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Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Lottery Winners know something most bands refuse to learn

Watching The Lottery Winners, the self-described "mediocre indie pop band" from Leigh, Lancs at the Water Rats last night, it struck me that people who climb on stage have one of two motivations.

They're either looking for attention or they're looking for validation.

If they're looking for attention they understand that the most precious prize is an engaged audience and this is something that can't be commanded. It must be won. People who are keen for attention will be attuned to the mood of the room and will pull back the audience's attention if they feel it wandering.

On the other hand people who are keen for validation think they've done the job just by securing the gig. They won't talk to the audience any more than they have to and if they do it will be just to tell them what the next song is. If the audience aren't paying attention they don't really mind because they're quite happy playing their music. They're not prepared to change that in any way just to win the audience's favour. If people don't happen to like it that's because they're wrong.

It goes without saying that the Lottery Winners belong in the first category. As does anybody whose career last more than a couple of years.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Alan Simpson deserved a medal for writing Tony Hancock's best stuff. But no badge.

Alan Simpson has died. He and Ray Galton wrote the great Hancock radio shows. That's him on the left.

I don't really remember those shows being on the radio. I picked them up later on, from gramophone records played on the radio in the 60s. People would request snippets of them on "Two Way Family Favourites".

When I was living in a flat in north London at the beginning of the 70s a bunch of us had some of those records on the Pye Golden Guinea label. We played them so often that I can recite entire pages of the scripts.

There's never been better broadcast comedy. There's never been more poignant broadcast comedy. There's been better delivered comedy.

Hardly a week goes by without one of Galton and Simpson's lines as spoken by Tony Hancock unaccountably welling up from my subconscious.

"Given, no. Spilt, yes."

"There's more water out there then there is in your beer."

"Send a bread pudding to Kuala Lumpur."

"We're going to Margate this year, if any of you nurses fancy..."

"But no badge...."

Respect.


Sunday, February 05, 2017

A thought about the next President

Keep turning over in my mind something I just heard on the excellent NPR Politics podcast.

If you'd suggested in the first year of George W. Bush's second term that the next President would be Barack Obama you would have been laughed at.

And if you had suggested in the first year of Obama's second term that the next President was going to be Donald Trump the laughs would have been even louder.

I don't know exactly what it proves other than the enduring truth of Harold Macmillan's line about  the thing politicians most fear.

"Events, dear boy, events."

Friday, February 03, 2017

This is what's happening with Word In Your Ear


Paul Gambaccini was our guest in a particularly riveting Word In Your Ear evening at the Islington last week. He was talking about everything from his time as a writer on Rolling Stone through his time at Radio One to his harrowing year under the shadow of the Metropolitan police Yewtree investigation. This is all detailed in his extraordinary book Love, Paul Gambaccini. You can hear the conversation here. You can also sign up to get further Word In Your Ear podcasts.

Next Wednesday our guests are Tony Fletcher and Barney Hoskyns. Tony, who's the former editor of Jamming magazine, will be talking about his various music biographies, including his new one In The Midnight Hour, which is the story of Wilson Pickett. Barney is with us, talking about and signing copies of his book Small Town Talk, which is all about the extraordinary musical background of Woodstock. There's a few tickets available here, where you can also sign up for the mailing list and make sure you get notice of upcoming events. We're hatching plans for spring right now.