Episodes
50 years after it was first recorded, Ralph McTell and others discuss a song that was written for a heroin addict, became an anthem against homelessness, and transcended the folk genre to become an enduring classic. Ralph McTell says he’s thought constantly about the “blip in my graph” that is Streets of London. People say to him “50 years. One hit. You think you’d have given up by now”. But, Ralph says, that’s not why he writes songs. And, of course, he’s written many. Many that he...
Published 07/17/19
Amy Winehouse died in July 2011 aged just 27. Back to Black the title track of her second and final album is a torch song to tragic love, addiction and loss. People who loved her and her music talk about how she helped them cope with their own struggles. Lesley Jamison is now a successful writer but at 27 she was an alcoholic. She stopped drinking the same year that Amy died. Lesley reflects on how her own life could have followed the same path had she gone further into the darkness or the...
Published 07/10/19
The story of how a song from a classic 80’s movie became an inspirational anthem for a 21st Century generation. Carly Simon’s ‘Let the River Run’ was originally conceived as the title track for the 1988 movie ‘Working Girl. It went on to win the Academy Award for Best Original Song. It also went on to win the affection of people around the world. Initially thought of as a ‘hymn for New York’, ‘Let the River Run’ encapsulates the spirit of striving for a better life. As Carly Simon puts it...
Published 01/23/19
The music was written by Charlie Chaplin in 1935 for the film 'Modern Times', but the lyrics were only added thirty years later. Chris Philips tells the story of how his grandfather was inspired to write the words when he left his father at boarding school; Gemma Lowery talks about how her son Bradley loved the song; writer Bryony Rheam describes why she associates the song with her grandmother; Marine Lucas remembers flying to Michael Jackson's memorial on hearing the news of his death and...
Published 01/17/19
The B-Flat Piano Sonata D960, which Schubert completed two months before his death, in 1828, is a vast and complex work. It’s the last of a triptych of piano sonatas that Schubert wrote, possibly in response to the death of his hero Beethoven the year before. Schubert had been a pallbearer at Beethoven’s funeral. In this programme, pianists Imogen Cooper, Steven Osborne and James Lisney consider what it’s like to play this work. And Andrea Avery and Pamela Rose describe ways in which this...
Published 01/09/19
Shine On You Crazy Diamond discussed by voices including David Gilmour of Pink Floyd. Understood to have been written about Syd Barrett, their former band member, it’s both a tribute, and a call for him to ‘shine on’ despite suffering serious mental health issues. In this edition of Soul Music, David Gilmour of Pink Floyd recalls the legendary day that Syd Barrett unexpectedly appeared in the studio where they were recording Wish You Were Here, the album bookended by Shine On. Nobody...
Published 12/26/18
A new series of Soul Music begins with stories of Joni Mitchell's 'River', from her iconic 1971 album Blue. A song about the breakdown of a relationship and of a longing to be elsewhere that has become a melancholy Christmas anthem. It's coming on Christmas / They're cutting down trees / They're putting up reindeer / And singing songs of joy and peace / Oh I wish I had a river / I could skate away on.... Emotional true stories of what the song means to different people, including comedian...
Published 12/19/18
"Your true colors...are beautiful, like a rainbow..." Billy Steinberg's lyrics were originally inspired by his mother but his song writing partner Tom Kelly recognised it's universal appeal and with a slight re-write, it became the song that Cyndi Lauper made famous the world over. Growing up in a small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Ken Kidd could never truly be himself. Watching Cyndi Lauper perform True Colors on MTV showed him that it was OK to be his authentic self. Years later he...
Published 05/02/18
"God only knows what I'd be without you" For artist Kim Lynch God Only Knows is a song that she has carried with her from the moment her father played it to her mother back in their 1960's London home and it's the song that resonated throughout her parents 65 years together. Meanwhile in land locked Burundi, another couple are bought together from two very different cultures. Sharing the same hopes and prayers, they began their married life by blending a traditional wedding ceremony with...
Published 04/25/18
Claude Debussy's Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun speaks to artists of different kinds. Jamaican poet Ishion Hutchinson recalls hearing it through an open window in Kingston Jamaica and being mesmerised by its beauty, but not knowing what it was, setting off on a quest to find out and to write a poem that captured his feelings about the piece. Babak Kazemi was training to be a doctor in his home city of Tehran when he heard it for the first time. The piece changed his life and led him to...
Published 04/18/18
A Whiter Shade of Pale by Procol Harum: Why has this surreal track remained enduringly popular for over 50 years? Soul Music hears the stories and memories of those who love it. Released in May 1967, A Whiter Shade of Pale was Procol Harum's first single. It went to No. 1 in the UK, and stayed there for six weeks. Contributors: Musicologist, Allan Moore, deconstructs the track and dismisses the almost universally accepted idea that it mimics Bach's Air on a G String. Film-maker, Chris...
Published 04/11/18
Actor Clarke Peters narrates a special edition of Soul Music marking fifty years since the assassination of the Reverend Dr Martin Luther King on April 4th 1968. "If in doubt, pray and sing" an activist recalls how music was used as part of Dr King's non-violent resistance movement. This edition of Soul Music tells the stories of the songs behind the Civil Rights Movement including the spirituals and freedom songs that were integral to the struggle. In the 19th century, music became a tool...
Published 04/04/18
Cerys Matthews delves into the archives to put together a specially curated mixtape of her favourite stories from across 25 series of the BBC Radio 4's Soul Music. Each episode of Soul Music takes a different piece of music - it might be a pop song, or a hymn, or a piece of classical music or world music - and looks at why it moves us and what it means to different people. Cerys's choices include Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, Mozart's Requiem in D Minor, Bob Marley's Redemption Song,...
Published 02/12/18
Cerys Matthews delves into the archives to put together a specially curated mixtape of her favourite stories from across 25 series of the BBC Radio 4's Soul Music. Each episode of Soul Music takes a different piece of music - it might be a pop song, or a hymn, or a piece of classical music or world music - and looks at why it moves us and what it means to different people. Cerys's choices include Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, Mozart's Requiem in D Minor, Bob Marley's Redemption Song,...
Published 02/12/18
Cerys Matthews delves into the archives to put together a specially curated mixtape of her favourite stories from across 25 series of the BBC Radio 4's Soul Music. Each episode of Soul Music takes a different piece of music - it might be a pop song, or a hymn, or a piece of classical music or world music - and looks at why it moves us and what it means to different people. Cerys's choices include Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, Mozart's Requiem in D Minor, Bob Marley's Redemption Song,...
Published 02/12/18
How Kraftwerk's classic album Computer World has changed people's lives. On their first wedding anniversary, David Sanborn and Jennifer Huber remember their Kraftwerk themed celebrations. Ramona Gonzales from the band Nite Jewel recounts how a car crash and a chance encounter with Computer World changed the course of her life. And Andy McCluskey from Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark recalls the Kraftwerk concert that inspired his musical career. Kraftwerk were forged in the shadow of World...
Published 01/24/18
Boys Don't Cry by The Cure is, on the surface, a tribute to teenage angst and a slice of pop perfection. Lol Tolhurst, the band's drummer, wrote the song with his band mates in Robert Smith's parents' house extension. Poorna Bell saw the song's lyrics echo her husband's struggle with expressing his emotions, and describes the devastating impact which that can have. Runner Derek Redmond recalls the moment he lost his 'game face' at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, and Sara Pacella and...
Published 01/17/18
J.S Bach wrote his cantata Ich Habe Genug for the Feast of the Purification of Mary to be performed in Leipzig on 2nd February 1727. The work is a retelling of the story of the old man Simeon who, waiting in the temple, was presented with the baby Jesus. As he held the baby in his arms, in Bach's version he says: It is enough. I have held the Saviour, the hope of all peoples, In the warm embrace of my arms. It is enough. In this edition of Soul Music, oboist George Caird recalls playing...
Published 01/10/18
"If you've never heard of Bob Marley then you must be living under a rock" - Neville Garrick, Bob Marley's Art Director and friend. At the time he wrote 'Redemption Song', circa 1979, Bob Marley had been diagnosed with the cancer in his toe that later took his life. It is considered one of his greatest works and continues to inspire generations of Marley fans across the world. For Grammy Award Winning artist John Legend, it's become an anthem for addressing the criminal justice system of...
Published 12/27/17
"O' Holy Night, the stars are brightly shining..." and so begins the gentle carol of reflection that has touched the lives of listeners around the world. For The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, it's the carol that lifted his spirits as he lay in a London hospital battling pneumonia. It is also the hymn that inspired a fellow patient to find faith. In Philadelphia it is the song that outreach worker Asteria Vives sang when she took Christmas to the homeless, whilst for singer and...
Published 12/20/17
Sandy Denny was just 19 years old when she wrote 'Who Knows Where the Time Goes?', her much-loved song about the passing of time. Soul Music tells the story behind the song and speaks to people for whom it has special meaning. The record producer Joe Boyd and founder member of Fairport Convention Simon Nicol remember Sandy and her music. We speak to musicians who have covered the song, including folk legend Judy Collins and the singer Rufus Wainwright, about what the song means to them. And...
Published 06/14/17
You Are My Sunshine was written in or around 1939 and was adopted by the then Governor of Louisiana, Jimmy Davies who recorded and used it as his campaign theme song. It has since been recorded by more than four hundred artists from Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash to Aretha Franklin and Bryan Ferry. A mother and daughter tell their story of how the song helped the daughter's recovery after a catastrophic car crash, and how it has come to symbolise her struggle to rebuild her life after being in a...
Published 06/07/17
Wagner's peaceful Siegfried Idyll was written to thank his wife after the birth of his son Siegfried. On her birthday, she awoke to find an orchestra on her staircase performing the music for the first time. It is music which celebrates family relationships, and Soul Music hears from people whose lives and relationships have been touched and changed by this remarkable piece. Cellist Nick Trygstad explains how the music conjures up scenes of domestic life and helped him cope with his...
Published 05/31/17
"Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens"... In this week's Soul Music, guests from around the world share their special memories of The Sound of Music classic 'My Favourite Things'. Written by Rodgers and Hammerstein in 1959 this deceptively simple song has travelled the globe to comfort and enthral children the world over. Iranian Astronaut and philanthropist Anousheh Ansari's first encounter with this musical classic was in her native language of Farsi. It's a melody she held dear to...
Published 05/24/17
Waterloo Sunset by The Kinks was released in 1967. To mark its 50th anniversary, Soul Music hears the poignant, thoughtful and life-changing memories of those who love it. Childhood holidays were an escape from bullying for John Harvey. He describes the unforgettable moment when he heard Waterloo Sunset for the first time, on the radio, in 1967. Getting to know the music of The Kinks, and finding out about the character of its lead singer, Ray Davies, shaped and coloured his life from then...
Published 05/17/17