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30.11.20   >   Katie Bite: Joy


29.11.20   >   Katie Conundrum No 8

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




28.11.20   >   Lyric Card: It's Over

It's Over

27.11.20   >   This is just too good...

26.11.20   >   It's In Winter time again!

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

26.11.20   >   Albums You May Have Missed Gets Own Page!

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

new page!

25.11.20   >   Track Notes 112: Bridge Over Troubled Water




Paul Simon




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

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

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


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

Bridge Over Troubled Water


Bridge Over Troubled Water

24.11.20   >   AYMHM 10: The Ice Castle

Another album you may have missed...

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

the ice castle

The Ice Castle

Kirsty Hawkshaw

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

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

Play on:


23.11.20   >   A Snapshot of Chris and Nino

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

chris and nino

22.11.20   >   On This Day... 2019

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

on this day 2019

22.11.20   >   Seven Second Challenge 18

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

Seven second challenge: intro 18

21.11.20   >   A Choral Christmas

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

20.11.20   >   Happy Day of Joy!

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


19.11.20   >   Do Your Own Thing

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

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

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

18.11.20   >   Joy to the World!

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

Here is the link you need: Joy video on YouTube

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

Joy video

17.11.20   >   Lyric Card: Love Me Tender

Love Me Tender

16.11.20   >   Track Notes 111: It's Over



Roy Orbison, Bill Dees




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


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

It's Over (on Spotify)


It's Over

15.11.20   >   Voices Of The Ancestors Podcast

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

14.11.20   >   Katie Bite: Gold In Them Hills

Gold In Them Hills

13.11.20   >   Katie's Sodajerker Podcast

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


12.11.20   >   Katie Live Online Concert Announced!

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

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

rivoli gig

11.11.20   >   Mind Your Language

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

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

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

10.11.20   >   AYMHM 9: Canticles of Ecstasy

Another album you may have missed...

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

canticles of ecstasy

Canticles of Ecstasy


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

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

Play on:


09.11.20   >   Katie Conundrum No 7

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




08.11.20   >   Do You Hear What I Hear?

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

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

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

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

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

07.11.20   >   Katie Bite: Joy


06.11.20   >   Katie In Action: Nottingham 2018

katie nottingham 2018

05.11.20   >   Quick Fact

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

04.11.20   >   On Fame

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

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

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

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

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

03.11.20   >   Track Notes 110: Love Me Tender



George R. Poulton, Ken Darby




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

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

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


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

Love Me Tender


Love Me Tender

02.11.20   >   Lyric Card: Too Long At The Fair

Too Long At The Fair

01.11.20   >   Katie on Martin & Roman's Sunday Best

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



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