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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

👉🏻 Review: Album No. 8

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


27.11.20   >   This is just too good...

26.11.20   >   It's In Winter time again!

its in winter time
There's frost on the car
and a nip in the air
it’s feeling brass monkeys
but I don’t really care
dance on the rooftops
let the bells chime
for it’s that time of year—
we’re In Winter time!

26.11.20   >   Albums You May Have Missed Gets Own Page!

I mean, am I actually Santa in disguise or something? AAK, the gift that keeps on giving! Albums You May Have Missed, my highly ignored series of sporadic music recommendations, now has its very own page on the site. Shut up! I know. How on earth do I do it? (Boredom, probably.)
Is there a reason for this momentous happenstance? Well, I just thought that if you happened to stumble across one of these intermittent entries and like the idea of it and wonder what other albums I have suggested then you no longer have to go trawling through the archives to find them because they are all conveniently listed in one clutter-free space! Better still, they are stripped of my inane ramblings so you can just head straight to the music. That said, if you are partial to my inane ramblings seek help you can click on the album cover to jump straight to the original blog entry no matter where it may be hiding in the archives. Go on, admit it, I'm good, aren't I?
So, where is this revolutionary member of the AAK family hiding, I hear you cry. Well, don't cry, I'll tell you. If you click on "Miscellany" in the menu panel to the lift you will find a link to the new page right there at the top. And because I know you'll be impatient to hot foot it there you can do so by merely clicking this little screenshot below. It's all magic is it not?

new page!

25.11.20   >   Track Notes 112: Bridge Over Troubled Water

Album:  

 

Writer:

Paul Simon

Length:

3:14

Notes:

Without doubt one of the greatest songs ever written. The only way you won't know this song is if you've been living in a cave in outer Mongolia doing needlepoint for the past fifty years. Even then, there's a chance you've heard a passing eagle humming it. For those that feel the need to label everything it is often described as pop with a gospel influence. The reality is that the best songs defy labels and simply blow your mind. Beauty is beauty and transcends pigeon-holing.

I feel so lucky in that there are several songs I really wanted to hear Katie sing and she has kindly obliged without me having to do any grovelling whatsoever. BOTW was a big tick. There are still a few on that list to go but I'm going to stay firm and refrain from begging just yet to see if she gravitates towards them naturally. (She did perform Scarborough Fair from home a couple of times during lockdown but that doesn't get a tick until there's a studio recording.) I know she has plenty of recording years ahead of her, but I have less listening years. Still, que sera sera and all of that.

As for the song itself, well it would be nice to think it popped out of Simon's brain like a perfectly formed jewel but, as is often the case with these things, it began life as a rough diamond. Garfunkel thought Simon should sing lead, Simon thought Garfunkel should sing it all, and there were doubts and deliberations over the lyrics and arrangement. By the time the dust had settled and compromises had been reached, Garfunkel sang most of it with Simon adding harmony on an extra verse at the end just to beef up the finale. In January of 1970 they threw it out to the world, not knowing what to expect (or even if it would get played —many radio stations wouldn't play songs over 3 minutes and BOTW weighed in at 5.) As it turned out, the radio stations wisely decided exceptions could be made and the discerning US and UK public soon made it no. 1 on both sides of the big puddle.

YouTube:

We've had a lean spell with videos over the last few Track Notes but now we have that rarest of treats: an official video! Sit back and melt at the delicious golden caramel delight that is Katie performing this song with the Georgian Philharmonic Orchestra and the Gori Women's Choir. Pure class from the Queen of Interpreters.

Bridge Over Troubled Water

Lyrics:

Bridge Over Troubled Water


24.11.20   >   AYMHM 10: The Ice Castle

Another album you may have missed...

Kirsty Hawkshaw is a singer/songwriter/producer within the Electronica scene who has stayed largely under the radar despite being in demand for collaborations, of which she has had many. However, it is her solo work that interests me. As something of an ambient junkie, it is her sublime album The Ice Castle that brought her into my sphere of consciousness.

the ice castle

The Ice Castle

Kirsty Hawkshaw

This album works on different levels. You can have it on low in the background as mood music, equally effective when chilling out or working, or you can don headphones, close your eyes and utterly lose yourself in the beautiful soundscapes Kirsty creates. The music also makes a wonderful soundtrack to a nature walk as it opens your mind to the beauty of your surroundings. I’m always wary of using the word “ambient” because people so misunderstand the genre; they see it as either ‘lift’ music or something designed to help you sleep. In fairness, it can do both of those jobs very well if called upon, but it offers so much more, especially to a creative mind. It can stimulate thoughts and ideas and alter your perception of things. Ambient music is my genre of choice when I’m writing fiction for it helps me to escape from the real world and deep dive into the world I’m creating. Kirsty’s masterpiece is one of my most trusted companions and for anyone thinking of dipping a toe into ambient waters it would be one of my first recommendations. One caveat: track 10 is a repeat of track 1 but with spoken ‘mindfulness meditation’ that you will either find helpful and evocative or an annoying distraction. If you are trying to meditate it is great but if you are trying to create it may be better to skip it.

Listen to The Ice Castle on Spotify via the link below:

Play on:

spotify

23.11.20   >   A Snapshot of Chris and Nino

Sometimes it is fun to set yourself little challenges. Album No 8 made me wonder if I could come up with a little micro-story that included all the song titles. Here is my attempt:

chris and nino

22.11.20   >   On This Day... 2019

On this day last year, tickets went on sale for Katie’s 2020 Tour-That-Would-End-Up-Not-Being-A-Tour-Because-Of-Covid Tour. We were all hovering over the ticket sites hitting ‘refresh’ like lunatics every 5 seconds so we could get our hands on them before they sold out. Soon after, we were able to slump back in our seats, exhausted with the stress of the process but with a childish grin of glee on our faces as we looked at the confirmation emails sitting in our inboxes. It was such a happy day. Exactly one year later, today, I should be walking on air, basking in the afterglow of having seen Katie perform in Leicester last night. Instead, I’m looking back through my journal entries, reflecting ruefully on how the future pays no heed to our hopes and wishes; the future will do her own thing and we have no choice but to go along for the ride. Sometimes she will take us to amazing places. Other times, such as this year, we will be huddled on the back seat feeling nauseous and saying “are we nearly there yet” with every bump in the road. But think on this: if good can turn bad in a year then equally it holds that bad can turn good. So on this day next year we may be on cloud nine again. Enjoy the ride, bumps and all.

on this day 2019

22.11.20   >   Seven Second Challenge 18

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 18


21.11.20   >   A Choral Christmas

Katie will be making a guest appearance at the Barbican on December 15 as part of "A Choral Christmas", a festive concert conducted by Bob Chilcott (if the name rings a bell—Katie has collaborated with him before). For more info on this, click the pic!


20.11.20   >   Happy Day of Joy!

Don't forget to toddle off to Katie's YouTube channel at 5pm today to experience some Joy! Click the pic for instant transportation...

Joy

19.11.20   >   Do Your Own Thing

They say ‘dance like no one is watching’. You can extend that idea. Sing like no one is listening. Paint like no one will see it. Sculpt like no one will feel it. Write like no one will read it. Creating something is about expressing yourself. It is a conduit between your thoughts and the real world, a uniquely human way to conjure something tangible from something imagined. Why do we do it? Is it merely a form of communication? Or perhaps an attempt to achieve a kind of immortality? Is it for fame or fortune? Or is it simply unknowable? It could be a blend of all those things. And we are all different so that blend will vary from one person to another. I have no idea why I write. It is almost as though I’m possessed: words appear in my mind and demand to be let out. I cannot merely utter them; they insist on being written on paper or screen. Nor do I really know where they come from. Sometimes I can pinpoint what triggered the flow but like some underground mountain spring throwing up an endless supply of crystal clear water, all I can do is drink gratefully from the magical gift and worry not so much about from whence it came but rather when it might dry up. Deep down, my brain must feel some need for all this industry but it chooses not to share its reasons with my consciousness. I dread the very thought of fame, and I’m old enough and wise enough to know that writing for fortune is the most chance-less of lotteries. Nor do I have any desire to be appreciated when I’m no longer here—I’d much sooner be appreciated right now, thank you very much. No, I have to admit defeat: I’m at a complete loss to explain why I’m driven to write. And I haven’t the will to fight. I give in to it constantly, let it have it’s way. It must be serving some need or purpose within me just as surely as your body needs vitamins or minerals.

One thing I am sure of is this: I’m not bothered if anyone reads what I write. My only concern is to let the words out of my head—what they do once they’ve escaped is their business. Yes, I have observed that others occasionally derive some interest or amusement from my creations yet I do not feel it is the pull of their eyes drawing the stream of words from my mind. Whether it is something I am destined to do or merely my brain feeding a perceived unconscious need, all I can say is it just something it seems I have to do. It is my method of expressing myself, though I have no recollection of choosing it over, say, art or music.

I don’t believe it is wise to see creativity as a means of pleasing others; first and foremost you are addressing your own needs. If your creations happen to please others then that may be seen as a satisfying bonus, but don’t let it be your driving force—that is a path that can lead to madness. The biggest mistake a writer can make is thinking she should write a book people want to read. Rather, she should be striving to write a book she wants to read. An artist should paint a picture she wants to see. A musician should write a song she wants to hear. When I write fiction I only ever write stories that I want to read myself. By concentrating on fulfilling your own needs the work you produce will be so much better and therefore be more likely to please others anyway without you having to try. It is an exercise in futility trying to predict what the general public will like and then force it on them. Far better to understand that they are probably just like you so if you create something you like then chances are they will like it too. If you want to churn out content just to make lots of money then fine, go for it—but I’ll tell you now, that money won’t bring you the happiness you think it will. Nor will the creation of mindless content for commercial purposes fulfil your own inner needs. Worse than that, fans of your work will have no connection with you—the real you—whatsoever. But express yourself through your work and those fans you attract are far more likely to be in tune with your personality, like-minded souls with similar hopes and dreams who see the world in much the same way as you. Connecting with people on a deep level is far more rewarding than numbers in a bank account. It is about how you live life not what you accumulate. After all, you never truly own anything—your house, car, cat, favourite pen, first edition of “The Railway Children”, mug with “Not until I have drunk this” on it, and so on—everything you think you own is merely borrowed. Sooner or later you will cease to be and all of your “stuff” will belong to someone else. The only thing that is truly yours is you mind. That is the one unique possession that is non-transferable and makes you the remarkable individual you are. But it too is finite and fragile, dependent on the health of your body to protect it. That makes it more precious than anything. So remember, you only have a limited amount of time, and no way of knowing how much, which is why making the most of every precious minute is the only path to happiness. Never stop looking, learning, loving; find your passion and immerse yourself in it. It actually is all about you. Don’t pay too much thought to what anyone else says about you, be it good or bad, just concern yourself with living your own life and doing your own thing.

18.11.20   >   Joy to the World!

As we start to turn our thoughts to Christmas it is very fitting that Katie is about to bring Joy to the World! On Friday she is releasing the video for “Joy” on her YouTube channel. By now you should know how all this works: at 5pm the video goes live, at which time Katie and her fans can all jabber away in the comments pane with insightful remarks such as “luv u kate😍”, “will you marry me”, and “when are you coming to Timbuktu”. So engrossing are these pearls of wisdom that it is usual to miss most of the actual video but fear not—once it is released it will be available for you to watch whenever you like and without the fan stream-of-consciousness to distract you.

Here is the link you need: Joy video on YouTube

Note: this link may change *after* the premiere when the video gets added to Katie's portfolio on YouTube. If that happens I will post an updated link to the video because I look after you all even though you don't ask me to.

Joy video

17.11.20   >   Lyric Card: Love Me Tender

Love Me Tender

16.11.20   >   Track Notes 111: It's Over

Album:  

Writers:

Roy Orbison, Bill Dees

Length:

3:20

Notes:

The final song from The Secret Sessions (that we know of, anyway). This Roy Orbison classic gave the dark-spectacled warbler his 2nd UK number 1 back in 1964, some two decades before Katie began to trouble the census takers. The Big O is an acquired taste but he did crank out some corking tunes and it goes without saying that the Queen of Kutaisi would get the best out of them.

YouTube:

Nothing doing here on this occasion. Sorry. Look, don't get shirty with me, I don't run YouTube. If you're that bothered you could contact your local MP and ask him/her to demand an explanation from YouTube (which would probably be along the lines of "well, nobody has uploaded one"). Anyway, I know that some of you are weird enough not to own the Special Edition CD of Secret Symphony so I'm feeling a little sorry for you and kindly providing a link to Spotify so you can at least listen to the track. And if you're not on Spotify either then tough turnips—some people just don't want to be helped...

It's Over (on Spotify)

Lyrics:

It's Over


15.11.20   >   Voices Of The Ancestors Podcast

If you love the Gori Women's Choir then you will probably love Georgian polyphonic singing in general. And if you are a woman living in the UK then you may be surprised to learn you are not the first! (Fan of Georgian singing that is, not woman. There were definitely other women living in the UK before you.) Earlier this month, a couple of ladies started a podcast all about their love of GPS (Georgian polyphonic singing, that is, not global positioning satellites, though there's probably a podcast about that somewhere too). It is a quite extraordinary musical form so it is lovely to see a site like this pop up in England. Highly recommend you trundle over and take a listen at Voices Of The Ancestors

14.11.20   >   Katie Bite: Gold In Them Hills

Gold In Them Hills

13.11.20   >   Katie's Sodajerker Podcast

Simon Barber and Brian O'Connor are a couple of blokes from Liverpool that write songs and run a podcast about songwriting. If you want to learn all about the craft of songwriting then it is probably a good site for you to poke around in. They've had some big names on, such as the legend that is Burt Bacharach, and now they have finally snared the biggest of them all: our very own Katie! Click the pic below to go off and listen. You can even download the whole thing to listen whenever you want. There are some people that you could listen to talking all day and half the night, such as Stephen Fry and David Attenborough. I put Katie in that group. She is always intelligent, informed and charming and this podcast is a perfect example of it. By the way, if you are interested, they nabbed Mike Batt back in 2012 so if you want to check that out click here.

sodajerker

12.11.20   >   Katie Live Online Concert Announced!

Well I'm dancing around the room to Mariachi music even as I type this! We are going to get to see Katie perform her new songs live at last, on December 4th. No, it's not the same as actually being there and I know it doesn't quite make up for the cancelled concerts but hey, it is still wondrous news and it's better than nothing isn't it? Obviously, Katie would rather have a normal concert but in these wretched days we have to take what we can get. It will be odd for her too, not hearing rapturous applause and getting standing ovations. Of course, she'll be getting those in my living room and hopefully yours too, but she won't hear us no matter how much we holler. Tickets go on sale this morning but don't panic, there's enough for everyone and you won't get a better seat by being one of the first. It's up to you where you sit, after all. If you happen to have a 100" television and you sit on the floor right in front of it then it'll feel like you're right in the middle of the front row in the concert hall. Or, you could watch it on a smartphone and feel like you're outside the concert hall watching through the letterbox.

If you don't buy a ticket you won't get to watch this since it won't be available afterwards. And please don't begrudge having to pay for an online gig. Think about all the musicians, technicians and support staff that aren't able to work at the moment. You are supporting the music industry by buying tickets like this.

rivoli gig

11.11.20   >   Mind Your Language

Language is a weird and wonderful invention. And a rich language such as English has a staggering number of words available to you. Sadly, in everyday life we only use a few thousand on a regular basis. Some studies suggest the average person uses about 1000 different words in 89% of their daily writing. Adult vocabulary is estimated to be between 20,000 and 35,000 words, so clearly we only use a small percentage of the words we actually know. The currently accepted figure of words still in use in English and appearing in dictionaries is around 171,000, with a further 45,000 considered “obsolete”. I put “obsolete” in quotes because it merely means the word has fallen out of use. What it does not mean is that it is wrong to use such words. In fact, there are no rules or laws at all when it comes to words. Many writers make their own words up. Roald Dahl was famous for it but many others do it too, especially in science fiction and fantasy genres. I do it all the time. In fact I’ll make one up for you right now. Just give me a sec to engage the cogs… okay, friggle. So what is a friggle then? I’m going to use it to name that tiny little piece of hard, pointy skin that sometimes appears at the side of one or your fingernails and catches on your clothing. Remember me and chuckle next time you notice you have a friggle. Does that mean ‘friggle’ is now part of the English language? Not officially, because it isn’t yet in any dictionary, but there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t start using the word whenever you like. You don’t even need to be referring to that bit of skin, you could simply utter it as a replacement for an expletive.

The thing is, language is about communication. The whole point of it is to make someone understand what you are thinking. If you scour the dictionary and learn hundreds of wonderful, obscure words then that is all well and good; but if you actually try to throw them into an everyday conversation then you are likely to be greeted with blank looks (at best), because the other person won’t have a clue what you’re on about. Instead, we take the safe option and try to stick to the words we think everyone will understand. When we write we can take more risks because we know the reader can always pause and look up an unknown word in the dictionary, whereas in conversation that would be, well, a bit awkward. If I now asked you if you have any friggles you’d understand what I was asking because you are aware of the definition. This is how writers can get away with using their own words—they let you know what the word means, or at least provide enough information for you to work it out. Indeed, this is how many words came in to general use. Shakespeare provided plenty of new words and because he was so popular, those words began to circulate and be used by the public and hence ended up in the dictionary. Nowadays, with television, the internet and social media, words can quickly spread into common usage. I don’t expect the word ‘friggle’ to take the world by storm any time soon but imagine if, for example, Sir David Attenborough or Greta Thunberg made up a word to describe the state of the planet. It would be retweeted to millions within minutes and people around the globe would be uttering it within days.

Words are a wondrous invention. Think how many different songs can be made with just seven notes. The alphabet has 26 letters, so the number of possible words you could have is astronomical. 171,000 barely scratches the surface. But when I hear an odd word I can’t help thinking about who was the person that came up with it in the first place. Butter, demeanour, testicles, ostentatious, flatulence, turgid and whelk. Who would think up such words? And I confidently predict that I am the first human being in the history of the universe to use those in the same sentence. To celebrate, I'm going to do it again! "His normally ostentatious demeanour was affected by his desperate attempt to cure his turgid flatulence by rubbing butter on his testicles, which left him feeling as miserable as a whelk." Such fun. I was tempted to throw floccinaucinihilipilification (the action or habit of estimating something as worthless) into the mix, but that would just be showing off. In most cases, the origins of words have been lost in the mists of time. Many, like ‘friggle’, have simply been made up on the spot for want of any other suitable word, but a lot have actually evolved from different words over the course of time. There are thousands of words in English that have actually been derived from Latin, French, German, Spanish—in fact just about any language you care to name. These ‘borrowed’ words get mispronounced and mis-spelled and yet somehow the rogue variants are the ones that stick in the minds of the masses. It is all delightfully organic and unpredictable. We tend to think of language as being stable and permanent but it is in fact fluid and ever-changing. People often fantasise about jumping in a time machine and going back a thousand years but if you could you might actually find yourself really struggling to be understood. Most of the words you would use would be considered gibberish back then. The same would hold for the future—if you could nip forward to 3020 you might find you can’t understand a word people are saying, assuming they even talk any more; it seems likely that by then people will have something like Bluetooth implants in their heads that would allow them to communicate silently. They would seem to you to be mute aliens, whilst you would appear to them to be a noisy raging lunatic. And on that delicious note, I shall leave you to fiddle with your friggles.

10.11.20   >   AYMHM 9: Canticles of Ecstasy

Another album you may have missed...

You may well have heard of the name Hildegard von Bingen, or Saint Hildegard. She is also known as Sibyl of the Rhine, which is definitely the name I’d have gone with—would have looked great on her album covers, that is, if they’d had albums in the 12th century. That’s right, 12th century. You see, Hildegard was born 922 years ago, which was, like, even before the Rolling Stones. The sharper amongst you might be wondering how, if she died before albums were invented, you could possibly have missed one of her albums. Patience, I’ll get to that. Firstly, let me just give you a hint of background to this extraordinary woman. The youngest of ten children, she was ill from birth and in pain most of her life, which nevertheless stretched out to 8 decades, an age that, given the healthcare of the time generally consisted of making you forget about the pain by causing you even worse pain, was pretty astonishing. She was many things: for example, she was thought to be the originator of the science of natural history in Germany, which is cool enough on its own. But we are more interested right now in her achievements as a composer of sacred monophony. Monophony is simply a single line of melody (as opposed to polyphony, which is two or more melodic lines, as found for example, in Georgian polyphonic singing). Traditional folk songs are often monophonic but probably the most known example is Gregorian chant. Monophony is sometimes referred to as plainsong or plainchant. It was popular in Christian music because of its simple purity. Hildegard wrote many songs of monastic chant, though her style often involves soaring melodies that set her apart from regular Gregorian chant and explain why they are usually sung by women.

canticles of ecstasy

Canticles of Ecstasy

Sequentia

Right then, let’s talk about Canticles of Ecstasy. This is an album of Hildegard’s music recorded by the early music ensemble Sequentia in 1993. It was recorded in the church of St. Pantaleon in Cologne. How to describe it? Basically, Gregorian chant with female voices. But that hardly does it justice. Perhaps think of it as the 12th century equivalent of Katie Melua. Music to calm your mind and soothe your soul. You don’t need to be even remotely religious to be enveloped in the beauty and tranquillity of this exquisite music. Try this: turn off the tv, turn off your phone, turn off the lights, turn off the kids, light some candles, sprawl out on the sofa and lose yourself for an hour in this gem of an album. Feel your spirit being cleansed. Thank me later.

Listen to Canticles of Ecstasy on Spotify via the link below:

Play on:

spotify

09.11.20   >   Katie Conundrum No 7

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

*conundrum*

 30 

 


08.11.20   >   Do You Hear What I Hear?

How many times have you seen an actor on a chat show close their eyes or look away when a clip of their performance is being shown? I suspect the answer to that is “countless”. It seems like such a bizarre reaction, but is it though? If you think about it, an actor regards acting as their job. It’s what they do. And they do it because they love acting. They love the process of trying to get into a character, adopt their mannerisms and behaviour, and try to see through their eyes. They enjoy living in the moment as that other person. When they are sat in a television studio, with an audience, and watching themselves act on a screen, they are no longer in that moment. Instead, they are forced to be themselves and made to watch their work be scrutinised by thousands of other eyes. It is irrelevant that many of those eyes will belong to adoring fans who will be looking on favourably. The actor may simply be shy and awkward in the limelight. Again, this is often perceived as odd but you have to remember that acting means you are pretending to be someone else. It doesn’t matter if you are not comfortable in your own skin because you convince yourself that you are somebody else and because of that you can behave any way you like since it isn’t you, it’s them. It actually makes a lot of sense.

Do you remember the first time you heard your own voice played back from a recording? It was a shock wasn’t it? Our voices sound deeper and more mellow to us because they are emanating from our own bodies—our chest cavity is behaving like a built-in subwoofer. So when we are speaking we don’t just hear the sound in our ears but we feel it resonating in our bodies. When we hear a recording back we don’t get that physical aspect to the sound. So it comes across as weaker and higher pitched. If you only hear your recorded voice occasionally you never quite get over how different you sound. On the other hand, those you know well may seem to sound the same on recordings as they do when they speak to you face to face, because, naturally, you never get to hear them with their own body resonance. It is just one of those curious things about life. Before recording was invented, no human being in history had any idea how they sounded to other people.

It can take time to get used to how you really sound. If it is a necessary part of your job then you can probably soon accept it and not think too much about it. Personally, I still find it weird. As my eyesight has dictated the need for reading glasses I have found making notes in notebooks more of a faff since it involves scrambling around for and donning glasses before you can proceed. But with smartphones and now even smart watches, you can quickly record ideas. This is still a new way if working for me and I’m still taken aback by how different I sound in recordings, so much so that I still tend to soldier on with notebooks, despite the inconvenience of needing optical accessories in place.

How, then, does this all play out with singers? Let me quickly point out that I’m no singer myself, but I would imagine many of them are quite similar to actors. I see being a recording artist as kind of an audio equivalent of acting, with live gigs being like theatre work. During the recording process a singer will hear their work back many times. In this respect they are very different to actors, for whom it is perfectly possible to make an entire movie without having seen a single frame of their performance. Yet the recorded sound a singer makes will still seem unlike the version they heard as they were recording it even if the reproduction is considered faithful to the sound engineer. This is something the singer has to get used to, though someone that has been recording music as long as Katie, for example, will be perfectly tuned in to how their recorded voice sounds.

What, then, if you don’t actually like your own voice? Well, I don’t believe that actually matters. Let’s take Katie as an example again (it would be rude not to given the name of this site). As far as I know, she doesn’t actually *mind* the sound of her voice but neither does she consider it to be great. But she loves singing. Like those actors that love acting, for Katie, singing is her job. It’s what she does. Now, when she hears her own songs on the radio she may be thinking to herself that her voice doesn’t sound particularly special but she *knows* that somehow it is. How? She knows that Mike Batt started a record label just to sign her up. She knows that millions of people have bought her records. She knows that only Kate Bush has had more consecutive top ten studio albums as a UK female recording artist. And she knows she has spoken to many fans who claim her voice has helped them through difficult times. It doesn’t really matter how highly she rates herself, the evidence is there to show how highly others rate her. I can understand her bemusement—she is just a woman that loves to sing but considers there to be far better singers out there; I’m just a guy that loves to write but considers there are far better writers out there and whenever people tell me they love my writing I’m taken aback. I write because I love writing; it’s what I do. So the question is, is there a moral to all of this? No. Good night. Oh wait, wait, I’m just kidding. Of course there is. The point is to do what you love doing, whether it be acting, singing, writing, painting, dancing, or whatever, and do it for the joy it brings you. How your work comes across to others is out of your control; you may not see what they see, you may not hear what they hear, but if you learn to live with the sound of your own voice and do what you love doing and strive to do it to the best of your ability, then you will find yourself with a life well-lived.


07.11.20   >   Katie Bite: Joy

Joy

06.11.20   >   Katie In Action: Nottingham 2018

katie nottingham 2018

05.11.20   >   Quick Fact

Prior to Album No 8, Katie had never recorded songs beginning with an 'E', 'Q', 'U', 'V', 'X', 'Y', or 'Z'. Thanks to 'English Manner', 'Voices In The Night', and 'Your Longing Is Gone' she's whittled 3 off that list with the new album. Only 'Q', 'U', 'X' and 'Z' to go! Shall I be mean and challenge her to write a song beginning with X? As if I'd be mean to Katie... I'll settle for 'U' instead.

04.11.20   >   On Fame

Fame is a bizarre creature. Some people crave it, others shudder at the mere idea of it. Many who seek it never find it. Many who have little time for it find themselves helplessly swamped by it. Whatever level you may be blessed (or cursed) with having, the Stoics would advise you pay little heed to it: it is something out of your control so don’t waste your time trying to deal with it. It is what it is. That advice holds true whether you have no fame at all and desire it or have so much it is overwhelming. Of course, like all advice, it is easier to hear than to act on.

Perhaps the most odd thing about fame is that it is something of an illusion. It has no unit of measurement. I guess we could create one. How about calling it the Known? If we were to say, for example, that if 1000 people know you then that is a basic level or fame, or 1 Known. If your level is 1000 Knowns then a million people have heard of you. On this scale, I could put my personal level of fame in the region of a few milliKnowns. So, that’s great, we can measure fame then. Hold your horses, it isn’t quite that simple. There are around 7.8 billion people in the world (let’s not get into that again—Mike was correct enough at the time he wrote NMB). In order to accurately assess the fame level of any given person you would have to ask every single one of those 7.8 billion if they had heard of that person (except for the person in question, who you would reasonably take as given to have heard of them self.) It’s the same problem as calling someone ‘the most beautiful’ or ‘the best singer’—it is only meaningful in the context of the people you have actually seen or heard sing, not the entire population. And since every one of us has encountered a different number of people in our lives, nor even the same ones, there is simply no standard frame of reference. And we can’t all be right so we have to accept that none of us are. So it is a pointless thing to make these declarations. Naturally, it won’t stop me from repeatedly proclaiming Katie is the best singer in the world but I cannot offer you any empirical evidence to support my claim; it is a feeling in my own heart and mind and hence meaningless to anyone else. I know there will be others out there that agree with me but we would be greatly outnumbered by those that disagree or haven’t even heard of Katie.

That raises another point about fame. We all see it from a different perspective. Who would you say is the most famous person in the world? The Queen? Donald Trump? Paul McCartney? Jackie Chan? Again, there is no way to know the answer definitively but none of the above would have 100% hit rate: there are still plenty of people around the world that would maintain a blank expression if you showed them photos of any of the aforementioned icons. There are stars in Asia that are instantly recognisable to billions in that part of the world yet wouldn’t get a flicker of recognition in Burnley, Bromley or Bognor Regis.

Is fame dictated by mere recognition anyway? Do you have to be able to put a face to a name? I’ve heard of Ariana Grande, for example, but I wouldn’t know her if she knocked on my front door and slapped me across the chops with a moist herring. I assume she is famous because her name is known to me but I have no picture of her in my mind so does it count? I know she sings but I haven’t heard her sing. So I guess that same level of ‘fringe’ fame is applicable to everyone. Certainly, I have met many people that struggle with the name ‘Katie Melua’ when I mention her. Quite often it takes “Closest Thing To Crazy” to trigger enlightenment in their eyes. I have also met many people that simply have never heard of Katie. As one of the ‘illuminated’ few that see Katie as the sun at the centre of their solar system, to the point of being constantly tanned, if not sunburnt, it seems unfathomable when we encounter a person that has no concept of who she is or what she does. We are filled with incredulity and scorn for this ignorant creature because we, having convinced ourselves of what an astonishing human Katie is, can barely conceive how someone could even live their life without knowing about her. That, of course, is purely down to fan bias. She means so much to us that we see her in terms of how famous we think she should be. The reality is very different. It is likely that millions of people will say they have heard of Katie, which sounds a lot but keep in mind that global population which numbers thousands of millions. And of those millions, many would probably not be able to put a face to the name. So it is entirely possible that something like only one in a thousand people might recognise Katie if they saw her. Of course, that is a global average. In China, the number could be much lower than that, whereas in most of Europe you would expect it to be a lot higher. In Georgia, you would probably need to head up into the remote mountain villages to find someone who hasn’t heard of Katie. My personal experience in England suggests maybe as many as half the people I meet have heard of Katie (I don’t actually ask them all; that would be weird), but that figure would drop dramatically if I merely showed them a current picture of her and asked them to name her (in fact, that experiment would get better results using a 2003 picture of Katie with those iconic curls).

What does all this mean anyway? Okay, well for one thing it means that Katie feels differently about herself than her fans feel about her. She will tell you that she is just an ordinary person. Her fans are utterly baffled by this statement, naturally, but Katie can only see the world through her own eyes, and what she sees is that she is able to walk the streets, run in the park, wander around shops and generally not be bothered for selfies every five seconds everywhere she goes. She sees the same ‘real world’ as the rest of us, where she can get the same level of gruff service as the rest of us rather than expecting 5-star VIP service. So she is quite correct: she is a human being just like us, with the same hopes, fears, loves and daily tribulations. She isn’t an other-worldly goddess that needs to be put on a pedestal and worshipped constantly. Do you assume that when Katie steps on a plug or stubs her toe she emits a girlish giggle before exclaiming “oops, silly me!”? Or do you imagine she may yell a choice expletive? My money would be on the latter. So really, fame is like an arrogant, dominant twin that a celebrity struggles to distance themselves from. It is an imaginary twin for them, and it must be such a weird feeling, almost like an out-of-body experience, to see this outrageous imposter representing them whilst seeming completely unrelated to their own concept of themselves. From the fans perspective, the opposite is true. They see the perfect, flawless, faultless goddess who must be worshipped and can do no wrong. For them, the imaginary twin is the one that claims to be ordinary, just like them, shopping in Tesco and getting the same surly service from some soulless waitress in a café. This disconnect between how the celebrity actually feels and how their fans perceive them is reinforced because the celebrity is usually encouraged to live up to the expectations of their fans whenever they meet. They have little choice but to play the game and let the fan experience the celebrity twin rather than the real one. This doesn’t have to mean a dramatic difference—if you meet Katie and she comes across as lovely then that is likely to be closer to her true self than a raging ranting lunatic or something, but you should also accept that she is almost duty-bound to be on her best behaviour and underneath she may be having a horrible day. The best thing a fan can do is to understand they really are dealing with another human being and behave as such rather than bowing and babbling to the almighty Fame Monster. Fame is an illusion, it should have no relevance to how two people interact. See it for the imaginary barrier it is and ignore it—you will have a better experience meeting the celebrity and they will have a better experience meeting you.


03.11.20   >   Track Notes 110: Love Me Tender

Album:  

Writers:

George R. Poulton, Ken Darby

Length:

3:14

Notes:

The third song from "The Secret Sessions"—four bonus tracks added to the special edition of Secret Symphony. This one shouldn't need much of an introduction—it's an Elvis Presley classic from 1956. It has been recorded by so many artists I think it would be quicker to mention those who haven't recorded it. But that would be silly, and in any case how remiss of me would it be to fail to bring to your attention a duet by Julie Andrews and Johnny Cash? By all means read that last sentence again, but I promise you your eyes did not deceive you. Such a nugget of musical majesty does exist in the world, which is exactly why the world is such a magical place.

Now the songwriting credits on this take a bit of unpicking. The music is an adaptation of the 1861 Civil War song, "Aura Lee" by George R. Poulton. New lyrics were penned in 1956 by Ken Darby ahead of the song being used in the movie of the same name. However, credits are often shown as Elvis Presley & Vera Matson. Matson was Darby's wife so that was either a lovely, romantic gesture or some kind of tax evasion (depending on how cynical you are). As for Elvis, well he made little tweaks here and there and got 50% of the credits because that was stipulated in his recording contract. Happy days.

What of Katie's version then? Flawless and beautiful, just as you would expect. And without the help of Johnny Cash.

YouTube:

No actual footage sadly, but a nice picture of a rose with the song lyrics on it accompanying the album recording:

Love Me Tender

Lyrics:

Love Me Tender


02.11.20   >   Lyric Card: Too Long At The Fair

Too Long At The Fair

01.11.20   >   Katie on Martin & Roman's Sunday Best

Katie was erudite, eloquent and elegant as ever on Martin & Roman's Sunday Best, which aired this morning. She chatted about AN8, performed a few bars of "Your Longing Is Gone" and even had a go at a Rubik's cube. What better way to spend a Sunday morning? You can catch it on ITV Hub.

Spellbound

31.10.20   >   Halloween Katie Bite: Spellbound

Spellbound

31.10.20   >   Remind Me To Forget (Goldene Henne 2020)

Beautiful performance of "Remind Me To Forget" by Katie and Zurab in Leipzig, Germany last night. Prepare to melt into your sofa...

goldene henne

30.10.20   >   Katie Conundrum No 6: Halloween Special!

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

*conundrum*

 30 

 


29.10.20   >   Seven Second Challenge 17

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

Seven second challenge: intro 17


28.10.20   >   Party Invite!

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

twitter party

27.10.20   >   Playlist: Halloween

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

Play on:

spotify
halloween playlist

26.10.20   >   AYMHM 8: Gach Sgeul - Every Story

Another album you may have missed...

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

every story

Every Story

Julie Fowlis

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

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

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

Play on:

spotify

25.10.20   >   Katie on Sunday Morning Live

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

Katie on Sunday Morning Live

24.10.20   >   Lyric Card: Feels Like Home

Feels Like Home

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

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

official charts

23.10.20   >   Album No. 8 - An Instant Classic?

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

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

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

album no. 8

22.10.20   >   Katie Conundrum No 5

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

*conundrum*

 30 

 


21.10.20   >   Katie Bite: Heading Home

Heading Home

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

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

A Love Like That

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

English Manner

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

Leaving The Mountain

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

Joy

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

Voices In The Night

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

Maybe I Dreamt It

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

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

Heading Home

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

Your Longing Is Gone

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

Airtime

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

Remind Me To Forget

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


Summary

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

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


19.10.20   >   Live Performances for BBC Radio 5 Live

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

bbc radio 5 live

18.10.20   >   Katie on Channel 4 Sunday Brunch

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

sunday brunch

17.10.20   >   Katie Bite: Heading Home

Heading Home

16.10.20   >   Finally! Album No 8 Is Upon Us!

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

albumno8

15.10.20   >   Track Notes 109: Too Long At The Fair

Album:  

Writer:

Joel Zoss

Length:

3:06

Notes:

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

YouTube:

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

Too Long At The Fair

Lyrics:

Too Long At The Fair


14.10.20   >   Ketevan

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

Click for bigger version!

13.10.20   >   Katie 1 Dolly 0

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

12.10.20   >   Seven Second Challenge 16

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

Seven second challenge: intro 16


11.10.20   >   Katie Bite: Your Longing Is Gone

Your Longing Is Gone

10.10.20   >   Supporting BBC Children in Need

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

together we can

10.10.20   >   No Need To SHOUT!

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


09.10.20   >   Lyric Card: Kozmic Blues

Kozmic Blues

08.10.20   >   Katie Conundrum No 4

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

*conundrum*

 30 

 


07.10.20   >   Track Notes 108: Feels Like Home

Album:  

Writer:

Randy Newman

Length:

4:49

Notes:

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

YouTube:

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

Feelings Like Home

Lyrics:

Feels Like Home


06.10.20   >   Katie shares Love for Lennon At 80

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

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

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

Katie sings Love

05.10.20   >   Katie Bite: Your Longing Is Gone

Your Longing Is Gone

04.10.20   >   AYMHM 7: Koyaanisqatsi

Another album you may have missed...

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

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

koyaanisqatsi

Koyaanisqatsi

Philip Glass

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

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

Listen to Koyaanisqatsi on Spotify via the link below:

Play on:

spotify

03.10.20   >   Signed Artcards with Album No. 8 LP

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

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

signing artcards

02.10.20   >   Lyric Card: Kviteli Potlebi

Kviteli Potlebi

01.10.20   >   Serendipity

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

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

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


01.10.20   >   Seven Second Challenge 15

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

Seven second challenge: intro 15




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