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August 2020 Archive
31.08.20 > Lyric Card: Two Bare Feet
30.08.20 > Subjects For Songs
One of the interesting things that has come up through Katie’s extreme fan engagement sessions is just how many people say they write songs. I found a similar thing when I dived into the writing community. It is amazing how many people consider themselves writers of some kind. And it is very easy to get snooty about them—a common put down is “anything I’ve heard of?”, as if that in any way represents validation. The thing is, being a writer or songwriter is not a label you achieve by having a book published or a song released. Rather it is simply about you. If you write, be it stories, poems, lyrics, novels, or anything, then you are a writer. By definition. A writer is someone who writes. That is all there is to it. If you keep a daily journal you are a writer. Being a *successful* writer, well that is a different thing altogether, but never be afraid to label yourself a writer if you write and if others want to be cynical about it then that is their problem.
Since there are so many songwriters out there I wanted to talk about writing songs. Specifically, lyrics and poems. Is there a difference between lyrics and poems? Not a great deal. Songs can be just poems set to music, but often lyrics are shaped to fit the music and have repetitions like choruses and fade outs. You have more freedom with poems to structure them however you like. There are no rules—there may be conventions and guidelines, but not rules. Some song lyrics can be read like poetry. There’s a good degree of interchangeability. When I write a piece it is generally about wanting to express some thoughts. Only when it is done do I stand back and consider whether it works better as a poem or a song lyric. (If I decide it’s a lyric I’m in trouble because I can’t compose music. It ends up in a pile marked “find my Elton John”).
Anyway, how do you get ideas for songs? With any kind of writing the common advice is often “write about what you know”, but that’s rather simplistic and in any case, if you don’t know about something you can always go and learn and do some research. If you can learn anything you can know anything and therefore you can write about anything.
There’s no magic formula for getting ideas for songs, or any kind of writing for that matter. We all have different minds that respond to different triggers. Ideas come when they come. Usually out of the blue and at completely inconvenient times. However, there are things you can do to encourage them to come more often. I think the best tip is to be passionate—about life, about everything. Take an interest in everyone and everything because everyone has a story and everything is interesting. Question things rather than simply accepting them. Don’t say “ooh look, a blue dog!”, ask “why is that dog blue?”. It’s too easy to snap it, Instagram it and move on. A better idea is to go over to the owner and find out the story behind it. If I can plunder a little from Sherlock Holmes—it is not enough to merely see the world, you need to observe it.
If something or someone inspires you then that is prime motivation for writing—just think of Katie writing “Faraway Voice” about Eva Cassidy or Dylan writing “Tempest” about the Titanic disaster. But that’s not a well you can dip into all the time, you should use it sparingly. Another solid idea is to write about things that have happened to you or that you witnessed first hand, that have made an impression on you. Perhaps you had an argument with your boyfriend about cheese. At the time, it might have been heated (the argument, not the cheese, unless the argument was about toasted cheese) but months later it might inspire you to write a song about it (something like “Don’t Blame Brie”). Writing a song about a painful experience can be cathartic, whilst writing about a joyous experience can be celebratory—either way, it’s good to share.
If you really get stuck for inspiration the best advice is to get out into the world and just watch it all go by. A street café is a wonderful place to while away some time and watch the world go about its business. Just listen to the lyrics of “Tom’s Diner” by Suzanne Vega to see how much you can observe whilst quietly sipping your coffee in a corner. Look at the guy sweeping the pavement and picking up the litter. He’s invisible to all the passers-by but he probably has a story just as interesting as any of them. It’s a wonderful world indeed, so let it inspire you. Oh, and since I’ve mentioned Suzanne, she wrote a song called “My Favorite Plum”—here is some of it:
My favorite plum Hangs so far from me See how it sleeps And hear how it calls to me See how the flesh Presses the skin, It must be bursting With secrets within, I've seen the rest, yes And that is the one for me
You see, you really can write about anything.
29.08.20 > Crossword No. 3
"Leaving The Mountain" is yet another jaw-dropper from Katie's incredible mind. Which means I've had to dust off my inedible mind and conjure up another crossword to celebrate it. It's Saturday morning so what better time to sit back and relax with coffee, croissant and a crossword? (Or prosecco, peanuts and a puzzle if that's more you).
If you want to print it out to fill in just click on the puzzle to open it in a separate window and hit CMD-P (Mac) or CTRL-P (Windows).
2. innate volume hating
4. Katie's No. 1 (with Eva Cassidy)
6. the width of a thread
7. Katie's current record label
9. an album you could live in
10. Sparks flew when this song got remixed
13. Utmost compilation?
14. This stuff makes Katie's strings (and stockings?)
15. Like Elvis had, but not suede
16. cheesy Georgian flatbread
17. Legendary lyricist who worked with Katie on "In Winter"
18. Womble maestro
20. Perhaps Hermione wrote this song for Lisa Batiashvili?
21. Black Sea resort where Katie grew up
22. Bashful Lad
1. Apt song for the Tour Bus
3. Katie covered this Simon &Garfunkel classic
5. informed ears?
8. Life is just a slow train...
11. Katie's mate and "Red Balloons" collaborator
12. "A Love Like That" video co-star
19. flower named after Katie
2. innate volume hating [LEAVINGTHEMOUNTAIN]
4. Katie's No. 1 (with Eva Cassidy) [WHATAWONDERFULWORLD]
6. the width of a thread [SPIDERSWEB]
7. Katie's current record label [BMG]
9. an album you could live in [THEHOUSE]
10. Sparks flew when this song got remixed [AHAPPYPLACE]
13. Utmost compilation? [ULTIMATECOLLECTION]
14. This stuff makes Katie's strings (and stockings?) [NYLON]
15. Like Elvis had, but not suede [BLUESHOES]
16. cheesy Georgian flatbread [KHACHAPURI]
17. Legendary lyricist who worked with Katie on "In Winter" [DONBLACK]
18. Womble inventor [MIKEBATT]
20. Perhaps Hermione wrote this song for Lisa Batiashvili? [NOBETTERMAGIC]
21. Black Sea resort where Katie grew up [BATUMI]
22. Bashful Lad [SHYBOY]
1. Apt song for the Tour Bus [ONTHEROADAGAIN]
3. Katie covered this Simon &Garfunkel classic [BRIDGEOVERTROUBLEDWATER]
5. informed ears? [DREAMSONFIRE]
8. Life is just a slow train... [CRAWLINGUPAHILL]
11. Katie's mate and "Red Balloons" collaborator [POLLYSCATTERGOOD]
12. "A Love Like That" video co-star [BILLYHOWLE]
19. flower named after Katie [TULIP]
28.08.20 > Katie Bite: Leaving The Mountain
I let birthday girl Angie choose today's blog entry and she went for another "Leaving The Mountain" Katie Bite. Excellent choice.
27.08.20 > Katie Conundrum No 1
Here's my latest way to waste half a minute of your time. Say hello to the Katie Conundrum! Hit play and an anagram is shown. You then have 30 seconds to guess what it says (probably a song title or album name). As soon as you think you've got it hit REVEAL to see if you were right. If you don't get it within 30 seconds the world will end. Just kidding! Nothing bad happens: the answer is simply revealed and you can spend the rest of the day trudging around like a dunce. There are no prizes other than the reward of trying to set your best time. Such fun. Oh, and sorry there's no jazzy tick-tock music to ramp up the pressure—you'll just have to hear it in your head...
26.08.20 > Katie Bite: Leaving The Mountain
25.08.20 > Nobody's Perfect
That’s how the saying goes, isn’t it? And as sayings go, it is probably the most accurate one of all. For it is true—nobody is perfect. Nope, not even Katie. I know some of you will be choking on your custard creams to hear such heresy, especially from one who has constructed an entire web site seemingly suggesting the reverse. There’s no doubt there are many that *think* she’s perfect; I’m just being straight with you. After all, if you really think about it, what does perfect actually mean? You can apply it in a technical sense to describe say, a circle or a diamond. And I’m beginning to form the impression that Album No 8 could come close to attaining the P-word. But a human being? Perfection requires every conceivable aspect to be correct, from emotional and mental traits to physical appearance, right down to the molecular level—perfection would require 100% error-free DNA. Maybe one day the genetic side of the equation could be engineered to attain perfection but personality is a different thing altogether. If you asked every person on the planet to name who they consider the perfect human being and to describe exactly why then someone, somewhere will get more votes than everyone else but that person will still only have a fraction of the overall vote and the reasons given for choosing them will vary between all those that voted. This is the crux of it: every single one of us has a different idea of what perfection means. If I asked those fans that consider Katie perfect to list 10 reasons, then no two lists would be identical. There would be repetition of course, with things like “her voice”, “her eyes”, “her smile” and so on, but there would also be more arcane choices like “her ear lobes” or “her left tibia”, or “the sinusoidal amplitude of her vibrato”.
Another curious thing about all this is that often the people we cite as being perfect are celebrities. If you describe your wife or husband as perfect then fair enough—you should know them better than anyone—but how much do you really know about the celebrity upon which you are bestowing this grand title? After all, how many celebrities do you suppose are WYSIWYG (does anyone still use that term? What you see is what you get, if not). They are the face of their own “brand” and in this brutal age of marketing and money, image is everything. So the celebrity you see is the person they want you to see and not necessarily their true persona. It isn’t about being dishonest, it’s just how the world works and if you want to get on in it you have to play by the rules whether you like them or not. Katie is more than clever enough to know the rules by heart. Perhaps she’s a right twiglet once you know her but you’re not going to get to know her. As Billy Joel so beautifully put it, she only reveals what she wants you to see. If you meet her at a gig you will be blown away by how lovely she is but you need to remember that she is still “on duty” and representing her brand—she will smile sweetly at you even if she considers you an absolute cocktail sausage. It would be interesting to see if she comes across as gracious if you are in Tesco and just beat her to the last Pot Noodle… My gut feeling is that Katie genuinely is a phenomenal human being, easily perfect enough for me, but not everyone. And I hasten to add that “perfect enough” is an oxymoron; perfection is binary—it is or it isn’t—but you get what I mean. That said, I do get a lot of things wrong (I’m not perfect) and maybe at home she swears like a sailor and rolls reefers like they’re going out of fashion whilst slouching on the sofa in a ketchup-stained vest watching Love Island and pigging out on cheesy nachos. (Could I have just come up with a future album cover?) So just remember next time you are about to describe Katie (or anyone for that matter) as perfect: she may be the closest thing to perfect that you’ve ever seen, but she could be acting twenty-two when she’s really seventeen…
24.08.20 > Quick Fact
Katie is one day younger than Prince Harry. She is two days older than Dizzee Rascal. Do feel free to use this information in any way you see fit.
23.08.20 > Acoustic Version of "A Love Like That"
There are songwriters that aren't great performers. They can write gorgeous songs but usually rely on others to sing them. Then there are great performers who can hold an audience in the palm of their hand and squeeze every last ounce of goodness out of a song, even make an average song sound great, but their songwriting efforts are perhaps a bit, well, meh. What is rare and special is when one person has both talents. Like, for example, Katie Melua. She can craft a song like Burt Bacharach and deliver it like Ella Fitzgerald. What is even more extraordinary is that she can give a seemingly effortless rendition of a song in a studio backed by a full orchestra and yet somehow replicate the quality of performance live on stage and, as we've discovered this summer, even sat on her sofa at home with just a guitar. I cannot think of any other performer that can adapt their music to any situation so seamlessly without losing any of the power of the song. Katie illustrated this perfectly last night with a home recording of "A Love Like That" for BBC Radio 4's "Loose Ends" program.
As you will know, "A Love Like That" is a sophisticated tour de force akin to a Bond theme with its sweeping orchestration and classy vocals. How on earth could it be possible to adapt that to a stripped back sofa song without breaking the foundation on which the song is built? I'll tell you how. It's because Katie is one of the greatest interpreters of a song the world has seen: she is right up there with the likes of Sinatra, Fitzgerald, Dylan and Eva Cassidy. She has a mystical ability to instinctively understand what makes a song tick and how to get the best out of it no matter what the circumstances or conditions are. The skill lies in being able to distil the essence of the song so that it retains its identity even if the costume and makeup have been removed. Her acoustic version of "A Love Like That", with her brother Zurab accompanying her on guitar, was just as sensational as the full-blown studio version. That is some trick to pull off. I don't know how she does it. But the fact that she does do it, time and again, is why I'm in awe of her talent and why she's my undisputed number 1 and indeed why AAK even exists at all. If Katie weren't so brilliant you might now be staring at a blank web page! (Or perhaps something like "All About Vega", cos I like Suzy too, but no doubt that particular website would attract, and quickly disappoint, legions of astronomy geeks). But she is brilliant and you are here and now I'm telling you to go away! (Nicely, of course. I mean, you may want to toddle off and listen for yourself.)
If you'd like to hear this delectable performance of "A Love Like That" it will be available for the next 29 days at BBC Radio 4: Loose Ends
22.08.20 > Seven Second Challenge 13
Bit late posting today. Sorry. I was up half the night working on something rather special, but you'll have to wait until next month for that. Anyway, I'm going easy on you with today's 7 Second Challenge. If you don't get this one then I'll have no alternative than to label you a misshapen and unsugared jelly tot. 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 13
Perfect World (In Winter)
21.08.20 > Katie's On A Roll! Leaving The Mountain
I'm gonna need a bigger thesaurus. (Is there another word for thesaurus?) I'm fast using up my annual allowance for each and every adjective I know that can convey just how timber-shivering Katie's new songs are. Exquisite. Immaculate. Divine. Sensational. You're probably getting the drift. I'm talking about career-defining brilliance. And I'm not the least bit surprised—after all, this is the beautiful mind that created “Faraway Voice” at sixteen. Two decades down the road I’d be hoping that mind would be producing works of fine art, and Katie is not disappointing. I’m even thinking now that when the vinyl of Album No 8 finally arrives in my paws I won’t play it but rather frame it and hang it on the wall that I may admire it for the masterpiece it surely is.
If I’m honest, Katie has me worried. I try my best to make this quirky little site a suitable homage to her talents but ever since I first heard “Maybe I Dreamt It” I’ve had the feeling that she’s a star about to turn supernova and it seems this album is going to trigger it. And I’m concerned about whether I’ll be able to keep doing her justice. I’ll try of course but I’ll have to up my game. She’s raising the bar and I’m on the top rung of the step-ladder already. Maybe I need a new ladder. Anyway, I digress, none of that is your concern so that thing you see lumbering over the horizon puffing and panting is the point and I’ll try to get to it—today Katie has released the latest track from Album No 8. It is called “Leaving The Mountain” and it is exquisite. No, immaculate. No, divine. Oh for heaven’s sake, give me a minute while I grab that thesaurus… let’s see now, here we go, winsome, ravishing, beguiling. Yeah, it’s all of those. (And more, but I need to save some for next time). It would really make my life easier if Katie would just release an absolute stinker, a rancid turkey of a song. But we all know that ain’t gonna happen.
Katie has said the song was inspired by a trip with her father around the mountains of the Caucasus near the Black Sea. I’ve been there myself and it is a bewitching part of the world, as is most of Georgia, and it deserves to be celebrated with suitably bewitching songs. “Leaving The Mountain” is exactly that. It could have been written by Burt Bacharach and sung by Dionne Warwick. It’s that smooth. No, it’s smoother. It makes me want to go into the woods and hug a squirrel. For all that is wrong with this world—which is a lot—music like this makes it all worth the struggle. I think it is one of the best songs Katie has ever written, and I thought that less than a minute into it. I’m going to get lost (and I know some of you wish I would) in this song for a long time to come. Bravo, Katie.
20.08.20 > Lyric Card: When You Taught Me How To Dance
19.08.20 > Leaving The Mountain
Just gonna leave you with this. Night, night.
19.08.20 > Track Notes 103: Two Bare Feet
18.08.20 > Katie Bite: A Love Like That
17.08.20 > Katie's Extreme Fan Engagement
Those of you who are on Instagram will no doubt be enjoying the weekly live events Katie has been doing for the past, I think, nine weeks now. For those that aren’t, let me tell you about them. She calls them “extreme fan engagement” and basically it involves her talking one-to-one with fans and asking them questions rather than the other way round. She has been doing them every Thursday at 6.30pm. It is quite an extraordinarily lovely thing for her to do for her fans. I’ll be honest: I don’t really understand how it works (a shocking admission for someone with a degree in computer science, I know, but social media is something I really struggle to get my head around). What happens is, she starts a “live video” session just like when she does one of her “home” gigs, and then there’s the usual flurry of hearts and “hello” messages as fans start watching. Somehow you can then ask Katie to be interviewed and she can see a list of the requests. She’ll pick a name that takes her fancy and by some sorcery she is suddenly talking to them via video link. Everyone else can see both Katie and chosen fan in a split-screen arrangement. It is then like a private conversation between them except the rest of Instagram can become voyeurs and watch and listen. It isn’t always a smooth experience; the technology involved is still not quite able to handle what is being asked of it. The clearest glitch-free episode was the one where Katie was in Georgia, which may surprise some but is exactly what I expected—when I was in Georgia I found the wifi and phone signals to be excellent everywhere I went. When Georgians do something they do it well.
There’s no strict format to these “interviews” but Katie so far has chosen three fans every week and chatted for 10-15 minutes with each of them. She always comes across as a woman of great probity. (In private she might be an utter minx but that is not our business.) She doesn’t set timers or glance at the clock so her lucky victim doesn’t feel rushed or that they are wasting precious time with each “um” and “er”. That said, she is clearly skilled at this kind of thing and always manages to draw each conversation to a natural conclusion without hurrying anyone or cutting them off. Wogan himself would be proud of her mic-side manner.
Given that music is Katie’s life I’m surprised she doesn’t poke around into her fans musical influences more, though of course there is the obvious hurdle of her not wanting it to be all about Katie (see what I did there?) so questions like favourite artist or song are non-starters because they are something of an open invitation for a fan to gush uncontrollably, which would be embarrassing for all concerned. But perhaps a question like “if your life was a movie name a song from the soundtrack” would be interesting. She might hastily add “other than mine” to that but really, if a song of hers has meant that much to someone then why shouldn’t they explain why? She does try to ask the same questions to each fan, the idea being that they have time to think about their answers in advance but frankly I think she is underestimating the sheer heart-pounding deer-in-the-headlights panic induced by suddenly having someone you fair worship staring back at you from your screen. It is a constant surprise how well most people handle it; Katie is extremely good at putting her fans at ease but even so it is clearly overwhelming for many of them. This tends to mean that even if they had prepared a top answer for each question, in the heat of the moment their brain turns to mush and they struggle to think straight. It’s just a weird thing about human nature that certain people we idolise can have that effect on us yet at the end of the day we are all just people. But somehow they get through it and their personalities begin to shine. As well as Katie getting to know some of her fans it is also introducing many of them to each other, which is lovely.
There are very few stars of Katie’s magnitude that would give their time to fans in such a manner as this. She will tell you she gets a lot out of it herself—and frankly, why would she do it otherwise?—after all, it is an interesting insight into the lives of some of the people that love her music, but for the chosen fan it is an almost out-of-body experience that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. I don’t think it would be too dramatic to say for some of them it may even change their lives.
16.08.20 > Seven Second Challenge 12
Bit of an easier one for you this time. 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 12
Spider's Web (Piece By Piece)
15.08.20 > Part 2, Behind the Scenes: Songwriting
Part 2 of Katie's mini-documentaries about the making of Album No. 8. These films are just gorgeous. Everything about Album No. 8 oozes class. Katie speaks so softly, almost reverently, you may need to turn the sound up.
(NB: Due to YouTube copyright policy the video won't play right here—clicking the pic above will take you to the YouTube site to watch it.)
15.08.20 > Katie on TalkRadio
Lovely little, actually quite long, interview with Katie on TalkRadio on Thursday. If you want to watch it then click the pic. Yes, I did say 'watch' and yes, it is a radio station, and yes, it is a video and well, that's just how the world works in 2020. Embrace it. The interviewer is a bit of a gherkin—hadn't done even basic research such as when the album is out and thought that Georgia was a town, the clown, and also thought Tbilisi was a town (one he couldn't begin to pronounce), and probably even thinks his wife is a town—but Katie remained gracious and kept flashing that smile that could lighten the darkest heart and revealed some lovely insights into the process of making AN8. I don't think she'll take up his suggestion of calling album number nine Album No. 9; personally, I rather hope she calls it "Albert" (for no real reason other than I'm a fool).
(Katie is on at around 2hrs 3mins but you can, and I suggest you do, scrobble, or whatever you want to call it, to that point in the timeline. Oh, and ignore the banner at the bottom: if you do call 0344 499 1000 you won't find Katie waiting to chat on the other end. At least I don't think so. I haven't actually tried it. Maybe she has a temp job on reception for them...)
14.08.20 > Katie Bite: I Do Believe In Love
13.08.20 > Katie on BBC Radio 2
A real injection of class for BBC Radio 2 this morning as Dermot O’Leary interviewed Katie in between playing “A Love Like That” and “Airtime”. The sheer quality of these songs is a cut above anything else around at the moment. I was talking about “Airtime” only yesterday and hearing it on the radio (which weirdly is somehow different to hearing it on Spotify or whatever, even if the sound is coming from the same speakers) just reinforced the exquisite nuance and detail woven into every note. If it were a painting it would be hanging in the Louvre already. Listening to it is like relaxing in a bath of liquid gold whilst being fed salted caramel chocolates by the woman (or man) ((or horse)) of your dreams. I watched the video for it again last night and it is starting to give me goosebumps. Katie could have been a cracking actress. She’s more photogenic than a puppy kissing a kitten whilst riding a dolphin into a sunset. I *really* hope she puts out a DVD of the “Album No 8” videos. It might go some way to replacing the cancelled gigs this winter. There are now only 63 days to go until we get our sticky mitts on “Album No 8”. Excitement is mounting. It is going to be something very special indeed.
12.08.20 > Not Enough Airtime?
There’s an utter muppet on Twitter accusing Katie of being bland on “Airtime”. It’s a sad fact of life that some people only like what they know. They want every song Katie sings to be like “Nine Million Bicycles”. Well guess what? If you want to stay stuck in the past then listen to “Nine Million Bicycles” on repeat. Sorted. But if you really appreciate good music then you need to embrace the new and listen to it properly. “Airtime”, along with “A Love Like That”, are two of the best songs Katie has ever recorded. The understated singing style on “Airtime” reflects the helpless resignation of knowing you’re in a relationship where the love has all but ebbed away. It is not a song of joy, nor is it one to march down the aisle to—it is a lament to lost love. It is a song that should not be delivered with screeching rage and seething pain but rather numb acceptance of the cold reality of how relationships can deteriorate in real life. The sparkle has gone, life has gone flat. It is acutely observed and divinely delivered. “Airtime” is a thinking person’s song—subtle, intelligent, adult music. For me, it is a masterpiece and Katie, as always, has absolutely nailed the delivery. If a song isn’t your cup of tea then that’s fine, you don’t have to like everything an artist does, but don’t go on social media and call them bland and criticise their lyrics—they have every right to make whatever music they want. All the listener has to do is decide whether it is for them or not. I know I’m not alone in thinking that “Airtime” is a sublime track. And I would point out that the tweets calling it bland received zero likes. Personally, I can’t get enough “Airtime”.
11.08.20 > Trust Katie!
Trust is a very big word. Massive in fact. No, I know it is only five letters smartypants, but it is a Tardis word and is in fact bigger than antidisestablishmentarianism on the inside. Trust me. But think about it. How many people can you *really* trust? For most of us the answer will be ‘not many’. If you trust everyone you’re a fool. If you trust no one then you’re paranoid. Generally there’s a handful of people we think we can trust but if push came to shove we might discover otherwise. It’s an important gift to give someone your trust and you should never do it lightly. “Okay boss, great,” I don’t hear you say. “but where is all this leading?”
Katie earned my trust a long time ago. There wasn’t one defining moment when I suddenly thought “right, I’m going to trust her”, rather it gradually evolved over time, in the background, until one day it dawned on me that I’d given it to her. I know, I’m still not making sense. It’s about her musical choices.
I often blather on about songs she could cover or albums she could make and so on. That’s all a bit of fun. In truth, I just sit back and let her take my breath away with every new thing she comes up with. And I never worry about what she will do next because she hasn’t once let me down or disappointed me with any of her music. There’s no one else I can say that about. It’s a wonderful feeling knowing that whatever she does in the future I will love it. How can I be so sure of that? Because I trust her. I’m tuned in to her frequency so her music will always resonate with me, whatever direction she takes it. And I trust her because she cares about her music and crafting something beautiful and timeless rather than banging out a string of disposable hits to cash in on gullible youngsters. She is an artisan songwriter and gifted performer on the front line of making the world a better place to exist in. I suspect she doesn’t always trust herself as much as she should but at the end of the day her talent and desire to create wonderful music will not let her down and she will always deliver. I trust her implicitly. If aliens turned me into a pile of sand I’d want Katie to be holding me in her palms. (In reality she’d probably just bin it and carry on with what she was doing but hey, I’d never know and the chances of that scenario actually occurring are about on a par with a hamster named Algernon discovering three new elements and a cure for the common cold.)
So there you have it. Trust needs to be earned. I hope Katie has earned yours. She has mine, and I’ve seen enough from Album No 8 to know my trust is going to be rewarded handsomely. But I already knew that…
10.08.20 > Lyric Card: What A Wonderful World
09.08.20 > "A Love Like That" Chrome Theme
I was perusing Google Chrome themes in search of a new look, as you do, though maybe you don't—it's probably just me, and nothing was quite tickling my fancy. And I'd rather set my heart on having my fancy tickled. So I decided to do what I normally do in these situations and tickle my own fancy (stop making your own jokes). I thought it would be bordering on spiffing to have a browser themed to match the new look of AAK. Not entirely surprisingly, no one else in the whole world had had the same idea and created one so I had to make it myself. Well, it's more fun that way in any case. Here's what it looks like then, though you've probably looked before even reading a syllable of my inane blurb:
If you want it, and I'll be crushed if you don't, then you can get it from A Love Like That Theme. Installing it requires a bit of settings tinkering but assuming that holds no fear for you then there's full instructions here.
08.08.20 > Katie Bite: No Better Magic
07.08.20 > Seven Second Challenge 11
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 11
What It Says On The Tin (Pictures)
06.08.20 > Katie's 2020
Well, what a year this has beeen, and it's only August...
05.08.20 > Track Notes 102: When You Taught Me How To Dance
When You Taught Me How To Dance
Mike Batt, Nigel Westlake, Richard Maltby
Oh my, Mike Batt worked a little magic on this number that Nigel Westlake had floating around for the soundtrack of the movie "Miss Potter". Nigel had the bones of the song but was struggling to flesh it out so he called in Mike and Katie. With virtually only a few hours to work with, Mike tweaked the song and wrote fresh lyrics along with Richard Maltby. Katie arrived and recorded the thing pretty much instantly and the movie had a classic song under its belt. No one would suspect it was a last minute rush job listening to it. Mike's beautiful lyrics and Katie's timeless performance combine yet again to give the world something simply divine. One of my favourite Katie tracks.
Well now, if you are a fan of a certain Harold Potter and Hermione Granger then this is going to make you melt...Harry and Hermione
04.08.20 > Why Album No 8 Is Important
Album No 8 is just over ten weeks away now after what seems like an eternal wait. But all good things…
Whilst it would be premature to start reviewing it, even though I’m convinced it is going to be astonishing, I think it is worth reflecting on why it is such an important album. Let’s start by noting that most artists never even make it to an eighth album, but of those that do does it stick in the memory? For The Beatles, for example, it was “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” but would you have known that was their eighth? Okay, I know there will be a clever-clogs out there that did know that, but would you have known Dylan’s was “John Wesley Harding”? (If that’s a yes too then I want you on my pub quiz team).
The point is, album number eight is usually unremarkable. Not in musical terms, necessarily, I hasten to add—after all, at the time of release every artist will canoodle their creation like a new baby and time might even reveal it to be a classic—but the fact that it was number 8 will generally be forgotten.
In Katie’s case, things may be very different. For a start, no one is ever going to forget that it was her eighth album. But it is important because it is in some ways her second album, and we all know how difficult they are rumoured to be. Of course, I’m not writing her first six studio albums out of the history books. They are all wonderful and any artist would be proud of them. Now, I need to be careful here because the last thing I would ever want to do is offend Katie, but I think she will understand what I mean when I say that in a sense all she had to do with the Dramatico albums is turn up and sing. Obviously, she played a much larger part than that, getting involved with the writing and arranging and production and what not, especially on “The House”, but had she not been quite so eager to learn everything she could have, quite literally, just turned up to sing and let Mike Batt and Dramatico worry about all the mixing and engineering stuff. Once she parted with Dramatico she effectively became her own record label and it was up to her to think of and handle everything. (BMG distributes her music but in a sense they work for her rather than the other way round—a bit like me writing and producing my own books then getting Amazon to sell them).
You could therefore look at “In Winter” as something of a franchise reboot and therefore the first album for “new Katie”. Yet in some ways it was a bit of a free hit. She was still carrying the momentum from the Dramatico years and most people would have seen “In Winter” as a new Katie Melua album without even being aware of her split from Dramatico. It was also less of a gamble because of the ‘Winter’ theme—although that was a distinction from a ‘Christmas’ album it is still often perceived as such. That is a double-edged sword: some people may consider it to not be a ‘proper’ album but ‘just a Christmas album’ and hence not take it as seriously or give it the credit it is due but by the same token anyone that wasn’t that impressed with “In Winter” can write it off as a Christmas album and not count it against Katie in the grand scheme of things.
Album No 8 is different. This time, there is nowhere to hide. This is a full-blown, proper album, written and produced by Katie. If it is well-received, she can take the credit and bask in the glory whereas if it flops she has nobody else to blame. I’m not a fan of spoiler alerts, so I’ll just blurt it out right now—she has nothing to worry about. Nothing, that is, except how to stay afloat in a raging sea of compliments. The songs we’ve heard so far are enough to tell us that she is going to deliver a classy, polished album of intelligent, highly crafted songs that will enhance her reputation within the industry and, hopefully, among the public too. It is an important album because it is one she needed to get right, and I have a feeling she’s nailed it. Naturally, as a loyal fan I am going to support whatever she does but I really do think she's going to win a lot of new admirers with this material.
03.08.20 > Katie Bite: A Love Like That
02.08.20 > AYMHM 3: Tomorrow's Harvest
Last time out on Albums You May Have Missed I mentioned I had a penchant for instrumental music. That was deliberately phrased to stop me looking *too* weird, but I cannot in all conscience continue to disguise the fact that I'm heartily obsessed with ambient electronica. Of course, you only have to look at the web site you are on to realise that whenever I need comfort or inspiration then Katie's voice is the first port of call. For most of the remaining time though you'll find me lost in a world of atmospheric noises that allow me to travel to other worlds in my mind. When I'm writing, especially, I don't want the distraction of lyrics but I find it hard to work in silence. Ambient electronica is just the ticket—it gets the creative juices flowing without taking over your brain entirely. Perhaps you could write a love sonnet whilst listening to heavy metal but I know I couldn't. A man's gotta know his limitations.
Boards Of Canada
So, where do I begin? It's a tricky one. There are a ton of candidates and I've already changed my mind a couple of times. I could probably run another web site along the lines of "All About Ambient", but you know, I can't be arsed. These things are a lot of work even if they are a labour of love and AAK is a big enough drain on my batteries so I'll just resort to sneak tactics like this to get the odd bit of ambient mention in and cross my fingers that Katie doesn't get cross with Craggie for lowering the tone of what is ostensibly her site.
I decided upon Tomorrow's Harvest by Boards Of Canada. This band isn't really a band, nor are they Canadian. They are a pair of elusive and reclusive Edinburgh-based brothers that spend most of their time making music and very little of it performing or releasing said music. But their sound is quite unique. It has an ethereal sense of vague nostalgia about it, almost as though it was made in the 60s or something. As it turns out, this evocative past-longing vibe is something BoC deliberately try to create and they are rather good at it. They use a wide range of techniques to get that distinctive blend, including knackered old analogue tape machines that can give a wobbly pitch-variance, distorted samples from 70s television documentaries and probably even their mum's best set of pans if they could get away with it.
Whenever you mention the word "ambient" people's eyes glaze over and they are immediately picturing scented candles and tacky health spa "wellness being" music with tinkling pianos and fluttering flutes. Get that nonsense out of your head right now. Ambient is about painting a picture in your mind with music, a panoramic soundscape. You should be able to close your eyes and drift away to improbable worlds where your brain can make anything it desires a reality. So do yourself a favour: get yourself alone, mute your phone, don your favourite pair of cans, close your eyes and just see where Tomorrow's Harvest takes you. (If the answer is "nowhere" then soz about that, it don't work for everyone!)
01.08.20 > Seven Second Challenge 10
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 10