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Eva Cassidy Fan Club

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

Eva Cassidy Fan Club


07.07.20   >   Part 1, Behind the Scenes: Making Album No. 8

This is simply splendid. A lovely insight into the J.K. Rowling of music making her magic happen.

(NB: Due to YouTube copyright policy the video won't play right here—clicking the pic above will take you to the YouTube site to watch it.)

07.07.20   >   Seven Second Challenge 8

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 8


07.07.20   >   Refreshing The Site

Right then, I've made some cosmetic changes to the site over the last few days. This may have caused it to look a complete mess in your browser. I appreciate that you are not all tech whizzes so here is a brief explanation of what is going on:

Browsers use something called a "cache" to store everything on a web page. This is because it can take an age to fetch images and stuff over the internet. It is much quicker if they are already on your computer! So, when you revisit a site the browser only needs to fetch the new stuff; anything that hasn't changed can be grabbed from the cache instead. This is well and dandy but sometimes the browser doesn't realise some supporting file has changed, like a stylesheet for example, and just uses the cached version instead of the new one. And it is stylesheets that govern the appearance of the page. Doh!

Some of you may know that you can force a page to reload by holding down the shift key while you press the little reload icon in your browser. But I've decided to make it even easier. There is now a button in the panel on the left below the "light" and "dark" buttons that will refresh the page for you! So, if something doesn't look right with the page then click the button to reload it and it should fetch all the latest files. You don't want to do this too often because it can take a while to download all the whizzy images of Katie on this page! If reloading the page doesn't fix the mess then the problem is most likely that I've cocked something up and put something in the wrong place. If that happens there's nothing you can do until I spot it and fix it, other than label me an utter world-class pigeon-faced buffoon of the first order.

06.07.20   >   Lyric Card: This Year's Love

This Year's Love

05.07.20   >   How DO You Make A Love Like THAT Last?

This is the rather non-trivial question Katie has posed us. Who has an answer then? Well, I can’t hear any of you and I’ve had my hand up for long enough now so I’ll just jump in.

The thing is, being in love is an artificial state. It *feels* real but it is an illusion. Your body is drugged up by chemicals and hormones triggered by some deep, subconscious programming in our DNA. It is all part of the primal urge to reproduce and continue the species. When we find a suitable partner, the programming is triggered, the cocktail of chemicals is released and suddenly our emotions and feelings get taken over completely. We are no longer rational, logical beings but rather driven by love and desire. We are no longer really in control of our emotions. Our brains have switched to auto-pilot. This is meant to get us to the point where offspring are on the way. Then the self-drugging stops so that we can return to being rational and productive in order to be effective parents.

The thing is, we have evolved into such intelligent creatures that we can often override this programming if we are motivated enough so that we stop being ‘in love’ before the offspring stage has succeeded. When that happens we may find ourselves loving someone but no longer being ‘in love’, and it is that ‘downgrading’ of intensity that can often begin to reveal the cracks and flaws in people to which they had previously been oblivious. Habits and foibles that previously went unnoticed or were even considered charming suddenly become annoying and grating. It is the gradual returning to harsh reality from the fantasy bubble of being in love that causes the breakdown of so many relationships. That’s often when people meet someone else, find themselves attracted and begin to crave another fix of the ‘love drug’.

To answer the question “how do you make a love like that last?” I think the answer lies in being able to see the bigger picture. To understand that the fairytale whirlwind at the beginning cannot last and that you will have to accept a gradual reduction in intensity over the months and years. Unsurprisingly, a lot of people don’t want to settle for a lifetime of diminishing returns, full of arguments and compromises. It will usually end up with the thought “you’re not the person I married”. But this is true of almost everyone. If you get married when you are young and in love then you will definitely be different people ten years down the line, both of you. We are not finished products at 20—we keep evolving and changing until we die. Making love last is about realising your partner has changed, and that you have, and deciding you can live with that. For some people it is enough, for many it isn’t. The (probably disappointing) answer to “how do you make a love *like that* last?” then is that you can’t. It would involve tricking your body into continuing to produce those magic chemicals to intoxicate your brain. Even if that could be done, would you *really* want to live your life permanently in that state? No doubt you might be saying “yes”, but seriously think about it—we’d become a planet of lovestruck zombies moping around gazing into each other’s eyes and sighing. How would anything ever get done? Who would produce the food? Keep services running? A “planet of love” might sound like Utopia but it could never function. In fact, this was pretty much what H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine was about. All we can do in reality is hope that “a love like that”is something we experience at least once or twice in our lives and when it is over retain the memory of what it felt like. And then perhaps write a song about it. 😉

I never thought I’d be quoting Tennyson to anyone, but hey, you know, it seems relevant to this mighty question so here goes:

"'tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all"

05.07.20   >   I've Been Decorating...

The more observant among you may have noticed I've made a few visual tweaks to this page. Most are subtle, apart from the first ever change of header along with a shiny new matching menu—resplendent in its blood red new "A Love Like That" video theme. Personally, I love it and think it is even clearer than the old menu. If you hate it then please feel free to write a letter of complaint to your local M.P. about it. It won't do much good but it might make you feel better. I won't bore you with the other changes but they are designed to streamline the page, just in case you happen to view it in strong winds.

Note: If the menu doesn't look any different you may need to flush your cache. It isn't as painful as it sounds! Just hold down the shift key while you refresh the browser page and it will force the new pics to load.

04.07.20   >   Yabba Dabba Duh Dud Duh Do Do...

Katie likes to keep her fans hungry so that when she throws them a fish they swallow it whole. It is a decent strategy—if they were too well-fed they might give a new morsel a half-hearted lick and then go back to sleep. But she's thrown us a real whopper this time. Unfortunately, I have a problem with “A Love Like That”. It's this. I can’t stop listening to it. I can’t stop thinking about it. I can’t stop hearing it in my head. Katie has released a ravenous earworm into my brain that I’m pretty sure is eating me alive and won’t stop until I’m a gibbering wreck. If you’ve ever read Mark Twain’s short story “Punch, Brothers, Punch” you’ll understand what I mean when I say “A Love Like That” is turning into my own living nightmare.

I’m joking, of course. I love the song to bits. But I really am worried I’m going to hear it to death. With over a hundred days before Album No. 8 is unleashed, I’m going to have to get it out of my system soon. You know that thing when you go to a party and you only know one person there and spend the entire evening talking to them? Oh, that’s just me then. Well, imagine it. When the new album does arrive I want to be able to hear it as a whole, a collection of ten new songs as opposed to one good old friend and nine complete strangers (eight actually, since “Maybe I Dreamt It” and I have already been introduced.) Whilst there is never the remotest scintilla of danger I could ever tire of hearing any of Katie’s songs I don’t want over-familiarity with one to colour my feeling for the flow of the album overall and how the songs fit together. So for the next week or two I will allow “A Love Like That” to consume me like a raging bush fire and wait for it to burn itself out before trying to drive it to the back of my mind by hammering Katie’s back-catalogue again until Album No. 8 finally swaggers into town like John Wick on a mission. But if that plan fails and the song shows no sign of dying down after a couple of weeks I may have to resort to walking around singing “yabba dabba duh dud duh do do” until I hear someone else starting to hum it, at which point I will finally be released from the spell and able to function normally once more. I don’t know—Hermione Melua and her Musical Book of Intricate Incantations. Will I ever escape her sorcerous talons? (Let’s hope not.)

03.07.20   >   Ketevan, The Dragonslayer

I’m forever saying that Katie doesn’t need bells and whistles in the form of backing bands and orchestras. She could walk into your kitchen, mesmerise the merry hell out of you with her voice, pinch a Dairylea triangle from your fridge and leave you standing wide-eyed and rooted to the spot in wonder. But when I say she doesn’t *need* them, that’s not the same as saying she’s no good with them and that is demonstrated perfectly by “A Love Like That”, with its decadent arena-filling wall-of-sound curtain of symphony completely enveloping you like a vermillion velvet blanket. Yet if you wanted proof that I’m right then the Deluxe Edition CD will contain an acoustic version of the track 😉

It slightly worries me how good “A Love Like That” is. Why? Well, it hints that Album No. 8 is going to be something truly special. That isn’t a bad thing, obviously, but when normally quiet, unassuming people start doing special things then giant slumbering dragons begin to open an interested eye. And that does spell trouble, for dragons are bad news. The likes of Dylan and Springsteen barely escaped with their lives before returning to their respective “Shires” to recover. Many others have been lost, consumed by dragon flames. However, let us not hang our heads in despair just yet. Katie has fought dragons before and come back stronger. She is no gibbering Gollum; she is Arwen Undómiel, Evenstar, The Lady of Rivendell, Queen of the Reunited Kingdom and no dragon would underestimate her. With an army of loyal Ketefans (an ancient Georgian word for “Hobbit”) behind her she could march into the very jaws of Mordor and lay waste to it with her magnificence. Okay, that’s enough of that nonsense. But you get my drift—after Album No. 8 is unleashed Katie may not be returning to the sleepy Shire for some time.

I suspect there’ll be a lot of people hailing Album No. 8 as Katie’s masterpiece. I’m sure it will be, *for now*. But that’s a retrospective judgement and she is only in the middle of her career. Katie’s laurels don’t get squashed. She is always learning, questioning, experimenting, improving and above all, maturing. And like a good wine, her voice just gets better with age. Call Off The Search was very good, extraordinary in fact, for a teenager, but if she recorded those songs today you would hear the difference. (I’m quietly hoping something along those lines might happen to mark the 20th anniversary of her debut album in 2023). All of which means that Album No. 9 will be amazing, and Album No. 10 will be amazing, and Album No. 11… you get the idea. (Actually, Album No. 11 might stink a bit—11th albums generally do.)

Let me just wrap this all up with a bow by returning to the talk of dragons. The most legendary slayer of dragons was, of course, Saint George. The very same Saint George, indeed, who happens to be the patron saint of both Georgia and England, as symbolised by the red George’s cross on the flags of both countries. If only I could think of someone else who links those two great countries together…

02.07.20   >   Katie Bite: A Love Like That

A Love Like That

01.07.20   >   A Love Like That

a love like that

(Click the pic to go to the video!)

Class is permanent. And Katie is class. Pure class. Her latest single, “A Love Like That”, aired yesterday morning on BBC Radio 2 and it is sumptuous, seeping song-writing pedigree from every pore. After just ten seconds I thought it sounded like a Bond theme (which was echoed by many during the video premiere), and a good one at that, and absolutely shows Katie could write one of those if asked. [May I refer you to what I wrote on March 4th 2020!] We’d been afforded a glimpse of what the next album might look like as far back as the winter tour of 2018 when she performed “Maybe I Dreamt It”. If that song gave us assurance that we could be in for something special then “A Love Like That” is really going to ramp up the excitement.

After parting ways with long-time mentor and collaborator Mike Batt following the album “Ketevan”, Katie demonstrated with “In Winter” that she knew what she was doing. Her apprenticeship was well and truly over and she had clearly become a skilled and professional singer-songwriter. But since it was a themed album it didn’t reveal any particular direction that Katie’s music was taking. It was something of a one-off. The new album, Album No. 8, (no, that’s not a working title, that’s what it’s called—I guess she was so busy writing the songs she didn’t leave time to come up with a title 😉 ) should give us more of a sense of where she is at. Her live performances from home during the lockdown have been well-received but of necessity have been intimate and acoustic and not necessarily indicative of the direction her career is heading. The video for “A Love Like That” gives us a glimpse of the the kind of music the new album will bring, and it is hard to see any fan being disappointed. It is beautifully crafted, which should come as no surprise, and immaculately performed, which we have come to expect. Is it going to be a massive hit? It deserves to be, of course, but recent years have shown the demographic of Katie’s fans as not being particularly big singles buyers. What it should do is get decent radio exposure and return Katie to people’s consciousness once more. When the new album does arrive in October I don’t have any doubt it will be a strong performer in the album charts. I’m wary of going over the top before I’ve heard the whole thing but I have a good feeling about it and I think it could well become an instant classic. Those of us that have followed Katie from the beginning have observed how she has gradually grown in confidence as a songwriter. As a performer, she was world class from day one, but now she can stand shoulder to shoulder with any songwriter. It is joyous to witness her become the incredible artist many of us suspected she would and this album will enhance her reputation even further. In spite of all the upheaval and weirdness of 2020, it is going to prove a very special year for an extremely class act and, of course, her doting fans.

30.06.20   >   Album No. 8

album no 8

Here's the news we've all been waiting for! "Album No. 8" will be released on 16th October. There will be a deluxe version released at the same time, with 5 extra tracks, and a beautiful vinyl version too. Head on over to katiemelua.com to pre-order. I'm calling it now: this album is going to be very highly regarded, so why not go for a signed copy...

Track listing

  1. A Love Like That
  2. English Manner
  3. Leaving The Mountain
  4. Joy
  5. Voices In The Night
  6. Maybe I Dreamt It
  7. Heading Home
  8. Your Longing Is Gone
  9. Airtime
  10. Remind Me To Forget

(Deluxe Edition CD extra tracks)

  1. A Love Like That (Radio Edit)
  2. Maybe I Dreamt It (Acoustic Version)
  3. Your Longing Is Gone (Acoustic Version)
  4. A Love Like That (Acoustic Version)
  5. Forever (By Randy Newman)

30.06.20   >   Happy New Katie Song Day!

happy new katie song day

I hope you are all excited! Today's a day we've all been waiting for. At long last a new song to lavish upon our lugholes. Tune in to Ken Bruce at 11am on BBC Radio 2 to catch the first airplay of "A Love Like That". Then it's over to YouTube at 5pm to watch the video premiere. Party time for Ketefans! I've already dusted off me maracas (not a euphemism).

29.06.20   >   Seven Second Challenge 7

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 7


28.06.20   >   Concert for Red Cross Georgia

concert for red cross georgia

I just wanted to say a few words about Katie's live stream gig last night. It isn't really a review—what's to review? It's Katie. She was wonderful. End of. The idea behind it was to aid Red Cross Georgia (and please do donate if you haven't already). I hope it was successful. The performance earned it, but with just over 14k views as of this morning, and with only around 1600 watching live, you can't see it raising a fortune. It deserved to be watched by millions. But every lari helps and it is about more than simply money—it raises awareness of the work of Red Cross Georgia and it also lifts the spirits of all Georgians to see their world-famous daughter doing something to help her country. (It was shown on big screens in Georgian cities.) I can only imagine the pride Georgians feel when they see her perform. Hell, I'm proud of her and my only connection is being the same species.

So what of the concert itself? We're getting accustomed to these lockdown performances of Katie with her brother Zurab accompanying her. And it's perfect. I've said umpteen times that Katie plus guitar is all you need and these little shows are proving it. Zurab's playing is beautifully judged. He adds just the right amount of finesse and intricacy without show-stealing or distracting you from Katie's blissful vocals and her own delicate picking. They work so well together, I guess helped by sibling understanding. When Katie put her guitar aside and just sang they reminded me a bit of the Carpenters. Of course, when concerts return to some kind of normality the band will return but I'd certainly have no complaints if "The Meluas" became the new norm.

I should quickly just mention the image above. Eagle-eyed fans quickly spotted that Katie and Zurab appeared to be playing left-handed, which of course they were not. This suggests that it was being filmed on an iPhone front camera, which displays a mirror image. It is a deliberate feature designed so that you can use a phone as a pocket mirror (the rear camera doesn't reverse the image.) Well done to all those that spotted it but for those that were griping about it... really?

Here's the set list then...

  1. Wonderful Life
  2. Just Like Heaven
  3. No Fear Of Heights
  4. Here Comes The Sun
  5. Plane Song
  6. Tu Ase Turpa Ikavi
  7. All Over The World
  8. The Closest Thing To Crazy
  9. Nine Million Bicycles
  10. The One I Love Is Gone

The great thing about having a large back catalogue is you can always pull a few surprises out of the bag, and that set list would have been impossible to predict, other than 8 and 9, which are always in demand with Katie's casual fans. But it was nice to see some rare treasures in there for the dedicated fans, such as "All Over The World" and "The One I Love Is Gone". Naturally, with well over a hundred songs to choose from I'm sure we all have favourites that we'd have liked included, but Katie would have been performing all night (we wouldn't mind, but let's give the lass a break!) For example, Pictures didn't get a look in but maybe one day I will get to see "What I Miss About You" live.

I thought they'd lost count when they disappeared off screen after track nine. There was a pause and then Katie returned alone to play track ten. This "virtual encore" was genius and I hope it becomes a thing with these streamed concerts, though she should perhaps have popped a little sign on the chair saying "Please applaud now". If you haven't seen the concert you can click on the photo above to go to it. Massive thanks to Katie and Zurab for warming hearts around the globe and all for a good cause too.

27.06.20   >   A Love Like That

New song alert!

Katie has a new song coming out next Tuesday, 30th June. Called "A Love Like That", the official video premieres on YouTube at 5.00pm UK BST. Click on the pic below to visit the page and set a reminder. Be there or 🐝 🟪

a love like that

26.06.20   >   Walking Music

I already had this piece planned when Katie posted about a playlist of walking songs on Instagram a few days ago. Her Spotify playlist, For Leaves And Fields, was specifically for walking in a park or a nature walk. I wanted to talk about walking music more generally.

The first thing I want to say is that more often than not I don’t listen to music when I’m walking. There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, if I’m walking along a road or I’m in a busy town or city, I don’t want to be cut off from my environment. Actually, I do, but more to the point I don’t feel safe doing it. I can’t really relax unless I can hear what is going on around me. If I’m out on my own in the hills or the woods then there aren’t really many dangers you need to listen out for but then the second reason comes into play: I like to listen to nature itself. The gentle tinkling of a stream, the primal roar of a waterfall, the delicate rustling of leaves in the wind, and the endless joy that is birdsong. Katie’s playlist is interesting, and I enjoyed listening to it, but for me I’d listen to something like that snuggled up on the sofa on a cold, wet evening. I’d close my eyes and let the music paint pictures of nature in my mind’s eye. When I’m out in nature I want to connect with it directly, with all my senses, and not be distracted by music, no matter how good it is. Of course, it depends on your mood too—there are times when I need to be lost in music, but generally the sound of nature is all I need. Another issue is how to listen to music. I hate the feel of wires dangling and catching on clothing, my Apple wireless buds sound good but they won’t stay in properly when I’m moving and my gorgeous Sony over-ears sound amazing but make me look like a Cyberman. First world problems, eh?

When I do listen to music whilst walking it is almost always instrumental. That is because I tend to get lost in my own thoughts and lyrics would distract me from that. The music I listen to whilst writing is instrumental for the same reason, normally ambient. Currently, my writing playlist runs to over 100 hours and I just play it on shuffle. My favourite artists for this kind of music are Carbon Based Lifeforms, Marconi Union and Solar Fields, but I have an absolute ton of it since I’ve been searching it out for over twenty years. Those three create some gorgeous music but for a slightly darker edge I’d recommend The Future Sound Of London too.

You might be forgiven for wondering how Katie fits into all this. After all, I can’t walk to her and I can’t work to her. (Actually, in winter I can, and do, walk to In Winter. She just nails the mood of the season so much.) The simple answer is I devote time to her music. She works so hard to make the best music she can that I believe she earns my full attention. When she sings, I listen. Every word, every subtle little nuance. She is an artisan of her craft; her work is meticulous and sublime and deserves to be appreciated properly. I don’t listen to her whilst gardening or doing housework—she is the reward for those things. I do like to listen to her whilst driving though since it helps keep me calm and happy.

At the end of the day we are all different. Some people like to try everything and spend a lot of their time listening to new music. I’ve got to the point where I’ve collected so much music that I love that new stuff finds it hard to get a look in. A few artists—Katie of course, Dylan, Springsteen and a handful of others—have gained my trust and I’ll always pre-order their albums, but new artists have to be pretty special to get my attention. But then, I’m from a different era—a pre-streaming dinosaur from a time when vinyl albums were a thing of beauty and wonder, to be handled reverently and listened to from the first second to the last, with just a brief time-out to turn the record over. I simply don’t get these music apps that offer me my own “radio stations”. I tried a Katie Melua radio station on one of them—it played one of her songs and then went on to play all kinds of other, supposedly similar, artists that simply left me cold and rather baffled. If I want my own Katie Melua radio station I just make a playlist of all her music and hit shuffle… I guess I just don’t like to be told what I like!

25.06.20   >   Track Notes 98: This Year's Love

Album:  

Writer:

David Gray

Length:

3:47

Notes:

A good voice can make a bad song sound good but a good song can't make a bad voice sound good. When you get a good song and a good voice it's a wonderful thing, though merely par for the course for Katie. All of which is to say, I can't be doing with David Gray's voice. I'd rather listen to fingernails on a blackboard. But he can write a good song, and this is one of them. It's little surprise that Katie pounced on it—if good songs are voles then Katie is a kestrel hovering above and getting ready to grab lunch. And her voice turns good songs into great ones. This is simply a sumptuous cover.

YouTube:

You know what's coming. Yep. Another photo montage video. But hey, at least you get to hear this wonderful version if you can't get your mitts on B-Sides. And anyway, Katie is the most photogenic person ever so montages are never a chore.
This Year's Love

Lyrics:

This Year's Love 

24.06.20   >   Albums You May Have Missed...

I’ve been doing a bit of tidying of my music collection and one thing that has struck me is that I’ve got a lot of wonderful albums that never seem to get talked about. This is either because they are old or obscure, or both (like me), but it struck me that a good many people of a somewhat younger vintage may never have happened upon them. So I’ve decided to begin a new feature: Albums You May Have Missed. Those of you that really know your music may not find much new but I think over time I should be able to surprise just about everyone.

I should point out that they will all be albums I love but that’s not to say you will too, it’s just that if you haven’t heard them I recommend giving them a chance and you never know—you might just discover something you find wonderful. And if you hate the first few I throw at you don’t be put off by the idea. They will all be different and if you think the first nine are rubbish the tenth might be right up your street. You never know. Anyway, here’s the first offering…

the zen kiss

The Zen Kiss

Sheila Chandra

If you’ve heard of Sheila Chandra at all, chances are it is either from her only top 20 hit “Ever So Lonely”, back in 1982 with the band Monsoon, or even earlier as an actress in “Grange Hill”. If that’s the case, or if you haven’t heard of her at all, you need to experience her amazing vocal talents.

In 2009, Sheila was diagnosed with something called burning mouth syndrome, leaving her effectively mute without experiencing severe pain, and ending her music career. This cruel tragedy is hard to imagine for someone whose gift is their voice. But she does have around ten albums that are there for all time to show what a voice she had.

I’ve picked “The Zen Kiss” as a good all round showcase of her extraordinary talent. Many of the tracks are unaccompanied. Her voice doesn’t need accompanying. These tracks will not just move you, some will amaze you—she does things with her voice that are baffling and mesmerising in equal measures. It may not be your cup of tea but you might as well taste before deciding. You may well find her a revelation.

23.06.20   >   Lyric Card: Straight To DVD

Straight To DVD

22.06.20   >   Katie In A Car Park?

“It’s life Jim, but not as we know it.”

What a strange year this has been, but will things ever return to “normal” or will we be faced with a new normal? Katie’s autumn tour is less than a hundred days away now and still—as things stand—going ahead. Of course, a so-called “second wave” could change all that. But it is by no means certain that concerts will get the green light any time soon even though pubs and restaurants look set to get back in the game early next month.

The sticking point will be social distancing. If it is reduced to 1m then pubs and restaurants can accommodate that but what about theatres? You’d have to keep every other seat and every other row empty. Which would mean only a quarter of the normal audience could attend. Is that viable? And how would it be done, considering most of the tickets have already been sold? It would be frustrating for those that couldn’t get in but a massive financial hit for the organisers and performers. Would everyone have to wear masks? Not very comfortable at a concert. (Presumably the performing artist would be exempt, or we might get treated to “The Clothetht Think To Crathee”.)

Outdoor gatherings may be easier to control, in theory at least though probably not in practice. In summer, concerts could be held open air in showgrounds but by November it would be too wet, dark and cold for that. Which brings me, finally, to the point of this piece. There is some talk now about “drive-in” concerts. I saw “2001” at a drive-in cinema in Canada. It was magical. They were popular over there. For some reason, perhaps weather, they never took off in the UK. Light would be another reason—it doesn’t get dark until 10.30 in a UK summer, and cinema needs darkness. But musicians don’t, apart from maybe Ozzy Osborne, so that wouldn’t matter. People would just drive in and park in allocated spaces facing the stage. Back in the 60s you had to wind your window down and balance a crappy speaker on it. Nowadays you would probably be asked to tune your radio to a specific frequency, or there might be some other fancy tech solution, but the quality should be decent. In good weather the normal gig speaker set up might be enough anyway.

In terms of social distancing, drive-in concerts tick the box for sure. But will they really take off? I find it unlikely. Obviously, there would be environmental concerns—how carbon-neutral would they be? Not very. Especially in cool weather if people had their engines on so the heater worked. Then there’s the performer’s perspective. How weird would it feel just staring out at a car park? After each song, people might applaud in their cars but you wouldn’t see or hear it, you’d just see a static car park. I imagine some conventions would quickly arise, like tooting horns and flashing hazard lights. Frankly, it is all sounding a but surreal. I would think it could be difficult for a performer to engage with a crowd of cars. There’s no intimacy, you can’t see the faces, gauge the feel of the crowd.

But this is no fantasy idea—some drive-in concerts have already taken place and others are happening soon. Personally, I can’t see it being much more than a passing novelty idea, a desperate solution for desperate times. Eventually, public pressure will demand that theatres and cinemas be allowed to have full houses again. The question for us is whether that can happen in time for Katie’s tour. All we can do is keep a nervous eye on how things unfold over the coming weeks. And it does rather rely on the general public being sensible and staying safe, which is kind of scary given that the general public aren’t generally very reliable. So lets just see what happens and who knows, perhaps one day Katie might be coming to a car park near you.

21.06.20   >   Seven Second Challenge 6

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 6


20.06.20   >   The Wildlife Trusts’ Big Wild Weekend Music Night

Katie was comfortably the standout performer (who would have guessed) of the night singing “Scarborough Fair” and “Perfect World”. She sings "Scarborough Fair" better than anyone I've ever heard and if it doesn't appear on the new album I'm going to stand outside in the rain and throw soggy chips at magpies until I get over it (or get pneumonia). I suspect she may be trying to get into the Guinness Book Of Records (again), this time for the highest positioning of a capo on a fretboard. It looks like she's playing the balalaika again—just scroll down to that pic of her aged 2 a couple of days ago and you'll see what I mean. Told you she hadn't changed.
It was also nice to see another wonderful singer-songwriter Katie, KT Tunstall, performing her lovely “White Bird”. Anyway, if you’re in a hurry, Katie appears around 37 minutes in. Click the pic to watch the event.

Katie performing Scarborough Fair

20.06.20   >   Katie Bite: The Closest Thing To Crazy

The Closest Thing To Crazy

19.06.20   >   1000th Post!

1000posts

Call me the postman! No, actually, don’t, scrub that. I can’t really believe I’ve managed to find a thousand ways to bother you all. Where does time go? Anyway, I thought this would be a good time to explain a bit more about this site and how it came to exist.

A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, or as it is more generally referred to, London, I was a programmer in a multimedia software company. I was mostly working on touch screen information kiosks (which were a pretty new thing at the time) and we developed a fair number of these including medical information systems in kiosks installed in hospitals such as St. Thomas’ and Moorfields Eye Hospitals, a home furnishings system for M & S, interactive car selector for Daewoo and so on. I also worked a lot on web sites, and it is this that I really loved. An empty web page is like a blank canvas for an artist. You can make it display whatever you can imagine. Back in the day it took a lot of imagination and clever trickery to achieve pleasing effects—single pixel spacers and sliced up images, that sort of thing—but over the past couple of decades HTML and CSS have been refined to within an inch of their lives. These two are the “languages” that tell a web browser what to display and how to display it. The third big language in web-world is called Javascript. This is a proper programming language and is what really makes the fun and magic happen. For example, when you click on the “Craggie’s Blog” banner all the posts immediately collapse to form a list of headings. Click again and the posts are back! It’s not magic—it’s Javascript. I started programming when I got an Atari 800 in the 80s and I’ve been hooked ever since.

But all good things come to an end and circumstances conspired to send me off into the middle of nowhere to do things I didn’t really want to be doing. That’s just life. I won’t bore you with details but things got progressively more difficult. I’d been a fan of Katie’s since the beginning—I was still in London when she arrived on the scene—but it is only around the middle of the last decade, when I was having the toughest time, that she really became significant. Music has aways been the release from the trials of life for me but of all the hundreds of CDs and LPs (aka vinyl) I have from countless artists, for some reason it was only Katie’s voice that really got through to me during the toughest times. It seemed whenever I was floundering in deep water she’d be there throwing me a lifesaver (for American readers I’m referring to buoyancy rings and not small pieces of candy). When I was in darkness she would lead me to the light.

So, anyway, life changed again, as it has a habit of doing, and I found I had time for myself once more. I wanted to freshen and update my programming skills but there’s a lot of work involved in web sites and it needed to be a project I was passionate about to invest the effort. I’d seen a few fan sites for Katie and I wasn’t too impressed. The better ones seemed to be in places like France and Poland. I was mystified at the lack of a decent one here in the UK. But I found all of them quite frustrating because of the amount of ads and popups littered throughout them. Yes, web sites cost something to maintain but if you are a fan that is a hit you should take—it seemed to me some of these “fan sites” were so laden with clickbait they were little more than a revenue stream, a way of making money out of Katie’s name. I decided that if I was to do one it would have to be all about Katie rather than ads for sneakers and vacuum cleaners. And that’s how I got the name for the site.

Initially though, it was never intended for the general public. It was just my own little private project to combine two of my passions and it remained that way for some time. The site was pretty much as you see it now—except there was no blog. It was all more static—information about albums, videos, lyrics etc. Once I’d got it all how I wanted it there wasn’t much to do from day to day. But when I stood back to admire my work I remembered the lack of a UK fan site and I decided I really owed it to Katie to be sharing this with her fans. If I was to go live though it would need to be more dynamic. My first idea was to add a “News” section. It soon became apparent though that well-behaved artists like Katie aren’t deemed particularly newsworthy in the media, especially between albums, so it would be really difficult to find much to report on in any kind of regular fashion. Blogging, however, was becoming such a big thing. It seemed like everyone was at it. I’d struggle to blog about myself since I’m inherently dull but I could bang on about Katie until the cows came home (as opposed to banging on about cows until Katie came home). So I thought, right, I’ll stick a blog right on the front page of the site. Hardly anyone would read it anyway so what would it matter? And so this journey began and here we are a thousand entries later. I’ve always tried to stay true to the name and keep it all about Katie, or at least relevant to her in some way. Very occasionally it may not seem to be, but there is usually some connection, however tenuous, with every post. At the very least, I try to make it something that might be of interest to a Ketefan. It is a constant challenge to keep making regular posts. I try not to repeat myself but from time to time I do revisit old ground though hopefully with a fresh perspective. After all, life is ever changing and if you ask me to name my favourite 5 Katie songs every year then I doubt you’d get the same list twice. But I have to be quite creative at times, which is why there is a fair sprinkling of stuff and nonsense in here, but it keeps me on my toes and I hope some of it at least comes across as informative or entertaining. My aim is always that every time you visit the site there is something new to see. I can’t be doing with these sites where you click on “News” and the last entry was in 2016.

Sorry for such a verbal outpouring. I think it is safe to assume we’ll get the next thousand entries off to a simple start with a Katie bite tomorrow, perhaps one from where it all began.

Anyway, in the mean time I think it’s party time and that can only mean…

18.06.20   >   TBT: Katie, aged 2

katieat2

I find this pic of Katie utterly astonishing. Because…

a) she hasn’t changed. Well, she has, obviously, but you know what I mean. You can tell it is her. (At that age I looked like Tintin).

b) look at the pose—the same calm, assured posture she has now, and the same no-nonsense focus in her eyes.

c) look how she is holding that balalaika. She is fingering a ruddy chord for heaven’s sake. She is TWO.

Never in my life have I seen more compelling photographic evidence that some people are absolutely born to do what they do. (I still have no idea what I was born to do.) This is pretty much the Katie we saw performing for us from her living room last month. Imagine taking this photo of a little girl in Soviet Georgia and not for one second imagining that two decades later she would be the top selling female artist in the UK. Anything is possible. Consider my gob well and truly smacked.

17.06.20   >   Track Notes 97: Straight To DVD

Album:  

Writers:

Katie Melua & Mike Batt

Length:

2:57

Notes:

B-Sides is relentless. There are better songs on here than some artists write in their whole careers. "Straight to DVD " is a wonderful pop song—a great premise beautifully executed. It is funny, poignant, brutal and catchy as merry hell. I love the pre-shrunk pants off this track. That hardly anyone knows about it is criminal.

YouTube:

Nicely made photo montage video of this. It's low res cos it was made in 2007 but still good and only 13k views in 13 years tells you how under the radar this song has flown.
Straight To DVD

Lyrics:

Straight To DVD 

16.06.20   >   Katie's Playlist: For Leaves & Fields

A special playlist today—one curated by Katie herself! Here is her Instagram post...

Screenshot

And here is the link to load it in Spotify > For Leaves & Fields

It's an interesting list. If you are on Instagram you've probably already seen the post but I do urge you to let Katie know what you think of it. My favourites bookended the list—Sketches and In Doubt. That's because I'm an ambient instrumental junkie. I actually liked all the tracks but for me lyrics get in the way of my own thoughts when I'm walking. I don’t often even listen to Katie when I’m walking (more on that in an upcoming post), with the notable exception of listening to “In Winter”, when I’m walking in winter, because it absolutely nails the mood so much. I don’t mind the odd word or two though, when used for effect, such as in Photosynthesis by Carbon Based Lifeforms. Another piece I like walking to is We Travel by Marconi Union. I didn't know Sketches, but Daniel Lanois has collaborated with one of my favourites, the godfather of ambient himself, Brian Eno, on a few albums like "Apollo Atmospheres And Soundtracks" and "Thursday Afternoon" (rare, but an hour of ambient bliss, if you can find it anywhere).

Personally, this playlist would work better for me at home in an armchair on a dismal day, where I could close my eyes and lose myself in the music. When I'm walking in nature I usually don't listen to music at all because it disconnects you from the actual sound of your environment. I love to hear the rustling of the wind through the trees, the tinkling of running water and the magic of bird song—last week I heard my first cuckoo call for a long time and it made my heart sing—but if there were lots of people about, such as in a London park, then I'd be more inclined to use a playlist like this to drown out screeching kids and yapping dogs! I think what this list does show is what an amazing mind Katie has, talking of hearing the sound of ancient wood in guitars for example. That's thinking on a level most of us never dive to.

15.06.20   >   A Word on Mobile Friendliness

I'm aware that Google doesn't think this site is mobile-friendly. I just wanted to say something about that.

I understand that many people view web sites on their phones these days. It is something I rarely do unless I absolutely need some information and I have no other device available at the time. A site such as All About Katie is what I would call 'leisure browsing', or in other words a site you might only look at when you have some time to spare. I would expect most people to do leisure browsing on laptops or iPads whilst at home but nowadays many of you busy bees squeeze it in on your phones whilst on the train or in a café. That is your choice but the site was not designed for tiny screens. I have looked at the site on an iPhone, Samsung S8, iPad Mini, iPad and various Android tablets. I found the site fully usable on all tablet devices in both landscape and portrait orientations. On the smartphones a lot of the text was too small to read in portrait mode but I did find it readable in landscape mode on both phones. I also found that it is pretty easy to pinch-zoom on phone screens and navigating around with finger-flicking is also quick and intuitive. My conclusion was that if an old donkey like me can cope then younger people, who seem to have phone gestures embedded in their DNA now, will not have any problem navigating the site.

AAK is a one-man operation and redesigning the site to look a little bit friendlier on mobiles would be a monumental task which is why it ain't gonna happen. If you only look at the site on your phone and find it a frustrating experience then I do apologise but I've never had a complaint about it and I couldn't really give a gorilla's hair curlers if Google thinks I'm unfriendly. So, for the best experience use a computer or tablet and if you do browse on a phone then please try using it in landscape mode. And thank you for even visiting the site at all!

14.06.20   >   Lyric Card: Junk Mail

Junk Mail

13.06.20   >   Live Stream Concert for Red Cross Georgia

Those of you that are not on social media, I salute you! I also feel I should keep you informed of happenings in Katieworld. She has announced a live stream concert on YouTube on Saturday 27th June at 19:00. It is free to watch but the hope is that if you want to show your appreciation to Katie you will make a donation to the Red Cross Georgia. It is, of course, the country where Katie was born and the people are just the loveliest you will find anywhere so please consider going to Red Cross Georgia and regard making a donation as effectively buying a virtual ticket to see Katie on the 27th.

katie in concert

12.06.20   >   Katie Bite: The House

The House

11.06.20   >   Future Albums?

We know that a new studio album is coming our way fairly soon, but what is the outlook like after that for the next few years? Is it bleak? Will we have to wait until 2024? Well, that doesn’t have to be the case. Whilst Ultimate Collection and Live In Concert have used up the live album and ‘best of’ cards for a while there are still a few possibilities to keep hungry fans quiet until studio album 9. Here are some possibilities:

Katie Sings The Songbook, Vol. 1

An album of covers would be like taking candy from a baby for Katie. She could book a studio for a day and knock out a dozen standards with time to spare, though of course she would take as much time as it needed to get everything as good as it can be because that’s just who she is. But the material is all out there just waiting to be given her divine treatment: Always, As Time Goes By, September Song, Summertime, Blue Skies, Perfidia, Moon River and so on. The Great American Songbook is a very deep well. And you only have to listen to Katie’s versions of songs such as Stardust, Deep Purple, Blues In The Night and Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out to imagine how she’d apply her class to these classics. This would be a relatively easy way to get an album out in the autumn of 2021.

Rediscovered Treasure: Tracks from the Back of the Sofa

A collection of unused material could be packaged up for release in 2022, a decade after B-Sides. (Hopefully, this time, on CD and vinyl too.) That album was so packed full of gems that I have no doubt Katie is still sitting on a hatful of precious stones that have been gathering dust. I would certainly expect there to be a few songs that could have been candidates for In Winter but were considered to not quite fit the theme. I mean, does any artist just write ten songs and say “right, we’ve got an album, let’s go”?

Call Off The Search 20th Anniversary Edition

Surely this has to be a candidate for 2023? A re-mastered special edition of her debut album two decades on, or perhaps all new recordings, stripped back acoustic re-imaginings or backed by the GWC. Plenty of possibilities but a special landmark for any artist and it would be criminal to let it pass by unnoticed. It wouldn’t surprise me if Katie had plans already.

… And DVDs?

It’s been a while since we had a DVD release from Katie, and how we could have done with one or two more during lockdown. The two obvious candidates here are an In Winter Live DVD, with bonus docs on the making of In Winter, and also a collection of all her official videos to date.

So, has that got you drooling or what? I wouldn’t get too excited though since I’m rubbish at predictions and probably none of this will come to pass. Que sera, sera.

10.06.20   >   Track Notes 96: Junk Mail

Album:  

Writer:

Mike Batt

Length:

4:09

Notes:

Yet another lovely song about failed love from the seemingly bottomless songwriting pit of Mr Batt. It's beautifully observed—often when relationships end people expect to just move on but it's far more complicated than that and receiving junk mail for your ex is something you could be putting up with for years unless you move house yourself! As always, Katie puts so much feeling into her performance that you believe every word, even when she sings about lighting cigarettes (as hard as it is to imagine her having a drag of a fag). I ruddy love B-Sides...

YouTube:

Someone made a video for this by mashing up other bits of Katie video. It kind of works too. The picture quality isn't great but the sound is.
Junk Mail

Lyrics:

Junk Mail 

09.06.20   >   Seven Second Challenge 5

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 5


08.06.20   >   That blinking clock!

Some of you probably haven’t even noticed the little Katie clock in the left panel. Notice how she glances at the time every second? Am I the only one that thinks it is cool? […time passes silently…] So, that’s a yes then. Oh well, anyway, if you’re of the mind it would be splendid to have such a lovely timepiece feature more prominently on your virtual desktop then guess who’s gone and turned that dream into reality? That’s right. Just click on that blinking Katie pic and you’ll get a little pop-up window with a larger version of the Katie clock all on its own. Ain’t computers brilliant? Except, that is, if you have some kind of pop-up blocker enabled to spoil the party. But fear not, I have the paranoid among you covered too—if you click on the time itself it will load bigger Katie clock in a new browser tab instead. Much less useful but hey, that’s what you get for not living on the edge.

07.06.20   >   Lyric Card: Fancy

Fancy

06.06.20   >   Let Go!

You know that thing when you’re in lockdown and you’re a bit bored and the weather outside is rubbish and you’re still waiting for new music from Katie and you decide to hell with it that you’re going to make your own Katie Melua track? Yeah, that thing. I’m sure everyone can identify with that, can’t they?

So, here is a mash called “Let Go”. It is 97 seconds of mindfulness music so close your eyes, relax, and let Katie’s gentle picking let you float away to an inner oasis of tranquillity (I know, I should get a job writing ads for bath foam). And for those of you thinking that Craggie has finally lost it I’d like to point out that I don’t think I ever had it in the first place and if I want to listen to “Let Go” on repeat for a couple of hours then that is more or less exactly my business.

Oh, and I’m changing my name to “Obese Lad Thin”. Yeah, I know, I’m a nugget.

Let Go!

05.06.20   >   What's All This Then?

Now then, what’s our lovely lass up to now? Katie posted these images on Instagram the other day. Seems she’s been shooting a video but for what exactly? Guess we’ll have to wait until she stops teasing and starts telling. I’m not about to make a monkey of myself again by hazarding a wild guess but you’d think it is probably new-album related wouldn’t you? Then again, looking at those cross-hairs on her nose maybe it is an ad for Clearasil and they’re going to digitally add a massive zit in post-production. Fingers crossed for the former, eh?

katie on instagram 1
katie on instagram 2

"Heathcliff, it’s me, Katie…" perhaps a cover of Wuthering Heights?

katie on instagram 3

I could do with one of those stickers. I’m forever prodding my MacBook display after spending time on the iPad. How can Apple make the best tablets in the world yet not give their laptops touchscreens? (Spoiler: they could, easily, but they want mugs like me to buy both).

04.06.20   >   Ella Fitzgerald

I’d been wanting to write a piece about Ella for some time but in light of the current racial tensions in America I decided the time would never be better. Ella Fitzgerald, “the First Lady of Song”, was my mother’s favourite singer. Many consider her the greatest singer of all time. Oh, and she was black.

The current trending of the hashtag #blacklivesmatter shows just how far away human beings still are from being a ‘civilisation’. All lives matter. Equally. But black people in particular have borne the brunt of shocking and despicable behaviour because of their skin colour. Yet their contribution to music as we know it is incalculable. At a time when white America was giggling and jiggling to fluffy tunes with pointless lyrics—you know, “let’s sip champagne from a teacup, we’ll all have a jolly good time” type of thing—black America was singing the blues, giving heartfelt performances of music that stirred the soul and lyrics that meant something. It was the birth of real music. Some might argue that classical music is the real music but it depends on how you define ‘real’—I love classical music but it is somewhat artificial in that it is precisely crafted and constructed in a calculated manner rather than coming straight out of the heart and of course it doesn’t have lyrics (don’t you dare mention opera!). I grew up listening to the likes of Nat King Cole and Sammy Davis Jr, and I spent most of the 80s besotted with Tina Turner. Then, when Bruce came along, so did his loyal sidekick Clarence Clemons. The Big Man, built like a tree but with the heart of an orchid, whose saxophone could make the kind of sweet sounds that no inanimate object made from a lump of brass had any right to. Black lives have always mattered.

I recently named my five favourite artists and there was no place for Ella Fitzgerald despite her incredible voice. As I explained at the time, that list was based on what an artist’s songs had personally meant to me rather than being judged purely on vocal ability, which is why I had to reluctantly omit Karen Carpenter—and of course, Ella. For me, nothing beats the rich tone of Karen’s lower register, which has the warmth and character of an old valve radio (if you’ve never heard a valve amplifier I pity you), but it is hard to argue against Ella having the best voice all round. She could hit crystal clear highs with exquisite vibrato, she could wobble your woofers when she needed to, and she could do something extraordinary—she could turn her voice into a musical instrument. For a while, bop and scat were her thing, and she was setting the world on fire. She could match a trumpet improvisation note for note; indeed, in a battle she’d have won every time. Unusually for a woman, she would sweat profusely whilst performing—a clear indication of how her brain was working overtime orchestrating her vocal cords in a way no one had seen before. She was simply amazing.

But for many, Ella truly hit her stride when she was persuaded to shine her talents on the Great American Songbook. Basically, she ripped it up and redefined it. She recorded eight albums of Song Book sets, each focussing on the work of particular composers and lyricists. However, Ella didn’t just sing them, she interpreted them. At the end of the day, words can be just words. It is how you say them that gives them life. And Ella breathed precious life into every song she performed. Who knows where such ability comes from. Are you born with it? Is it shaped by your experience of life in your formative years? Perhaps a bit of both. Certainly, Ella had a troubled childhood. Her father took off before she knew him, her mother died after a car accident when Ella was fifteen, and not long after that she went to live with her aunt. There was speculation that her stepfather had been abusing her. She spent time in an orphan asylum and may even have lived rough on the streets of Harlem for a time. Until she got her break, Ella had definitely found life hard. And in singing she used every drop of that experience to tell you her story. Don’t ever think her singing was effortless—it was quite the opposite, she put everything she had in to every song.

Her love life played second fiddle to her singing. She had two short-lived marriages, and some accounts talk of a third secret marriage to a Norwegian fan that was also short-lived when the chap in question was put away for theft. But it wasn’t that she was unlucky in love, just that she loved her music and it always came first. Even into her 70s she was touring for up to 45 weeks a year.

It is also worth noting that her celebrity status offered little protection against racial discrimination. Even at the height of her fame she was being requested to use rear entrances and turned away from certain establishments. She was only allowed to perform at the Mocambo night club in Hollywood after Marilyn Monroe famously threatened to ruin the place, and there was also an incident where she was refused a flight to Australia and was stranded in Honolulu for three days (without her luggage, which had already boarded the plane). Ella won a civil lawsuit against Pan-Am Airlines for racial discrimination and received a “nice settlement” but it staggers belief it ever happened just as in 2020 it staggers belief that so little has changed. We live in hope that some day it will, but for now I simply raise a toast to Lady Ella, Queen of Jazz, First Lady of Song.

03.06.20   >   Seven Second Challenge 4

I just want to say, if you're getting any of these right then well done you! They are harder then they look. I mean sound.

Seven second challenge: intro 4


02.06.20   >   #blackouttuesday

It’s hard to find words. It’s 2020. We are in the middle of a global pandemic. And still racism continues to be a thing. It has been a thing all my life. A thing that I have never, ever understood. I simply cannot get my brain around why anyone would have a problem with skin colour. It is simply ludicrous. I remember seeing the first interracial kiss on television between Kirk and Uhuru on Star Trek. It was controversial and caused a big hoo-ha, though thankfully there was no social media in those days—I can only imagine what might have happened today. I couldn’t see what the fuss was about at all. Uhuru was stunning, I mean, who wouldn’t want to kiss her? I’ve had black friends. I’ve had Indian friends. I’ve had Chinese friends. I’ve had a Japanese girlfriend. They were all wonderful people and it would never have occurred to me to question any of their characters based on their skin colour. In fact, Aki, my Japanese girlfriend, had pretty much the same skin tone to me but racists wouldn’t have seen it that way. It is unfathomable. I don’t know if it is born of fear, of ignorance, of sheer stupidity or what. All I know is I long for the day when it is no longer a thing. I don’t know if it will happen in my lifetime but I truly hope so. Today feels like something of a watershed with the widespread social media campaign using the hashtags #blackouttuesday and #theshowmustbepaused. I don’t know how much difference they will make because at the end of the day the kind of people that post, like and retweet these hashtags are the kind of decent, normal human beings that are not a part of the problem. Getting through to the racists is no trivial matter. It is so deeply ingrained in these people that social media campaigns are unlikely to change them. To be honest, I don’t really believe people of that mindset can be changed—perhaps the odd one here and there could be with a lot of effort but in general I think those people are lost. Where the battle can really be won is in schools. Education is the way forward. Make sure children understand that racism is unacceptable and create a generation that simply will not tolerate it. Just as children are now leading the way with the fight against climate change, they are the future. I hope we are at the dawn of a wondrous era when people finally start to accept each other for who they are and live in peace and harmony. I’ll believe it when I see it but I believe one day I’ll see it.

01.06.20   >   Track Notes 95: Fancy

Album:  

Writer

Bobbie Gentry

Length:

5:08

Notes:

Bobbie Gentry's 1969 feminist statement is a lyrical tour-de-force and gives Katie a good vocal dexterity workout in her live version (there isn't a studio recording as far as we know). The song was an even bigger hit for Reba McEntire in 1990. It would have been interesting to see how it fared had Katie released a single of it. No matter. What we have here is yet another treasure from the sparkling cave of B-Sides. One line that tickles me is the one about Fancy owning a "Georgian mansion" — this could have meant either the Georgian period or the state of Georgia but naturally, with it being Katie, I imagine a grand house in Tbilisi!

YouTube:

Nice little vid from the North Sea Jazz Festival back whenever complete with legendary drummer Henry Spinetti and Katie's guitar tutor Justin Sandercoe (adding some dubious falsetto backing vocals). By 'eck, Katie had some swagger about her in them days; she's rather more demure now 😄
Fancy (live).
Here's a slightly better quality one from an AVO Session
Fancy (live AVO Session).

Lyrics:

Fancy 

31.05.20   >   Katie Bite: Forgetting All My Troubles

forgetting all my troubles

30.05.20   >   Artists4NHS - Scarborough Fair

Katie has recorded a performance of “Scarborough Fair” in support of Artists4NHS. And it is just one of the most magical ways to spend a few minutes that I could ever conceive of.

Remember that feeling as a child of your Mum singing you a lullaby and everything being okay with the world? That’s the same feeling that Katie gives you as a grownup. I know I sound like a broken record, forever banging on about Katie and her guitar being all you need but it is a point I will never tire of making. Whilst I don’t dislike a single track she’s ever done, Secret Symphony is my least favourite album and I suspect that may be because of the orchestral backing—there’s too much going on vying for your attention. It’s a bit like a teacher asking a question and hoping her pet student will answer but a sea of hands go up with a chorus of “Miss, Miss!” Katie has the ability to convey all kinds of subtle nuance and emotion with her passionate and studied interpretations but some of that can get lost when she’s surrounded by backing musicians. Of course, she may love playing with other musicians, which is perfectly understandable, I’m merely pointing out that from a listener’s perspective they can sometimes take away more than they add. But if you ever wanted to hear proof of what I’m saying then this rendition of Scarborough Fair will do the job nicely. Let her voice envelop you like a comfort blanket as she takes you back in time to a simpler world that seems so attractive to us compared to the manic one we are in. Her picking, as always, is beautifully done and the perfect gentle accompaniment to the effortless ability her voice has to make you feel better about the world.

artists for NHS
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFMh3RbM708&feature=youtu.be

29.05.20   >   Lyric Card: Cry Baby Cry

cry baby cry

28.05.20   >   Seven Second Challenge 3

I'm liking these. Some are going to be easy. Some are going to be fiendishly hard.

Seven second challenge: intro 3


27.05.20   >   Wonderful Life Original Mix

wonderful life

Right, here’s one for the completists among you. There’s a “mix” of “Wonderful Life” available on iTunes. Okay, I’ll try not to get grumpy. Now, I don’t dance. I don’t mean I’m uncompromising—I mean I actually don’t dance. I’m not a Dad but if I did dance I’d Dad dance. I’d look like C3-P0 having a seizure. I don’t even know if the music they play in clubs is called “dance” any more; for all I now it may now be referred to as “garage bungalow trip kitchen hop” or something. But the point of all this is that someone has seen fit to nail an 80s drum machine all over Katie’s beautiful cover so that instead of old music lovers enjoying it for themselves now young things can jiggle their bodies inappropriately in front of each other, possibly with the hope of it ending with a bit of a frolic behind the bins out back. It certainly is a wonderful life when you’re not young any more. Look, I know I’m an old fart and all, but seriously, Katie’s version of “Wonderful Life” is divine, better than the original, and this kind of thing is of little use to me. And frankly, I’m not sure young clubby people are going to find Katie “cool” enough to dance to. (They’ll “discover” her later in life when they mature and start to appreciate proper music). So I think it’s fair to say oddities like this are a bit niche. Fair play to whoever “Mentol” is for appreciating Katie’s music enough to work with it (and by work I mean massacre it) but I’ll just go and feed the tomatoes and wait for Katie’s new album instead. Each to their own, eh?

26.05.20   >   Katie Bite: Bridge Over Troubled Water

bridge over troubled water

25.05.20   >   Track Notes 94: Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds

Album:  

Writer

John Lennon

Length:

3:46

Notes:

Katie Beatles covers are like buses, you know, two coming along at once and all that. So, hot on the heels of "Cry Baby Cry" we have "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds". There are two versions to tickle your fancy: on "B-Sides" there is a live version and on the bonus edition of "Piece By Piece" there is an acoustic version. I can't decide which is best so I let them fight.

Now I've talked about this song in the past but I feel I need to repeat myself here since these are the track notes after all. Many people considered this song to be about being on drugs, taking the letters L, S and D from the title as a massive clue. John Lennon always denied this. Paul McCartney, whilst not confirming it, seems happy to be ambiguous and maintain the air of mystique about the song. Lennon said he wrote it after seeing a painting his son Julian brought home from school, which he'd called "Lucy, in the sky, with diamonds", after a girl in his class called, funnily enough, Lucy. He added that the trippy hippy lyrics were inspired by Lewis Carroll and all that Alice in Wonderland giant rabbit stuff. You know, the kind of weirdness you might see if you were on drugs. If you ask me (and I'm pretty sure you haven't) it's about all of the above. A mind like Lennon's would have picked out the LSD from Julian's words straight away. After all, it was a drug not unknown to the Beatles. He would have seen it as a perfect opportunity to write a song about drugs and pass it off as a child's wild imaginings. So that's what he did. And he got away with it. All he had to do was deny the drugs reference and nobody could prove otherwise. Clever lad.

Elton John had a massive hit with his version in the early seventies, no doubt equally tickled to get away with covering a song about drugs. But of course, we are casting no such aspersions on our Katie—her version is purely to celebrate those wonderful Lennon lyrics.

YouTube:

Ooh, we actually have some choice of YouTube vids with this one. How about a tv appearance introduced by Sharon Osbourne?
Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds (live).
This one is my favourite though...
Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds [acoustic].

Lyrics:

Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds 

24.05.20   >   Seven Second Challenge 2

Here's another seven second challenge for you (hope you're still not stuck on the first one!) — click the button when you are ready to confirm you know which Katie song this intro is from. If you get it wrong feel free to slink off and self-flagellate in the woods.

Seven second challenge: intro 2


23.05.20   >   Rough And Rowdy Ways

Whilst you patiently wait

for Katie number eight

something you may find fine

is Dylan number thirty-nine...

rough and rowdy ways

That's right, the astonishing human being that is Bob Dylan (if he'd been English he'd be Sir Bob Dylan) is about to release another album of new material now he's in his seventies. Studio album 39, aka "Rough And Rowdy Ways" will be with us in June and will definitely help pass the time until Katie's eighth album arrives. To put that in perspective, even after her new album is out, Katie will be 31 behind His Royal Bobness. "In Winter" was four years ago—if she released a new album every four years it would take 124 years to catch up Bob, by which time she'd be in her 150's. Even the most optimistic fan might not expect that to happen. And that's assuming Bob is done, which is certainly not an assumption I'm about to make. Most artists will tell you for every song they release they have a hatful that don't see the light of the day. Springsteen once said he wrote a song every day so even when he was releasing an album every two years we were only getting 10 tracks out of around 730! I can only dream about the size of Bob's pile of discards. And I do dream about what Katie has stashed away. The thing is, these artists have integrity and won't release songs they deem not to be good enough. Whilst that is undoubtedly a noble attitude it is completely at odds with the insatiable appetite of fans, who will take anything. For example, if Katie announced an album of her singing various takeaway menus I'd be pre-ordering the limited edition pizza-image vinyl instantly. Now, I know I may be a spectacular idiot but I don't think I'd be alone in that.

Anyway, "Rough And Rowdy Ways" currently has three tracks available to download on iTunes and probably other streamy sites too: "I Contain Multitudes, "False Prophet" and the 17-minute masterpiece "Murder Most Foul". That's almost half an hour of music you can listen to right now. If you're not a fan of Bob then my commiserations, otherwise be gone from here and fill yer boots.

22.05.20   >   Katie Bite: What I Miss About You

what I miss about you

21.05.20   >   New Album a WIP...

Patience everyone! A few fans on social media have been baying for news of Katie’s much-anticipated new album but now is not the time to put pressure on her. According to BMG president Alistair Norbury she has finished recording and is mixing it remotely for release later in the year. Let’s leave her to do her job—she’ll announce it when it is ready to be announced.

It is worth reminding you that her tour begins late September (or at least we hope it does 🤞) and she’d probably like to have shiny new CDs on the merchandise stand so a mid-September release could be on the cards. However, this has been a mad year and many carefully laid plans have had to be redrawn so you shouldn’t be too surprised if the album launch gets pushed back a bit. Even if the recording is done there is still plenty left to do before you can hold it in your mitts. As for the exact release date, well BMG will want a say in that—no doubt they will determine a “window of opportunity”, which is to say if Madonna and Kate Bush suddenly put out new albums at the same time they won’t want Katie’s to slip under the media radar by coming out amidst that battle; they’d rather wait for a lull in releases so that Katie can get the full attention of the music press. It’s a business folks. But however it all pans out we’re not going to have to wait too much longer so, like I said, patience everyone!

20.05.20   >   Lyric Card: Pictures On A Video Screen

Pictures On A Video Screen

19.05.20   >   Seven Second Challenge 1

Here's something new for you to chew. How well do you know your Katie Melua songs then? Let's put it to the test with my seven second challenge. Click the play icon below to hear the first seven seconds of a Katie track. All you gotta do is name it! There's no time limit and definitely no prizes so don't bother cheating—you are only testing yourself. If you give up, or merely want to confirm your brilliance, click the "Show Me The Answer" button to reveal the mystery song.

Seven second challenge: intro 1


18.05.20   >   Pay It Forward

If Katie has been helping you through the lockdown, in particular with her fabulous sofa sessions, then perhaps you might wish to pay it forward a little and donate to one of the charities that she has supported in recent times:

Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy:

nordoff-robbins.org.uk/donate/

Hope And Homes For Children:

donate.hopeandhomes.org/give/?content=appeal

17.05.20   >   Track Notes 93: Cry Baby Cry

Album:  

Writer

John Lennon

Length:

2:22

Notes:

A little gem by John Lennon that was tucked away somewhere in the depths of The Beatles "White Album". In the context of a classic Beatles album it's a song that tends to slip under the radar and not get much attention. But nobody can polish a precious stone like Katie and she makes this one sparkle with a little of her Hermione magic. Tunicus sparkolorum!

The lyrics were in part inspired by an old English nursery rhyme called "Sing A Song Of Sixpence". Katie's version was part of the 2006 maxi-single of "Spider's Web".

YouTube:

Audio only again I'm afraid. Look, there's not much I can do about it, at least you get to hear this gorgeous cover.
Cry Baby Cry.

Lyrics:

Cry Baby Cry 

16.05.20   >   Sketch Effect

sketch

15.05.20   >   Five Fabulous Females

Who are your favourite singers? It’s not an easy question to answer is it. If you could only pick one it might be easier, at least it would be in my case—that much should be obvious. But if you had to name, say five, then it gets much tougher. Who to include, who to leave out? Of course, it is a fairly pointless exercise because (a) it always changes over time and (b) no one else cares. But in these long days of lockdown it is a way to waste away a few more minutes.

When I started to think about this my first thought was what is it that makes a particular singer a favourite? How many of their albums I have? How long I’ve been a fan? How many times I’ve seen them live? No, for me, none of the above. I decided to base it on what their songs meant to me. This is a different thing than saying who I think have the best voices, which is why I have had to leave out my favourite voice of all time, Karen Carpenter. The Carpenters made some lovely music but it didn’t change my life. By the time of her tragic death, Karen had started on a solo career and I often wonder what treasures we might otherwise have had. Her cover of “Solitaire” shows what she could do with a good song and I can imagine she’d have smashed standards like “Stardust” and “Summertime”. But every now and then a singer has come along that has had a profound impact on me in some way and changed the way I thought about music. As you may have got from the title, they are all women. If I’d made this a top ten it would probably still be all women. I don’t know why, women’s voices just connect with me on a deeper level than men’s. Go figure. It is what it is.

5. Suzanne Vega

I wrote about Suzanne just the other day. I discovered her whilst I was at Uni and she changed everything. For the first time, I began to really listen to lyrics and let them form stories in my mind. Before, it had always been about the melody and/or guitar solos. Songs such as “Marlene On The Wall”, “Luka”, and “The Queen And The Soldier” opened my eyes to a new world. It was storytelling set to music.

4. Enya

I was already a fan of Clannad when Enya, youngest of the clan, left to go solo and become a superstar. She was often classified as ’New Age’ but that was lazy and simply inaccurate. She was a genre all of her own. Her albums would contain a few instrumental tracks as well as songs sung in English, Irish, Latin or even the made up language ‘Loxian’. Her music is calming and soothing, perfect for keeping your blood pressure down whilst driving in traffic. She doesn’t take risks—she found a formula that works and has stuck to it ever since. If you like her music that’s great, otherwise move along because she isn’t going to change now. Luckily, I loved her music.

3. Moya Brennan

Sometimes described as ‘The Voice of Clannad’, which is accurate but sells short her wonderful solo career a bit. Enya’s older sister, Moya has a similar ethereal quality to her voice but while Enya’s is crystal clear, Moya’s is huskier and more mystical. It is that haunting, otherworldly sound that so defined Clannad and gave them a hit album with “Legend”, music they created for the television series “Robin of Sherwood”. Although distinctly Irish it was music that fitted the Robin Hood legend like a glove. The marketing machine was quick to pounce on all this and Moya is often portrayed, for Clannad at least, strolling through misty landscapes in a black robe looking like she doesn’t know what planet she’s on. (That may just have been because she was known to partake of the odd dodgy substance). But I’ve always been a fan of mist and the mystical and Moya’s voice has enchanted me for more than three decades.

2. Eva Cassidy

Like Karen, you wonder what treasures we were denied when Eva was also taken from us in her thirties. Even so, she left behind treasure beyond compare. It is Eva that made me appreciate that a song is about more than just music and lyrics, it is about interpretation. I stumbled upon her whilst watching an episode of teen Superman nonsense “Smallville”. Her version of “Time After Time” raised the show to a new level, not to mention the song itself. Before Eva I’d always grumpily stuck to the adage that the original is best. Eva changed all that, and kindly passed on the baton to her natural successor. Talking of which...

1. Katie Melua

Obviously. Imagine someone that could encapsulate all the best bits of the names I’ve mentioned so far. Personally, I don’t need to imagine. I just play one of her albums.


14.05.20   >   Katie Bite: Crawling Up A Hill

crawling up a hill

13.05.20   >   Track Notes 92: Pictures On A Video Screen

Album:  

Writer

Mike Batt

Length:

4:13

Notes:

Mike Batt has probably written more great songs that no one has heard of than most artists would have on their "Best of" albums. This is another little gem found amongst the cobwebs and dusted off for "B-Sides". The combination of Mike's great writing and Katie's flawless interpretation never fails and this is another example. If this were an Ed Sheeran song everyone would be raving about. I guess that's just how the cookie crumbles. Anyway, I love it. I wish "B-Sides" had been released on CD but I'll be forever grateful it was released at all because it is packed with gold nuggets and I love it to bits.

YouTube:

No video or live performance of this unfortunately, nor even a slideshow, just an audio only offering, but that's better than nothing if you haven't downloaded "B-Sides", though frankly, if you haven't downloaded "B-Sides" then you and I need to talk.
Pictures On A Video Screen.

Lyrics:

Pictures On A Video Screen 

12.05.20   >   Lyric Card: Market Day In Guernica

market day in guernica

11.05.20   >   Suzanne Vega

or How I Learned To Love Singer-Songwriters

It seems hard to imagine nowadays but there was actually life before Katie! I find it useful to go by the universally unused Ketevan calendar, which began in 2003 with the release of Call Off The Search. We are now in the year 18AD (album debut) but I want to take you back to the year 18BK (before Katie), 1985.

The significance of that year is that it is when I had a musical epiphany that paved the way for me to appreciate Katie so much all those years later. In short, I discovered that a woman could write songs just as good if not better than men. I should just say that I was already aware that women wrote songs—I was a huge Kate Bush fan by that time—but basically I was brought up on rock. Zeppelin, Queen, Floyd, Deep Purple, Springsteen, Dire Straits, and my hero Nils Lofgren. To me lyrics were just words; it was all about guitars and drums. But in 1985 a young lady from California came along with her acoustic guitar and clear folky voice and changed everything. Suzanne Vega put singer-songwriters on my radar. Suddenly songs were all about the lyrics. Suzanne sang poems and stories, she created images in my mind, she painted pictures, she made movies. All set to gentle, melodic guitar accompaniment. Of course, she wasn’t the first to do that—I’d loved Don McLean singing “Vincent” in the early 70s and Dylan had been doing it since before I was born—but Vega was the one that flicked the switch in my brain that made me realise I needed this kind of music in my life. She opened the secret door to the pathway that ultimately led me to Katie.

Weirdly, Vega has been labelled “The Mother of MP3”. This came about because a 1990 remix of her song “Tom’s Diner” was used as a test track during the development of the MP3 format. Who knew. She can write a catchy tune all right—such as her hits “Luka” and “Marlene On The Wall”—but it has always been her lyrics that have blown me away. And perhaps my favourite example is “The Queen And The Soldier”.

The Queen And The Soldier

This stunning song is one of my favourite lyrics ever. In under five minutes Suzanne reads me an entire novel. I see the whole story in my mind, I identify with both characters and sympathise with both of them and it breaks my heart every single time. Quite simply, “The Queen and the Soldier” is a masterpiece. If you don’t know it then check out this live performance.

suzanne vega on youtube

I’ve written to Santa asking for a Katie Melua cover of this but I think it may be out of his hands and I’ll probably have to settle for another tub of Quality Street instead. Anyway, thank you Suzanne for showing me the wonder of singer-songwriters—a young lady from Georgia may have stolen your glittering crown but you will always be the Queen of Words.

10.05.20   >   Katie Bite: A Moment Of Madness

a moment of madness

09.05.20   >   Katie performs live for The Takeover Festival

Another Friday night, another live lockdown set from Katie and Zurab. Last night they "headlined" The Takeover Festival by Bose for the Nordoff Robbins music therapy charity, performing live on the @RightChordMusic Facebook page.

Facebook Live is always a worry for technical quality but it managed to hold it together on this occasion and though the image quality wasn't quite as good as YouTube it was at least free of glitches and the audio was decent enough. Katie is too much of a pro to let any shoddiness creep in at her end so the image framing and sound levels were spot on—none of the robot-in-a-water-butt effects we're used to with the press questions on the daily Downing Street updates. Of course, she's done this a few times now so it's a well-oiled process.

katie and zurab

I've wisely learned to stop predicting her set lists and this was another time where I'd have lost my deposit, though the basic formula was similar to the LCKDWN gig—starting from "In Winter", dipping into her back catalogue, throwing in a classic cover and then winding up with new stuff. It's a good balance and makes for a pleasing mini-gig.

This time she opened with “Dreams On Fire” and then one of the fan favourites from "Ketevan", "Where Does The Ocean Go?", the kind of song that sounds like it was actually meant to be performed at home on the sofa with the occasional wistful glance out of the window. Naturally, it was immaculately delivered. Look, it's probably easier if you just take it as read that Katie's performances are always amazing and that way I can save some typing and spare Katie's blushes into the bargain. If ever she's rubbish I'll tell you, but I wouldn't let your coffee go cold (and in any case, I'm not sure I really would tell you).

Next up was "Piece Of My Heart", made famous by Janis Joplin but originally recorded by Erma Franklin, Aretha's older sister. Katie's version? I refer you to the previous paragraph regarding her performances. And for the final two songs, Katie threw her guitar aside (I may be exaggerating a little) and let Zurab do the string work while she treated us to the current material "No Better Magic" and "Maybe I Dreamt It". These two songs have already shown that the album "Ultimate Collection" will continue to be increasingly inaccurately named.

I have to say, Facebook felt unusually muted. The comment stream was far more subdued than it was for the YouTube gig a couple of weeks ago, which was rather surprising since FB is usually so manic in that respect. I wonder if there are a combination of reasons why that might be. Timing may be one—9pm GMT makes it a little late for much of Europe yet mid-afternoon for the Americas, though in lockdown of course people are neither working nor clubbing so that shouldn't be an excuse. Another reason might be that a lot of Katie's fans are elderly and hence would have been likely to be attracted to the BBC's offerings celebrating the 75th anniversary of VE Day. If that's the case then fair play to them. But when Katie sang "there's no better magic than this" I found myself nodding in agreement. As Gandalf said, all we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us...

All too soon it was over. But it's always a good sign when it passes so quickly, it means ya had a real good time. Gotta say, I'm loving these K & Z sibling sofa sessions.

08.05.20   >   VE Day 75th Anniversary

Today marks the 75th Anniversary of VE Day. Obviously, with the current situation, many of the planned celebrations are now not possible. But we can at least look back fifteen years to the 60th Anniversary concert in Trafalgar Square during which a fresh-faced young Katie went all Dame Very Lynn and performed “The White Cliffs Of Dover” as well as my favourite, “Stardust”. It's strange to think of a 20-year-old Katie performing in front of a sardine-packed Trafalgar Square when tonight, so many years later, she'll be performing from her living room and Trafalgar Square will be deserted. But that's life. It is weird and wonderful and highly unpredictable and all we can do is just get on with it. The 75th Anniversary of VE Day was always going to be a special day but even though gatherings are cancelled the event itself carries more poignancy and feeling than ever before because a nation trapped in lockdown can now identify with how their counterparts 75 years ago must have felt being released from the terrible grip of war. Of course, we won't get the same blanket release from our "war" as we'll be eased out of lockdown in stages and therefore there won't be any particular date that we can celebrate our victory over coronavirus on but I feel certain that VE Day will remain in our hearts for some time and perhaps it will be a day when we think about our own triumph over adversity. Our battle is not won yet but today serves as a great reminder that even the darkest of hours eventually tick away and the sun is always there waiting to shine on us when we scramble out of our gloom. Keep going everyone, we're nearly there. And enjoy this beautiful performance from Katie. It still staggers me how composed and professional she was at that tender age. The shoes of Dame Vera Lynn were pretty big ones to fill but I can think of no one who could have done it better.

katie on you tube

07.05.20   >   Katie Bite: Bridge Over Troubled Water

bridge over troubled water

06.05.20   >   Vibrato

Vibrato is the effect whereby the pitch of a note “wobbles” rapidly either side of where it should be. This sounds like it might be a bad thing but it can sound pleasant to the human ear and so has been used extensively by singers down the years to add embellishment to their vocal performances. Ella Fitzgerald was a great vibrato singer, as are the likes of Shirley Bassey and Barbra Streisand. Before the 1950s it was widely used by jazz singers but nowadays much less so. Folk singers use it sparingly. Pop singers still use it, notable examples being Leona Lewis and Whitney Houston.

But what about Katie? The interesting thing is that she often used vibrato during the Dramatico years but hardly uses it all nowadays. Is that a deliberate decision or just how it is? Was it Mike Batt’s preference for her to use it? Does the quieter singing of In Winter not suit vibrato? I can’t answer the first two questions but I think the third is probably a yes. Singing clean, or without vibrato, definitely suits the style of In Winter. The crisp, clear notes match the wintry feel perfectly. It may just be that vibrato is harder to achieve when singing quietly. I wouldn’t know—I have a voice like a duck with sinus problems so I can’t test the theory. I’m not saying vibrato is a bad thing—I was a big fan of Belinda Carlisle in the 80s. I love Katie’s voice whether or not she uses it but if I had a preference I would lean towards clean singing. I prefer her voice today than to when she started; I’m not sure if that’s down to less vibrato or her voice getting deeper or what exactly. I think I’ve said before that when she has to go loud to avoid being swamped by a backing band it isn’t really her strength but it needn’t matter. Look at her version of “Diamonds Are Forever” for example—she was never going to out-Bassey the Bassey so she smartly played it to her own strengths and for my money created a much better version. All I know is that nowadays whenever she sings it is always sublime.

You might think it is technically more difficult to sing with vibrato but actually the reverse is true. Many singers find it comes naturally to them and even if it doesn’t it can be learned. But clean singing demands that you are constantly in tune. With vibrato, the note you are singing only needs to be in the pitch ballpark and the up and down variation gives you the wriggle room to get away with it but without it there is nowhere to hide—you are either in tune or you’re not and most human ears can soon tell if you’re not. (An interesting aside is that vibrato is the kind of thing that Autotune software will try to correct in its tireless quest for pitch perfection. I can’t help feeling that if Ella Fitzgerald had been around today she’d have told sound engineers exactly where they could stick Autotune.) With a complex melody you need to be a good singer to nail every note. In Katie’s case she is concentrating on playing guitar at the same time so it’s a doubly difficult ask. Yet when you listen to In Winter you get the feeling she could do it in her sleep. It’ll be interesting to hear the new album and see if the vibrato is still used sparingly. I know I’ll love it either way—what’s important is to accept the music the way the artist intended it and that’s exactly what I’ll do.

05.05.20   >   Lyric Card: Stardust

stardust

04.05.20   >   The Shadows

As album covers go, I’ll admit, it’s a bit rubbish. But I still love it because I know the vinyl disc within will transport me to a special place. I’ve loved this album for as long as I can remember. Great. But why am I mentioning it here? After all, an instrumental band from the 60s can’t have any connection with Katie at all. Go on, challenge me to name three…

Well, since you so kindly ask, it would be rude not to try. For a start, both Katie and The Shadows have had a popular song beginning with “Wonderful L” (Land and Life). Okay, that’s weak. How about this—Hank Marvin has recorded a version of "Nine Million Bicycles"! Ha! Didn’t see that one coming did ya? That’s probably as good as it gets so I’m back to weak links again. Queen guitarist Brian May has cited Marvin as one of his earliest musical influences, and he has actually managed to play with him. And Katie has played with Brian May. Boom! To be fair, that's a pretty decent link imho. (If any of you are struggling to accept that Katie has been an honorary member of Queen and are accusing me of fan-fantasy then deal with it—it happened in George, South Africa, on 19th March 2005; she has had an extraordinary life. She has done things you people would not believe—she’s seen attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion… no, hang on that really is fan-fantasy I’m afraid). So there you go then. You should believe in the interconnectedness of all things, for in one way or another all things truly are connected.

03.05.20   >   Don McLean Guitar Masterclass

If you have half a century of experience playing acoustic guitars then what a lovely thing it is to share a few tips and insights with beginners looking to move to the next level. That is exactly what the legend Don McLean does in this lovely video. He packs a lot in but in a clear and simple manner and though not everything may suit the way you want to play what it really does is open your mind to the idea of just how many subtle ways there are to give your playing added dimensions. It also shows that there is always something new you can learn. There’s a nice moment where he struggles with a technique himself and rather than cut it from the video it has been left in to show you that even in your 70s you still need to practice!

02.05.20   >   Track Notes 91: Market Day In Guernica

Album:  

Writer

Mike Batt

Length:

4:02

Notes:

For a bloke best known for songs about Wombles, Mike certainly knew how to tug at the old heartstrings. "Bright Eyes", "Caravan Song" and "I Will Be There" to name but three examples of his something-in-my-eye songs. "Market Day In Guernica" is right up there with his best. The Spanish town of Guernica was the site of an early bombing raid by the Nazis on April 26, 1937. The day was deliberately chosen as market day to maximise casualties, and 1654 civilians were killed in an unthinkable act of callous brutality. Mike's beautiful song captures the event poignantly simply through the eyes of a single family that lost a loved one in the tragedy. It is devastatingly effective and if it doesn't make you rage against every violent human being that ever lived then you and I might struggle to get on. It saddens me that this gorgeous, important song got tucked away on "B-Sides" and hence remains unheard by the majority of the general public. This is one track that should never have been allowed to get away. I hope maybe one day Katie might re-record the song and put it on an acoustic album for all the world to hear though the chances of that are slim to none. But it is one of several reasons why every Ketefan should have "B-Sides" in their download collection.

YouTube:

No video or live performance of this that I can find so another one of those photo-slideshow type efforts. Better than nothing, and some nice shots in there. Market Day In Guernica.

Lyrics:

Market Day In Guernica 

01.05.20   >   Melua Marathon Playlist

There's been lots of talk recently of people doing marathon-equivalent things at home during lockdown. Now let's get one thing straight: I have exactly zero intention of running around my garden 4736 times. But if I did try running 26 miles these days I reckon it would take me the best part of 5 hours (either that or I'd drop dead). So I'd need a pretty long playlist for my earbuds and it would need to be someone whose voice would spur me on every inch of the way. Any ideas? Doh! Who'dya think!

Now it just so happens that Katie's studio albums to date consist of 80 songs that add up to 4 hours 50 minutes of listening time. Perfect! So, at the starting gun I'd press play and get "Call Off The Search" playing and let Katie sing to me from 2003 to 2016 and see if I could cross the finish line before she got to the end of "O Holy Night". I have tried this playlist out to make sure it is fit for purpose and I have to say that if anything could get me to run a marathon it would be Katie's voice in my head. (I have run a half marathon but that was a million years ago.) I should add that there wasn't much running involved during the trial, and by much I do of course mean none whatsoever. But I did listen to every second of the 4 hours and 50 minutes. And unlike running, it was clear I could never tire of listening to Katie's voice.

The studio albums:

Call Off The Search
Piece By Piece
Pictures
The House
Secret Symphony
Ketevan
In Winter

studio albums


archives

2020

April 2020 archive

March 2020 archive

February 2020 archive

January 2020 archive


2019

December 2019 archive

November 2019 archive

October 2019 archive

September 2019 archive

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July 2019 archive

June 2019 archive

May 2019 archive

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