Wednesday 18 December 2013, 11:28
A final blog post from Stuart Maconie
Wednesday 18 December 2013, 11:28
A year ago, almost to the day, I sat in a kitchen in a rented cottage in the Lake District and waited, eagerly but with a bottom note of trepidation, to the first in a series that had occupied my time (and several other people’s) for the best part of the preceding year. Late in 2011, Bob Shennan, the controller of Radio 2, asked me to write and present a history of pop. With what some might call chutzpah and others might term cheek, I asked if I could do something quite different; a social history of Britain since the second world war told through pop singles and, crucially, the voices, memories and opinions of the people who bought, lived with, loved (or maybe even loathed) them. No experts, no critics. A People’s pop history which came to be called The People’s Songs.
King's Arms Salford
In the autumn of 2012, myself and producers Ian Callaghan and Lorna Skingley sat down in the Kings Arms in Salford (above - now run by Paul Heaton) and drew up a long list of the kinds of songs and topics we wanted to include. I was adamant that this shouldn’t be the same canonical list of revered classics that gets trotted out in every broadsheet and magazine listathon. I wanted this...
Wednesday 4 December 2013, 14:29
Over the last year we’ve been on an amazing journey through the recent history of Britain, told via the popular music of the last 50 years and the memories of real people who have shared their experiences with our production team and Radio 2 listeners. And you may have noticed that on our ‘listen again’ page we currently have every single one of the 45 plus episodes of The People’s Songs available to hear again in their entirety.
If not, why not head over there and take a listen to any shows that you’ve missed? The subjects covered, the musical genres spanned and, of course, the reminiscences shared have been remarkable and make for some superb listening!
However, please take note that the message on that page which says that there is over a year left to listen to all the episodes is incorrect. The mistake is the result of a technical problem which has made it impossible to change this message though we hoped to have been able to resolve it some time ago. The only alternative would have been to curtail the availability of the programmes which we thought would be very disappointing.
In fact, the series will be available only until a week after the very last show (Episode...
Tuesday 19 November 2013, 17:02
Slade at Xmas
Are you hanging up your stocking on the wall?
Well, no… not yet (we hope), but all the signs are here: the adverts with fake snow (when did it EVER snow on Xmas day, unless you live in the Highlands?); the shop windows and high streets stuffed with festive ornaments; and it can only be a matter of time before one of our presenters cranks up the Yuletide hits.
But here at The People’s Songs, as we approach our final month on the air, are preparing for episode number 50, which, as you know, will be about Christmas! And, as the entire series has been about you, the listener, we still welcome your memories and your thoughts on how December 25th was enhanced, enlivened or just plain ruined by pop music.
From the family ritual of watching the Top Of The Pops Xmas Special (always a disappointment as it nearly always consisted of number ones from the preceding year: never a guarantee of quality) to the endless soundtrack of cheesy yet heartwarming hits, from Slade, Wizzard, Wham! or Shaking Stevens to the jazzy jive of Chris Rea’s ‘Driving Home For Christmas’ or Greg Lake’s prog-tinged ‘I Believe In Father Christmas’. In fact, if you think about it, just about...
Wednesday 2 October 2013, 11:31
With less than a score of episodes to go in this landmark series we thought it was time to both take stock and to give you, the people who helped put this epic show on the air a chance to get a little more up close and personal with our very own Stuart Maconie!
With that in mind, on October 23rd, following our show about the British love of shaking a collective tail feather - ‘You Should Be Dancing’ – Stuart will be taking an hour to answer your questions via his Twitter account : @StuartMaconie.
Your questions can be on or about anything to do with the show: the songs chosen;...
Monday 2 September 2013, 12:17
So here it is, the final people’s song…and if that isn’t enough of a clue then the subject of that show as chosen by you – or quite a few of you anyway - follows very soon. First though, a word on the process
From the very earliest days of The People’s Songs planning, and in particular a lively evening of brainstorming and beer in the King’s Arms, Salford, we decided that the final song, the track that would be at the heart of the fiftieth episode should be chosen by a listener. We thought that the scope of the narrative that we’d planned was broad and all-encompassing, from war...
Wednesday 7 August 2013, 17:29
In February 1972, Paul McCartney’s much vaunted new band, Wings, released their debut single. Musically it had the bright tunefulness we’d expect of McCartney. But lyrically it not only raised eyebrows but a huge amount of controversy and even outrage. The BBC not only refused to play it, but also refused to even name it on air; the venerable Alan Freeman had to refer to it as ‘a record by the group Wings’.
The song in this week's episode hasn't been chosen so much for the message it conveys, or to be contentious, but because of the shock it caused and what it says about a dark period in our history. These were troubled times, so troubled that even the supposedly cuddly Beatle would chose to release such a polemical first single. For many people this record, released as a response to the Bloody Sunday killings, was perhaps the first time they’d paused to think a little more deeply about The Troubles… troubles which had started across the Irish sea, but which soon arrived on the British mainland.
That song was called 'Give Ireland Back To The Irish', a bluntly simple title about a deeply complex historical situation.
Monday 5 August 2013, 16:48
There's an outtake from this week's show that raises an interesting point; especially in this age of ubiquitous music, available in every guise you care to think of at the touch of a button. here's Martin to explain:
It's a fascinating thought: that back in the early '70s if your record was banned, the only way the curious could hear it would be to actually go to a shop and BUY it!
History has proven time again and again that there's very rarely such thing as bad publicity. A band which appeared earlier in...
Monday 1 July 2013, 16:33
With British summer failing to make a notable appearance as yet it comes as a bit of a surprise that we’ve actually passed the halfway mark in our landmark series. In fact, we passed it a couple of weeks ago (with our ‘Cigarettes and Alcohol’ episode). It’s been an amazing six months, filled with some priceless memories and observations from you, the listeners.
But, of course, you’re more than just listeners: you’re contributors. The People’s Songs couldn’t ever have been made (or even conceived) without you in mind. And the rest of the series still gives many opportunities for you...
Monday 24 June 2013, 13:41
The People's Songs book cover For years, when people would ask me was there a book I really wanted to write, I would make some vague noise about my ‘slim volume of difficult modern verse’ or such, but really one non-fiction project simmered somewhere in the back of my consciousness: a readable one-volume history of British pop that would eschew the usual worthiness; that would be as much about the Bay City Rollers, Larry Parnes, Kylie, the Bee Gees and heavy metal as it would be about the sanctioned corpus of rock that gets handed down through those earnest retrospectives in the rock...
Friday 7 June 2013, 11:22
Saxon's Wheels of Steel logo
Winter 1982: I saw my first gig. It was Saxon at the Brighton Centre and it was a life-changing event. Saxon were my favourite band at the time, which meant I had a couple of their LPs and a patch on the back of my body-warmer (and for those who care such details, it was the Wheels Of Steel cover with the eagle astride a motorbike wheel: a thrilling artistic conceit to a 12 year-old lad). I love those albums, I loved the songs about freedom and motorbikes and hordes of denim and leather-clad hedonists... And then, to be among that crowd (from the safety of the...