Sunday, 26 December 2010
Sunday, 19 December 2010
but also this great collaboration with Jamie Cullum and the Swingle Singers (posted on the grounds that, wisely, not everyone sits through the Royal Variety Performance):
Friday, 17 December 2010
The first time I heard the intro to Slow, it stopped me in my tracks, just as it did for millions of radio listeners a few months later. It is a manifesto as well as a very affecting relationship song. I love the story of how she met her manager Kwame Kwaten and how she was given the time and space to develop by producer Steve Brown. I love the moral of Rumer’s breakthrough: if you persevere, you can overcome any number of hurdles - as long as your music is outstanding.
Thursday, 16 December 2010
First, Gram Parsons again. For me, his four classic compositions are Hot Burrito #1 (AKA I'm Your Toy - see below), Hickory Wind, Return Of The Grievous Angel and A Song For You. Then there's Wild Horses which is credited to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards but Gram is rumoured to have co-written. There was more than one controversy over credits in Gram's short career as this article about Hickory Wind suggests.
The essential Gram Parsons purchases are the Flying Burrito Brothers album Gilded Palace Of Sin, the two Gram Parsons solo albums (on which Emmylou Harris deserved a credit), and the Byrds album Sweetheart Of The Rodeo.
Robert Sandall's interview with Emmylou Harris says "The last time they spoke, Parsons phoned (Emmylou) to tell her that her favourite track from their recent sessions had been left off the Grievous Angel album but would definitely feature on the next". What was that song, I wonder? Presumably it's one of the Emmylou duets on the posthumous Sleepless Nights album.
The other A Song For You was immortalised by Donny Hathaway, an artist who, like Gram Parsons, died too young. But it was written by Leon Russell who has also recorded Wild Horses, so there's your link with Gram. Leon also wrote Superstar, one of my two favourite Carpenters tracks (the other being Goodbye To Love) - what a songwriter.
There's a remarkable film about The Carpenters, made by Todd Haynes of Dylan biopic fame while he was still at film school. It's banned following legal action by Richard Carpenter, but thanks to YouTube it's easy to find it.
Donny Hathaway has legendary status in some quarters but is barely known in others. That's starting to change thanks to lyrical name checks from Wyclef Jean and most notably Amy Winehouse. I was recently discussing him with James McMorrow, a new artist from Dublin whose voice is pure magic. Donny's A Song For You is one of James's favourite tracks of all time too, and I'm sure he loves Gram Parsons as well. James told me that it was the greater success of Stevie Wonder that drove Donny to suicide. I don't know whether this is true, but if so, at least he didn't live to hear Ebony & Ivory.
Gram Parsons - A Song For You (iTunes)
Donny Hathaway - A Song For You (iTunes)
(update of post originally from 06/06/08)
Thursday, 9 December 2010
Point Break's subsequent single What About Us was glorious too. If Freakytime had been their first single and What About Us their second, I think they would both have been number ones. Unfortunately they released two other rubbish singles first so it was an uphill struggle by the time Freakytime came out. Mind you, Angels by Robbie Williams overcame similar circumstances.
(update of post from 18/10/07)