Liam Gallagher, John Cleese, Clare Teal, Adrian Lester and Brian May
BBC Radio 2

Three Weeks In


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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