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November 2017 Archive
30.11.17 > In Winter Katie Bite #6
30.11.17 > Katie on Spotify
If you're like me you'll already have Katie's entire catalogue on your computer, but hey, if you don't then you can check out her playlist on Spotify.
29.11.17 > In Winter Katie Bite #5
29.11.17 > Katie's first TV appearance
Perhaps Katie hopes this had been lost in the mists of time. Ha! YouTube remembers everything! This was years before her chance encounter with Mike Batt but the talent is already obvious. Knowing how she has blossomed since makes this all the more joyous to watch. Prepare for a cuteness overload...
28.11.17 > In Winter Katie Bite #4
28.11.17 > On The Art of Songwriting
I think we can all agree that Katie is a fabulous songwriter. It is hard to believe that songs as accomplished as "Belfast" and "Faraway Voice" were written in her teens. Yet, some fifteen years later, she is still not confident in her abilities as a lyricist. After six albums where her own songs stood toe to toe with those of an industry legend like Mike Batt and more than held their own, she still doesn't get how good she is. That is such a shame, for I think an artist is at their best singing their own words. They are communicating their own thoughts, describing their own feelings and life experiences and sharing something uniquely personal with their fans. And it is that direct connection between songwriter and listener that is so enthralling. You feel as though you've been allowed to peek inside a secret part of their world. That is why songs that Katie has written on her own tend to be my favourites.
I'm fascinated how people have different approaches to songwriting. You often hear of an artist "locking themselves away in a studio to write". That approach has always puzzled me. I write lyrics and poems regularly myself but I doubt if I could produce a single line if locked into a room and told to get on with it. For me, the key is inspiration. If I am inspired the words usually flood out and the whole thing is born in a matter of minutes. Some of the greatest songs ever written were done quickly (not that mine are great, of course!). But the point is, when the songwriter is inspired the creative juices will flow. When I hear someone talk of working on a song for weeks or months, keeping on going back to it and changing this or that, I just think, are they really inspired enough? A song should be born of passion, in the heat of the moment, not planned and constructed with cold calculation like building a kitchen extension.
That's all very well, I hear you say, but how can you expect inspiration to magically appear when you need it? The answer, of course, is you can't. But it is far less likely to strike if you are locked away alone in a room! You need to surround yourself with life; immerse yourself in the world. Sit in the park and watch joyous grandparents doting on their grandchildren. Or sit in the window of a cafe and watch the world go by outside. Go to airports and railway stations and watch tearful farewells and loving reunions. I always think of the Sherlock Holmes quote "you see, but you do not observe". Try to observe life, and witness the multitude of wonders going on around you. If you can't get out then you can find inspiration in many other ways. Read a book, watch a movie or a documentary, listen to new music. Be alive to new experiences, try to be positive about the world and all the people in it. Don't let things just wash over you - grab them as they go by and revel in them. Find the beauty in a raindrop on a leaf. Life itself is a miracle. Get passionate about it. Allow yourself to feel inspired. Once you are, your creativity will stretch it's wings and fly! Just make sure you always carry a notebook!
27.11.17 > Haiku time
27.11.17 > Georgian artist Guram Dolenjashvili
With winter almost upon us and "In Winter" warming your ears (I hope!), you really need to check out the gorgeous snow scenes of this amazing artist from the same city as Katie. Do they produce talent or what! About Art - Georgian artist Guram Dolenjashvili
27.11.17 > In Winter Katie Bite #3
26.11.17 > Imeruli Khachapuri
I saw this recipe for Khachapuri, which is a flatbread filled with melted cheese, and something of a national dish in Georgia apparently. I can see why. I had a go and it was wonderful so I imagine the real thing is out of this world! My local Tesco doesn't stock Imeretian cheese (why the hell not!) - so I used a mixture of feta/mozzerella but I can imagine many combinations working; I may use Cheddar and Wensleydale next time! The yellow colour is melted butter spread on top whilst it is still hot from the oven. Stop drooling. Oh, by the way, if you're on a diet you'd best ignore this blog entry. The recipe can be found at Imeruli khachapuri
26.11.17 > Why Is "In Winter" so good?
Musical integrity. That about sums it up for me in two words. It is such a brave album for many reasons. Having flown the Dramatico nest her first album of her own controlling was always going to come under scrutiny from critical eyes. The vultures are eternally circling in the music industry. Katie could have chosen the easy road. I'm sure she has a few unused songs squirrelled away from the past few years; take a few of those, dust them down, apply a little polish, throw in a few safe covers.... bang! A typical Katie Melua album delivered. Job done. Except it probably wouldn't have been. I can see the critics now, waiting with poised pen to post poison. The angle they were waiting to use would be something like "formulaic, more of the same from Melua but missing Mike's magic". I believe Katie could have delivered a "typical" Katie Melua album but I'm not sure if she had the confidence to try with all those wolves licking their lips at her door. It would have had to have been exceptional just to get a grudging "it's alright I suppose" from the naysayers; anything less and she would have been crucified. Katie would have been brave to try but what she actually did was even braver.
"In Winter" was a gamble. It is so unlike her previous work that it was inevitable she would lose a bunch of fans. You can't please all the people etc... But that's a hit worth taking - the closed-minded "I know what I like" types are no great loss (some had already deserted after "The House"). What matters is, Katie has a solid core of fans that ** get ** her. We trust her musical instincts implicitly, and where she leads we will follow. Not follow like sheep, heads down, bleating happy noises all the way, but like wide-eyed tourists gazing with wonder at the endless sights our guide is leading us to. We are happy to mirror her moods; if she is quiet and reflective, we can reflect with her, but if she's upbeat and a little cheeky we're ready to join in the fun. That's what a top artist does - takes you places. But you need to open your mind first. "In Winter" sounds like it is going to be a Christmas album, and that too was a gamble. Those expecting a standard Christmas album may have been disappointed. Others may have been put off by the thought of it being *just * a Christmas album. Those that trusted Katie and gave it a try I think have mostly been blown away.
Let's be clear. Katie could easily put out a Christmas album. She could do it in her sleep. Tracks like a saucy "Santa Baby" and a balladified "All I Want For Christmas" along with a few standard carols. Ker-ching! But that's not what she's about. Now she has been able to spread her wings and fly she is soaring above the mountains. Commercially, "Have A Very Katie Christmas!" might have been a more lucrative option than "In Winter" but Katie has musical integrity. She is a student of song. For her, it's all about the music. That's why we love her. When you listen to "In Winter", the sheer craftsmanship of the music is astounding. Everything is there for a purpose, and equally, everything that is not there is not there for a purpose. At times it feels as though she is sat next to you on the sofa singing just for you. Then you feel goosebumps and look up to see the Gori Women's Choir gently serenading you in the background. It is a magical album that perfectly captures the essence of winter. It gives a passing nod to Christmas but no more than that, meaning you can easily transport yourself to a wondrous white world in October or March without the "C" word making your teeth itch. It is a triumph, her best album yet. It has been quite successful but I think it is a slow burner. Year upon year word of it will spread as people visit friends, hear it in the background and say "ooh, what's this music? It's gorgeous!". Time will prove it to be a classic. For some of us, it already is.
25.11.17 > In Winter Katie Bite #2
25.11.17 > My Favourite Katie Playlist
This is my favourite Katie playlist. I think Katie herself would understand why it is so special to me. Some Ketefans may too. The order is irrelevent - I usually play it on shuffle.
24.11.17 > If I was editor of the Oxford English Dictionary...
24.11.17 > A Little Katie Bite...
23.11.17 > Katie's latest Instagram post
Just spent the evening with the magnificent Russian @gift_of_life_charity at an event celebrating and hearing the stories of Katya Galitzine and how her royal ancestors fled Russia during the 1917 revolution. Reminded me of the Rachmaninov stories I came across while working on In Winter. In honour of Russia, our dear neighbour here are our photos from our January trip. Favourite memories included Hot chocolate at the department store GUM, cheesy smiley photos in the middle of snow covered red square and old buildings dressed up in mega Christmas lights. K x
23.11.17 > The Best Theme Tune Ever!
Okay, this isn't exactly about Katie but I just heard it again and remembered how amazing the Pink Panther theme is. And, strangely enough, there * is * a link with Katie. The composer of the song was Henry Mancini, who worked with Don Black - the great lyricist who also worked with Katie on "In Winter". Mancini also wrote the classic "Moon River" for "Breakfast at Tiffany's", and Katie has sung "Moon River" (beautifully, of course - link on YouTube page).
A reminder of the Pink Panther theme...Pink Panther theme on YouTube
23.11.17 > A Katie-inspired Haiku
Flawless Fields of Gold The world is a better place Children are happy
22.11.17 > Thank-you, Georgia!
The fact that Katie was born in Georgia is already enough reason for me to love that country and be forever in its debt. But now it seems wine may have been invented in Georgia. Oh, Georgia, how can we ever repay you for two of the greatest gifts to the world? Here is the BBC News article about the discovery of the world's oldest wine.
21.11.17 > An alternative to iTunes
If you're a little frustrated with the foibles of iTunes there are a few good alternatives out there. I now use MusicBee, which is both wonderful and free. You can use it as it is, but if you like tinkering it is customizable to the point of madness! The screenshot shows the 'Now playing' screen. It is in 'artist slideshow' mode, where MusicBee finds images of the playing artist from the web.There is also a compact mode and a mini player. You can get it from https://getmusicbee.com/
20.11.17 > Wishful thinking - Katie's Four Seasons?
It was a glorious autumn day yesterday. Cold and crisp but with clear blue skies, low moody sun and stunning autumn colours all around. I went for a lovely walk in the Norfolk countryside. The only thing lacking was the right musical ambiance. It was too early for 'In Winter' but there was nothing else suitable either. My mind began to wander, and I started thinking about how wonderful it would be if Katie released another themed album called 'In Autumn'. After all, autumn, like winter, has a unique feel about it. There's the stunning display of autumn leaves, and the way they float gently down like giant golden snowflakes. There's the ghoulish madness of Halloween and the bonfires and fireworks of November 5th. It is also a time of reflection, as the summer fades away and we gratefully gather the harvest and prepare for the winter ahead. It is crying out for a themed album, and who better than Katie to do it? She nailed 'In Winter'. Then I thought about spring and summer, both of which also have their own unique vibe. Spring is a time of joyous rebirth and optimism whilst summer is more carefree and celebratory. I dreamt of having an album for each of the seasons, gathered in a box set labelled 'Katie's Four Seasons'. Okay, I know it isn't going to happen, but we can dream can't we?
17.11.17 > Katie's moving performance on BBC Children in Need
Katie performed Fields of Gold live on BBC1 immediately after they had shown a devastating film about a gorgeous little girl, Vanessa, who had just lost a long battle with cancer. Presenters Mel Giedroyc and Graham Norton were clearly crying, as was everybody watching I would imagine. Katie was so professional to hold it together and deliver such a moving performance that fitted so poignantly with that film. I would imagine donations went through the roof after that. Here are a few stills...
17.11.17 > Katie performs in BBC Radio 2's Piano Room
A little bonus ahead of tonight's CiN performance - this morning Katie sang live for BBC Radio 2's Piano Room. Sumptuous vocals as always. She sang "Fields Of Gold" and "Nine Million Bicycles". Check them out on YouTube (links on the YouTube page).
17.11.17 > Katie chilling out before big CiN night
16.11.17 > T-shirt printing
I feel very creative at the moment, writing poems and making things. I remembered I still had some T-shirt transfer paper so I decided to make a Katie T-shirt. I used one of the Keep Calm poster images with a nice photo superimposed with semi-transparency. I'm quite pleased with the result. The image needed to be reversed for printing as a transfer. I've put the image up with the other posters on the Miscellany page.
15.11.17 > Reasons Why I Love Katie #742
If I had to make a list of my favourite songs of all time (other than most of Katie's) the following seven would definitely be on it.
- Bridge Over Troubled Water
- Fields Of Gold
- Wonderful Life
- Moon River
- Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
- Blowin' In The Wind
Now then, do you notice anything they have in common? Of course, Katie has covered them all! Well, not so much covered them as made them her own. Her interpretations are always stunning. Sure, there are plenty she hasn't done, such as Neil Sedaka's Solitaire (which she would *kill* just like Karen Carpenter did), but I'm just so grateful to have heard her sing that magnificent seven.
13.11.17 > Update on Melua Mastermind
Okay, as promised I've updated Melua Mastermind.
There are now over thirty possible questions from which you are asked ten at random - so now you can play multiple times! I hope to keep adding questions over time (whenever I can think of one!). Some are easy, some are fiendish. There are some Katie herself wouldn't know (she doesn't seem too fussed about cluttering her mind with stats about herself, and why would she? There are much more important things going on in that lovely mind ;-).
12.11.17 > Under The Cherry Moon? Not quite...
Now here's a little mystery. If you look at the album 'Pictures' on iTunes, it lists a 13th bonus track, 'Under The Cherry Moon' (a Prince song). If you click on preview the actual song played is 'Somewhere In The Same Hotel', as featured on 'The Katie Melua Collection'. What is going on there? Has Katie really recorded that song and Apple have just got their chuddies in a twist? It's a puzzle I can't solve. Maybe it is a region thing and users in the U.S. get the correct song, I just don't know. I can't be bothered to query it with Apple, who routinely ignore such queries so maybe I'll never know what the answer is.
11.11.17 > Do you like making things?
If you're a bit crafty then I've made a couple of things for you to try. They are both print-and-cut-out items. First, there's the Katie's Dirty Dice. Then, with Christmas fast approaching, I thought you might like to have an angelic Katie for your Christmas tree. You're welcome! Katie Christmas Tree Angel. All this and more can be found on the Miscellany page.
11.11.17 > Katie featured on BBC Radio 4 this morning
Katie is such a busy lady at the moment. I don't know where she finds the energy! I stumbled out of my lie-in just in time to catch her on BBC Radio 4 earlier on. It was another great interview. I love her speaking voice almost as much as her singing voice - she is so down-to-earth, eloquent, elegant and intelligent. I think if she were to read pi to a thousand places I'd be hanging on every digit!
10.11.17 > The best live CD ever?
I am officially ** BLOWN AWAY **. For anyone who bought In Winter last year and is hesitant to buy it again just for the bonus CD, listen to me now - DO NOT HESITATE! The Live in Berlin CD is simply staggering. I think it may be the best CD Katie has ever released. Yes, it is that good. In fact, I think it is the best live CD I have ever heard, even better than Nils Lofgren's amazing Acoustic Live. The sound quality is nothing short of astonishing and the performances flawless. Well done to Katie and her team for giving us a masterpiece.
Winter? Bring it on, I'm ready...
10.11.17 > Katie chats on Facebook Live!
So glad I managed to catch this. Katie has just done a Facebook Live session. It is such an amazing way for fans to interact with her. The only trouble is, thousands join in so comments and questions go flying by. It is overwhelming enough for the fans so I can't imagine what it was like for Katie. Thank-you Katie, it was lovely to be involved in real time like that and it was a lovely gift for your beloved fans. It was a fascinating half hour that just flew by but if you missed it you can catch it at https://www.facebook.com/katiemeluamusic/videos/10159703476430089/
10.11.17 > Happy In Winter Special Edition Release Day!
9.11.17 > In Winter's Eve!
We're re-releasing #InWinter tomorrow!! 💫💃🏻💃🏻 Making this record was the most intense fun I've had in the studio and here's a behind the scenes shot of me and Cecil while we mixed the album....The difference between a picture in the studio when you know they're taking your picture and the one where you don't 😁🐝🐝🐝🤓 K x #behindthescenes #studiophotography
9.11.17 > Lyrics updated
I've updated the lyrics pages to include the bonus tracks on In Winter (Special Edition). I pride myself on my lyrics pages - they are the most accurate you will find, if I do say so myself. There are so many errors out there, even the lyrics on Katiemelua.com are riddled with mistakes (I have told them!). If I'm at all suspicious about a line I look at several different sources and use my own ears as well to make sure I get it right. I'm not claiming to be 100% accurate (foreign language lyrics I have to take on trust, for example), but I do take extra care to get them right. And they are complete - if Katie sings it on a CD I put the lyrics up on this site.
8.11.17 > Gori Women's Choir on Amazon
8.11.17 > Are you a Melua Mastermind?
If you fancy testing your knowledge of all things Katie then I've added a quiz to the Miscellany section, called Melua Mastermind.
There are ten questions, and to make it a little easier they are multiple choice. No prizes at stake, just your own personal pride. If you do well you can feel smug, if you do badly you will at least learn a few things! I had a lot of fun developing this so in future I would like to create a pool of questions from which you are given ten at random - that way you can play the quiz multiple times and get a different quiz each time. Some questions could be shamefully easy, others may require you to be somewhat obsessional about Katie, though they will all be constructed from information available in the public domain - sadly, I can't just phone Katie and ask her to name her favourite colour! (Actually, I think I might know the answer to that one already). I will post again when the pooled question version becomes reality though I can't promise how soon it will be - I do have a day job!
7.11.17 > Katie's Songwriting Skills
I was just thinking about which songs were my favourites from each of Katie's albums. When I had my list I noticed something interesting about it - most of the songs I had picked were ones Katie had either written herself or co-written. I hadn't expected that. After all, the perception is that most songs on her albums are written by other people - mostly Mike Batt - and that only three or four are Katie's own. I haven't done a complete breakdown but I would think it is something like a third of the songs she has recorded are ones she wrote herself. Yet on my list of favourites it was more than two thirds. So what can I conclude from this revelation? Well, clearly Katie is an amazing songwriter. That being the case, I'm wondering why her albums don't contain a higher proportion of her own songs. Was that down to Mike Batt? Perhaps, though I'm not entirely convinced. After all, the ratio remained about the same on In Winter. I think maybe the issue is that Katie isn't really as confident at writing lyrics as she is music. And that is a shame. I think her lyrics are wonderful. I wish she would believe in herself a bit more. I'm hoping that will come as she gets older. I look forward to seeing an album she has written all by herself. Springsteen has been doing it for decades - come on Katie, you can do it to!
5.11.17 > Katie's Food Heaven
I can't believe it is just over a year since Katie appeared on Saturday Kitchen Live. She told Rick Stein her food heaven would be prawns and her food hell would be liver (with you on that one, Katie). Which did she get? What do you think! Actually, if you want to watch for yourself I found the episode on YouTube and I've added it to the YouTube section.
5.11.17 > Ketefans
I was thinking about this trend of celebrities having a name for their fans - such as Cumberbitches and Beliebers - and I don't recall ever seeing Katie Melua fans named this way. So, I thought I'd throw one out there: Ketefans. If you don't get it, you ain't one!
Button / Coaster image available here.
4.11.17 > Fields Of Gold lyrics
The lyrics for Fields of Gold are now available in the lyrics section - so you have no excuse not to sing along when Katie gives the single its debut television performance live on the BBC Children in Need Appeal Show on Friday 17 November, at 9.50pm on BBC One.
4.11.17 > Katie on BBC Breakfast
Katie gave a lovely little interview at the end of BBC Breakfast this morning. She talked mainly about the BBC Children In Need single, Fields of Gold, and Sir Terry Wogan and his influence on her career. There was also a mention of the re-release of In Winter (the special edition) and a suggestion that she will tour again next year. As always, she came across as just the loveliest woman, articulate, thoughtful, gracious and down-to-earth. So glad I managed to catch it. It'll be on iPlayer for a short while - you'll need to skip to the last ten minutes. I've got some screen grabs that'll probably go in the Gallery - eventually (the todo list is too long yet!)
Thank god for the caption. I'd never have known...
3.11.17 > Fields of Gold
What a stunning version! So many have covered this song but trust Katie to absolutely nail it. Vocals so achingly beautiful you could die. This is how I like Katie best - just her and her guitar, nothing else needed. You hang on every syllable, feel every word. Sheer perfection.
2.11.17 > Children In Need single 2017
OM - actual - G! It has just been announced that Katie is to release "Fields Of Gold" as this year's official BBC Children In Need single. I have been longing to hear her sing that song for ages. I am beyond excited about it. I've heard some of it already and it is exactly how I imagined her singing it and I'm sure it will help prove my point that Katie is one of the best interpreters of a song on the planet. I'm off to do a little dance of joy now. I may be gone some time.
You can find out more here - BBC CiN statement
Oh, and I think it also answers my entry of 19th October!
1.11.17 > Halloween playlist
Last night Katie made a post about the Spotify Halloween playlist she was enjoying. To be frank, I'd rather just listen to Katie. But it made me think about creating my own themed playlists of Katie's music. So here is my Katie Melua Halloween Playlist (which I will now have to wait a whole year to use!)