that dog'd get up and run” 

(Reason To Believe)

“Now our luck may have died and our love may be cold but with you forever I'll stay
We're goin' out where the sands turnin' to gold so put on your stockings cause the nights gettin' cold”

(Atlantic City)

“So if you want to come along 
You gotta promise you won't say anything 
'Cause this guy don't dance 
And the word's been passed this is our last chance”

(Meeting Across The River)

“Show a little faith, there’s magic in the night
You ain’t a beauty, but hey you’re alright”

(Thunder Road)
(that last line, for some reason, has never got me anywhere with the ladies)

“And the poets down here
Don’t write nothing at all
They just stand back and let it all be”

(Jungleland)

I’d love to know Bob and Bruce come up with their lyrics and what their writing process is. I like writing lyrics myself—though without matching songs they are technically probably just poems—but for me, once I get an idea the whole thing usually spews out in under half an hour. It’s the same when I write novels—once I get in the zone the words flood out. But other people may take days or weeks to cobble together a lyric—a line here, a line there, change this, change that. I get the feeling Bruce is a fast worker. Not so sure about Bob.

And what of Katie, the diligent student of all aspects of the songwriting craft? Well, let me just quote…

“Because the line between wrong and right
Is the width of a thread from a spider's web
The piano keys are black and white
But they sound like a million colours in your mind”

(Spider’s Web)

Now, I don’t know how old Katie was when she wrote that but she was 21 when the album Piece By Piece was released. I’m pretty sure either Bob or the Boss would’ve been happy coming up with those lines at that age. I can’t wait to see what Katie is coming up with in twenty years from now.


09.05.19   >   Katie at Cheltenham

CJF2019

The red dress won by a landslide! And just look at that amazing acoustic guitar/bass combo 🤣
Tim Harries tried his best to hide completely behind Katie but just held his neck a couple of inches too low...

08.05.19   >   GeoCafe Georgian cafe, Reading

geocafe

I’ve practically lived in the GeoCafe—the Georgian cafe in Reading—for the past couple of days. It is taking me a long time to get home from the Cheltenham Jazz Festival 😂 I’m being fuelled by Imeruli khachapuri and Georgian Black tea (other teas are available but wildly inferior). And of course, they are playing Katie Melua in the background. If you’d like a taste of Georgia and are in the Reading area then I urge you to pop in and experience some real Georgian hospitality from Keti and Zezva (ქეთი and ზეზვა). For more details have a look at their web site.

imerulikhachapuri

Freshly made Imeruli khachapuri. Contains {please don't ask} calories.

07.05.19   >   Review: Katie at CJF 2019

I can now die happy. I have heard Katie perform “Stardust” live. And boy did she ever nail it. For a few moments I melted into an ethereal cloud of extra-dimensional quantum-state pleasure particles. If you’re now saying “what??” — I liked it, okay?

Cheltenham was treated to a stunning final event to close this year’s Jazz Festival. Katie's set list was based on Ultimate Collection, with all but three of the eighteen songs performed appearing on UC. That isn’t entirely surprising—it is called the music business because it is a business and it makes logical commercial sense to lean heavily on the latest release. Having said that, I don’t have a commercial bone in my body so if I’d been picking the set I’d have gone a bit jazzier considering it was the closing act of a Jazz Festival. Of course, Katie didn’t need to worry since her talent will always win over any audience and the standing ovation she received at the end tells you all you need to know about her performance. For me, the biggest surprise was how she managed to fit in a couple of “In Winter” tracks. I couldn’t see how that would work but Katie knows what she’s doing and both “Plane Song” and “Perfect World” were very subtly jazzed up to involve the full band—Joe Yoshida’s drums and Tim Harries’ bass took away the wintry chill without imposing too much on the reflective nature of the songs. I’m beginning to believe Katie really is some kind of musical sorceress.

It was difficult to judge how much of the audience were there as Katie fans and how many were curious festival-goers. Every song received generous applause and the obligatory “whooping”, so there were definitely plenty of fans in the house. Sorry, tent. I saw one lady put her hands together in gratitude at the start of several songs and she was clearly overjoyed almost to the point of tears at what she was hearing. Fan. On the other hand, before the concert one chap told me all he knew about Katie was that she was from New Zealand. “No, Georgia,” I replied. “Oh, American.” Face-palm. He continued: “who was I thinking of then?”. “Kiri Te Kanawa?” I suggested, reasoning it at least started with a “K”. “Oh,no,” he retorted, like I was an idiot. “Hayley Westenra?” I tried, fast running out of New Zealand singers. “Yes, that’s the one,” he said. I face-palmed again as I tried to work out what kind of brain could mix up our Katie with Hayley Westenra. Funny thing about that encounter is it’s the second time in a month someone has told me that Katie is from New Zealand. Where is this fake news coming from? Did Trump say it at some point? Anyway, after Katie’s performance I doubt that guy will be mixing her up with any Antipodean warblers again.

The night wasn’t without incident though. After a few songs there was some heckling about the bass drum being too loud. That was a storm I had seen brewing when I was outside in the park during sound checks. You could hear the rumbling like thunder from a hundred yards away. At a rock concert they’d have been lapping it up but it doesn’t sit so well with a jazz crowd. I thought Katie, ever the consummate professional, handled the protests expertly and calmly—if she was thinking “shit,shit,shit” you would never have known. Personally, I thought the sound was engineered well. You could feel the pressure on your chest but it wasn’t hurting your ears and there was no distortion but then I’m an old rocker and the complaints weren’t a great surprise. The bass drum was duly reined in and Katie had the grace to ask if people were happy after the next song. Had I been closer to the front I’d have complained that I couldn’t hear the bass drum…

It was a chilly evening but as I walked through Cheltenham I was protected by the warm glow of having experienced a wonderful show. When I heard someone whistling “On The Road Again” I knew I wasn’t the only one.

Set List

  1. Belfast (Penguins and Cats)
  2. Wonderful Life
  3. Nine Million Bicycles
  4. Just Like Heaven
  5. In My Secret Life
  6. Call Off The Search
  7. Piece By Piece
  8. On The Road Again
  9. Kozmic Blues
  10. Fields Of Gold
  11. Stardust
  12. Diamonds Are Forever
  13. The Flood
  14. Plane Song
  15. Perfect World
  16. The Closest Thing To Crazy
  17. I Cried For You
  18. What A Wonderful World

06.05.19   >   Henry Weston's Big Top

This wonderful tent is the location for Katie's concert at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival tonight. It is located in the beautiful Montpellier Gardens. Cheltenham is an elegant city but as you can see it is well and truly rocking the festival vibe. I guess, technically, that should have been "jazzing" but that sounded borderline rude.

Henry Weston's Big Top Tent

05.05.19   >   Lyric card: God On The Drums, Devil On The Bass

04.05.19   >   Katie Bite: Wonderful Life

wonderful life

03.05.19   >   Moon River

I'd have loved to have included one of my favourite songs of all time, Moon River, on yesterday's covers playlist. The song was made famous when used in the classic Breakfast At Tiffany's. Sadly, there's no official recording available of Katie singing it 😥 However, Katie has performed it live and if you don't believe me have a little gander at this. I'm sure you'll agree she smashes it out of the park. Quelle surprise.

02.05.19   >   Playlist: Caressed Covers

I suspect that with my dying breath I'll still be telling everyone that Katie is the finest interpreter of songs I have ever heard. Maybe it helps that I'm really tuned in to the little nuances she adds and that her singing style is bang in the middle of my taste spectrum. Not everyone will agree with me but that's fine. Here's a playlist of some great songs she has covered. I can't wait to see what else she tackles over the coming years. Why not test your knowledge and see how many of these tracks you can name the artist most associated with them? (If you get them all you can treat yourself to a Twix.)


Caressed Covers

  1. Wonderful Life
  2. Just Like Heaven
  3. Bridge Over Troubled Water
  4. Diamonds Are Forever
  5. Fields Of Gold
  6. Love Me Tender
  7. It's Over
  8. Deep Purple
  9. Stardust
  10. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
  11. This Year's Love
  12. Blues In The Night

01.05.19   >   Track Notes 50: Twisted

Album:  

Writer(s)

Katie Melua, Rick Nowels

Length:

3:44

Trivia:

Katie's second collaboration with hit-machine Rick Nowels is yet another catchy tune that you could easily imagine Belinda Carlisle warbling back in the day.

YouTube:

Here's a live performance of the song for ABC News.
Twisted

Lyrics:

 Twisted 



The Archives


April 2019 archive

March 2019 archive

February 2019 archive

January 2019 archive

December 2018 archive

November 2018 archive

October 2018 archive

September 2018 archive

August 2018 archive

July 2018 archive

June 2018 archive

May 2018 archive

April 2018 archive

March 2018 archive

February 2018 archive

January 2018 archive

December 2017 archive

November 2017 archive

October 2017 archive



Back to top