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👉🏻 Review: Album No. 8

👉🏻 Regarding cookies 🍪

👉🏻 Beautiful post by Katie on the writing of "Maybe I Dreamt It"


29.10.20   >   Seven Second Challenge 17

Nice easy one for Halloween! Press the play button and guess the song. Click "Show Me The Answer" when you think you know it or if you're stumped.

Seven second challenge: intro 17


28.10.20   >   Party Invite!

If Twitter is your thing then you'll want to clear your diary this evening because Katie has invited you to a party! How she spoils her fans! The idea is everyone listens to Album No. 8 at the same time and as it progresses Katie will Tweet stuff about it. Because it's a party, even though we're all apart, I'll still be in the kitchen because that is the only place I can handle parties. I'll be sat next to a box of wine and a plate of cheese and pineapple cubes on cocktail sticks, hoping nobody saunters in and tries to strike up a conversation (it'll scare the cheesy wotsits out of me if they do seeing as how I live alone...)
If you don't do Twitter then I don't really blame you but please don't gripe to Katie about it since it is hardly her fault and you can still participate in spirit by starting to play Album No.8 at 6pm.

twitter party

27.10.20   >   Playlist: Halloween

I can't believe we're in Halloween week again already. Mind you, after this nightmare of a year a few ghouls and zombies roaming the house might be a welcome distraction. But an even better distraction is my Katie Halloween Playlist, still one of the finest selections of spooky songs you will find. Okay, the songs aren't that scary I know, but the titles should get you into the spirit of witchy mischief. And this time we are already under Katie's spell again with Album No. 8 having left us all in a kind of trance. To that end, I've added "Voices In The Night" to the Halloween playlist, which you can now find on Spotify. In fact, you don't even have to find it because I'm a top egg and have arranged it so that if you click the little Spotify logo below it will take you straight to it. If that doesn't make you want to carve your own face in a pumpkin I don't know what will.

Play on:

spotify
halloween playlist

26.10.20   >   AYMHM 8: Gach Sgeul - Every Story

Another album you may have missed...

There are two type of people: those that can't be doing with songs in a foreign language and those that are open-minded about them and enjoy the air of mysticism they bring. If you consider yourself among the latter then stick around and see what I've brought you today, otherwise you may as well scuttle off and bake cup cakes or grout the bathroom tiles or something.

every story

Every Story

Julie Fowlis

Julie Fowlis is a Scottish folk singer. Now, there are a few of those about, granted, but the reason I love and respect Julie is she sings mostly in Scottish Gaelic. I'm a passionate believer in keeping minority languages alive. Whenever a language dies, humanity loses something. Languages are beautiful and amazing inventions to be celebrated and treasured rather than taken for granted. The songs in Gach Sgeul (Every Story) are a mix of traditional folk songs and beautiful ballads but it is that Gaelic language that gives them an added dimension. It is one of those languages that looks an utter nightmare if you see it written but lends itself beautifully to singing—it floats around in your mind like fairies dancing in silk shawls. Julie's pure voice lulls you into a fantasy land that is all beauty and magic and for a while you can forget all about the real world. Now, it was probably wise for her to avoid singing these songs in English; from what I can gather they are, like many traditional songs, often about less glamorous things than you might imagine. In your mind you may think she's singing about undying love for a handsome prince or something when in fact she's probably on about her cat having worms. Fans of Enya will be more familiar with the sound since she sang several songs in the Irish flavour of Gaelic, which is very similar, and it is one of the reasons her music had such an atmosphere of mysticism.

Whilst many of the songs here are of a slow, dreamy tempo, watch out for track 10, "Puirt-À-Beul Set: Fodor Dha Na Gamhna Beaga" (yeah, don't bother trying to say that). The last minute or so is an utterly astonishing display of vocal dexterity. Heaven knows how she's breathing. I'd love to see her perform that live because it is the sort of thing that makes audiences explode.

Listen to Gach Sgeul / Every Story on Spotify via the link below:

Play on:

spotify

25.10.20   >   Katie on Sunday Morning Live

We are getting spoilt a bit at the moment as Katie continues to do the rounds on UK television shows. This morning was a particular treat as she appeared on BBC Sunday Morning Live for an interview and then a live acoustic performance of "Remind Me To Forget". And what a truly spellbinding performance it was: nuanced, heart-rending, immaculate. One of the things that constantly blows my mind about Katie is the way she can perform a song live, on her own, just as effectively as in the studio with a full-blown orchestra. When you listen to the astonishing arrangement on Album No. 8 it is hard to imagine how Katie could sing the songs just with a guitar and not lose something of that rich soundscape; it is an incredible testament to her skill as a performer that she was able to do exactly that. If anything, this version was even more powerful, with the stripped back arrangement mirroring the vulnerability in the lyrics. What a privilege it is to be able to witness performances like this. It makes up in part for the cancelled tour, though it is bittersweet in that it reminds us what we have missed. Catch this magical moment on BBC iPlayer while you can.

Katie on Sunday Morning Live

24.10.20   >   Lyric Card: Feels Like Home

Feels Like Home

23.10.20   >   It's Official! Another Top 10 Album!

Congratulations to Katie on her 8th consecutive Top Ten studio album. She is now just 2 behind Kate Bush's UK Female record of 10. What an amazing achievement, and deserved success. AN8 stood at number 3 in the midweek but other chart entries knocked it back to number 7 — still higher than Secret Symphony or In Winter managed.

official charts

23.10.20   >   Album No. 8 - An Instant Classic?

We’ve had our sticky paws on AN8 for a whole week now. Many of you, like me, were gobsmacked from the very first listen. I put my thoughts about it down at great length the other day but after a few more sleeps I decided to step back a little and see if I can make some sense of the bigger picture.

My first impression remains intact–that Album No. 8 is an instant classic. I’m already calling it a masterpiece; note though, that I’m not calling it Katie’s masterpiece–it may be that for the time being, but she is far from done with us yet and in another twenty years AN8 could be fighting it out with another five or six gems so we’ll have to wait and see. Nor does it take anything at all away from the constant wonder that is In Winter, which has made itself a home in my heart that it will never leave. That said, AN8 really does feel like Katie has moved to another level. She has been brave enough to put her own lyrics to all the songs, and they are *special*. As a wordsmith rather than a musician, lyrics have always been more important to me than the tune. That is because the artist is telling you something in their own words as opposed to sharing the thoughts of another. If you like, they are tweeting rather than retweeting. A good melody is icing on the cake whereas the lyrics are the cake itself. And on this evidence, Katie is the songwriting equivalent of Mary Berry.

The new official album charts are released later today and Album No. 8 is currently placed at number 3–Katie’s highest placing since Pictures hit number 2 in 2007. Her last gold record in the UK was The House in 2010, with Pictures the last to go platinum. I definitely expect AN8 to go gold, and eventually platinum too if there is any justice in the world. At the end of the day though, sales figures aren’t what define a classic album. It is all about having a special place in the hearts and minds of the fans and with Album No. 8 Katie has nailed that.

album no. 8

22.10.20   >   Katie Conundrum No 5

Unscramble the letters to reveal the title of a Katie track.

*conundrum*

 30 


21.10.20   >   Katie Bite: Heading Home

Heading Home

20.10.20   >   Review: Album No. 8     ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I’ll be honest with you, I don’t really know where to begin with this. I’m supposed to be a writer but Katie has left me lost for words with her new album (though only temporarily, I warn you). I had high expectations of it simply because I know how much her music means to her, how studiously she approaches the whole process, and how insanely talented she is. Even so, she has exceeded every one of those expectations and left my jaw so firmly on the floor that I’m wondering if the Earth’s gravity has suddenly doubled. So, without further ado, let me try to dust myself down and articulate my thoughts on this immaculate collection of flawless compositions.

A Love Like That

If you’re going to write a statement album to showcase your songwriting talents then why not open with something that sounds like not merely a Bond theme but a template for a Bond theme. “A Love Like That” is so good it needs to have a Bond film made for it–and with a title like that perhaps it could be time to introduce the first female Bond? It only takes a few bars for you to feel like you are slinking back into your cinema seat as the curtains unveil. The dramatic and classy orchestration tell you you’re in for a cracking adventure. Katie’s vocals sound like crushed velvet, sultry and sophisticated. The curly-haired teenage girl of Call Off The Search has gone, replaced by a woman of the world that knows how to make the best of her talents. As the sumptuously arranged orchestra swirls around her she grabs you by the throat and softly seduces your ears. She only loosens her grip at the end of the song when she leaves you crumpled and gasping on the floor as she saunters away “doodling” to herself. And listen carefully to Katie’s carefree doodling–you’ll hear the odd staccato burst of five repeated notes which is reminiscent of the start of “The Man With The Golden Gun”. This stuff isn’t just thrown together you know–producer Leo Abrahams has a wonderful feel for sound textures that only a strong background in Ambient music can give you, and he has collaborated with Brian Eno who is one of the best in the business. What a strong opening to the album.

English Manner

A complete change of tone for “English Manner” but the fact the transition is so smooth and seamless from “A Love Like That” tells you all you need to know about the skilful production on this album. This track is one of Katie’s strongest ever lyrics–mystical, whimsical and raising more questions than it answers. It’s one of those that you could choose to interpret simply yet clearly has hidden layers if you want to dig deeper–one for the fans to discuss their conspiracy theories about deep into the night. I know I’m going to make Katie feel a bit uncomfortable now but some of the lines here are Dylan-esque. “The dresses billowed with fear and lust” and “you’ll see some good if you extend the trust” would not look out of place in a song by his Bobness. Mind you, I guarantee you the late, great Sir Terry Wogan would have been poking gentle fun at the line in-between those two “she handed me a cloudy glass and then said”, given his penchant for misheard lyrics, since it really does sound like “she handed me a cloudy glass of Lemsip”.

Leaving The Mountain

This track is so beautiful you can hardly bare it. I’ve never really understood why Katie hasn’t trusted her own lyrics–she wrote “Faraway Voice” as a teenager, and tracks like “Spider’s Web” and “I Cried For You” not long after–but frankly, on the evidence of this album, she can never again question her ability with words. Her lyrics are a level or two above most other songs in the charts. “Leaving The Mountain” is a case in point: she doesn’t merely tell a story, she paints pictures in your mind, evocative images filled with nostalgia and longing. The music here is suitably dreamy too. The song may be about Katie’s childhood memories of a trip with her father in Georgia but it stirs childhood memories for me also. Just the opening soaring flute puts me in mind of Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf”, which is one of my earliest musical memories, and as a lover of mountains I’ve bought into this song by the end of the first line. This is exceptional music.

Joy

An aptly-named track. The tempo rises again and it feels like getting out of bed in the morning, taking a deep breath as you wonder how to face the new day, then throwing open the curtains and seeing beautiful sunshine and blues skies flood into your life. In fact, the melody is somewhat deceitful in the feelgood-factor it sweeps you along in since the lyrics are bittersweet with reflective verses sandwiching the more upbeat chorus. This is where Katie’s peerless ability as an interpreter comes to the fore–you automatically believe what she says so you don’t need minor keys and melancholic chord progressions to feel the sadness. When she sings “it’s so tempting to give up now when the air is getting colder” you get her meaning. The craft that has gone into these songs is awe-inspiring.

Voices In The Night

The sax intro to “Voices In The Night” takes you by surprise. Then Katie starts singing and almost instantly you are transported to some classy jazz lounge; you can almost see and smell the twirls of smoke from Gitanes cigarettes mingled with the woody alcohol of Jack Daniels. Once again we are seeing the sultry Katie in the red velvet dress from “A Love Like That”, only this time James Bond is sat in a dark corner watching, drops of blood on his lips permeating his Martini. If you’d asked people at the time of Call Off The Search to predict what Katie would be doing two decades later I think many would have had something like this track in mind.

Maybe I Dreamt It

It’s almost two years since I first heard this track, when Katie teased us with it on her 2018 Tour. The audience instantly knew they were witnessing something special, so much so that they were giving a standing ovation before Katie had the chance to deliver the final line after waiting in bemusement for thirty seconds or so. On the album version, the gap before that final line has been greatly reduced, perhaps to try to prevent people from giving standing ovations to their record players. Interestingly, the Gori Women’s Choir aren’t involved with the album version despite featuring strongly in the live performances. I don’t know the reason for that but this is a song that will deliver however Katie packages it, as demonstrated by her lockdown performances of it on her sofa just accompanied by Zurab on guitar. An acoustic version is included on the Deluxe edition CD.

(If you want to read Katie’s beautiful words on her inspiration for this song, the German choreographer Pina Bausch, then click on the Social Media link in the right-hand panel where I’ve pinned her Instagram post.)

Heading Home

Oh my. What a peach. This is something truly special. It begins with plaintive piano notes from Leo Abrahams that put me in mind of James Horner’s “Portrait” for the Titanic soundtrack, which is appropriate because Katie then proceeds to paint a beautiful portrait in your mind. She may be singing about Batumi, but these words will resonate with everyone for whatever home means to them. If I have even the slightest scintilla of criticism of Album No. 8–which I don’t, really–it would be that the Gori Women’s Choir only appear on one track. Thankfully, it is this one, and when they gently kick in here the hairs on the back of my neck are off. For all that is awful in this world, it is music like this that makes you determined to fight till your dying breath to make it a better place. I’m pretty much in pieces before the end of this song but the heavenly chiming of a church bell in the background during fadeout simply finishes me off. In fact, I’d probably have closed the album out with this one since it takes me a while to compose myself after hearing it. A masterpiece.

Your Longing Is Gone

Yet another seemingly effortless track of aching beauty. I say “seemingly” because although Katie’s vocals put you in mind of a swan serenely gliding along a glassy lake you just know there’s a whole lot of frantic paddling happening under the water. And there really is a lot going on here. The orchestration, arrangement, musicianship, writing and engineering is all of the highest quality, as it is throughout this extraordinary album. This song puts me in mind of the easy-listening heyday of the late sixties and I could easily imagine Burt Bacharach writing this and Dionne Warwick trilling out “too good to be true”. I’m beginning to wonder if the whole album is too good to be true; perhaps it contains subliminal messaging that will turn us all into Katie’s zombie servants. At this point, I wouldn’t even care.

Airtime

Okay, back to that smoky jazz lounge. It’s 2am, the place is almost empty. James Bond is now dancing slowly with the improbably beautiful Russian woman he knows will attempt to assassinate him next day but not before they’ve both retired to the hotel room to do things best left to your imagination. The song they are dancing to is “Airtime”. As soon as she’s done, Katie heads back to her flat, climbs out of the smoky red dress and takes a long luxurious bath whilst reflecting on life and love. The only thing missing from this scenario, for those of a certain age, is the image of her devouring a Flake whilst the phone rings unanswered in the background and a lizard scampers across the floor. But she can relax now, knowing her sultry red dress has done its job for another day. Pure class.

Remind Me To Forget

And so we come to the final track of the album. It is the morning after. Katie is stood cradling her cup of herbal tea and gazing out of the window at the gently falling autumn leaves. Her life is changing and she’s thinking of a bleak winter ahead yet comforted by the thought of the colourful spring that will be right behind it. The lyrics here are clear and honest–no hiding, no deliberate ambiguity, just the cold reality of a relationship over. It’s a song that may bring a tear to a few eyes yet it is underpinned with that sense of hope that the past is gone and the future is there to be written.


Summary

There isn’t a weak track or “filler” on Album No. 8. It is brimming with quality from start to finish. History will declare it to be a masterpiece, but history is always slow on the uptake; I’m declaring it a masterpiece here and now. Whatever lyrical demons Katie may have been fighting must surely now be banished forever and I look forward to hearing more of her dreamy words in future. This is exactly the album I’ve been hoping she would make but I was unprepared for it to be quite this good. Had there been one or two tracks I felt were not quite up to the standard of the others I like to think I’d have been brave enough to rate it 4.5 or even 4 stars, but as it is I can’t find any fault and I have no fear of accusations of bias in awarding it the full 5 stars. I’m tempted to give it 6 and to hell with convention.

Favourite track: Heading Home. I can imagine what it’s like being asked to name a favourite child now, but I only had to hear this song once to know it would never be out of my head again as long as I live. Georgia is my spiritual home and this track will take me there instantly whenever I close my eyes.


19.10.20   >   Live Performances for BBC Radio 5 Live

A couple of beautiful live performances for you to check out from Katie and Zurab for BBC Radio 5 Live. She sings "A Love Like That" and "Your Longing Is Gone" and sounds sweet as a button. If buttons are sweet. Perhaps a chocolate button. Anyway, you get my meaning. You know the rules by now—click the pic to toddle off and have a look.

bbc radio 5 live

18.10.20   >   Katie on Channel 4 Sunday Brunch

Katie was one of the guests on Channel 4's Sunday Brunch show this morning. The mish-mash of chat show and cookery show sprawls on for 3 hours but you have to be vigilant because Katie is interviewed right at the beginning, then appears half-way through for food and chat, before closing out the show with an achingly beautiful performance of "Joy", accompanied by her brother Zurab. As always, Katie comes across as articulate, intelligent and just the loveliest person you could wish to meet, or in other words, she was just being herself. Catch it if you can on the C4 web site.

sunday brunch

17.10.20   >   Katie Bite: Heading Home

Heading Home

16.10.20   >   Finally! Album No 8 Is Upon Us!

The wait is over at long last! Today is officially the best day of a pretty wretched year. For the past few months, Katie has been throwing us lifelines to keep our heads above water but finally the actual lifeboat is here to rescue us all. If you don't know what I'm on about then perhaps one of us has been experimenting with dubious substances. I expect all fully accredited Ketefans to either be already holding their copies of Album No 8 to their bosoms with no intention of loosening their grip for at least a week, or waiting on their doorsteps ready to snatch it out of the hands of their poor postman, who might well prefer to be confronted with a rabid Rottweiler. It seems rude to turn away guests but seriously, if you haven't already ordered Album No. 8 then I would kindly urge you to stop reading this nonsense immediately and get yourself over to a website that can actually sell you a copy. Trust me, it will be the smartest purchase you have made all year, and yes, even smarter than that pair of solar-powered heated underpants. I won't say thank me later because you'll be too busy being blown away by Album No. 8, so by all means thank me now. You're welcome.

albumno8

15.10.20   >   Track Notes 109: Too Long At The Fair

Album:  

Writer:

Joel Zoss

Length:

3:06

Notes:

The second song from "The Secret Sessions"—four bonus tracks added to the special edition of Secret Symphony. It's a lovely track written by Joel Zoss. Although it appears on his 1975 self-titled debut album it was initially recorded three years earlier by Bonnie Raitt for her second album Give It Up. By now it should probably go without saying that Katie's version is gorgeous; I guess in that sense you could call Katie predictable—seems like every song she covers turns out gorgeous. Perhaps one day she'll surprise us all and make a recording that is a bit meh, but I really wouldn't hold your breath on that one. The thing is, she climbs inside a song and wears it like a onesie.

YouTube:

Nothing to watch sadly, but if you haven't got the Special Edition of Secret Symphony then you can at least listen to it on YouTube (but please know that I'm looking at you disapprovingly right now)

Too Long At The Fair

Lyrics:

Too Long At The Fair


14.10.20   >   Ketevan

A couple of years ago I wrote a poem that had a verse for each of Katie's seven studio albums. It was in danger of becoming outdated, but I'm not having any of that, oh by jolly no! So, to celebrate Album No 8, here is Ketevan—now nicely balanced and with a new graphic.

Click for bigger version!

13.10.20   >   Katie 1 Dolly 0

Well now, what do you know? Dolly Parton has just released a new album and the Daily Mail has absolutely mauled it, awarding it one star. Yikes! Then they set their sights on Katie 😱 and guess what? They gave Album No. 8 four stars. Back of the net. I'm sure she'd have got five stars but for the fact that music critics have had their star-awarding glands surgically altered to max out at four. However, if you want to see what a *proper* review looks like I advise you to pop back here in a few days...

12.10.20   >   Seven Second Challenge 16

Press the play button and guess the song. Click "Show Me The Answer" when you think you know it or if you're stumped.

Seven second challenge: intro 16


11.10.20   >   Katie Bite: Your Longing Is Gone

Your Longing Is Gone

10.10.20   >   Supporting BBC Children in Need

Katie, as always, is getting behind the BBC Children In Need campaign. Her message is simple and clear. So take a good look at that lovely smile, accept you can't say no to it, and then toddle off to the BBC Children In Need website to find out more and see how you can get involved too.

together we can

10.10.20   >   No Need To SHOUT!

Katie's recent raw rendition of Lennon's luscious "Love" reminded me of something I’ve heard her say on more than one occasion: that she wishes she had a stronger voice. I’ll be honest, I just don’t get that at all. You are reading these words right now precisely because she is who she is. In fact, that’s why this whole web site exists. Let’s get one thing absolutely clear: if Katie had been a ‘shouter’ like Adele then I may still have liked her music but there is no way it would have *reached* me; it wouldn’t have connected with me on a meaningful level. When you have frayed nerves or little hope the last thing you want is someone yelling at you. You need a quiet, reassuring voice to make you feel everything will be all right. The Katie that helped me was like a guardian angel whispering in my ear. And I know for a fact I’m not alone in this. Had she been a bottle-shatterer or woofer-wobbler she wouldn’t have enriched my life and made me vow to enrich the lives of others. AAK would not exist. The tools she has been given are perfect for her; they are all she needs to craft beautiful works of art that help so many people around the world. If I could change one thing about her I wouldn’t. And I sincerely hope Katie, that if you ever get to rub the magic lamp you’ll ask the genie for peace, love and happiness for all and forget about a tonsil upgrade.


09.10.20   >   Lyric Card: Kozmic Blues

Kozmic Blues

08.10.20   >   Katie Conundrum No 4

An easier Katie Conundrum. If you don't get this one I may have to smack your botty with a rolled up takeaway menu.

*conundrum*

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07.10.20   >   Track Notes 108: Feels Like Home

Album:  

Writer:

Randy Newman

Length:

4:49

Notes:

A song from a musical "Faust" by the legendary songwriter Randy Newman. The show was based on the classic book by Goethe, one of those that people like to claim they've read but haven't, about God and the Devil. I haven't read the book, nor have I seen the musical but I have heard Katie sing this track and it is quite difficult to see how it ties in with any of that, other than to say, as ever, Katie's version is heavenly. She has such a knack of making songs punch above their weight—this is a pleasant enough little ditty but Katie turns it into something achingly beautiful. I'm beginning to think there's no song she couldn't improve. Except maybe "Gangnam Style".

YouTube:

You shouldn't be surprised that pickings aren't that rich on YouTube given this is a track that only appears on the bonus edition of Secret Symphony. But if you are a fan of soppy romantic "Burns effect" images of hearts and kisses, well then, have I got a treat for you. This appears to have been uploaded by a German fan who has decided to rename the track "Feelings Like Home". Somewhat disappointingly though, Katie doesn't actually sing that.

Feelings Like Home

Lyrics:

Feels Like Home


06.10.20   >   Katie shares Love for Lennon At 80

Last weekend BBC Radio 2 aired some special programmes under the banner of "Lennon at 80", to mark what would have been the legend's 80th birthday. These occasions are always poignant reminders of what might have been and when you look at Bob Dylan, who is about to turn 80 and is still releasing wonderful music, you can't help but sigh about what John might have given us in the 40 years since his senseless shooting.

As part of the programming, some artists were asked to record versions of Lennon songs. Katie recorded "Love", and you can watch it on YouTube by clicking the pic below. Although this is unrelated to her incredible imminent new album, Album No. 8, it fits in beautifully with the vibe of her new songs and makes a lovely little coda to the four singles she has released recently prior to the album arriving next week.

Lennon's take on Love was plain and simple, hinting that we can overthink it and make it more complicated than it needs to be. "Love is love." Of course, it does help when you have found 'the one', which in Yoko he clearly had, and we all know that his message is an idealistic one and most of us still find love hard to come by and even harder to hold on to. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't all be striving for a world where love is all you need. Katie shrewdly doesn't mess too much with Lennon's original; as always with her covers she climbs inside the song and finds out how it works so that when she sings it you believe every word she breathes. Her performance is stripped back and raw, sumptuously supported by a "home orchestra" which includes bass player Tim Harries moonlighting on piano. Yet, though it is a faithful rendition of Lennon's version, it is subtly different: Lennon may sing it a with plaintive simplicity but he is clearly singing from within the rosey bubble of love, whereas you feel Katie is singing with the pain and numbness that results from seeing that bubble pricked. Yes, we are all getting blown away by her new songs, and rightly so, but this is yet another reminder of what a phenomenal interpreter she is. Breathtaking.

Katie sings Love

05.10.20   >   Katie Bite: Your Longing Is Gone

Your Longing Is Gone

04.10.20   >   AYMHM 7: Koyaanisqatsi

Another album you may have missed...

Koyaanisqatsi is a remarkable film from 1982 that contains neither dialogue nor narrative. The word itself is from the Hopi language and means “life out of balance”. The film is a series of scenes, many in slow motion or time-lapse, that depict images of the world, from natural scenes of beauty to large-scale industry and city-life. It’s such a powerful work, a visual poem that will make you stop and think about the world. Because there are no explanations you are left to form your own conclusions, though at the most basic level it is just saying look how beautiful the world is and look how we are destroying it. Some may find parts of it depressing but I also find a lot of hope from it: just the fact that films like this are made demonstrates that humans are gaining awareness of their relationship with their planet, and in the near 40 years since the film was made that awareness has grown, so much so that now we really are beginning to wake up and think about the damage we have done and what we can do to repair it.

And so on to the music. The soundtrack to Koyaanisqatsi isn’t a soundtrack as such—it is actually a proper Philip Glass album written to be a fundamental part of the film. It isn’t background music, incidental to what you are seeing, rather it is an integral piece of the overall experience. As such, the album stands perfectly strong on its own feet as a powerful musical experience, whether you have seen the film or not. If you have seen the film, then listening to the music will always bring the images to your mind.

koyaanisqatsi

Koyaanisqatsi

Philip Glass

Glass is not everyone’s cup of tea. His composition style is regarded as ‘minimalist’ but personally I don’t care for that term—it suggests there is little going on, like in ambient music where you might hear a bell chime every few seconds over a quiet background of low strings. This is anything but that; there are moments of serene beauty for sure, but also many lengthy passages of energy and urgency that resonate perfectly with the message that we have to act quickly to save what we’ve got. The album starts with a suitably brooding and foreboding Hopi vocal before Glass’s trademark use of simple structure and heavy repetition grab you by the ears and hold you rapt for the next hour.

Although I have watched Koyaanisqatsi many times over the years it is the album I turn to again and again. To me, it remains as fresh and exciting as the day I first heard it and it remains a constant source of inspiration. If you have never heard it then I urge you to: the Spotify link is below. Better still though, try to watch the film first since it will add such a rich layer of context to your appreciation of the music.

Listen to Koyaanisqatsi on Spotify via the link below:

Play on:

spotify

03.10.20   >   Signed Artcards with Album No. 8 LP

How would you like to own a little bit of Katie? Well, she's been signing artcards for the LP package of Album No. 8 which means she has touched them which means they now contain a few of her atoms. Or ex-atoms. Good luck actually finding them, but at least you know they're there! To get your set of free Katie atoms just pop along to her store and order the new album. By a stupendous piece of luck, if you click on the pic below it will take you right there. If only everything in life worked like that...

Here's a little suggestion for you: why not print out this pic and keep it with your art card when it arrives? It'll be additional provenance for the value of your Katie atoms. You're welcome.

signing artcards

02.10.20   >   Lyric Card: Kviteli Potlebi

Kviteli Potlebi

01.10.20   >   Serendipity

Serendipity. Such a beautiful word. Not to be confused with serenity, another beautiful word, but the added 'dip' is all important. Serenity is “the state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled” and there can surely be few better states to be in. Serendipity, on the other hand, has no such grand ambitions. It merely refers to a chance occurrence, a happy accident. And I for one happen to be a great believer in the unknowable mystery behind serendipitous moments—in particular, those that involve the paths of two people crossing in a way that is beneficial to both and when the timing could hardly have been better.

Since this is a site about Katie there seems no better example of serendipity to cite than that of her performing her song “Faraway Voice” in front of a small audience that just happened that night to include Mike Batt. The rest, as they say, is history. We can never know how things might otherwise have turned out. What if Mike had been caught in traffic and arrived too late to see her? With her talent and determination, chances are Katie would have made it anyway but perhaps via a more arduous route and in a different musical direction. Perhaps the next evening Pete Waterman may have witnessed her singing and set about turning her into the next Kylie. We can discuss till we are blue in the face whether or not everything that happens to us is down to an endless succession of random events or whether everything unfolds precisely as it is meant to. It is a moot debate for we can offer no definitive proof for either argument. Although I have a scientific mind I also accept that there is much about the Universe that is beyond the capacity of the human mind to comprehend. It is my belief that we meet the people we need to when we need to. I don’t mean the people you encounter on a daily basis like the woman behind the counter at the post office that sells you a jiffy bag. Our timelines are so intricately woven that we will briefly cross with thousands of others in our lifetimes without any significant impact upon our overall trajectory. But every now and then we may just wander from our chosen path and find ourselves at a dead end, or worse still utterly lost deep within a dark forest with no idea how to find a way out. I am speaking metaphorically of course, and in reality we may not even be aware that we have gone astray. It is in these moments that someone usually magically appears in our life from nowhere and says something or does something or shows you something that can have a profound effect on you and gently nudge you back towards the right path or guide you out of the dark forest and into familiar territory. You may be completely aware of it and see it as a revelation or life-changing moment, and be forever grateful to the stranger for their timely help. Equally, the help may manifest itself at a subliminal level and you may remain completely oblivious to it—you may end up back on the right track without even realising you had ever deviated from it. And the stranger may quietly drift away without you knowing they had ever come to your aid.

So who are these amazing people that serendipitously influence our lives? Are they guardian angels? Guiding souls? Is there a more scientific explanation? Perhaps the 90% of our brains we don’t use once had some kind of empathic and telepathic ability that our development of speech and language has rendered redundant but on some small level can still guide us towards each other in a way we can only consciously regard as pure chance. After all, if the pea-sized brain of a swallow can guide it six thousand miles from Africa to the same cottage roof in the heart of England year upon year then imagine what humans *should* be capable of. I don’t have the answers to these questions. All I know is I’m grateful that in this magical world you could live half a century and then tomorrow an absolute stranger could profoundly change the course of your life. I have learned to look out for these occasional encounters with people I was “meant” to meet. Whenever someone new appears in my life I sit back and assess where I am and where I’m going and if I’m happy. Then I try to work out if the new person has changed anything. It is a fascinating exercise, and I can think of at least half a dozen examples of people that have appeared in my life over the past few years and helped or influenced me in significant ways. I am now heading in a completely different direction than I was a decade ago and I am happier than I have ever been. I just wonder what might have become of me if those people hadn’t wandered into my life at exactly the right moment. Serendipity, I don’t know what you are but I love you.


01.10.20   >   Seven Second Challenge 15

Press the play button and guess the song. Click "Show Me The Answer" when you think you know it or if you're stumped.

Seven second challenge: intro 15


30.09.20   >   Track Notes 107: Kozmic Blues

Album:  

Writers:

Janis Joplin & Gabriel Mekler

Length:

5:19

Notes:

This Janis Joplin song is from her 1969 album "I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama!". They don't come up with titles like that any more. Her performance of it at the Woodstock Festival of '69 is considered rather legendary. Of course, Katie's live version from "Live at the O2 Arena" is also spectacular, but then she was pretty fearless early in her career. I don't know if she'd tackle something like this now, seeing as she's a somewhat mellower Melua, though I think she might well do an even better job with an additional decade of experience and craft under her belt.

YouTube:

There's a few YouTube performances of this. If you want to see why Katie is simply the best then toddle off and prepare to be blown away...

Kozmic Blues (Stuttgart 2009)

Lyrics:

Kozmic Blues


29.09.20   >   Fleeting Appreciation?

In these days of Instant Gratification, we look at tons of images every day on social media. If we like one or two we might click on a little heart symbol, but either way after a few seconds we move on and the moment is gone. And are we any better with our own photos? Whether you carry a digital camera with you or just use your phone, chances are you have been lured into the modern culture of snapping everything that moves. And indeed, everything that doesn't move too. You have probably amassed thousands of photos on your phone and computer. But how often do you look at them? Really look at them? Study and savour every detail? The trouble is, when you take so many it becomes hard to sort the wheat from the chaff. Most people don't have time to weed out the rubbish pics, delete them, then organise and categorise the others. Some do: and create folders for Holidays, Family, Nature, Cat funnies, and so on. But even with diligent organisation you are still going to be left with a lot of pictures in folders on your computer. And you'll probably add to them more than you look at them. The other issue is longevity. Where do you keep your pictures? On your phone? On your computer hard drive? In the Cloud? Well guess what: none of those are infallible or future-proof. You can't simply assume they will all still be there in twenty years from now. How many of you, I wonder, still have old VHS tapes but nothing to play them on. Technology changes. I was recently surprised and a bit dismayed to find an old Word document that the modern incarnation of Word was unable to read!

There are still good reasons to keep physical copies of things. You should own a printer. You should make use of it. A screen still doesn't come anywhere close to holding a sheet of paper in your hand. I do all my writing on the computer but when it comes time to proof read and edit I always print it out and work with pencil and paper. There is still no better method. Same comes for taking notes. I've tried all kinds of notes apps and voice recorders but still nothing beats a notebook and pen. And as for photographs, well, some of those we give fleeting appreciation to and never look at again may be worth you taking a little more time over. If you *really* like a photo then capture it and print it out. Frame it or put it in a physical album you keep on the coffee table. And savour it properly, time and again. One of my Georgian friends recently posted her usual flurry of phone pics on social media. Among them was such a beautiful photo of her with her young daughter that it stopped me in my tracks. Such a gorgeous moment captured in time yet discarded into the Sea of Instagram for a few fleeting glances before sinking ever downwards into the murky digital depths, soon to be forgotten. Straight away I told her she should print that photo and frame it. One day her daughter will be grown up and will cherish that photo. If I hadn't stuck my nose in she may never have seen it. She agreed with my wise words. So I say to you all: find some time to go through old pics and act now to preserve any you love. Print them. Frame them. Above all, look at them. That's what photos are for: capturing a special moment so you can relive it whenever you want. But do it before it is too late. In the words of Rutger Hauer, "all these moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain".

28.09.20   >   Katie on YouTube: Performing in Poland

There is a gorgeous performance of "A Love Like That" up on YouTube, filmed on Katie's recent trip to Poland. Vocals as magical as ever, and immaculate accompaniment by Zurab. This kind of thing just soothes your soul.

Click the pic to go see...

live in Poland

27.09.20   >   Lyric Card: Somewhere In The Same Hotel

Somewhere In The Same Hotel

26.09.20   >   AYMHM 6: Kavkasia

Another album you may have missed...

The previous entry in this series fell firmly into the category of "golden oldie". Today I'm only going back 3 years, but to an album you might classify "obscure".

Minco Eggersman is a Dutch musician based in Amsterdam. He plays in bands, writes soundtracks for movies and even runs a record label. Kavkasia is one of his solo albums.

kavkasia

Kavkasia

Minco Eggersman

As you may have guessed from the title, Kavkasia is inspired by Minco's trip to Georgia a few years ago. Georgia has a habit of inspiring its visitors—it certainly gave me plenty of ideas for a future novel. This collection of tracks may resonate more with you if you have actually been to Georgia, especially "Melisma & Gurian" which gives you a flavour of the goosebump-inducing polyphonic singing you will find there. "Stepantsminda" is an organ piece which suitably encapsulates the religious awe that place fills you with. Several tracks are symphonic, some have understated vocals, a couple even have a brass band vibe, which admittedly feels a bit more Barnsley than Batumi, but overall it does stir up my longing for Georgia, and it is definitely an album I'd listen to on a flight to Tbilisi.

Listen to Kavkasia on Spotify via the link below:

Play on:

spotify

25.09.20   >   Katie Bite: Your Longing Is Gone

Your Longing Is Gone

24.09.20   >   John Lennon at the BBC

John Lennon would have been about to turn 80. I'm sure he would have still been making music. Just imagine what we have missed (pun intended). The BBC are celebrating his life with some programs in early October, including "John Lennon at the BBC" on October 4th, 7pm. This will contain archive footage of the great man as well as covers of his songs by various artists including none other than our favourite gal herself. We don't yet know which track Katie will sing but if I had to guess I'd go with "Love". Whatever it is, seeing what she has done with Beatles material in the past, it will be amazing.


24.09.20   >   Katie's Rarities

The music industry is a business. A cut-throat one at that. And like all businesses, it involves deals being struck. These deals are not always in the best interests of either the artist or their fans but someone, who cares little for either, sees an opportunity to make money or otherwise gain advantage and this invariably leads to a handful of winners and a legion of losers. And the majority of fans end up, you guessed it, on the losing side.

Katie’s album B-Sides may have been titled Tracks That Got Away but they didn't: they are on B-Sides for all to enjoy (unless you have no way to access digital music). Sadly though, there are some tracks that really have got away.

I imagine that over the course of Katie’s long career there have been quite a few tracks she has recorded that, for one reason or another, have not found a place on an album. As frustrating as that is for fans, it isn’t unusual. What is more frustrating though is when the fans know of tracks but simply have no way to access them. And I know of at least 4 examples...

“How Sweet Is It To Be Loved By You”

This Marvin Gaye classic was covered by Katie and added to the Tesco Digital Music version of The Katie Melua Collection. There was no other way to get it. And since Tesco bailed out of digital music years ago this song has evaporated like a wispy cloud in summer sun. Even a lot of people who shelled out for it found they could no longer access it. Shambolic, Tesco.

“By The Light Of The Magical Moon”

This Marc Bolan song was covered by Katie for a Times Online exclusive download. Pretty niche market, that. And again, no way for the legion of her fans to get to hear it now.

“I Put A Spell On You”

This track was an exclusive for the US iTunes Store. Which is pretty hard luck on the bulk of Katie’s fans, who reside in the UK and Europe. But at least you can find a version of Katie performing it live on YouTube.

“Under The Cherry Moon”

Finally, my old favourite I’m always banging on about. This Prince cover is listed as a track on the iTunes version of Pictures. But if you play it you get “Somewhere In The Same Hotel”. No one seems to know why. Nor does anyone seem to care (apart from yours truly) so most likely nothing will ever get done about it.

My hope is that Katie has the rights to her recordings so perhaps one day we could see some of these tracks on another B-Sides type collection. I guess it depends on the nature of those exclusivity deals—if they don’t have an expiry date then these tracks may be lost to us forever. It’s a crying shame, but Katie loves her fans and if there’s anything she can do I’m sure she will at some point so don’t abandon all hope just yet! (Equally, don't hold your breath...)


23.09.20   >   Katie Conundrum No 3

Another tricky Katie Conundrum. I'd love to have a go at these myself but already knowing the answer tends to diffuse the tension somewhat.

*conundrum*

 30 


22.09.20   >   Track Notes 106: Kviteli Potlebi (Yellow Leaves)

Album:  

Writer:

Giya Kancheli (გია ყანჩელი)

Length:

2:54

Notes:

This little beauty of a song is by Georgian composer Giya Kancheli, who sadly died last year. It appeared on a 2005 album "Music For Film and Theater". It could easily have been overlooked in the grand scheme of Kancheli's massive body of work but thanks to Katie's live performance of it on this album it has served as an introduction to the great man for many who may otherwise have never discovered him.

Now, when you visit Georgia—and I say 'when' not 'if' because if you don't promise to visit that amazing country then I'm not talking to you any more—I advise you to listen to this song carefully and learn the first couple of lines. Doesn't matter if you don't understand them, just learn them phonetically. When you arrive in Georgia and meet some actual Georgians (not the customs guards I hasten to add, who are as joyless there as everywhere) then just start singing the opening lines of this song. If you tried something like that with a stranger in the UK they'd consider you a nut job; in Georgia they will join in and love you like family. That's the best tip I can give you. That and don't even think about hiring a car. Just remember, it is pot-lebi not pot-belly, which always seems to find its way past my lips.

YouTube:

Here's a lovely performance by Katie in Tbilisi. I think it was filmed by a chimpanzee that nicked someone's camera but never mind, sounds great anyway.

Kviteli Potlebi, Tbilisi 2009

Lyrics:

Kviteli Potlebi


21.09.20   >   Crossword No. 4

You thought I'd forgotten didn't you? Well, I hadn't, it's just that clues take a bit of coming up with. But here you are, crossword no. 4 to celebrate "Your Longing Is Gone". By the way, if a clue sounds like nonsense then it is probably an anagram. Hope that helps!

If you want to print it out to fill in just click on the puzzle to open it in a separate window and hit CMD-P (Mac) or CTRL-P (Windows).

crossword puzzle 4

Across

4. Ugly Senior Ongoing?
9. Artist who originally recorded Wonderful Life
10. What’s Katie’s tribute to Cilla Black all about?
11. Katie’s bass player of many years
13. Famous place where Katie studied music
15. A song Katie won’t sell you
16. Katie’s first album not to have a ‘Special Edition’
19. Katie got a World Record for this gig
20. Song used in movies “The Tourist” and “5 Days Of War”


Down

1. Though We Ate Document Anyhow?
2. Katie has performed for this person as well as with the band!
3. Katie’s producer on The House
5. Thumb Ratios of Katie’s manager?
6. Katie sang “Fairytale Of New York” with this band
7. Georgian violinist for whom Katie wrote “No Better Magic”
8. Georgian composer, “Yellow Leaves”
12. Homes In On?
14. 2007 Tarantino film in which Katie makes an appearance
17. Katie’s star sign
18. City where In Winter Special Edition live concert was recorded


20.09.20   >   Katie Bite: Your Longing Is Gone

Your Longing Is Gone

19.09.20   >   The Healer From A Family Of Healers

I don’t watch very much television these days and when I do I’m very selective, but one show I always have to see is the BBC’s The Repair Shop. If you haven’t seen it, basically it involves members of the public taking battered and broken old possessions to a converted barn in the country where a team of experts fix, restore and rejuvenate them. Things like your granddad’s clock that is dusty and broken and that you haven’t seen working since you were a kid but remember ticking and chiming in his hallway. And when you return to The Repair Shop you find it working perfectly and looking exactly how you remember it and the memories come flooding back as if you’re right there with him again. It’s tearjerking for the owners of the item but also for the repairers and indeed the viewers. In this modern throwaway society it is beautiful to see old, cherished items given new life so they can be passed on to future generations and keep the link with people long lost alive. Imagine writing with a fountain pen knowing that your great-grandfather wrote love letters with it to your great-grandmother during the First World War, after it had been left forgotten and not working for fifty years. How does that compare to a disposable biro from the supermarket? It doesn’t, that’s how.

As usual, I’m taking a geological age to get to the point but hey, what’s the rush? The point about the expert craftspeople in The Repair Shop is that they are not just fixing objects, they are fixing memories. They are fixing people. And that is exactly what Katie does—she fixes people.

It is interesting that Katie’s father is a doctor and her mother a nurse. Katie may not have followed in their footsteps but in her own way she has become just as potent a healer. More so, in fact, because she can heal someone on the other side of the world without even knowing they exist. That really is a gift. Whilst her Dad has to be with a patient to help them, Katie can be sat at home merrily munching a chip butty and watching Love Island (more likely sipping a herbal tea and reading poetry but that’s not such a humorous image) whilst someone somewhere far, far away, though perhaps not another galaxy, though you never know, is listening to her music and starting to feel a little better about themselves and life itself. It is a truly remarkable thing, but she has a gift of getting into your mind and telling you that everything is going to be all right. And somehow you believe her. When she fixed me I was so grateful but I had no idea how she’d done it and I began to wonder if it really had been her or whether some other change in my life had caused it. Now I know it was 100% all Katie. Whenever I have even the slightest of wobbles a quick listen of her keeps me balanced like stabilisers on a bicycle. There’s some kind of magic at work but I no longer even care how it works, I’m just grateful it does and I have the confidence to tackle anything in life knowing that her steadying hand on my shoulder is never more than a set of earbuds away. And since she has started her weekly online engagement with fans it has become apparent I’m far from the only broken soul she has mended. Only the tip of the iceberg has been revealed but it is clear that there are any number of people out there, from all corners of the globe (not that a globe has corners of course) that have found solace and healing in Katie’s music. Her parents can be proud that their daughter is saving lives and easing pain on a daily basis. If I were a doctor I’d be making Katie’s albums available on prescription for there is no drug known to science that can compare with the healing power of her music. And the joyous news is that her skills and powers are still being improved and strengthened. It is already clear that Album No. 8 is going to be able to soothe more suffering than ever before. On behalf of all those she has nursed back to health I simply say: thank you, Katie.


18.09.20   >   Lyric Card: Toy Collection

17.09.20   >   Video: Your Longing Is Gone

This sublime song deserved a really good video. It got one. A masterpiece. Three minutes of pure aching beauty, directed exquisitely by Mariam Sitchinava. On the face of it, just a couple of gorgeous Georgian girls having fun. It captures that kind of dreamy perfect day you may experience once or twice in a lifetime, if you are lucky; the kind of day you never want to end. If you want to you can ask questions and try to analyse meanings and messages but why do that? Better you jump into this world in your mind, hear the laughter of the girls, smell the Black Sea and wild grasses, share in that magical day, and take a break from the troubles of the real world. They used to say "see Naples and die". I say "see Batumi and live". The stunning Black Sea resort of Batumi and the Adjaran coastline provide the backdrop to a video you could never tire of watching. The same goes for the carefree happiness on Katie's face, the kind of happiness you wish upon her for the rest of her life. Combining her innate talent, understated intelligence, natural pulchritude and Georgian work ethic, Katie is producing breathtaking music and imagery for her latest album. If you haven't seen it yet then stop listening to me drone on and click the pic below to go and watch this work of art. (But by all means do come back afterwards!)

16.09.20   >   Katie's Timeline

Katie wanted me to share with you this timeline graphic of her life so here it is. To see it in its full glory click the image and it will load the full version in your browser. Enjoy!

16.09.20   >   Happy Birthday Katie!

You have now spent half your life in the bonkers business you love so much. That curly-haired girl that wowed Wogan stuck to her Georgian work ethic and all these years later has become a truly world-class singer-songwriter who can hold her own in any company. You've given me more than you can know. Thank you for being you. May you keep doing what you love as long as the longing remains. Have a beautiful day! AAK

15.09.20   >   New Video Alert!

Katie is giving us gifts on her birthday. The video for "Your Longing Is Gone" premieres at 6pm tomorrow on Katie's YouTube channel. It's looking like a stonking corker. I mean, with the combined photogenicity of Katie and Georgia how can it possibly fail to smack your gob? Watch it with her and type lots of little hearts in the comments box and wish her happy birthday! Oh, and don't forget to ask her when she's coming to your country because she has that kind of information right on the top of her head. You can click the pic below to go straight there because that's how good I am to y'all.

15.09.20   >   Seven Second Challenge 14

Press the play button and guess the song. Click "Show Me The Answer" when you think you know it or if you're stumped.

Seven second challenge: intro 14


14.09.20   >   Katie in Poland

Katie is in Poland ahead of her three concerts there next month, the only ones that have survived the covid cull. She was trying, though not really succeeding, to channel Hannibal Lecter at the airport, but in Warsaw she was more Van Gogh, resplendent in pastel yellow and blue.


13.09.20   >   New wallpaper and tweaks

I hang my head in shame as I admit I've not been near the gallery and wallpaper sections in quite a while. I do hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me. But rejoice! There are now some new wallpapers in there, so bang up to date that even "Your Longing Is Gone " is covered. So if you fancy redecorating your desktop then why not let Katie stare at you all day and prevent you from getting any work done? If you want to download them then choose the "Wallpapers" menu option on the left, though I'm fully confident you had figured that one out already. Less obvious is the fact that I've sneakily bumped up the contents of the "Favourites" section in the gallery to 200 pics. Why am I so good to you all? I have no idea, I want shooting.

Whilst I have this opportunity I'll just mention, though I'm sure none of you could give a rat's dental appointment card, that I've spent most of the weekend slaving over a hot keyboard tweaking the site to within an inch of its life. They are not cosmetic tweaks this time, so you won't see a difference, but I've been tuning the engine, so to speak, for better performance so the pages should load a lot quicker. There are so many trade-offs in this kind of thing and I can't yet implement all the changes I'd like, such as converting GIFs to video for faster loading and so on because Safari isn't quite playing ball like the other browsers. But I... oh, you're asleep.
* Backs slowly out of the room and gently closes the door *

wallpapers

13.09.20   >   Track Notes 105: Somewhere In The Same Hotel

Album:  

Writers:

Katie Melua & Mike Batt

Length:

3:50

Notes:

Yet another corking collaboration between Katie and Mike. Whenever they co-wrote they came up with gems. You'll only find this one, *officially*, on The The Katie Melua Collection, which is a shame since it is a lovely song. But there's an odd anomaly and a long-running saga I've given up hope of resolving: this track appears as a bonus track on the Apple Music/iTunes edition of Pictures. It isn't supposed to. The bonus track you are meant to get is a cover of Prince's "Under A Cherry Moon ". At least, that is the track you see listed in Apple Music. But if you play it you get "Somewhere In The Same Hotel " instead. Go figure. I asked Mike Batt about it and he doesn't know what is going on with Apple but he did confirm that Katie recorded a version of UACM. Presumably it is sat on a shelf gathering dust somewhere, which is a tad frustrating, isn't it? Seems someone must have sent the wrong file to Apple. Anyhow, I've shouted about it a few times and nobody will listen. I assume nobody but me cares. So the lost track may never find our ears. Feel free to cry in your beers.

YouTube:

Not much to see here other than one of those fan videos of random pics of people and hotels made to look a bit video-ish with heavy use of the Burns effect. Still, it's better than nowt and the image and sound quality are decent. One of the images is a tad risqué so hide the kids before watching, or yourself if you're something of a prude.

Somewhere In The Same Hotel

Lyrics:

Somewhere In The Same Hotel


12.09.20   >   AYMHM 5: If You Could Read My Mind

Another album you may have missed...

When Bob Dylan describes someone as one of his favourite songwriters you could be labelled a fool for not investigating why. Dylan famously said that when he heard a Lightfoot song he wished "it would last forever". His debut album Lightfoot! was released in 1966. In March 2020, now in his 80s, he released a new album, Solo. It is criminal that such an outstanding legend of folk music isn't more widely appreciated.

if you could read my mind

If You Could Read
My Mind

Gordon Lightfoot

If you need a place to start with Gordon's back catalogue then album no. 6 is probably the one. Released in 1970, originally entitled Sit Down Young Stranger, the album was quickly retitled If You Could Read My Mind after that single proved a massive success for him. And that song is why this album is one you need to hear. Whilst packed with good folk songs, including one of the first covers of Kris Kristofferson's "Me And Bobby McGee ", "If You Could Read My Mind " is the standout composition. If you could write a perfect song, it might well sound like this. Without doubt one of the finest songs ever written, it has that magical rare marriage of beautiful lyrics and exquisite melodies. When you hear it, it may put you in mind of the Whitney Houston track "The Greatest Love Of All ". So much so that Lightfoot took legal action against the writer of that track, Michael Masser. He eventually dropped it because he didn't want to have a negative effect on Houston's career, but the case was settled out of court and Masser issued a public apology. As beautiful as the melody is, it is the lyrics that floor you. Written about the failure of his marriage, it is a lyrical masterclass, summed up by poignant lines like

   ❝  I don’t know where we went wrong, 
	but the feeling’s gone and I just can’t get it back ❞

Budding lyricists may want to note the technique of putting a rhyme word in the middle of the second line instead of at the end of it to give it a real yo-yo snap.

If you take a shine to Gord then happy days for you—he as 19 studio albums for you to catch up on!

Play on:

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11.09.20   >   Deutscher Radiopreis

It was wonderful to see Katie performing "A Love Like That" live in Germany at the Deutschen Radiopreis 2020 event yesterday. She looked radiant and happy, and why wouldn't she be after finally getting the chance to do what she loves doing most—performing her music for people. And the performance was pure class: assured and note perfect, as we've come to expect from her. It is bittersweet to watch; on the one hand a joy to see her in her element again yet a sad reminder of what we are missing out on this autumn.

Click the pic below to go to the website and watch her performance.

deutscher radiopreis

11.09.20   >   So Sad...

What a lovely message Katie has written on her face mask: "I am so sad some of my shows are cancelled". Make that "most" though. And not convinced her eyes are backing up the message... 😉

so sad

11.09.20   >   More thoughts on Album No. 8

I do try, really I do, not to be too lavish in my praise for Katie cos I know the lady don’t like it, though she does kind of bring it on herself by being generally phenomenal, so I’m going to restrain myself and merely call her a bucket. There, that’s not at all over the top is it? Yes, Katie is a jewel-encrusted enchanted golden bucket of purest magnificence. I should get away with that. So, let’s have another chat about Album No. 8 then.

Right, thanks to a tongue-loosening bottle or two of chacha, I’ve got to the bottom of how Album No. 8 came to be written. It seems Katie chained up Don Black and Burt Bacharach in her basement and fed them nothing but cold gruel and wouldn’t let them go until they wrote her a bunch of great songs and signed statements declaring it to be her work. Oh, I’m just joshin’ with y’all, of course. It was Dylan, not Bacharach…

If I could be serious for a moment it would be a first I think we have seen enough evidence now to prove beyond all doubt what most of us already knew—that Katie is a world-class songwriter. If the three names I mentioned in the previous paragraph set up a songwriting academy I have no doubt they’d be thrilled to have Katie as one of the tutors. And her pupils would be the luckiest students ever for I know she would inspire and bring out the very best in them.

In these modern times of digital overload there is so much content out there vying for our attention—the multitude of terrestrial television channels has been joined by on-demand video, online radio, YouTube, vlogs, blogs, podcasts, social media, streaming music, apps, audiobooks, ebooks, multiplayer games, virtual reality, augmented reality and even, occasionally, actual reality. Prior to the digital age, a new album release by a major artist was a big deal and caused much excitement. Nowadays, even the biggest global superstars need a fleet of monster marketing machines to cut through the noise and get attention for their new record. All of that is to say that I fear Album No. 8 may not enjoy as much success as I am convinced it will deserve. I predict the critical acclaim will be high, and rightly so, and if there is any justice in the world it will maintain Katie’s run of top-ten album entries. I hope I am wrong but I’m worried sales might be solid rather than spectacular. In my eyes, this is an album that deserves to be number one for a few weeks and hailed as a classic. It should make Katie a national treasure in the UK (she already is in Georgia) and a global superstar. She has a rock-solid core fanbase and I’m certain that is about to increase but she is still vastly underrated and I just don’t know if even this masterpiece of an album is going to be enough to change that. What I do know is that the fans who already love her are going nowhere and that will never change. And if you listen very carefully in 34 days from now you may just hear the explosion of their collective minds being blown.


10.09.20   >   Thoughts on "Your Longing Is Gone"

Katie continues to fling singles at us with dizzying speed and we are getting punch-drunk on her knockout blows. “Your Longing Is Gone” is the fourth single from Album No. 8, and the fifth track we’ve now heard from it so far. Half way there and I’m wondering if I can go the distance because every one of those tracks has floored me so far. If this was a boxing match then my corner would have thrown the towel in and Katie would be declared world champion. But it is a poor analogy because there’s nothing pugilistic about this music—it is about love, not war. And these songs are like being wrapped up in your favourite blanket and hugged to within an inch of your life.

Love is a strange thing and something with which we all have a different experience. The songs on this album really make you think about love and what it means to you. I remain unloved but I no longer worry about it. It is a numbness compared to the pain of losing love—a pain I haven’t felt for a long, long time and I hope I never do again. I consider myself fortunate to be a giver rather than a taker and my approach is to spread as much love as I can, whether people need it or not, without paying mind to any of it coming back. Instead of sitting huddled up feeling sorry for yourself, get out and be positive towards others and it will help you feel so much better about life.

Your Longing Is Gone” is sumptuous. The lyrics are exquisite, whilst the music is dripping with sweet melody as always and the astonishing arrangements given to all the tracks on Album No. 8 ensure she has another polished gem to blind us with.

I’m running out of words with this album. Every track I hear makes me think it is the best thing I’ve ever heard and then the next one comes along and raises the bar even higher. I keep waiting for the track that breaks the trend and makes me think “oh, that’s a bit meh” but this is Katie we’re talking about so I have to accept that isn’t going to happen and there are five more beautiful songs I’m going to have to find a way to survive. This music is sophisticated, assured, accomplished and mesmeric. I already know that Album No. 8 is the album I always hoped Katie would make but she’s done a far better job than I could ever have imagined. I feel sorry for all the other musicians in the world because I’m starting to think this album will be the only one I’ll ever need.


09.09.20   >   and so, it seems, has Your Longing...

If you like women and cars, here's your Christmas present 😎

ylhg

09.09.20   >   The Tour Has Gone...

08.09.20   >   UK Tour Cancelled

Desperately sad news but confirmation of something we were all expecting: the UK 2020 Tour has officially been cancelled. With just weeks before they were due to take place and the rising uncertainty surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic, it was inevitable. Even if they had been allowed they would have been restricted and not the experience the fans, nor indeed Katie, deserve.

Katie will be back, rest assured. At the moment it is impossible to even think about when that could happen so please don't bother throwing that kind of question at her. Only when concerts are allowed again can any thought be given to the planning of a new tour. By the time that happens, certain venues may not be available. These major tours involve complex logistics so even if concerts can resume within a few months please do not assume a full-blown tour will be possible in 2021. I'm sure Katie would try to get some dates in next year but the likelihood is that the replacement tour may have to wait until 2022. This is, of course, gutting for all of us but it is what it is and there's nothing we can do about it. And just imagine how desperately disappointing this is for Katie, to be bringing us these incredible new songs and not be able to perform them live in front of us. Also spare a thought for elderly fans who may no longer be up to attending a concert in two years' time. Let's just hope everyone who had tickets is able to attend when next the opportunity arises.

In the mean time, keep showing Katie your love and support through social media. Remember, even school books have last pages—we'll get through this wretched time and Katie's glorious new album is something to look forward to in just a few more weeks. It is a supernova of light in the very darkest of years. Stay safe everyone, and keep doing whatever it takes. We'll all meet up further on down the road.


08.09.20   >   Katie Bite: Airtime

Airtime

07.09.20   >   More Than A Voice

There are many good singers out there. Too many to mention. The fact that you are reading this means you probably think Katie is pretty special (unless you are Katie, in which case you should know you are pretty special) but no doubt you could reel off a list of other favourites too. Some of your favourites might be on my list too. Yay! Others might make me go "What? Seriously?".

The problem with liking things is that it is such an inexact science. Our brains are not computers; they do not operate on pure logic that is built upon rules based on binary decisions. Our "computers" are heavily influenced by chemicals (both natural and self-administered ;-). The balance of these chemicals is delicate and ever-changing. If you have a Big Mac and Coke one day then your brain might reach a different decision about something than if you'd had broccoli and cider. And the whole thing is a lottery because it is impossible to know how what you eat is going to influence your thinking (I'm sure some of you will be saying you know chocolate and wine will make you happy, but that is a general feeling and not the same as knowing exactly how your brain will react to a particular thing). All of which means are brains are constantly evolving and changing. In fact, during your entire life your brain will never be the same twice. It has even altered since you began reading this sentence. If you wrote down a list of your top ten favourite singers every year then it would, for most people, be different each year. Even if the names were the same, the order might change. What chance then that your list is going to match someone else's? Very little, that's what.

When you like someone's voice it is a decision your brain has made based on a mountain of little micro-decisions that you are unaware of. It is not simply about the vocal quality of the singer. Your emotional state when you first heard the voice is significant. Other factors you may not realise could have played a part, such as the colour of their eyes, their hairstyle, what they were wearing. Maybe your cat was asleep on your lap purring away contentedly—even that could have played a subconscious part in your brain's calculations. There are millions of reasons why you might have reached the conclusion that Katie is your favourite singer, and though someone else might agree with you about it, their reasons will be completely different to your own. Another person might consider Norah Jones their favourite singer but not give Katie a second listen. Yet another person might not like either Katie or Norah and wonder what all the fuss is about when Harry Styles is the best singer, *obvs*.

The point is, when we talk about great singers and who has the best voice and all that there can never be a definitive answer. Some will use statistics to force an answer, but as we all know, statistics are merely numerical lies. For example, ask a thousand people to name the best singer of all time. You will get a wide spread of answers but somebody, let's say Sinatra, might just get the most votes. Some people would then take that result as an assertion that Sinatra is indeed the greatest singer ever. The thing is, although he may have had the most votes, it might only have represented perhaps 30% of the votes. Which means that 700 people out of the 1000 did not consider Sinatra to be the greatest. And 700 is a lot more than 300, isn't it? The reasons we have for liking someone's voice are so varied that it makes the whole thing indefinable. There is no sensible way to decide whose voice is best. If you wanted to approach it from a purely scientific perspective then perhaps you could come up with a list of parameters like vocal range, amplitude, harmonic distortion and variation and so on. But the list of parameters would have to be agreed upon by the scientific community, which is never easy. Even if that happened, you would need several good samples of every singer since recordings began, and good luck gathering that, and then you'd need to feed it all into a supercomputer to crunch the numbers and wait for it to spit out the answer. And guess what? The answer wouldn't be Frank Sinatra or Ella Fitzgerald or Katie or even Harry Styles... It would most likely be someone you've never heard of. Maybe a Finnish part-time elk-herder called Arvi Panntilynen would turn out to be *technically* the best singer ever. Who knew? At the end of the day it doesn't really matter what anyone else thinks. If a particular voice is special to you then that is your business. No one can say you are wrong. Similarly, you can't really tell others that your idol has the best voice (unless you happen to be Arvi's number one fan); they have their own ideas and you have to respect their choice no matter how weird it seems to you. We are all individuals, no two the same, so let's just all revel in the sea of wonderful voices that wash over us and not worry in the slightest about which of them is best.
(p.s. It is Katie though. *hangs up quick*)

06.09.20   >   AYMHM 4: Suzanne Vega

Today's album you may have missed is the debut album by Suzanne Vega.

❝ It's a one-time thing; it just happens a lot ❞

This is the opening line of Suzanne Vega's self-titled debut album and it hooked me instantly. Her unadorned voice speaking the lyric in Cracking with just an acoustic guitar accompaniment was a revelation in its breathtaking simplicity. I realised you didn't need a Spectoresque wall-of-sound to fill your mind with colours and imagery. These days, Katie is my musical Princess, hence AAK, but she was just a year old when this album arrived. If Dylan is the King of Lyrics then, for me, Vega is the undisputed Queen with words that are clever, quirky and imaginative. She paints pictures in my mind the like of which I'd never seen before and it changed how I thought about music. Her voice isn't amazing but it doesn't need to be; she doesn't require dazzling vocal gymnastics because her music and lyrics do all the work so her simple delivery never detracts from the story she is telling. Like all good storytellers she leaves you so engrossed in the tale that you barely notice she's there.

suzanne vega

Suzanne Vega

Suzanne Vega

Here's a few lines from Freeze Tag:

❝ We play that we're actors on a movie screen
    I will be Dietrich and you can be Dean
    You stand with your hand in your pocket
    and lean against the wall
    You will be Bogart and I will be Bacall ❞

Those names may mean nothing to young people in 2020 but in 1985 we could all identify with Suzanne's childhood recollections.

The song that put Suzanne on the map was Marlene On The Wall. Again, it is a song of its time, referring to a famous poster of Marlene Dietrich that countless teenage girls had on their wall whilst boys either had a Lamborghini or the girl with the tennis balls.

❝ Marlene watches from the wall
    Her mocking smile says it all
    As she records the rise and fall
    Of every soldier passing ❞

These wonderful lines from the chorus are dripping with layers of meaning and I'm sure Dylan himself would have been proud of them.

Whilst every track on this album is a gem in its own way, the one song that still blows me away to this day is The Queen And The Soldier, a stunning fable of impossible love. It is achingly beautiful and sad and by the end of it you feel as though Suzanne has read you an entire novel because you see the whole story in your mind.

If you have never heard this album I recommend you give it a go and if I do manage to convert you to Suzanne then the good news is she's still active so there's a good back catalogue for you to catch up on.

Play on:

spotify

05.04.20   >   Katie Bite: Leaving The Mountain

Leaving The Mountain

04.09.20   >   Katie's Perfect 21

   Katie: "Before we started making Album No.8, 
   Bob Ezrin asked me to compile a list of ten perfect songs 
   to act as a touchstone for the record… 
   but I couldn’t stop at ten."

Katie has shared a Spotify playlist of "Perfect Songs". I think it's a safe bet that no one else would have picked the same 21 tracks but it's a beautiful selection and several would have made my list too and you may think the same. Making lists like this is something I do all the time (you may have noticed) and some may consider it a pointless exercise but it really isn't. Anything that gets you thinking about songs that mean something to you is worthwhile.

I'm sure Katie could have gone on past a hundred. It's such a difficult task. I mean, you really could go on and on: Wichita Lineman, MacArthur Park, I'll Never Fall In Love Again, Close To You, At Last, Streets Of London, On Days Like These... it is nigh on impossible isn't it? I'm so, so happy to see Dylan songs in there too. (I think I could have picked 21 of his alone!). Of course, the one BIG difference between Katie's list and any of ours is that there are no Katie Melua tracks on it...
But see how it gets you thinking about great songs? Thanks Katie for sharing this.


Play on:

spotify

04.09.20   >   Katie Conundrum No 2

Today's Katie Conundrum is a bit more difficult, but it should be one that is on your mind at the moment!

*conundrum*

 30 


03.09.20   >   Leaving The Mountain video released

I hope you all joined Katie live for the premiere of the "Leaving The Mountain" video on her YouTube channel yesterday. She claimed to be nervous. Bless. I mean, it's not as though a single one of the hordes of us who spent the day impatiently drumming our nails on the desk was ever going to react with anything over than pure love for it. It's a bit like Cadbury's saying "who wants some free chocolate?" and hundreds putting their hands up and saying "me! me! me!" and Cadbury's thinking to themselves "god, I hope they like chocolate". We like chocolate.
[heckler front of stage: if you're gonna talk about the video get on with it]
Anyway, so, how to describe the video. Well, imagine if you'd been the director tasked with creating this video and decided to make it as minimalist as you could possibly imagine. Imagine harder, because it is more minimalist than that. Basically, it is three people standing in a cave with only the camera man's head torch to see by. Katie stands in the middle like a vision in white whilst either side of her an acoustic guitar and double bass at first glance seem to be playing themselves until varying camera angles reveal glimpses of the musicians playing them (Katie's brother Zurab and bass player Tim Harries' daughter Nina.) This approach is spot on. The lush cinematic visuals that were so right for "A Love Like That" and "Airtime" would have been a distraction for "Leaving The Mountain". This song is a musical cuddle. Allowing Katie's immaculate lyrics to paint images in our minds was absolutely the best way to do it. Every one of us that has listened to those words will have imagined our own scenes and no two would be the same. It is yet another example of the painstaking thought and attention that has gone in to the crafting of Album No 8 and its presentation to the public. In what has been a difficult year for all of us, Katie is turning it into a special one by giving us a masterpiece of an album. Twenty years from now, covid will be forgotten and 2020 will be etched in our minds as the year of Album No. 8.

Click the pic below to head over to YouTube and watch three minutes of exquisite music.

02.09.20   >   OK Georgia!

Well Hello! Sorry, wrong one. Well OK! Seems the legendary stapling of glossy tree slices is available in Georgia too. And why wouldn't it be? Georgia may be a cultural gold mine but they have still found room for McDonalds and KFC and so on so why not the mags too. Is it different? Yes. In two ways: it is written in Georgian, fair play, and clearly, judging by the sample below, they have far classier covers! I'd be much more inclined to shell out my hard-earned lari for this than a UK version with a picture of Wayne Rooney wearing a knotted handkerchief on his head. Talking of lari, the price for this mag appears to be 4 of them. Which is 97 pence to you and me. So that's three ways it's different then.

Oh, and since this mag is all about poking into celebrity lives this seems like a good time to remind you all of something: Katie's private life is exactly that. None of our business. Let's just appreciate the unbelievable music she gives us.

01.09.20   >   New Video Alert!

Set your alarms! The video for "Leaving The Mountain" premieres at 5pm tomorrow on Katie's YouTube channel. Watch it with her and type lots of little hearts in the comments box and tell her how much you love her, because she doesn't know, and ask her when she's coming to your country, etc. etc. You know the drill.

01.09.20   >   Track Notes 104: Toy Collection

Album:  

Writer:

Katie Melua

Length:

3:13

Notes:

Here's another little beauty from the lady that needlessly doubts her own lyrical ability. I love this song to bits, but then I say that about all Katie's own songs so the message is perhaps getting tired. It is true though, and not just about Katie—I always prefer it when artists sing their own songs, there's just something about it, like they're telling you their own stories instead of reading them from a book.

toy collection

This track was released as a promo single in 2008 from "The Katie Melua Collection".

YouTube:

Now then, for those of you sat there thinking "oh, I wish I could see Katie perform this song live with the Stuttgart Philharmonic Orchestra", well, you are obviously luckier in life than me because all you have to do to get your wish is click on the following link: Toy Collection live
Look out for some divine harmonics playing by Luke Potashnick on guitar.

Lyrics:

Toy Collection



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