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Considering it was a hit way back in 1990, until this week I never knew what “Birdhouse In Your Soul” by They Might Be Giants was all about.

That didn’t stop me enjoying the record. It had a idiosyncratic, indie feel to it along with a quirky video, perfect for MTV. So I haven’t spent 30 years consumed with a sense of frustration from not knowing what They Might Be Giants were singing about. …

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Poetry lovers will recognise the reference to the famous Robert Browning poem (although Browning stylised it “Home-Thoughts, From Abroad”). Sadly Clifford T. Ward’s song lives on today only in the memories of those of us old enough to remember listening to the radio in the mid-1970s.

“Home Thoughts From Abroad” was a radio hit, but in chart terms it was only the B-Side to Clifford T. Ward’s 1973 Top Ten hit “Gaye”. While that’s a perfectly decent song, I much prefer the B-Side.

And time has been much kinder to “Home Thoughts From Abroad” than it has been to “Gaye”…

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If you know the name Carole Bayer Sager at all, it’s likely to be from her quirky 1977 hit “You’re Moving Out Today”. This song pops up occasionally in those “one-hit wonder” listings you see online or in the newspapers.

However Carole Bayer Sager is far from a one-hit wonder. She’s been in the upper reaches of the pop charts plenty of times, although mostly with a writing credit for a song she’s written for someone else. “You’re Moving Out Today” was her only significant chart appearance as a performer.

The music business was different back in the 1970s…along with…

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If there’s one thing that 12 months of a pandemic has taught us, surely it’s that none of us is a rock…or an island for that matter…we all depend on one another, sometimes in ways we’re aware of and at other times in ways we don’t consciously think about.

Of course, we all know we depend on wonderful healthcare professionals to keep us safe in the middle of a pandemic and look after us if things go wrong.

But what about the Amazon delivery driver whose name we don’t know…the grocery supplies which turn up on our doorstep thanks to…

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By any measure, “As Tears Go By” is an iconic song. It’s not necessarily the best song ever written, it doesn’t have the most eloquent lyrics, Marianne Faithfull’s performance doesn’t knock you off your feet with its power, verve and style.

But it captures a moment in time perfectly.

In the same way as I can’t hear the Charleston without thinking about flapper dresses, Model T Fords and speakeasies, I can’t hear “As Tears Go By” without thinking of a Britain still going about its business in post-war black-and-white, before the hippies and colour TV came along to show us…

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On one of their live videos, Katie White, The Ting Tings’ lead singer, dedicates “That’s Not My Name” to “all the invisible people”.

Sadly, in our society, that often means women, young people, people of a different ethnicity to ours and those we perceive to be of a lower social class.

Some years ago, I remember reading about a British journalist who worked as a healthcare assistant for a few shifts. When dressed in a healthcare assistant’s uniform, she because invisible, even to powerful people she had previously interviewed who passed her in the corridor.

Dressed differently, reporter’s notebook in…

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Most of us instantly think of Nat King Cole when “Let’s Face The Music And Dance” is mentioned. His 1964 version set the template which pretty much everyone who covered the song since has used.

But in 1964, “Let’s Face The Music And Dance” was already 30 years old.

Irving Berlin had written it as long ago as 1936. It was originally composed for the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movie “Follow The Fleet”. …

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I heard a lovely new version of “I Know Him So Well” recently, but the definitive performers will always be Elaine Paige and Barbara Dickson for me. Their version was a UK Number One in 1985 and remains a favourite song for many almost 40 years later.

The new version (linked below) is by Amanda Holden and Sheridan Smith. Neither are top of my favourite artists list, if I’m honest, but they do a lovely job together and the end result is a credit to them both.

Of course it helps when you’re starting off with great material.

Written by…

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There’s no question of you sitting around on your sofa when “You Can’t Stop The Beat” comes on. From the moment those sparky horns fire up for the intro, you want to be on your feet.

“You Can’t Stop The Beat” sets the standard by which all other songs labelled “infectious” needs to be measured.

Mostly that description is used for songs that want you make to snap your fingers or tap your toes. …

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Let’s face it, the first time you heard “Marrakesh Express” you probably thought it was about drugs.

Not that I could blame anyone for coming to that conclusion. There was a lot of that about in the late 1960s. People were jetting off to exotic lands so they could discover themselves”…which, as near as I can figure out, meant experimenting with various narcotic substances of varying potency and impact.

However I’m sorry to disappoint you. “Marrakesh Express” literally was written about a train journey. …

No Words, No Song

Without words, it’s just a nice tune. Add words — now you’ve got a song. And songs can change your world. I write about some that changed mine.

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