( Click a heading to expand/collapse an entry. Click the banner above to toggle list of articles. Click here for the > ARCHIVES)
January 2021 Archive
31.01.21 > Girl From The North Country
January blues are bad enough as it is but with lockdown on top, well, about the only thing I can imagine that could bust through all that and fill the heart with sunshine is to be serenaded by a beautiful Georgian princess. You'd think the odds of that happening were quite slim but you have come to exactly the right place—a magical website where the Hermione of harmony waves her wand and leaves us spellbound.
Katie has kindly given us another jab in the arm to boost our immune systems in the form of "Girl From The North Country". This is another Dylan gem, even older than me. It came about when Dylan was hanging with folk singers in London and heard Martin Carthy's arrangement of "Scarborough Fair". Dylan borrowed bits of the music and lyrics for his song, which you can clearly hear. We tend to think of "Scarborough Fair" in terms of the Simon & Garfunkel version, which may be definitive but this is a very old folk song—its roots can be traced back to around 1670—and it is interesting to note that Paul Simon also learned the song from Martin Carthy just a few years after Dylan had so it could be argued that perhaps Carthy's version should be considered the definitive one! Katie has now spread her bets by covering both Simon and Dylan...
30.01.21 > The Adventures of Bad Katie - Episode 4
Bad Katie was sat in her studio with her feet up on the desk. She’d been fiddling with a Rubik’s cube for the best part on hour and still hadn’t got any colours lined up. Finally, in exasperation, she threw it out of the open window. Down in the garden below a startled cat yelped. She was just about to jump up and take a picture of the dazed feline for Instagram when her phone rang.
Bad Katie put on a posh accent and answered, “Good morning, Kensington Topiary Museum. How may I help?”
“Katie, I know it’s you, Siri knows your number.”
“Blast her, the witch,” said Bad Katie. “Hi Sumit, what do you want, I’m really busy. Now isn’t the best time.”
“Oh, and when would be a good time then?”
“Ha ha. Look Katie, I have amazing news! Gary Barlow has offered to do a duet with you!”
“You mean Gary Barlow of Take That?”
“Of course? Is there another one?”
“Bloody hope not. Well, you can tell Gary Barlow he can Take That offer and shove it up his...”
“Our sales would go through the roof afterwards. At least think about it.”
“You persuaded me to do ‘Islands In The Stream’ with Peter Maffay. Look how that turned out. ”
“What do you mean? That was great. They lapped it up in Germany.”
“In Germany maybe. But all the rest of the world lapped up was that viral deep-faked video where they put mine and Peter’s faces on Kenny Rogers' and Dolly Parton's.”
“Well, you have to admit, it was quite funny.”
“But why did they have to make me Kenny?”
Sumit chuckled. “You looked great with a beard!”
“And how great will you look with no nads?”
“Honestly Katie, you need to get a sense of humour.”
“What do you mean? I almost wet myself the other day when you slipped on that dog turd and ended up face-first in a privet bush.”
“That was not funny. It was dangerous.”
“It got ten thousand likes on Instagram.”
“Katie! You promised you wouldn’t post that!”
“Do you even know me?”
Sumit sighed. “Unfortunately, yes.”
“Sumit, I’m wounded by that!”
“Oh Katie, you know I love you really. But you do put me through the mill, don’t you?”
“No idea what you mean. I must be a joy to manage.”
“No comment. Anyway, we could do with putting a new album out, pretty sharpish. I don’t suppose you’ve got any unused songs lying about at the back of the cupboard?”
“Of course not, what do you think I’ve been using up for the last few albums? Even found one down the back of the sofa that I’d scribbled on a fag packet.”
“Ah. Never mind. Just a thought.”
“But I do have a great idea for a new album of covers. All Queen songs.”
“I know! I’m so original aren’t I? Who’d ever think to do an album of Queen covers?”
“Well, now you mention it, Elaine Paige released ’The Queen Album’.”
“Oh sod off. She doesn’t count anyway, she does musicals. Mine will be much better.”
“Yes, I’m sure. So what will you call it? How about ‘Katie Does Queen’?”
Bad Katie pulled a face rather like a squirrel that had mistaken a rabbit dropping for a hazelnut. “That sounds like a Sun headline! No, I’m one step ahead of you as usual. They are Queen songs.”
“So I thought I would call the album….”
“I see what you did there.”
“Not just a pretty face you know.”
“And have you had any ideas about how you want the album to sound?”
“It’ll be acoustic, mostly. Oh, and I thought I’d get the GWC involved in a track or two.”
“The Gori Women’s Choir? That’s a great idea.”
“Er, no. They can’t travel ‘cos of covid restrictions. I meant the Grimsby Women’s Choir.”
“Oh. I see. Hang on, aren’t they a bunch of fishermen in drag?”
“Okay, so, they may be a bit bass heavy. But that’s nothing a swift kick in the nads won’t sort out.”
“I’m sure. But how do you plan to stay socially distant from the Grimsby Women’s Choir members?”
“Ah, I’ve thought of that. I’ve bought them each a zorb ball. They can get in those and sing.”
“A zorb ball.”
“Yeah. Actually pretty good acoustics inside them.”
Sumit sighed. “Just promise me you won’t go pushing them down flights of stairs of something.”
Bad Katie looked hurt. “Would I do something like that?”
Sumit raised his eyebrows. “Do I need to answer that?”
“Oh well, I have to go, there’s a scene taking place outside.”
“Really? What’s happening?”
“Some paramedics are giving the kiss of life to a cat...”
“Well, what do you think of it so far?” said Bad Katie.
“‘Another One Bites The Dust’ is sounding terrific.” said Sumit. "Tim’s slaying the bass and Joe’s spanking those skins so crisply. And you and Z’s synchronised strumming is a sonic joy.”
“What about my use of the kazoo? Radical, isn’t it?”
“Ah, yes. Perhaps drop that back in the mix a tad.”
“I was tempted to get my maracas out.”
“Please don’t,” urged Sumit. “Anyway, how did 'Bohemian Rhapsody' go? I heard there was an issue with the first take.”
“Sort of. It was going bloody brilliant to begin with but Z hadn’t got the memo about it being an acoustic version and he went berserk with a monster two-minute solo on his Strat, giving it hammer-ons, pull-offs, harmonics, and all that crap. Amazing. But we had to do it again. Shame really.”
“Well, I hope you kept the recording. We can stick it on a bonus version of the album.”
“I also heard you’ve already shot a video for it, recreating the original, at home.”
“Yep. Me, Z, Tim and Joe all crammed into the cupboard under the stairs and I shone a little torch on our faces. Looks amazeballs. Wasn’t ideal in there, have to say. Bit whiffy. Joe had overdone the garlic bread the night before and Tim’s Old Spice didn’t help. Things we do for art, eh?”
“Indeed. And I believe you’ve just finished one of my favourites, ‘Fat Bottomed Girls’,” said Sumit.
“Indeed we have. Tape’s still wet,” said Bad Katie.
“I thought you were recording digital?”
“Well, yes, obvs, just a figure of speech. Get with it.”
“Ah, right. I love Fat Bottomed Girls.”
“Yes, I’d heard that about you.”
Sumit stuck his tongue out at her. “Are you going to do 'The Prophet’s Song’?”
“No. There’s no profit in it.”
“But we are planning to re-create the video for ‘I Want To Break Free’.”
“I’ll have a false moustache and play Freddie. The boys will be in drag.”
“Normal weekend for Tim then.”
Bad Katie chuckled. “He wants to be the naughty schoolgirl. Z will have his hair in curlers. Joe will be the gran. Sorted.”
“Can’t wait. You won’t need much work—Freddie actually looks like you in that video.”
“How rude,” said Bad Katie. “But I’ll take that. He was stunning.”
“Okey dokey,” said Sumit. “This album sounds like a winner to me. I mean, who doesn’t love Queen? I suppose I’d better start making plans for the publicity.”
“Good. Just make sure you get me on the Graham Norton Show.”
“Why him in particular?”
“Duh. Think about it. A Queen album!”
“Oh. Anyway, I believe Piers Morgan still has a slot available.”
“Hmmm. Okay. Well, just make sure I take the vinyl edition with me instead of the CD.”
“Cos’ it will hurt more when I insert it in his slot.”
“Right, gotta get on. No rest for the wicked. We have to get the last track recorded before 5pm.”
“That’s a bit tight. How come, has someone else booked the studio?”
“No, just don’t want to miss Pointless.”
“How can you think about mindless television when you are creating beautiful music?”
“It isn’t mindless, it’s educational. Mike Batt taught me that if you want to write good songs you need to watch hours of television a day. Did you know that ’Shy Boy’ was based on Mr. Bean?”
Sumit rolled his eyes. “And pray tell, which of your gems was inspired by a television show?”
“Oh, most of them. ‘I Cried For You’ came to me during Eastenders. In fact, I got an idea from Pointless the other day. They mentioned the island of Tuvalu and I came up with the lyric ’skip Tuvalu my darling’.”
“Sounds like another winner,” said Sumit, with his best dead-pan face. “So, what’s your final track for ‘In Windsor’?”
“We Will Rock You.”
“How on earth are you going to do an acoustic version of a stadium-shaker like that?”
“Well, I’ve made a little tweak to the lyrics. It will go ‘we will hug you’ instead.”
“And another hit bites the dust,” grumbled Sumit.
“Oh ye of little faith. You know I’ve got the midas touch. Whatever I sing, the mugs will buy it. My voice is a licence to print money.”
“It’ll be interesting to see what you do with it, I suppose.”
“Just wait till you hear what I’ve done with the theme from ‘Flash’. And for the video I’m going to...”
“Don’t wanna know!” said Sumit, making a hasty exit.
A few weeks later, shortly after the album release, Sumit phoned Bad Katie.
“Katie! Great news. ‘In Windsor’ is straight in at number 10!”
“Eh? It hasn’t been out long enough to trouble the charts.”
“No, I mean 10 Downing Street. Boris Johnson has bought it on vinyl.”
“He says he always suspected the Queen had a fine singing voice and he was sure the acoustics in Windsor Castle would make it sound even better.”
“Erm, but it has my name on the cover…”
“Yes, he thinks it’s Her Majesty’s stage name.”
“Couldn’t possibly comment. Thing is though, he’s hoping to invite her to go to Downing Street and perform a couple of songs live.”
“And you don’t think he’ll notice I’m not the actual Queen?”
“Even he isn’t that dim. Shame. The fee would be huge.”
“Hang on, I’ve got an idea! You know that video we did for ‘I Want To Break Free’?”
“How could I ever forget?”
“I’ll call Joe and see if he’s still got that granny wig….”
26.01.21 > Track Notes 115: Wonderful Life
24.01.21 > The Adventures of Bad Katie - Episode 3
Her local backstreet vinyl store was one of Bad Katie’s favourite haunts. She’d already spent most of the afternoon lurking around in there and her tummy was beginning to ask her mouth for an explanation of why it wasn’t already sending any khachapuri its way.
She was clutching a pristine copy of Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited” but the £1oo price tag was making her nose twitch. She glanced across at the counter assistant and made her mind up. Just in front of the Bob Dylan section she noticed Val Doonican. She picked out a grubby copy of “Rocking Chair Favourites”, priced at 99p, placed it on top of the Dylan, and headed for the counter. The assistant looked thoroughly inconvenienced and made a deliberately testy show of removing his earbuds.
Bad Katie pointed to the wall behind him. “Can I look at that copy of ‘Back To Black’?”
The assistant sighed and turned round to take the album off its mount. Whilst his back was turned, Bad Katie slipped the Dylan into her tote bag and placed the Doonican on the counter.
“There you are,” said the assistant, handing her the Winehouse album.
Bad Katie quickly extracted the vinyl and studied it. “Hardly been played, I reckon. As it should be.”
“Do you want it then?”
“What? Fifty quid? You having a laugh mate? Couldn’t pay me to listen. Can’t stand the woman.”
The assistant looked perplexed. “Then why did you ask to look at it?”
“I wanted to check if it was gold plated. Should be for that price.”
He shrugged. “I don’t do the pricing.”
“Notice you’ve got a couple of mine in. I’ve signed them for you.”
The part-time assistant weighed her up briefly. He didn’t know who Katie was but couldn’t be arsed to lecture her on defacing the merchandise so he just smiled weakly.
Bad Katie winked at him. “I’d tell whoever does do the pricing to bump them up a tenner if I were you. You’re whelks!”
“So it’s just that you want then?” he said, nodding disdainfully at the Doonican.
“For now, yes.”
“That what you in to is it?”
Bad Katie laughed hysterically. “Course not, silly. It’s a birthday present for my Dad.”
“He’s lucky to have a daughter like you,” said the assistant sarcastically.
“Yes, he is,” agreed Bad Katie.
“That’ll be 99p then.”
Bad Katie slid a pound coin on to the counter, grabbed the Doonican and bolted for the door.
“Hey miss, your change!” shouted the assistant.
“Keep it,” called Katie as she pulled the door shut behind her.
The assistant looked at the penny in his hand, shook his head and threw it in the bin. He sighed, and then put Winehouse back in her place.
Whilst walking home, Bad Katie passed the charity shop where she bought most of her clothes. She popped inside for a quick peruse, but nothing took her fancy. However, she did decide to splash out 20p on a biography of Johnny Cash. She stopped and sat down in the park and dipped in to it...
Later that night, Bad Katie rang her manager and paced excitedly around her studio as she waited for him to pick up.
“Katie! My main lady. How’s it hanging?”
“Why are you talking like that, Sumit? You haven’t been sniffing glue again have you? Anyway, I’ve had a brilliant idea for a gig!”
“Oh. That’s nice. Go on then, knock me out.”
“I’m going to do a gig live inside a prison! For the prisoners.”
She was met with an uncomfortable silence.
“Oh, you were being serious,” said Sumit eventually.
“Of course. Johnny Cash did it. He got a tv special and an album out of it. He even wrote a song about it.”
“Johnny Cash was tougher than the inmates. He’d even been one. They’d eat you for breakfast.” He paused for a moment and reflected. “I love the idea!”
“Great, get it sorted. Let’s have a film crew in. We’ll make a DVD of the show and a documentary about it, and an album of course. Oh, and get me booked in on Lorraine to yap about it.”
“These things take a lot of organising, Katie. Especially in a prison. Lots of red tape, permits, etc.”
“Amazing how many other agents are courting me these days...”
“Okay, okay, I’ll see what I can do.”
The camera crew were busying themselves in preparation for the gig. The director approached Bad Katie.
“Katie, we need to plan the camera angles for the video. Which is your best side?”
“My backside,” said Katie, and grinned idiotically at him.
He had no time for messing around and folded his arms to suggest as much.
“Don’t worry. Your little cameras are going to love me. I’m stunning from any angle.”
Nora, the makeup artist, was next on the scene, lugging her massive toolkit of paints and brushes. “Hi Katie!”
“Oh, not you again,” grumbled Bad Katie.
“Katie, why are you wearing those utterly ridiculous 8-inch platform heels?”
“I’m going to be on television! I need to look taller.”
“Well, you won’t look taller when you stumble and go arse over tit across the stage.”
“Chill pill, Nora. I’ve been wearing bad boys like these since my BRIT School days.”
Nora rolled her eyes and began dabbing her blusher.
“Besides,” added Bad Katie. “If things kick off here they make excellent nutcrushers!”
Some cheap hopeful from the Comedy Store had been dragged in to act as a warm up act and MC for the show.
“Ladies, Gentlemen, and inmates! If my warm up routine bored ya, you’ll be ready for the gal from Georgia… it’s always a pleasure to view her, it’s Katie Mel-ooh-err!”
Bad Katie plodded a little unsteadily up to the microphone in her platform bricks, making sure she deliberately trod on the MC’s foot as they passed.
“Hi everyone, my name is Katie Melua and I’m from the beautiful country of Georgia!”
“Then bugger off back there,” yelled someone from the right. From the far right, probably.
Bad Katie gazed coolly in his direction. “Actually I’m going on a skiing trip there next week. In my private jet. Fancy coming with me? Oh, hang on, you can’t because you’re in prison. Shame.”
A few uneasy rumblings and grumblings echoed around.
Bad Katie grinned. “Right, let’s get this show started! I want to begin with a cover of an amazing song by The Animals.”
A guy on the front row looked knowingly at the one next to him. “House Of The Rising Sun, I expect.”
Bad Katie began singing...
In this dirty old part of the city
Where the sun refused to shine...
Later that night, back in her manager’s office, the inquest was under way.
“You look like you’ve been dragged backwards through a hedge,” said Sumit.
“Well. I have actually. The security guards had to smuggle me out quite unceremoniously once things kicked off.”
Sumit shook his head. “Oh, Katie. What happened? You were meant to open with ‘Closest Thing’ and ’Nine Million Bicycles’.”
“Yeah, bit bored of them, t.b.h.”
“So, instead, you chose a cover of ‘We Gotta Get Out Of This Place’.”
Bad Katie smirked.
“And then ‘I Want To Break Free’,” continued Sumit.
Bad Katie chuckled.
“As if that wasn’t enough, you picked this, of all occasions, to have a stab at ‘I Predict A Riot’. ”
Bad Katie giggled.
“What on earth were you thinking, Katie?”
“I was proud of my strumming pattern on that!”
“Oh, and smashing your guitar to bits at the end? What exactly was that about?”
“Just had a bit of a rock and roll moment.”
“Then pouring lighter fluid on it and setting it on fire? Are you having a mid-life crisis or something?”
“Thought it would give them a bit of a show.”
“It did that alright. Set the sprinklers off and the alarms going, oh and I mustn’t forget the mass brawl that ensued. It was mayhem!”
Bad Katie shrugged. “Never know how a crowd will turn out.”
Sumit rolled his eyes and sighed wearily. “This is the closest thing to crazy you have ever been. You may be feeling thirty-six but you’re acting seventeen.”
“Think those lines are already taken,” said Bad Katie.
“The prison governor was considering pressing charges against you for incitement, you know,” said Sumit.
“Oh, you can make that go away, can’t you?”
“Yeah, yeah. I already have. I gave him a signed copy of your latest album and one of your scented candles for his wife.”
“That’s all good then. So, I’m booked in on Lorraine tomorrow morning?”
Sumit rubbed his eyes wearily. “I don’t know how we can promote this show. It was a train wreck, frankly.”
“Don’t be such a drama queen. They can edit out anything unsuitable. Just show the best bits.”
“We’d be left with about eight minutes of footage!”
Bad Katie rose to her feet, albeit rather unsteadily as she was still wearing those platforms. She towered over Sumit with them on, much to her amusement. She patted his cheeks and tweaked his nose. “It’ll be fine. Charlie’s a wizz in the edit room. He’ll make it look amazing.”
Sumit exhaled slowly. “Very well. I’ll email Lorraine’s people. They wanted to know if you need anything on your rider.”
“Ooh yes. Let me see now. Cinnamon Pop-Tarts, jumbo bag of Monster Munch, three cans of Red Bull, a badminton racket and a pack of hibiscus and hydrangea scented tea lights.”
“Why the hell do you need a badminton racket?”
“I don’t. Just like to keep them on their toes. Anyway, it might come in handy. There’s always flies in those breakfast tv dressing rooms. Right, I’m off. See you later, alligator!”
Bad Katie clumped off to the door and left. Sumit switched his television on to catch the late news. He read the strap-line at the bottom of the screen: “BREAKING: Mass breakout after riots at local prison...”
Sumit sank back in his chair and hid his face in his palms.
23.01.21 > Don't Think Twice
For those of you still resisting the perceived horror of Instagram, here's the kind of thing you are missing out on. It really doesn't get any better than Katie and her guitar singing Dylan's "Don't Think Twice".
21.01.21 > The Adventures of Bad Katie - Episode 2
Nora, the makeup artist, went to find Bad Katie, who was supposed to be in her dressing room. She found her back stage. A roadie was on all fours and Bad Katie was sitting on his back, legs crossed, tapping and swiping on her phone.
“Er… Katie, what are you doing?”
“Mind your own business. I’m on Twitter. More trolling.”
“Oh no, you getting trolled again? I’m sorry. People are so horrible.”
Bad Katie gazed at her levelly. “I’m trolling them.”
“Oh. I see. Well, no, anyway, what I meant was, why are you sitting on that poor man?”
“What poor man?” said Bad Katie, looking around. “Oh, you mean the roadie? Couldn’t find a decent chair anywhere. Besides, roadies are more comfortable."
“The poor sod is turning purple. How long has he been down there?”
Bad Katie shrugged. “Dunno. Not long. Couple of hours maybe? Who cares? It’s his job.”
“Erm, I’m not sure technically it is his job…”
“No, I mean he does what I say or he loses his job."
Nora crouched down to address the hapless roadie. “Mate, you can’t let her humiliate you like this. I’s just a job. Tell her where to shove it!”
“Like, I am actually here you know,” said Bad Katie.
“Thanks lady,” said the roadie, breathlessly. “But I can’t. She had me sign a contract.”
“What contract?” said Nora.
“A slave contract. She got me drunk one night and took some compromising photos of me. Said I had to sign the slave contract and do whatever she says or she’ll email the pics to my missus. She's got me by the short and curlies. The missus would do worse things than this, believe me.”
Nora rolled her eyes and rose to her feet again. “Katie! You can’t do stuff like this. I thought you were into human rights?”
“I am! But he’s not human, he’s a roadie. And it is my right to do what I like with my roadie.”
Nora shook her head. “Not quite the angel people think, are you?”
“Whatever. Anyway, what do you want? These morons won’t troll themselves you know.”
“I’ve come to do your makeup of course.”
“Bloody Nora! Have you even seen me? Do I look like I need makeup?”
“It’s just to stop your skin shining in the lights.”
“Then turn off the bloody lights!”
“Katie! Then no one would see you.”
“Suppose. Well, just don’t make me look like a bloody Geisha again. I looked so pale last time a fan sent me a sunbed. Cheek. Still, useful for drying ganja.”
At that moment, the venue manager arrived on the scene. “Hi Miss Melua, just checking everything is… why are you sitting on that man?”
“Don’t ask,” said Nora.
“No, everything is not okay,” said Bad Katie. “I’m a multi-million selling artist you know and you expect me to sit on one of those hideous plastic chairs?”
“Oh, sorry, I’ll look into it of course.”
“Too late. Don’t bother. I bring my own as you can see. And about my rider—where is the fresh garlic?”
“You mean you actually wanted that? We thought it was a joke. Why would you want garlic? Are you expecting vampires or something?”
Bad Katie glared at him. “I’m doing meet and greets after the show, imbecile. I always chew garlic before those. Now toddle off and get some, pronto.”
“Right you are, Miss Melua. I’ll go and see to that straight away.”
The bemused venue manager slinked away. Bad Katie shook her head. “Can’t get the staff these days.”
“LAY-DEEZ and gentlemen!” roared the MC, who clearly had been watching too much wrestling on television. “Created in Kutaisi. Blossomed in Batumi. Talented in Tbilisi. Please give a raucous welcome to the stage for the one, the only, the truly original, KAY-TEEEE MEL-OOOOAAA!!!”
Bad Katie stood offstage, hand on hips, looking less than impressed as the MC swaggered towards her, looking rather pleased with himself. He winked at her. “Knock ‘em dead, sweetheart.”
She kicked him firmly in the knackers then strolled purposefully out towards the spotlight, her patented and perfected sweet smile firmly set. “Hello Nottingham!”
The crowd gave her their usual rapturous reception, which she quietly milked for a moment as the band settled and prepared behind her. “Okay. So how many bicycles would you like to hear?”
“NINE MILLION!” roared the crowd, in vague unison. There were several whoops and whistles, presumably from people that didn’t know the answer to the question.
“Maybe later, if you’re good! But first, here’s another absolute classic from Mike Batt.”
“Closest Thing To Crazy,” shouted a lone attention-seeker from somewhere in the cheap seats.
Bad Katie grinned. “It’s called ‘Wombling Free’...”
First in line at the meet and greets was Bad Katie’s self-proclaimed Number One Fan. He shuffled eagerly forward, grinning like the love child of The Joker and a Cheshire cat.
“Hey Katie! It’s me, your number one fan!” said NOF, cheerfully.
“Oh wow!” exclaimed Bad Katie, with Oscar-worthy false sincerity. “Are you really my number one boy?”
“Cool. Show me the tattoo.”
“Er… what tattoo?”
“To tell the world, of course! If you’re my Number One Boy then you need to have that tattooed on you so everyone will know that you’re my Number One Boy.”
“Oh. Yes, you’re right. As always. I’ll get it done tomorrow, I promise.”
“Good boy!” Bad Katie winked at him. “My Number One Boy!”
NOF beamed at her childishly. “Which arm should I have it—right or left?”
“Oh no,” said Bad Katie. “It needs to be where everyone can see it, so everyone knows how much you love me!”
“Ah, yes, of course it does. Silly me. So...”
“Have it tattooed on your forehead, obviously.”
“Forehead. Right. Yes. Okay. But, will ’Katie’s Number One Boy’ fit?”
“Just have the acronym, silly. Ask the tattooist to tattoo K.N.O.B. on your forehead.”
“Gotcha! Thanks Katie, you’re the best!”
“I know. Now run along and get that tattoo and next time I’ll have a lovely selfie with you.”
“Can’t wait! I’m going to find a tattooist right away.”
“Good for you. Off you go then, there’s a good boy. Next!”
NOF shuffled off, beyond excited at being labelled Katie’s Number One Boy.
Next, a guy that looked like he whittled meerkats out of driftwood sauntered up to her.
“Hi. What’s your name?” said Bad Katie, almost as if she cared.
“Rupert? But, you’ve got clothes on.”
“Rupert was supposed to be bare!”
Bad Katie guffawed at her own joke. Rupert stared at her blankly.
“Rupert, Rupert The Bear? Oh, ffs. What do you want me to sign?”
Rupert meekly proffered an event flyer taken from the lobby of the theatre.
Bad Katie glared at him disdainfully. “No album then?”
“Oh, er, I’m hoping to get it for Christmas. I’ve been dropping hints.”
“Cheapskate,” muttered Bad Katie. She scrawled something on his flyer that was difficult to make out but appeared to be a four letter word and a three letter word. She handed it back to him and shepherded him off, then beckoned the next victim forward.
“And what’s your name?”
“Arthur? Are they still actually calling people that? Well Art, what do you do?”
“Actually, I used to be a monk until I discovered your music. You could say your music changed the key of my life.”
“I see. So you’re no longer a monk.”
“Now you’re a monkey!”
Bad Katie giggled loudly, signed the bewildered Arthur’s CD and shooed him away.
The next guy mooched forward, looking every inch the creep he probably was.
“What’s your name?” asked Bad Katie, almost civilly.
“Not gonna happen mate. You should be the one kneeling to me.”
“No, my name is Neil.”
“Whatever. What would you like me to sign?”
Neil winked at her and smirked. “I was hoping you might sign my little friend.”
“Oh, I’m not much good at signing small, squidgy things, and I doubt if my name would fit anyway. Tell you what though, I’ll have a go at putting my initials on it for you. Jump up on to the table and drop your pants.” She turned to the photographer and said “you may need a zoom lens for this one.”
“Eh? What? You mean here? In front of everyone?” stuttered Neil.
“Duh. This is where I’m signing, numbnuts. What, did you think I’d agree to go back to your seedy hotel room with you? Dream on.”
“You’re weird, lady,” said Neil, and made a hasty retreat.
Bad Katie sniggered. “I love my job,” she said, to no one in particular. “Next!”
As Bad Katie left the theatre, her self-proclaimed Number One Fan was waiting for her outside the stage door as usual.
“Hi, Katie, it’s me—your number one fan!”
“No shit,” muttered Bad Katie. “I thought I told you to get a tattoo.”
“Oh I will, tomorrow. But I just wanted one more selfie with you.”
“Why? Have you lost the other four thousand three hundred and seventeen you’ve taken?”
Number One Fan grinned like an idiot, appropriately. “I’ve got a brand new, top-of-the-range iPhone!”
“Let’s see it,” said Bad Katie.
He fished it out of his jacket pocket, in the process managing to drop his house keys down the drain he was standing next to. In his eagerness, he failed to notice, but Bad Katie did, and she struggled to suppress a snigger. She took the phone from him. “Ooh, nice. Let me take a pic of you first.”
Number One Fan stepped back a few paces and adopted a needlessly cheery expression of glee as Bad Katie held the phone up and pretended to frame him. “Oh wait,” she said. “Who’s that behind you?”
Number One Fan turned round to look who was spoiling his photo. There was no one in sight. Confused, he turned back to Bad Katie. She was already legging it down the alleyway.
“Hey, Katie, you’ve still got my phone,” he wailed.
But she was gone.
19.01.21 > Katie Bite: English Manner
17.01.21 > The Adventures of Bad Katie - Episode 1
There is a school of thought that there may be an infinite number of Universes. The theory suggests that whatever version of yourself you care to imagine, there is a parallel universe where that you actually exists. It follows, therefore, that somewhere there is a universe where Katie’s alter-ego exists. Let’s call her Bad Katie...
(Please remember the following events take place in an alternate universe and bear no relation to our Katie whatsoever!)
“Just going for a run,” said Bad Katie cheerfully. She pulled the door shut behind her and started jogging purposefully down the street. As soon as she turned the corner on to the main road she stopped, put two fingers in either side of her mouth, and let out a piercing whistle which was so shrill and loud it caused a policeman across the road to look around in alarm and promptly walk into a lamp post. Bad Katie sniggered at him and then jumped into the cab that had pulled up in front of her.
“Where to, miss?” said the driver.
“Don’t care,” said Bad Katie, whipping out her phone. “Just drive around for twenty minutes then bring me back here.”
“Sorry miss, have to have a destination. It’s the rules.”
Bad Katie glared at him. “How far away do you live?”
“Erm, well, only about ten minutes from here as it happens. Why?”
“Then drive to your house, honk your horn at the missus and bring me back.”
The driver shrugged. “As you wish, miss.”
“And stop calling me miss, you blithering yokel.”
“Right you are, er, ma’am.”
Bad Katie rolled her eyes as the driver pulled away. She held her phone against the window and took a snap of the dazed policeman sitting on the pavement as she went past. Her thumbs flew over the screen and seconds later the hapless constable was chalking up hundreds of laughing emojis on her Instagram account.
A few minutes later, the taxi driver, having duly passed his own house and dutifully honked at his bemused wife, who had happened to be in the front garden pruning her dahlias, was en route with his curious passenger to the spot where he’d picked her up. He kept glancing at her in the rear view mirror, though she didn’t notice—she was too engrossed in her phone. He thought she seemed familiar.
“Excuse me mi… er, ma’am. Don’t I know you from somewhere?”
Bad Katie scowled at him. “How the hell would I know who you know?”
His eyes widened. “You’re that pop star woman!”
Bad Katie closed her eyes and sighed. “Here we go…” she muttered.
“Yes! You’re that one what got dragged along the floor singing about bikes. Hang on, I know this… yes, Amy Whynot.”
“How very dare you! Stop right here. I’m not going to be insulted by Homer Simpson driving a cab.”
The driver sheepishly pulled over. Bad Katie hurled a tenner over his shoulder. “Keep the change.”
“But miss, I mean ma’am, this isn’t enough...”
Bad Katie was already out of the cab and storming down the road. The driver shook his head and drove away, scowling at Bad Katie as he passed her; which she gleefully snapped on her phone and had up on Instagram within seconds, with the caption “omg, just had the cabbie from hell!”
Still chuckling about her post, she popped into a newsagents and emerged with a packet of cigarettes and a disposable lighter. She hurriedly lit a fag and took a long drag, then continued on her way. She soon reached her local market, where she winked and blew kisses at almost every trader. She noticed the guy on the sweets stall was new, and she didn’t like the look of him. She took a final drag of her fag and then flicked the butt into an open box of milk gums.
Bad Katie was just outside the market when she noticed something shiny in the gutter. It was a large fish, presumably fallen off a trader’s crate. She looked around to make sure no one was looking, then picked it up and tucked it under her jacket. She walked the rest of the way home with a big grin on her face, whistling merrily.
“Hi deda, I’m back,” said Bad Katie as she took her jacket off in the hall. Deciding it smelled a bit fishy she just dropped it on the floor so someone else would assume it needed washing. She took the fish in to her mother in the kitchen. “I picked up dinner at the market,” she said, slapping the whiffy item onto the counter.
“Oh, good girl. You’re so thoughtful. I can make a lovely stew with that.”
“Yeah, be nice for the rest of you. I’m good though, just ordered a pizza with ham and corn on the cob.”
“You mean sweetcorn,” said mother.
“No. On the cob, dripping with butter.”
Her mother looked at her quizzically.
Bad Katie stuck her tongue out at her and left the kitchen. “I’ll be in my studio. You can bring the pizza up to me when it arrives, can’t you? Ta, ma. I have an idea for a new song.”
A few days later, Bad Katie was slouched on the sofa in her manager’s office. Sumit entered and handed her a coffee in a mug that said “For all you know, this is gin” on it. It was her usual mug, which usually did contain gin.
Bad Katie took the chewing gum out of her mouth and stuck it under the arm of the sofa. She took a sip of coffee and pulled a right old face in disgust. She plonked the mug down on Sumit’s desk and rubbed her hands together. “Right then, I’ve written another song for the new album.”
“Excellent!” said Sumit. “It’s about time we thought of a name for the album. I was thinking ‘Visions From Broken Dreams’.”
Bad Katie screwed her face up. “What the hell does that mean? Nah. Let’s call it ’The New Album’.”
Sumit changed the subject. “Well, there’s no rush. So what’s this new song about?”
“A fish. I found a fish the other day, and it inspired me. The lyrics just flooded out of me when I got home.”
“Er… okay. Can I hear it then?”
Bad Katie cleared her throat and began to sing.
She stopped. “No, hang on. Let me drop an octave.”
She began again, in a lower voice.
I found a fish
so I made a wish
and a fishy dish
it was so delish!
She looked at Sumit and raised her eyebrows expectantly. “Well? What do you think?”
Sumit gazed at her blankly. “Is that it?”
“It’s catchy isn’t it?” She grinned gleefully at him. “See what I did there? Catchy? Fish?”
“Right. And how does the next verse go?”
“There isn’t one. I don’t think it needs more. It perfectly captures the whole event, just like a haiku. And every line is a rhyme! How clever am I?”
“No, no, don’t. You’ll embarrass me.”
“I do feel it needs to be longer than seventeen seconds,” suggested Sumit.
“Ah, yes, well, what I thought I’d do is repeat the verse several times, with a key change each time, you know, to add a bit of drama.”
“Okay, that’s good, yes, that might work,” lied Sumit.
Bad Katie beamed at him. “Knew you’d love it.”
“Tell you what, Katie. You seem to have tapped into a vein. Why don’t you go back to your studio for a few weeks and see what other gems you can uncover?”
“I might just do that!” she said, leaping to her feet excitedly. “No rest for the wicked, eh?”
She slapped Sumit playfully on the backside, winked at him and skipped out of the room.
Sumit sighed. He sat down at his computer and fired off a memo to his secretary: “if Katie calls in the next month tell her I’m out of the office attending a folk festival in Fiji.”
There was a shrill whistle outside. Sumit got up and looked out of the window down at the street. Bad Katie was clambering into a cab...
“Where to miss?” said the cabbie. He glanced at his passenger in the mirror and his heart sank. “I mean, ma’am...”
11.01.21 > AYMHM 12: Blade Runner
Another album you may have missed... (see them all HERE)
I’ve seen things you people would not believe: attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark at the Tannhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain….
Few movie endings have affected me more than Blade Runner. (Actually, the film has had several “cuts” with different endings, but I’m referring to the iconic rooftop-in-the-rain scene.) Those three beautiful lines were never in the script; they were improvised by Rutger Hauer himself and Ridley Scott wisely elected to leave them in. As final words, they would be moving enough for a human being, but remember—Roy is a replicant, a machine. One of the things that was said to define Data as an android in Star Trek was his inability to use contractions. He would always say “I have” instead of “I’ve”. I always considered this a silly limitation and it was rightly ignored in Blade Runner. An android powered by machine learning would have no problem learning to speak like humans around it and Scott was quite right not to have his actors even attempt to alter their voices in any way. What is more interesting to me is that he allowed them the use of metaphor. Could artificial intelligence ever come up with a thought like “lost in time, like tears in rain”? That is something I can’t quite make my mind up on. How amazing it would be if humans could create a machine capable of that level of thought independent of programming. I could write a book on the subject, but for now I must rein in my thoughts and stick to the music of Blade Runner. Surely one of the finest soundtracks ever created, the marriage of a dystopian future with the music of Vangelis was one made in heaven.
The classical style of composition of Vangelis allied to his love of electronic instruments are a perfect blend for science fiction and space-themed imagery. Carl Sagan, in his legendary series ‘Cosmos’, used several Vangelis pieces for his soundtrack and with similar memorable results.
The light and shade Vangelis delivers is breathtaking. Music that can be futuristic but also nostalgic, or full of longing, or dramatic or poignant. Rachel’s Song features achingly beautiful vocal instrumentation by Mary Hopkin (best known for her early 70s hit ’Those Were The Days’). 'Damask Rose' is both haunting and enchanting, transporting you instantly to some bustling Middle-Eastern market bazaar. Then there’s the ending… 'Tears In Rain'. Hauer’s memorable words float around your brain before Vangelis takes you on a fading journey towards the eternal light with an ever-soaring yet diminishing melody that gradually dissipates into a howling wind. It is impossibly moving and an absolute no-brainer as the last song I want played at my funeral! It is so rare to find a film where the visual and audio elements are so inextricably intertwined that you cannot imagine the one without the other. I can think of a few other examples but none better than Blade Runner.
Listen to Blade Runner on Spotify via the link below:
09.01.21 > Lyric Card: Diamonds Are Forever
07.01.21 > Track Notes 114: Fields of Gold
Fields of Gold
This is what I might call a 'stealth classic'. Upon its release in 1993 it was unable to climb any higher than 16 in the UK charts, yet most people would probably assume it had been a number one for Sting. Songs that seemingly under-perform yet ultimately are considered classics are a bit puzzling. My own theory is that it might have something to do with dreamy ballads. Catchy pop songs that get your feet tapping and have a hook that becomes an earworm in your brain tend to dominate the number one spot, whereas a song like "Fields of Gold" may make you think, 'aw, how lovely' without necessarily rushing out to buy it. And of course, young people are less into ballads and they tend to be the prime market for singles purchasing. By the time those young people have lived another decade they will start to become more receptive to ballads and realise that actually, songs like "Fields of Gold" are pretty good. In time, such songs get a booster shot from cover versions; in this case, notably, by Eva Cassidy who took the song to another level, and hence they burrow ever deeper into the collective consciousness.
Katie recorded the song as the BBC Children in Need single for 2017. She could easily have put her own stamp on it but instead chose to follow Eva's stunning interpretation. This backfired slightly as there were some grumblings amongst Cassidy fans on social media that Katie was merely copying their idol—clearly they were ignorant to the fact that Eva was Katie's idol too, and she was honouring her with this performance. It is also worth pointing out this was for charity and not Katie's own financial gain. Personally, I actually prefer Katie's performance, probably because my ear is now perfectly attuned to the frequency of Katie's voice (yes, technically frequencies, I know, but I'm referring to tuning as in a radio dial—I'm tuned in to her radio station if you like). In that sense, I would have liked to have seen how Katie might have interpreted the song her own way but you can't have your cake and eat it and I think on balance she was right to emulate Eva. But that is why I trust Katie—she always makes the right choices.
If you haven't seen the official video then I'm actually torn between pitying you and being ragingly indignant. If you have you'll be more than happy to see it again. So here is the link: Fields of Gold
03.01.21 > The Stats Don't Lie
What exactly is a singer-songwriter? Simplistically, I suppose it is someone that sings and also writes songs. Glad I could clear that up for you. Of course, I’m talking more about public perception of an artist. Katie was a singer-songwriter before she ever met Mike Batt. But after her first three albums the perception was that she was a singer, being fed hits written by Mike along with a fair sprinkling of covers. I’ve crunched the numbers in gruesome detail in the past so I won’t bore you with a spreadsheet of stats again but the reason I’m bringing all this up now is that with the release of Album No. 8, Katie has passed a significant landmark: her songwriting involvement has now passed 50% of her studio-recorded songs. Just over 51% in fact, of released studio material has been written or co-written by Katie herself. She officially writes more of her own songs than she sings covers and songs written for her. Covers are important, and I still have a wishlist longer than a horse’s face of songs I’d love Katie to record, but Album No. 8 needs to be the album that finally makes the public realise that not only is she a songwriter but she’s a bloody good one at that. It is time she was given the writing respect she deserves, especially for her lyrics. If people ask me who my favourite singer is I tell them Katie. If they bothered to ask who my favourite songwriter is they’d get the same answer. It is likely she will always be associated with “Closest Thing To Crazy” and “Nine Million Bicycles” since they were her biggest hits and the singles chart is a much different animal these days, but I do hope that one day, when I mention Katie’s name to someone, they’ll say “oh, didn’t she do ‘A Love Like That’?”. And I’ll say “Yes. And ‘Faraway Voice’. And ‘Belfast’. And ’Spider’s Web’. And ‘I Cried For You’. And ‘Forgetting All My Troubles’. And… er, how long have you got?” (I’m gambling that Katie will write a song called “Er, How Long Have You Got” at some point.) So there you have it. Armed with the awesome power of statistics to back you up, I now expect you all to perform your Ketefanistic duty and make sure everyone you ever meet (including Katie herself, should you be so lucky) is fully informed of what a wonderful songwriter she is. That’s all. You can go now.
01.01.21 > Happy New Year
Has a year ever been more warmly welcomed than 2021? It is understandable that we are glad to see the back of 2020, though I will forever be grateful to it for delivering Album No 8. Of course, we mustn’t expect too much of 2021, not right away. Today is only its first day on the job and it has a lot of mess to sort out. It is likely the first three months of the year will remain pretty bleak. We just have to hang on in there a bit longer. But come spring when the vaccines have rolled out the world will begin to seem a brighter place once. By summer, we might even be thinking about concerts again. So yes, it will take 2021 a while to find its feet but there is every reason to hope it will come good and deal with the problems it has inherited from 2020. Just imagine how much better next Christmas and New Year’s Eve is going to be! We can see a way out of the nightmare at last. For now, let’s keep supporting each other, spreading love and friendship, choosing to be nice rather than nasty and remember that we’re not just all in this pandemic together but we’re all on this little blue marble in space together and it is the only home we’ve got. Whatever your circumstances, be the best you can be, be yourself and appreciate others. Here’s to the year when humanity pulls together, overcomes an invisible enemy and then begins to realise that anything can be achieved when we work towards a common goal. Goodbye year of despair, welcome, year of hope!