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In Winter




COUNTING DOWN TO...

2020 Tour



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What's All About Katie All About?

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

It is also a repository of information about her music, DVDs, videos, tour dates, images, and anything else of interest to her fans. I have put my heart and soul into this project. Katie has given me so much and this is my way of saying thank-you. I hope Ketefans all over the world will find something interesting here about our favourite artist. Enjoy!

Any opinions expressed here are mine, not Katie's. And if you follow me on Instagram or Twitter remember this: I am NOT Katie!


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Bob is meditating...



A Random Song Title





The Planet Baggers

If my writing tickles you why not have a go at my novel, The Planet Baggers, available at an Amazon store near your browser.

C.D. Warhurst's books on Goodreads
The Planet Baggers The Planet Baggers
ratings: 2 (avg rating 4.00)

My sister site, for the bit of me that writes...

cd warhurst.com

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

24.02.20   >   Song Club

Have you written a song? How would you like to stand up and sing it in front of Katie? No, I can't imagine anything more terrifying either. But if you think it would be worth putting yourself through that in order to receive constructive criticism advice from one of the best songwriters in the business then why not see if you can grab one of the limited places available. It is part of the Spitalfields Festival 2020 and takes place at Hanbury Hall on 28th June, from 2.00 pm - 4.00pm. Price £15.
Katie is no Simon Cowell. I'm sure she'll be extremely supportive and helpful to everyone, no matter how rubbish they are, so don't worry about being good enough. You never know, if your song is really good she may even offer to buy it from you (if she offers you a tenner, play hard and hold out for twenty). Click below to visit the festival site for more details.

songclub

23.02.20   >   Track Notes 83: O Holy Night

Album:  

Writer(s)

Adolphe Adam

Length:

4:23

Notes:

I'm going to need a bigger thesaurus. How else can I keep describing Katie's brilliance without sounding like a broken mp3? The thing is though, this version of the classic carol is just about as close as you'll get to distilling Christmas into a pure essential oil. Not since Enya's Oíche Chiúin (Silent Night) has the spirit been so beautifully captured. (Though if your idea of Christmas spirit centres around Roy Wood and Slade then you're probably in the wrong place right now.)
The song itself is based on an old French poem, "Minuit, chrétiens", written by poet and wine merchant (good combination) Placide Cappeau. It was premiered in 1847 by opera singer Emily Laurey, and perfected in 2016 by Katie Melua (;-)

YouTube:

Official video. Sumptuous. Katie must really get in the zone not to be put off by having a ruddy camera in her face throughout. It also contains the most impressive 15-second "ooh" in the history of music at 3:37 O Holy Night. But, can she perform it live without the Gori Women's Choir? Course she can. If anything, this is even better! O Holy Night (for German TV)

Sheet Music:

If you fancy having a go at this yourself next Christmas then take a look at Oxford University Press where you can buy the sheet music for this and other "In Winter" songs.

Lyrics:

O Holy Night 

22.02.20   >   Lyric Card: Cradle Song

cradle song

21.02.20   >   Soundalikes

I've been thinking about songs that remind you of other songs. I thought I’d mentioned this not long ago but it turns out it was over a year ago, wow, tempus fugit and all that.

Now I’m not about to tiptoe through the murky minefield of plagiarism in music—that's for legal boffins to lock horns with. I’m more interested in how you hear something in one song that brings another to mind. I actually believe there are very few songwriters that steal from others; there are always bad apples and I’m sure one or two have been guilty of it but most of the time it isn't about money it’s about music and people want to create their own. But there is one explanation why soundalikes happen—subconscious subliminal suggestion. Imagine you are on a plane, eyes closed, dozing off. The person next to you is listening to music through earphones. The sound isn’t enough to stop you drifting off but as you do so a repetitive little riff drifts in to your subconscious and nestles in. A week later, you are sat at a piano tinkering with the keys and trying to come up with a new idea. All of a sudden, your brain says “oh, hang on a minute, how about this little thing I stored away while you were sleeping”. The little subliminal riff finds its way through to your fingers and you think “ooh, now, this is interesting”. Obviously, this only works with songs you’ve never heard before but there are an awful lot of songs out there and you’d be surprised how many of them you haven’t heard, or at least taken notice of. There are many times when you might have heard a song without realising, usually in the background on radio or television when you are talking to someone and not paying attention. But your brain is often paying more attention than you realise. SSS can lead to a situation where you come up with a song that you genuinely consider to be your own work, and it can come as quite a shock when someone points out a similarity to another song.

The example I gave last year was Katie’s “If The Lights Go Out”, which reminded me of “Brilliant Disguise" by Bruce Springsteen. Now, Springsteen wrote his song in the late 80s, when Katie was a mere sprog, (albeit an exceptionally cute one, no doubt), but, “If The Lights Go Out” was written by Mike Batt for The Hollies, who released it in 1983. Which means that “Brilliant Disguise" sounding similar was either a complete fluke or a case of SSS for Bruce. (The songs are quite different but that chord sequence G D C Em in Batt’s song does remind you of the chords in Bruce’s, even though they are different.)

You can probably think of your own examples, but here are a few more of mine. Remember “The Greatest Love Of All” by Whitney Houston? There are lines in it like “I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone's shadows”. It always makes me think of “I don't know where we went wrong, but the feeling's gone and I just can't get it back” in Gordon Lightfoot’s “If You Could Read My Mind”. Again, not identical but one puts me in mind of the other.

Springsteen is involved with two more of my examples. Pink Floyd's “Lost For Words” features some acoustic guitar strumming that reminds me of the melody in Springsteen's “Independence Day”. Just saying.

Finally, let me end with one where the mystery has been solved! Springsteen’s “Jungleland” from his classic album “Born To Run” has a rather catchy little piano riff near the start performed by The Professor—a.k.a. E. Street Band member Roy Bittan. But listen to Mark Knopfler’s guitar at the opening of “Romeo And Juliet” on Dire Straits’ “Makin’ Movies”. Slower, but very similar. Mmmm. Guess what? Turns out Roy Bittan played as a session musician for Dire Straits on “Makin’ Movies”. Knopfler had been taken with Bittan’s playing on Springsteen's “Because The Night”. When he was looking for an intro into “Romeo And Juliet”, Bittan saw nothing wrong with re-purposing his own little riff from “Jungleland”. Knopfler loved it and adapted it for guitar. Boom. Tangled webs, eh?

20.02.20   >   Sketch Effect

sketch

19.02.20   >   A Word on Lyrics Sites

I want to have a quick word about the plethora of web sites devoted to song lyrics. Pants. That's the quick word. I do, however, feel I need to back up such a mighty assertion with some kind of explanation. If you've poked around AllAboutKatie you'll have noticed that the lyrics to all her recorded songs can be found on this site. No need to Google them and go trawling through the lyrics sites yourself. In fact, I urge you not to do that because they are largely awful. I'll tell you why. Most of them use lyrics submitted by fans rather than going to the trouble of obtaining them from an official source. And most of the people contributing clearly do not have English as a first language. Some are untidy, some inaccurate and there are even some that are clearly not even the same song. If you doubt this, try Googling "kviteli potlebi lyrics" — instead of finding Georgian lyrics about yellow leaves you'll find this

	You surely are a truly gifted kid
	But you're only good as
	The last great thing you did
	And where've you been since then
	Did the schedule get you down
	I hear you've got a new girlfriend
	How's the wife taking it?

If you're not thinking, like me, WTAF? then fire up Live At The O2 Arena and give track 3 a careful listen. In fact, it doesn't even have to be careful. It should be immediately obvious that the song is not about gifted kids. "But wait", I hear you protest. "Isn't she singing in Georgian? Maybe those lyrics are just a translation." No. They're not. The song talks about yellow leaves. The clue is in the title.
And it gets worse. Many of these sites (and you won't believe just how many lyrics sites there are) don't do any work or research for themselves, they just nab the lyrics from other sites. So you can visit a dozen of them looking for Kviteli potlebi and all you'll get served up is this stuff about a gifted kid. Go figure. Lyrics sites are fake news spreaders.

Unfortunately, what should be the definitive source of Katie's lyrics—in other words (excuse the pun), her own web site—is run by people that simply don't care and there are songs riddled with errors and some are missing altogether. (My favourite example is "from death til birth", which should, of course, be "til death from birth".)
Don't despair though—AAK is here for you. I don't like blowing my own trumpet because it makes a god-awful noise but on this site I try to ensure the song lyrics are as accurate as I can get them. There are over a hundred but I go through them one by one to check there are no mistakes. It is a time-consuming task but I feel it is important there is a trusted place to go to for these lyrics and I care enough to try to get it right. If you have tried looking for these songs on other lyrics sites you may already have noticed that Katie's versions of songs sometimes differ. Sometimes she changes words slightly, other times whole verses are omitted. My goal is to give you the lyrics as Katie sings them so that you can confidently sing along without feeling a complete idiot when she deviates. I patiently await an OBE for this noble work...

I'm currently ferreting about a lot in the lyrics pages so if you hear banging in the loft it's just me going through the files and trying to weed out gremlins. I'm also performing cosmetic and stylistic adjustments to make all the lyrics pages look consistent and until this work is complete you may spot discrepancies here and there. Apologies for that but it should all be hunky dory in a few days. I don't know why I'm telling you this because no one is ever going to notice anyway. 😉

18.02.20   >   Satrpialo (კახური სატრფიალო)

Satrpialo is a folk song from Kakheti (კახეთი), the eastern-most region of Georgia and a notable wine-making region. It is an achingly beautiful love song performed by Katie and the Gori Women's Choir but unless you have the Special Edition of In Winter you may not be aware of it since it only appears on the "Live In Berlin" bonus CD. Never fear, have a look here.

The lyrics took a bit of detective work. Confusingly, there are two Georgian folk songs called Satrpialo. The other is a Mingrelian love song. Even more confusingly, one of Katie's other Georgian recordings, If You Are So Beautiful, can sometimes be found under the title of, you guessed it, Satrpialo. But they are different songs, and both beautiful. So, you can find the lyrics here, along with a translation in English (not sure I'd be particularly flattered being likened to a pheasant's voice but Georgians have an utterly unique way of looking at things and it is certainly more original than comparing someone to a rose or a summer's day).

17.02.20   >   Katie Bite: Halfway Up The Hindu Kush

halfway up the hindu kush

16.02.20   >   Track Notes 82: All Night Vigil - Nunc Dimittis

Album:  

Writer(s)

Sergei Rachmaninoff

Length:

4:15

Notes:

The fifth of fifteen movements from Rachmaninoff's All Night Vigil, considered by many to be his finest work. Nunc Dimittis was chosen by Rachmaninoff to be sung at his funeral. Apparently, the song ends with a low b-flat, the third below middle C, which is notoriously difficult even for men, so I'm not quite sure how the GWC negotiated it. As you would expect, Katie's version is just achingly beautiful and moving and would have had Sergei himself mopping up the odd tear.

YouTube:

Here you go. See if you can watch this without melting into a pool of bliss down the back of the sofa All Night Vigil - Nunc Dimittis, Live in Berlin. And here's the recording of it for Songs Of Praise All Night Vigil - Nunc Dimittis, BBC Songs Of Praise

Lyrics:

All Night Vigil - Nunc Dimittis 

15.02.20   >   Using Synonyms and Rhymes in Lyrics

Many people find writing poems and lyrics difficult. So here’s my tip—
keyword brainstorming.

Say you wanted to write a song about being dumped via a text message. Identify the keywords—in this case “text" and “dumped”. Then for each one make a synonym and rhymes list. First, write down any synonyms or similar words you can think of for your keyword. Then make a list of all the rhymes you can think of for your keyword and synonyms. For “text” it might look something like:

word lists

Having a word bank laid out in front of you can help you to form sentences in your mind. From the above example you might come up with:

	How could you send a text
	to tell me I’m your ex?
	It’s left me really vexed

	I’m overcome with stress
	since your thoughtless SMS
	has left me in a mess

	A message on my phone
	and now I’m all alone
	my heart has turned to stone

Okay, perhaps needs polishing, but you get the idea. You might do another list for “dumped" and begin to intertwine the lines. My little example uses triplets of rhyming lines to highlight the rhyming but it would be more usual to rhyme on alternate lines, like:

	A message on my phone
	has torn my world apart
	and now I’m all alone
	with the silence in my heart

This technique is basically something I’ve been doing in my head since God was in the cubs but if you find poems or lyrics a struggle you may well find writing out word charts helpful. And bear in mind they can be re-used—you could write bunches of them on index cards then pick out a few for the keywords in your song, pin them up on the wall and just see what words jump out at you. It won’t work for everyone but it may work for you. Failing that, another good technique is to find yourself a lyricist and let them worry about it all.

14.02.20   >   Playlist: Valentine Vocals

It’s Valentine’s Day again. Shame it couldn't be on the 29th. Anyway, I know some of you actually buy in to this kind of thing and might be harbouring thoughts of a cosy night in by the fire, dipping strawberries in chocolate and sipping blush prosecco, amongst other less mentionable things. And you’ll probably want a suitable soundtrack for your amorous antics. Katie to the rescue again. Ostensibly, it’s not hard to find a hatful of love songs in Katie’s back catalogue but you need to be a little careful—she has a habit of throwing in the odd booby trap where things aren't quite what they seem. I’ve tried to weed them out for you so hopefully this list is weed-free. And yes, “If You Were A Sailboat” is a weed. Deal with it.
I suggest you play this list on repeat, though frankly if it does get to the end and stop I imagine you’ll be too preoccupied by then to notice.

Valentine Vocals

  1. Call Off The Search
  2. Nine Million Bicycles
  3. The Closest Thing To Crazy
  4. My Aphrodisiac Is You
  5. No Fear Of Heights
  6. Better Than A Dream
  7. All Over The World
  8. When You Taught Me How To Dance
  9. Chase Me
  10. If The Lights Go Out
  11. What It Says On The Tin
  12. The Walls Of The World
  13. Secret Symphony
  14. Thank You, Stars
  15. Deep Purple
  16. Anniversary Song
  17. This Year’s Love

13.02.20   >   Katie Bite: Heartstrings

Tomorrow is February 14th. Means nothing to me, but if it is something that gets you all twinkly then perhaps this will get you in the mood...

heartstrings

12.02.20   >   Brenda, The Doll Lady

A while ago, I posted a piece about my Dad, Dennis. The link with Katie was musical—he was a drummer in jazz and swing bands. Today I want to talk about the other half of my DNA and my inventor, my mum, Brenda. She was a poet, an artist and incessant creative, and absolutely where I get my creativity from (I didn't inherit Dad's penchant for making noise). Another of her passions (obsessions?) was dolls (there's a link to Katie!). She used to make sophisticated period costumes for them. She even sent one to The Queen and received a thank-you letter from Buckingham Palace. That got her a newspaper mention and a spot on local TV news—I well remember coming home from school to find the front room full of camera crew and cringing as Mum added a "you know" to every sentence. Like me, she wasn't cut out for limelight. Her bedroom was crammed with dolls—in chairs, lined up along the top of the wardrobe, everywhere. In the night it looked like a creepy scene from a horror movie. There was even a doll with a lazy eye in a rocking chair, real nightmare stuff. But since these days we are encouraged to show rather than tell, you can see examples of her painting and doll dressing below. She contributed many articles and stories to village magazines and she wrote hundreds of poems. I've put around sixty of them on a website for her at Brenda S. Warhurst. She was ill for most of her final years and died too young at 74, still with so much more to create. I have it on good authority she now dresses up angels. Our time on Earth is so fleeting, we should all endeavour to leave our mark. My Mum did.

dog painting

Little dog by Brenda

dolls in costume

Dolls in costumes

baby Brenda

Manchester, circa 1935

Brenda with baby

In the mid 60s, with yours truly!

red

Evidence of her deep red hair

Brenda in Bowness

One of the last photos, 2005

11.02.20   >   Lyric Card: Dreams On Fire

dreams on fire

10.02.20   >   Playlist: Animal Crackers

When it comes to playlists, these days I’m having to scrape the barrel get more creative. Today’s collection are songs that all mention some kind of animal, bird or insect. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, (and you won’t), is to identify them all. Some songs may have more than one! I’m not one for giving away too many clues but I have a feeling in some instances the song title is going to help you.

Animal Crackers

  1. Belfast (Penguins and Cats)
  2. Halfway Up The Hindu Kush
  3. Mockingbird Song
  4. Moonshine
  5. My Aphrodisiac Is You
  6. Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out
  7. River
  8. Shiver And Shake
  9. Spider’s Web
  10. Stardust
  11. The Cry Of The Lone Wolf
  12. The Little Swallow
  13. The One I Love Is Gone
  14. Two Bare Feet
  15. Wonderful Life

09.02.20   >   Mitchell Parish

Today I would like to bring to your attention the life of an American man who was born in the year 1900. I hope you’re thinking “great” but more likely it is “Why? Who he?”. Well I’ll tell you who he. The why is simple enough—there’s a Katie connection. Mitchell Parish was a legendary lyricist, and Katie has recorded two of his songs: Stardust and Deep Purple. Stardust is one of my favourite songs ever, and Deep Purple is up there, so clearly Mr Parish has a spot reserved in my heart. Naturally, he has a ton of other credits to his name such as Moonlight Serenade, but the two I’ve mentioned are extra special because of Katie's sublime renditions. Katie has something else in common with Parish—they were both born in former Russian states and found themselves being dragged off to the West as children. Parish was born Michael Pashelinsky in Lithuania and his parents moved to America when he was just a baby in 1901 (in which respect he's closer to Katie’s younger brother Zurab—Katie was an almost world-weary 8 when she left Georgia!)

Parish died in New York in 1993, aged 92. Like Katie, he grew up in a land not of his birth but recognized the opportunities it opened up for him and seized them with both hands. It’s all about being the best you can be whatever your circumstances. Mitchell Parish was a legend. Katie is well on her way to emulating that status and attaining the fairly unique accomplishment of being regarded as a national treasure in two different countries.

08.02.20   >   Katie Bite: Tiny Alien

tiny alien

07.02.20   >   Track Notes 81: Dreams On Fire

Album:  

Writer(s)

Katie Melua & Don Black

Length:

4:05

Notes:

Another stunner drops off the production line. A song so beautiful that you don't notice it has nothing to do with winter and hence is something of a gatecrasher to the In Winter party. (You haven't read that last sentence.)

You may ask yourself why Katie doesn't write more lyrics herself when the evidence shows she's more than capable. Well, if you could enlist the services of a legendary lyricist like Don Black, why wouldn't you? Black wrote no less than 3 James Bond themes with the godfather of movie music, John Barry. I won't tell you which ones, though you may have guessed one since Katie has recorded it. He also collaborated with Andrew Lloyd-Webber. This should give you an idea of the kind of lofty circles Katie could mingle in, if mingling was her thingling.
So, how did this happy collaboration come about? Well, you'd have to ask them for the gory details but chew on this—in 2013 there was a special concert at The Royal Festival Hall to celebrate Black's work (it was recorded and shown on BBC Four). Black sat on stage and discussed his career with Michael Grade. They paused periodically to watch various respected artists perform his songs. Amongst said artists was our Katie singing "Diamonds Are Forever" in a way that had never been heard before. My guess is that Black had decided he wanted to write for her before she even put her guitar down.

YouTube:

The official video featuring Katie performing with the Gori Women's Choir is exquisitely filmed with some stunning close-ups of Katie and Teona as they weave their magic. Delightful and flawless. Dreams On Fire ft. Gori Women's Choir.

Lyrics:

Dreams On Fire 

06.02.20   >   Diamonds

Perhaps Katie has a bit of a thing for diamonds. Not in a physical sense—she’s certainly no bling bunny. Ize talkin bout songs, innit. (No, I don’t know what that was either.) Here’s the thing—she’s sung about diamonds being forever and how Lucy, whoever she may be, is in the sky with them. She’s even written about diamond raindrops humming when you’re crazy with love. Now, you probably think you can see where I’m going with this but no, I am not about to suggest she goes all Marilyn and sings about a girl’s best friend. I mean, she could do that—after doing Bassey all bets are off—but no, I don’t think so. Now, this is where you didn’t see me coming—she could sing Neil Diamond. I don’t mean literally, you understand. I’m not suggesting she writes a song about the guy. That would be a tad odd. I just think he writes amazing songs and many of them are ripe for a little Katiefication (I love the idea of something being Katiefied.) But which one? So many to choose from. Not the Reverend Blue Jeans, no. I’m thinking maybe Play Me. You know the one? “You are the sun, I am the moon, you are the words, I am the tune, play me.” Beautiful song, just made for Katie’s lower register and artful picking. She might want to change the “she” to “he” here and there but that’s hardly a controversial tactic when a girl covers a boy’s song. It would work. I have the happy ability to hear Katie sing any song in my head (I imagined her singing Fields Of Gold and Bridge Over Troubled Water long before she actually did), and this one was a keeper. It can be both a gift and a curse of course—Islands In The Stream was an ear worm that took a while to coax out. As for gifts, well, another time I’ll discuss Don McLean but this entry was just about the diamond connection. Time will tell if Katie polishes any more.

05.02.20   >   Katie at the London Palladium

As part of the BBC Radio 2 at the Palladium concerts, Katie will perform at the Bridge Over Troubled Water 50th Anniversary Concert on Thursday, 20th February. Other performers include The Shires and Will Young. They will be re-creating the entire track list of the iconic album. I think we have an inkling of which track Katie will sing. If you fancy attending the details are at BBC Radio 2 at the Palladium, where you'll find a link to the ticket booking system.

radio two at the palladium

04.02.20   >   Katie Bite: Blame It On The Moon

blame it on the moon

03.02.20   >   Quick Fact

My phone ring tone is "Faraway Voice". See what I did there? Oh, okay. Some people are hard to please.
How about the fact that yesterday's date was a universal numeric palindrome? 02/02/2020 is the same date backwards in both UK and US formats. That hasn't happened since the year 1111 so it is pretty rare, though it will happen again (for the UK only) in a couple of years on 22/02/2022. America will have to wait another 200 years for 02/22/2220.

02.02.20   >   Updates

Don’t you just hate it when apps constantly pester you that an “update is available”? If you can be bothered to click on the “learn more” link it usually just says “bug fixes and performance improvements”. That’s a classic coder’s clause. “Bug fixes” is the true reason for the update—they screwed something up and didn’t notice it before the app was released so they’ve had to fix it and hence the update. “Performance improvements” is bull. The developers know full well that users are going to be seriously piqued at having to mess about installing an update which is for no other reason than to address some programmer’s incompetence so they dangle this carrot of leading you to believe the app will suddenly run a lot faster than it did. It won’t. The only sense in which it can be considered a performance improvement is that it should crash less often than before thanks to the bug fix. (In reality, this isn’t always true either—what generally happens with software is that when you fix one bug it allows two others to come into play. Which is why most apps need updating about once a week.)

At this point you’re probably wondering what on earth all this has to do with Katie (either that or you’re fast asleep). The answer, of course, is nothing. There are no bugs in Katie (though that may not necessarily be true—after all she did have a spider living in her ear a few years back. I have no idea if other orifices were investigated for invertebrate inhabitation following that incident). But you’ll be relieved to know that my point has finally lumbered over the horizon and it is this: I’ve been updating a lot of the pages of All About Katie over the past few days. This is for bug fixes and performance enhancements…

I hasten to add that this is a web site, not an app, and hence my performance enhancements are real—for example, I’ve replaced animated gifs with static thumbnail images of the lyric cards in the song index page. This difference is hardly noticeable yet dramatically improves page loading time. It’s not as though you could read the lyrics at that size anyway. I’ve also made some cosmetic enhancements here and there. I’m not going to bore you with specifics. Maybe you’ll spot some of the changes, maybe you won’t. If you do I’ll send you a free peanut (please specify whether you’d prefer unsalted, salted or dry roasted).

01.02.20   >   Lyric Card: If You Are So Beautiful

if you are so beautiful

31.01.20   >   Song Index

I’m so excited! And I just can’t hide it. I’m about to lose… hang on, that’s something else. Anyway, the thing is, I am majorly chuffed to be able to point you towards another wonderful resource at AllAboutKatie (I know, the gift that keeps on giving, stop it). The Song Index page is now up and ready to rock your world. It’s a complete list of Katie’s studio songs in alphabetical order with links to the lyrics and track notes pages. If that doesn’t blow your mind then by all means skulk off and chomp on a Snickers bar instead. But for proper Ketefans it is a ruddy useful resource. Forget sliced bread, that’s so yesterday, the Song Index is the thing you need in your life that you didn’t know you needed in your life until you see it. Never mind Brexit, let history show that January 31st 2020 was the day that the AllAboutKatie Song Index page went live.

So, where to find this miracle of internetiness? Cast your eyes a little to the left and you'll see a brand spanking new option at the bottom of the menu panel. Isn't life wonderful? Bet none of you noticed it creep in there. If you did then you have my full permission to pat yourself heartily on the back with a tent-peg mallet.

song index

30.01.20   >   Sketch Effect

sketch

29.01.20   >   Playlist: Katie's Collaborations

Katie has collaborated with other writers on many songs over the years. Here’s a playlist of some of the gems that have been uncovered. In the interests of impartiality I have limited this list to one song per collaborator. (This has the happy side effect of meaning there are enough songs left over for me to do a second playlist like this at a later date. Contain your excitement.) Oh, and I’m not mentioning the names of the collaborators here—if you care enough, look it up, otherwise revel in the mystery.

Katie's Collaborations pt. 1

  1. What I Miss About You
  2. Dreams On Fire
  3. I’d Love To Kill You
  4. I Never Fall
  5. The Cry Of The Lone Wolf
  6. Perfect Circle
  7. Red Balloons
  8. Twisted
  9. Love Is A Silent Thief

28.01.20   >   Track Notes 80: If You Are So Beautiful

Album:  

Writer(s)

Natela Gelashvili & Anzor Erkomaishvili

Length:

3:43

Notes:

This is a lovely Georgian folk song. It is listed as "If You Are So Beautiful" on In Winter and Ultimate Collection but it appears as "Tu Ase Turpa Ikavi" on Live In Berlin. Nothing mysterious about that—it is the romanised version of the Georgian language used, თუ ასე ტურფა იყავი. If you want to know what the lyrics are about then have a look at the lyrics page, which has an English translation. I'm too good to you, I really am.

YouTube:

I just know you are sat there desperately wishing you could hear this Georgian folk song performed by Georgian male ensemble "Rustavi". Well, when do I ever disappoint? Here you go — Davit Gvelesiani - Georgian Folk Song Tu Ase Turpa Ikavi.

Naturally, you're gonna wanna compare it with Katie and the GWC (who perform it exactly 10.73 times better) so here you are.

Lyrics:

If You Are So Beautiful 

27.01.20   >   Katie Bite: Dirty Dice

(That look SO goes with that line :-)

dirty dice

26.01.20   >   Whatever Happened To Funny Songs?

I was reminiscing about the amount of humorous songs there were in the Seventies. Whatever happened to funny songs? When did the world lose its sense of humour?

Actually, they can still be found today it’s just that they are an endangered species. But let’s not forget the Christmas number ones for the past two years have been amusing songs about sausage rolls. Yet it did seem like there was a light-hearted performance almost every week on Top Of The Pops. (It saddens me but I feel I probably need to explain that TOTP was a long-running weekly TV show featuring performances from the singles chart. It began before videos were invented so usually involved the artist in question miming their song, badly, in front of a small and generally embarrassed studio audience that had clearly been instructed to dance but obviously felt no connection to the music and invariably just shuffled about a bit in a random manner.) Funny songs were a staple back then. You’d often see popular comedians like Benny Hill and Ken Dodd performing on TOTP. There were also plenty of quirky songs such as Paul Young singing about “Toast” or Jona Lewie letting you know “You Will Always Find Me In The Kitchen At Parties”. Or how about Jilted John - Gordon Is A Moron

“I was so upset that I cried all the way to the chip shop”

Even if the songs weren’t funny they could be oddly different, such as the one about the taxi driver that refused to pick up a fare because the address was that of his ex, or the one where a guy kept listening to an answerphone message from his dead girlfriend (sounds morbid but it was jauntily done).

Funny songs were also abundant away from the charts. They were a staple of many entertainment shows like The Two Ronnies and Not The Nine O’Clock News. And of course, Monty Python— who could forget Brave Sir Robin?

“When danger reared its ugly head

you bravely turned your tail and fled”

There were bands doing the club circuit that relied heavily on humorous material, like

The Fivepenny Piece

“As I was out walking with my brother Jim

Somebody threw a tomato at him

Now, tomatoes are soft, and they don’t cut yer skin

But this beggar did—it were still in the tin”

Funny songs were popular and there was a demand for them, hence the supply. Nowadays the music business is so cut-throat and commercial that profit is the almighty God that rules all and there is no place for light-hearted fun. (Those number ones about sausage rolls were independently produced charity singles and would never have made it past reception at a major record label.) It is a sad state of affairs, but that’s the world today. Society is becoming joyless. You see it clearly in city centres—stony-faced people glued to their phone screens and wearing headphones to cut them off from everyone else. Heaven forbid a stranger should try to interact with them and have a little witty banter. What kind of nutcase does that? Every day I strive to do my bit to save the world—I plant trees, recycle plastics, neutralise carbon and so on. Yet there are days when I find myself wondering if the world is worth saving. It is, of course, if only for the flora and fauna, but I’m not entirely convinced that homo sapiens deserves such a wonderful planet. We need to look up from our phones and realise the person standing in front of us is far more interesting. We need to talk. We need to smile. We need to laugh. Bring back the silly, quirky, funny songs and let’s all lighten up a little.

25.01.20   >   Lyric Cards

If you like the lyric cards (and why wouldn't you? They are just about the best thing in the entire world) then I'll just give you a quick reminder that there are now a ton of them and they can be found in the Gallery section, or more quickly right here.

25.01.20   >   Lyric Card: Plane Song

plane song

24.01.20   >   Katie Sings Kate

Now here’s an idea. A daft one, but an idea none the less. Nils Lofgren recorded an album of Neil Young songs called “Nils Sings Neil”. So I thought it would be rather large if Katie were to record “Katie Sings Kate”, an album of Kate Bush songs. I’ll be honest—I’m struggling to visualise her tackling “Wuthering Heights” (unless she steps on a plug) and there is an inherent weirdness with KB that KM can’t match. But Katie’s ability to interpret would make this a doable and fascinating project. How good would it be to hear her cover “This Woman’s Work”? (If you’re not sure I’ll tell you—it would be way beyond spiffing.)

24.01.20   >   katiemelua.com update

Katie's website is working again. I don't know what caused yesterday's lengthy downtime (a Wordpress update for example should take less than half an hour) but sadly there are no noticeable improvements on show. The music page still doesn't include Ultimate Collection let alone Live In Berlin, and my favourite lyric error is still happily on show...

web error

But the good news is that if you're reading this then you've found allaboutkatie! Stick around here and you won't miss a thing. You might even learn something you never knew you didn't want to know.

23.01.20   >   katiemelua.com currently down

Eek! Katie's web site is currently down. That's not good. It has lots of mistakes and issues at the best of times but being greeted with the screen below is not really good enough for a major artist. It's time her site was handed over to a web company that actually cares.

web error

23.01.20   >   Our Own Little Worlds

Last year I showed someone this web site and they said “That looks great. Why Katie Melua?” Of all the possible responses, that was one that simply hadn’t entered my mind. I probably came up with some glib answer like “why not?”. (I have since prepared something more formal for future reference: “She has the voice of an angel, the looks of a movie star, the intelligence of an academic, the empathy of a carer and the personality of a trusted friend. That’s why.”)

It did make me think though. Perhaps Katie is a sun in my solar system but every single one of us has our own unique little solar system with planets and moons that orbit around us and whom we orbit around. Everyone has their own sun (or suns) that brightens their everyday lives, comets that may pass by just once or twice and countless distant stars that we are aware of but will never interact with. Our personal solar systems are drifting through space and time in different trajectories—some may run parallel with ours whilst others may be destined to cross our paths in future or be heading in a completely different direction. When our own little solar system does encounter someone else’s it may be that gravity pulls them into each other’s orbit permanently or it may simply deflect them off along a slightly new trajectory. But our perception of life is all based around our personal solar systems, which is why we all see the world slightly (or sometimes very) differently.

One of the weird things about these personal solar systems is that you can’t always predict how other orbiting bodies will interact. I remember having two really good friends at school that both completely got me and I got them. But they never got each other at all. I was so keen for them to get on with each other and I was utterly baffled why it never happened. We had the same interests and the same wacky sense of humour but there was some weird polar magnetism thing going on—they were both readily attracted to me (not physically, I should stress) yet seemed to repel each other. It was probably one of the reasons why I stopped worrying about how the world works and just started going with the whole crazy flow of it. When our own little worlds do happen to interact it can lead to wonderful new friendships but you have to remember that until that moment you’d lived your whole lives in your unique little solar systems so you should be ready to accept that your idea of the greatest thing since sliced bread may not even be a blip on someone else’s radar. You don’t have to understand other people’s passions, just respect them. There’s no need for our own little worlds to collide, they can co-exist very nicely. Space is very big, and I no longer have any idea what I’m going on about so we’ll leave it at that.

22.01.20   >   Katie Bite: In My Secret Life

in my secret life

21.01.20   >   Inspiration

Inspiration is the goose that lays the golden eggs for writers and artists. It’s not so much the gift that keeps on giving as the gift that keeps on disappearing. Usually, creating something wonderful is a process more akin to laboriously panning for gold than sauntering along, casually spotting one nugget after another. Lightbulb moments are few and far between—it is more normal to have a succession of tealight moments that you have to cobble together to form something brighter. It is an elusive animal. Inspiration can’t be taught and it can’t be bought but it is forever sought. The thing is to gratefully grab any gifts it throws your way and make the most of them.

That said, wise owls can acquire a sense of where inspiration may be hiding. You need to develop a sense of self-awareness, which admittedly is easier said than done. But it can be done. Whenever you have an amazing idea your first instinct is to act on it. Write it down or record it quickly, before you forget it. This is essential otherwise you almost certainly will forget it. Creative types don’t go anywhere without a notebook (though Bright Young Things these days will rely on their smartphone. Except they may not feel quite so bright when they realise the power has run out and they’ve no way to record their brilliant idea.) When you are self-aware you will do more than just make a note of your idea—you will stop a moment and look around you and think about where that idea just came from. What inspired the thought? Was it a tree or a flower or a cloud formation? Was it completely unrelated to your current surroundings? Sometimes a great thought can just pop into your head apparently out of the blue. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t triggered—you may have just seen a name or street sign somewhere and had a subconscious suggestion. Even if it did seem like a completely random idea it is worth noting where you were when it happened so that you can later visualise yourself in that place and perhaps recreate the magic.

Over time, you can begin to get a sense of what your likely triggers are and therefore load the dice in your favour. There is no outright cheat to gaining inspiration but you can make educated guesses as to where it may be lurking. For me, I know that long walks are the key. At some point on a walk an idea will reveal itself. Quite often it is hiding in a tree. Really. Trees often spark suggestions in my mind. That is why whenever I’m struggling with something I head for a forest to help me work through it. I’ve found it works for me—you need to find what works for you. Once you’ve had hundreds of great ideas and noted the circumstances you may begin to see a pattern yourself and identify some common trigger that is prompting you. Then you can begin to put yourself in the right place and hope it’s the right time. How human brains work is beyond mysterious but our ability to learn and analyse means we can at least give ourselves the chance to have more of those precious bolts from the blue. If ideas aren’t happening for you, if inspiration seems to have dried up and you feel at a loss as to where to find it, the important thing is not to beat yourself up about it. You can’t force it to happen. Forget it for a while. Get out and do something else, go have some fun and allow your brain to play for a while. Perhaps visit a place you remember as a child, that you haven’t been for years. Anything that can give your brain a break, either by feeding it with a completely new experience or reuniting it with a fondly-remembered old one. Nine times out of ten it will reward you by letting you have your inspiration back.

20.01.20   >   Track Notes 79: Plane Song

Album:  

Writer(s)

Katie Melua & Don Black

Length:

4:07

Notes:

Another sumptuous song by Katie. Evocative, nostalgic, wistful, dreamy. Listen to her talk about the song here.

The spaghetti western whistling on this track is rather niftily performed by husband James Toseland. Pretty handy to know if Katie ever considers covering Roger Whittaker songs...

YouTube:

Live performance of Katie performing with the Gori Women's Choir — Plane Song live in Berlin. (Choir leader Teona handles the whistling duties here, and very nicely too. Katie knows some pretty good whistlers!)

Lyrics:

Plane Song 

19.01.20   >   Could Katie Do Floyd?

Pink Floyd are a bit Marmite. I’ve no idea why, since they were amazing musicians and songwriters. Perhaps women considered them a bit laddish and blokes were put off by “pink” in the band name. But they should only be judged on their music and if you don’t like that then fair enough, I understand (except I don’t because their music is amazing).

What has this got to do with Katie? Well, they recently released an album of remixes and live performances called “The Later Years”, the brilliance of which left me wondering if there are any Floyd songs Katie could cover. My conclusion was yes, absolutely there are. Katie’s ability to interpret and reimagine songs is peerless and I have no doubt she could reinvent a Floyd classic. But which one? Perhaps not “Another Brick In The Wall”. But “Wish You Were Here” is an option and acoustic-friendly. Or how about “Comfortably Numb”? One of my favourites is “On The Turning Away”. Katie would smash that out of the park. However, there may be one fly in the ointment—many Floyd songs end with an impressive Dave Gilmour guitar solo, and that includes the last two I mentioned. “Comfortably Numb” is often voted as one of the all-time great solos, but I love the solo for “On The Turning Away”. It makes me want to weep, for it sounds in my mind like Mother Earth herself raging and wailing for her misguided and dying children as they wreck the only home they have. Obviously, searing solos are not Katie’s forte but these songs are beautiful in themselves and don’t actually need those grandstand endings. I have no doubt that she would put a unique spin on them and make them her own. Realistically, it ain’t gonna happen but I do have fun thinking about these things and I think we all know by now that Katie can do pretty much anything she puts her mind to. Maybe something like Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” is a more likely cover (and that would be amazing too) but the truth is we just never know what Katie will do next. Mmmm… “What Katie Did Next”. Someone should write a book…

18.01.20   >   Katie Bite: Dirty Dice

dirty dice

17.01.20   >   Thoughts On The New Album

Following Katie’s recent live social media events (if they can be called ‘events’—the idea was good but they were let down by technology fail) we now know another studio album is coming in to view on the horizon. Katie mentioned summer but let’s just take that as a ballpark figure. If all goes swimmingly with recording and editing then it could happen but remember that creating art nearly always takes longer than we expect so don’t be too surprised (or vexed) if it turns out to be a late summer or even early autumn release. That’s fine, good things are worth waiting for and what matters is we know that good things are definitely coming this year. The autumn tour is already in place to promote the album so we can start saving our pennies and euros for all that lovely new merch.

In musical terms, what should we expect from the album? We know Katie has an explorative and experimental mind so she’s impossible to second guess but I don’t think we’ll see a massive change of musical direction, though perhaps there’ll be more variety in the songs compared to In Winter, which was intentionally a themed album. Most fans will be excited to see the Gori Women’s Choir being involved again and recording in Georgia with Georgian musicians is definitely a good thing. That said, there was no mention of the GWC in the tour announcement so it could be their involvement on the new album is only partial but we just won’t know until we hear it. It was also encouraging to hear Katie say she’d been concentrating on writing lyrics—this is an area where she always seems to have lacked confidence. Perhaps that was down to working alongside one of the greats in Mike Batt but her efforts have always held their own from day one with songs like “Faraway Voice” and “Belfast”. I love her lyrics and crave more and if she’s starting to accept she has the ability I for one will be as chuffed as a lobster with a Rubik’s Cube. If she trusts in herself as much as we all trust in her then everyone will be happy. Don’t worry Ketefans, the new album will not disappoint.

16.01.20   >   Katie on Facebook Live from Leno Records, Tbilisi

Katie on Facebook Live

FB Live is a bit rubbish really. It keeps freezing and breaking up so whilst the idea is amazing in practice it is quite frustrating. Also the comments are a bit of a distraction, just an endless stream of “I love you, come to my country” and very few actual questions worth answering. Katie hadn't done one for a couple of years and I'd hoped the technology would have improved but if anything it was worse. All in all then, though it is always lovely to see and hear her, this was something of a damp squib. The only real snippets we could gather were that she's spent 3 days with an orchestra recording for the new album and that for said album she has been focussing on lyric writing. The latter fact in particular makes me beyond happy and it was worth struggling through half an hour of stuttering and freezing footage for that gem alone.

Katie on Instagram Live

This wasn’t much better. But then Facebook owns Instagram, so it's no surprise. It ended abruptly after about five minutes, just as Katie was beginning to talk about the new album. She did manage to confirm it would be out in the summer moments before the Instagram plug got pulled. Don't know if it was a technical hitch or manager Sumit hitting the kill switch before she gave away too much information. Pretty sure it wasn't something I said because I didn't say anything. (I resisted the temptation to join the masses with something along the lines of "please come to Lincolnshire".) Also pretty sure it wasn't Katie simply being rude and hanging up mid-sentence. It would have been nice to have heard a little more but at least we now know there is involvement with the Gori Women’s Choir again as well as a Georgian orchestra, so it all bodes well for another cracking album, and not too long to wait for it either. It's a shame these live events don't really work that well. They could be a wonderful thing but it seems the technology isn't up to it yet and the free-for-all fan comments lead to a waterfall of mostly inane remarks—they could do with some kind of monitoring/regulation, perhaps with an assistant just allowing the more interesting ones through rather than a deluge of "you look beautiful 😍️" type stuff. Of course she does. But what's her favourite flavour crisps? The important questions just don't get answered...


live on Facebook live on Facebook

15.01.20   >   Katie Bite: Chase Me

chase me

14.01.20   >   Live Q & A with Katie from Georgia

Here's a message from Katie...

"We're going to be saying hi on Facebook and Instagram live from Tbilisi's @leno_records, the music studio where many iconic Georgian film soundtracks were recorded during the Soviet Times. Come and see what we're up to and join in the conversation around the topic of recording with orchestras and choirs."

Facebook Live — Thursday 16th January, 14:00 GMT
Instagram Live — Thursday 16th January, 14:40 GMT

leno records

13.01.20   >   Lyric Card: A Time To Buy

a time to buy

12.01.20   >   Activity Alert!

ketea

The notorious Kateona gang are wanted in several countries

Now then, pay attention. Intelligence reports leaked by operatives in Georgia suggest that these two persons of interest,aka "Kateona", have been spotted having hushed conversations and comparing notes (albeit musical ones), fuelling speculation that they are planning another job. This would not come as a great surprise since they are known to make an effective team and have pulled off something spectacular once before. They both have a record. Indeed, the one in blue has several of them, including gold and platinum ones. We know they are dangerously talented. Do not approach them unless you are prepared to risk getting something autographed. Rest assured, the situation is being monitored and if they succeed with another audacious plan they will be exposed and almost certainly spend time in the charts.

11.01.20   >   The Cold Reality of Talent Shows

How many successful recording artists can you name that were discovered through talent shows like X-Factor, Britain’s Got Talent, Fame Academy and The Voice? Think about it. For many years now there have been at least a couple of those shows running concurrently. What happened to all the winners? Steve Brookstein anyone? Michelle McManus? Leon Jackson? Joe McElderry? Matt Cardle? Ben Haenow? I could go on, though only with the help of Wikipedia, and anyway, you probably get the point. In fact, you could easily make a case that more success has been had by acts that didn’t actually win their competition—I mean, you may at least have heard of JLS, One Direction, Olly Murs, Stacey Solomon and of course SuBo herself, Susan Boyle. Very few of the winners have gone on to have more than a couple of albums before fading into obscurity yet year after year the wannabes whine about how much they want it. Do they actually know what it is that they want so much? Their fifteen minutes of fame? For that would seem to be the extent of the prize on offer. If the thing they really want is a long career as a respected recording artist then there’s only one way, and it starts with fending off the likes of Simon Cowell with a super-sized barge pole.

Basically, it’s a simple formula. To begin with, you need to be talented. If you’re born with it then yay, happy days. But it still needs to be nurtured. Most people aren’t born with it. Either way, it will take years of dedication to turn potential into talent. Hours and hours of practice, regular endless practice. And until you reach a level of competence where practice can begin to be enjoyable you will likely find it frustrating and boring. Once you have acquired the talent you need desire and dedication. The chances of making it in the music industry are slim to zero so your determination will need to be off the scale. Dreaming won’t make it happen; it will require hard work and relentless resolve. Oh, and luck too. Can you make your own? To some extent you can—the more time and effort you put in the greater your chances are of catching a break. The more lottery tickets you buy, the better your chances. But you will still need moments of pure luck. You could buy 99% of the lottery tickets and still see the winning one picked from the remaining 1%. A footballer may practice free-kicks for hours every week yet score the winning goal in a cup final by virtue of a deflection off an opponent’s backside. You can never be sure you are in the right place at the right time—that is all down to chance and fate. If it was meant to happen it will. But you can’t lie in bed waiting for it, it doesn’t work like that. Get on with doing what you love doing, day after day, and don’t pay any mind to when the lucky breaks will come your way. If you keep your head down and stick at it then you may one day look up and find doors are opening. The trick then will be never to tell yourself you’ve made it—there will always be more doors ahead and who knows what may be behind them. Life is only ever a work in progress.

10.01.20   >   Track Notes 78: A Time To Buy

Album:  

Writer(s)

Katie Melua

Length:

3:31

Notes:

A lovely song by Katie that cleverly fits the theme of the album by mentioning winter whilst avoiding use of the dreaded "C" word even though it alludes it Christmas shopping. That may not seem a big deal but it is—no one wants to listen to songs about Christmas in January and February but "A Time To Buy" evades that pitfall. After all, it could just as easily be referring to the January sales. In any case, the song is about more than shopping—it's about shoppers and how they all have their own story to tell. And it's further evidence of Katie's skill as a songwriter.

YouTube:

Dreamy video of Katie performing with the Gori Women's Choir — A Time To Buy.

Lyrics:

A Time To Buy 

09.01.20   >   Feeling The Warmth...

Thought I'd back up what I said yesterday by converting my Yamaha steel string to nylons. Got a pack of Ernie Ball Earthwood nylons with ball-ends and whacked the little monkeys in. Yamahas are nice and I didn't need to touch my truss rod at all (stop it). They'll need pretty regular tuning for a while until they settle down but they sound warmer than a baby baboon's buttocks.

guitar

08.01.20   >   String Theory

Professor Stephen Hawking used to bang on about string theory a lot, which I found odd since he wasn’t, to my knowledge, a guitarist. Basically it comes down to this: there are two types of string—steel and nylon. Why am I telling you this? Well, because the majority of singer-songwriters you see use a steel-string guitar, which is favoured by most genres. Classical guitarists tend to use nylon but often folk artists as well. Great. So, again, why am I telling you this? Well, because Katie favours nylons (behave, we’re talking guitar strings here), yet she may play many styles but not really classical or folk. What gives?

It’s all down to personal preference. In the first instance, when you are an absolute beginner, nylon is a little easier on your fingertips than steel strings, which feel like razor wire to begin with. But after a few weeks your finger pads harden to either type and this is no longer an issue. (This pad-hardening brings the additional benefit of letting you produce a cleaner sound with less of that hideous buzzing). Katie of course, is long past being a beginner. The main reason for preferring nylon is that they give a warmer, mellower sound with rich treble tones and good percussive attack. That sounds amazing, so why doesn’t everyone use nylon then? Steel strings have a brighter, crisper sound which many players prefer and they may be used to steel strings if they play electric guitar. Nylon strings tend to be plucked with your fingernails whereas steel strings often get played with a plectrum (or ‘pick’), hence the addition of a pick guard on these instruments.

The acoustic guitars themselves have differences. Classical guitars tend to be slightly smaller and have a slotted headstock with rods to wrap the strings around, whereas steel-stringed guitars tend to have a larger body and narrower neck and have a pick guard. Their strings are held by bridge pins instead of being tied on—which means you may not be able to use standard nylon strings on a steel-string guitar. And that raises the big question—can you use nylon strings on a steel-string guitar? Yes. You can, but if you want to experiment with nylons and you have a steel-string guitar you may need the rather uncomfortable sounding “ball end nylon strings”. That sounds ruder than it is. These are simply nylons that attach to your guitar in the same way as steels. It may not be quite as simple as that though and it may lead to buzzing and other problems that mean you have to get the guitar set up properly for the modification by things like adjusting your truss rod. (If you are not inclined to have your truss rod tampered with then put up with the issues or stick to steel strings.) Oh, and if you’ve got a classical guitar DO NOT try to go the other way and whack steel strings on it. You’ll bugger it up. End of.

So there you have it. String theory explained without any of that silly quantum nonsense.

07.01.20   >   Katie Bite: Wonderful Life

wonderful life

06.01.20   >   What Makes A Song Sad?

It wasn’t my intention to get the new decade off to a morose start but there does seem to be a bit of a theme creeping in to some of my early posts. Still, it is January and the decorations are down so now is probably as good a time as any to get it all out of the way. After yesterday’s sad song playlist I thought I’d muse on what it is that actually makes a song sad. After all, a song is just a bunch of notes and lyrics. But sound and music has had an emotional effect on human beings since the dawn of, well, human beings. How our brains interpret music can massively influence our mood.

One of the most obvious tricks for musical misery is choosing the right chords. Minor chords always sound more melancholy than major but progressions between the two can emphasise the gloom. A progression such as D7 to Fm to C, for example, may soon have you pondering your own mortality. And there is a lot of discussion about all this on the internet—just Google ‘sad chords’ and see.

Another factor is tempo. Fast songs are generally happy, slow ones sad. A protest song can be fast, or an angry song, but it is extremely difficult to make a fast sad song. Conversely, it isn’t easy to make a slow happy song. If you think about it, this mirrors our general moods in life—when we are in a positive mood we tend to bustle about injecting urgency into whatever we’re doing whereas when we’re down we are more inclined to feel lethargic and slouch around.

The singer’s voice is important. A low voice conveys melancholy much better. Think of Johnny Cash singing “Hurt”. Now imagine if the Bee Gees had sung that song. If Cash had sung “Massachusetts” it would have left people suicidal. This is more a matter of relative pitch than absolute. In other words, you don’t have to be a bass or baritone singer—it’s about making use of the lower register, using the bottom end of your vocal range. Karen Carpenter was astonishing when singing low and so is Katie. As an aside, those of us that grew up in the vinyl age may remember having hours of fun turning pop songs into dirges by playing 45s at 33rpm. I’m part of an elite group that has even tried the ultimate silly of playing 78s at 16rpm. (Some of you may be vaguely aware that 78s were a thing but so were 16s. I kid ye not. Sixteen revolutions per minute. What a golden age that was.)

Performance is also key. How the singer delivers the song, the emotions they put into it, go a long way to defining how the listener feels. This is the main reason why Katie is so effective at emotional music. Artful performance can also overcome the low voice rule—a good example of this is Springsteen’s “Lift Me Up”, a sad song that he delivers with a falsetto voice.

It isn’t entirely about music and performance. Lyrics can be just as important, if not more so. After all, music can only drop hints about how we should be feeling whereas lyrics don’t have to pull their punches. For example,

pink fluffy bunnies everywhere
sequins and sparkles in my hair
dancing in the rain without a care…

is hardly likely to tip you over the edge regardless of what the music is doing. But if you add sad music to words like

when you died in my arms
you took took away my charms
left me broken and alone…

you’re on the way to making a devastating cocktail of unbridled woe and desperation.

So next time you find yourself listening to a song and feeling sad why not try and work out which of the above techniques have been messing with your mind?

05.01.20   >   Playlist: Sad Songs for Melancholy Moments

Sometimes its nice to wallow in misery. Who wants to be happy all the time? Where’s the fun in that? Here’s the thing though—if you’re a naturally happy person how can you get into an appropriately morose mindset to curl up on the sofa in a candle-lit room with a tub of ice cream? Hah, just like Wonder Woman, Katie is always on hand to help. Here is a suitably sad set of songs to darken your mood. Once you’ve listened to this lot you’ll be convinced the world is full of miserable people so you are never alone. N.B. You may want to tag “A Happy Place” on to the end of the list just to help prod you back towards normality afterwards.

Sad Songs for Melancholy Moments

  1. Downstairs To The Sun
  2. Market Day In Guernica
  3. Junk Mail
  4. Dreams On Fire
  5. Never Felt Less Like Dancing
  6. Red Balloons
  7. The One I Love Is Gone
  8. The House
  9. What I Miss About You
  10. Piece By Piece
  11. Blue Shoes
  12. Lilac Wine
  13. Somewhere In The Same Hotel

04.01.20   >   Katie Bite: What I Miss About You

what I miss about you

03.01.20   >   Track Notes 77: Cradle Song

Album:  

Writer(s)

Traditional Romanian carol

Length:

1:43

Notes:

Short and sweet traditional carol from Romania. Katie has said that the music inspired her to write "Plane Song".

YouTube:

Performance videos a bit thin on the ground for this one but here's a little video of Katie talking about the song Katie on "Cradle Song"

Sheet Music:

Ivory tinklers among you may want to toddle off to Oxford University Press where you can buy the sheet music for this and other "In Winter" songs.

sheet music
cradle song at OUP

Lyrics:

Cradle Song 

02.01.20   >   A Secret To Start The New Year

There's a reason why this site is called AllAboutKatie and I normally try to make sure my posts here are relevant but sometimes I have thoughts that may not be about Katie but that might have been inspired by her in some way. These are usually music-related. For other ideas I have a more general author blog at cdwarhurst.com and today I posted an article there that I decided I should share here as well. After all, Ketefans are people too and many people find January a troubling month.

I’d like to share a little secret with you. Except it’s not really a secret, it’s something you’ll have heard many times. It’s just a seemingly glib little 5-word phrase: “Everything happens for a reason”. No doubt someone has uttered those words to you in times of adversity. They may even have escaped your own lips. The trouble is it has become a phrase that is over-used and that has been weakened in meaning. Yet such a simple little saying can change your life once you think about it and accept it. It requires faith and belief—not in a religious sense but rather in an acceptance that the Universe is what it is and cannot be understood by a human being any more than a blob of solder on a circuit board can understand how a computer works. There’s no point in wondering why we exist or pondering the meaning of life. It is unknowable. It is difficult to accept that everything was created for a purpose and it only begs the question of who created the creator and so on. Down that path lies mental misery.

Whether you are born into a life of luxury or a life of hardship, the best way to be happy is to believe you are living the life you are meant to. That does not mean you cannot change your life around if you want to—it simply means that there is no such thing as failure. Every life that has ever been lived has had a point to it no matter how hard it was to see. Your experience of the world, even if it has been miserable, will be completely unique and hence priceless. You may think you’ve achieved nothing but that is impossible to know—you could easily have said or done something that inspired someone else to do something amazing and although you are unaware of it, it wouldn’t have happened without you. When you are having a good life and things are going really well there’s no need to dig deep and search for solace but when you’re having a difficult time it is helpful to remember that there is a reason why and that you are a unique piece in an infinite puzzle that cannot be completed without you. You won’t ever get to see the finished picture, or even have the vaguest clue what it is meant to be, yet your part of it will have been vital, whether you see that or not. Most of us can think back on moments in our lives that seemed catastrophic at the time yet in hindsight led us down a path towards something better. Equally, there may have been moments that seemed like unbelievable good luck but that sent us down a road where trouble and despair lay waiting. We cannot second guess what lies ahead—tomorrow may be just like today, or something wonderful may happen, or something devastating may happen. The only preparation you can make is to convince yourself that whatever happens, be it good, bad or indifferent, it will happen for a reason. Once you get that you will be able to survive whatever Kipling’s famous two imposters, triumph and disaster, may throw at you.

01.01.20   >   Happy New Year! გილოცავთ ახალ წელს

As we look forward to the 2020s with eager anticipation, here's a graphical summary of the many gifts Katie has given the world over the past decade. We are truly grateful.

the 2010s



2019

December 2019 archive

November 2019 archive

October 2019 archive

September 2019 archive

August 2019 archive

July 2019 archive

June 2019 archive

May 2019 archive

April 2019 archive

March 2019 archive

February 2019 archive

January 2019 archive


2018

December 2018 archive

November 2018 archive

October 2018 archive

September 2018 archive

August 2018 archive

July 2018 archive

June 2018 archive

May 2018 archive

April 2018 archive

March 2018 archive

February 2018 archive

January 2018 archive


2017

December 2017 archive

November 2017 archive

October 2017 archive



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