I write this three weeks into The People's Songs and, I don't know about you, but I love it. I am of course a little biased. To put it another way, I think the shows so far have been everything me and the producers (Ian and Lorna) wanted it to be; a show that celebrates the power of music not by pulling the music apart and pinning it to a dissecting table, but by seeing it in context, a context of families, work, fun, sex, war and peace and all the rest.

For me, a great example of this is the exploration in episode three about how the end of conscription was a significant factor in the birth of The Beatles and British pop. I've heard many a documentary which tells me how the Hamburg experience honed their musical skills and who played what when. But I think we're the first to make the point that the Beatles were the first generation to avoid National Service; all that energy that might have gone into square-bashing and spud-peeling instead expressed itself in the molten outburst of creativity.

I know that even some admirable and respected colleagues and friends thought that the idea of a thematic narrative not a chronological one was taking a big risk. Also, the idea of using 'ordinary' people (a phrase I hate, but you take my point) rather than the standard talking head expert - or indeed the musicians themselves - seemed to be flying in the face of protocol. Which is, of course, exactly why I wanted to do it.

Anyway, enough trumpet-blowing. I think it works. I hope you do, too, but let us know either way.

And if you have any memories or insights you want to share about the songs or themes we'll be covering this year, you know where we are.



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  • Comment number 2. Posted by Richard BBC

    on 1 Feb 2013 14:42

    Hi FL - Richard from the People's Songs online team here. Thanks for your comment.

    As Stuart has written and said of this series - this is not intended as an academic rock history. Stuart’s providing the basic outline as to what happened and how in each episode, but our aim is to leave it to the people of Britain to explain how this music enriched, shaped, improved or changed their lives. We’re not aiming (or claiming) to create the definitive history of pop, but a personalised one filtered through the lives and perceptions of the Radio 2 listener.

    So hopefully you can forgive us if we don't spend long analysing the songs themselves. It's the influence the songs had on Britain which interests us (and hopefully, the listeners) so much.

  • Comment number 1. Posted by FL

    on 18 Jan 2013 18:41

    I enjoyed this but felt something missing, for example on the Two Tribes section you say 'Trevor Horn said its all about the bassline'. He was, of course, entirely correct. But no talk about it. Played or sequenced? Who thought of it? Why did it make the song that the programme was about? Was it that bassline that suited the theme of the song, that grabbed people's attention in the shadow of possible nuclear war? Did it imply fear? Or did it provoke mobilisation to protest? Hardly a lyrically complex song. Why did it grab people so much?

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