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Soul Music


Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact

Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact
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London, United Kingdom




Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact




Who Knows Where the Time Goes?

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....

Duration: 00:27:49

You Are My Sunshine

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...

Duration: 00:27:42

Mozart's Requiem

How Mozart's Requiem, written when he was dying, has touched and changed people's lives. Crime writer Val McDermid recalls how this music helped her after the loss of her father. Hypnotist Athanasios Komianos recounts how the piece took him to the darker side of the spirit world. And a friend of ballet dancer Edward Stierle, Lissette Salgado-Lucas, explains how Eddie turned his struggle with HIV into a ballet inspired by Mozart's music. Basement Jaxx used the Requiem in their live shows...

Duration: 00:27:36

The Way You Look Tonight

'The Way You Look Tonight' was written by Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields for the 1936 film 'Swing Time'. Sung by Fred Astaire to Ginger Rodgers while she was washing her hair, the song won an Oscar. It's been recorded by Frank Sinatra and Billie Holiday. Sarah Woodward, daughter of actor Edward, recalls how age seven, she watched him sing it on The Morecambe and Wise Christmas Show with his 'angelic' voice; theatre director Michael Bawtree remembers the song being his father's favourite,...

Duration: 00:27:24

Sukiyaki (Ue o Muite Arukou)

Memories of a prison camp in the Arizona desert, a tsunami and a plane crash are stirred by the bittersweet Japanese song Sukiyaki, a huge global hit of the 1960s. Originally released in Japan with the title 'Ue o Muite Arukou' ('I Look Up As I Walk'), the song was retitled 'Sukiyaki' (the name for a type of beef stew) for international release. It went to No 1 in the USA, Canada and Australia and placed in the top 10 of the UK singles chart. With melancholy lyrics set to a bright and...

Duration: 00:27:31

Bring Him Home

Bring Him Home, from Les Miserables, is a beautiful and moving prayer-in-song that has developed meaning and identity outside the hit musical. Taking part in the programme: The celebrated tenor, Alfie Boe, has sung this many times in the West End and on Broadway; he discusses what the song means to him. Herbert Kretzmer talks about the agonising process of writing the lyrics. The Greater Manchester Police Male Voice Choir recorded a version especially for the programme; one of their...

Duration: 00:27:27

Fairytale of New York

The tragi-comic tale of love gone sour and shattered dreams eloquently depicted in the Christmas classic Fairytale of New York is the focus of this edition of Soul Music. James Fearnley, pianist with The Pogues recounts how the song started off as a transatlantic love story between an Irish seafarer missing his girl at Christmas before becoming the bittersweet reminiscences of the Irish immigrant down on his luck in the Big Apple, attempting to win back the woman he wooed with promises of...

Duration: 00:27:22


Edward Elgar's incomparable Nimrod, and the part it plays in people's lives, is explored this week: Composed as part of the Enigma Variations in the latter part of the 19th century, Nimrod was inspired by Elgar's friend and music editor, Augustus Jaeger. In an interview for this programme, Jaeger's granddaughter, Gillian Scully, talks about her grandfather and describes hearing her own granddaughter playing Nimrod at a school concert. It wasn't what Elgar intended, but Nimrod is now - and,...

Duration: 00:27:02

Mack the Knife

The Brecht/Weill song, 'Mack The Knife' first appeared in 'The Threepenny Opera' in Berlin in 1928. Sung about the criminal MacHeath, the 'play with music' is based on John Gay's 'The Beggar's Opera', who was inspired by the real-life English highwayman, Jack Sheppard. The song became a hit when performed in 1959 by Bobby Darin. Ella Fitzgerald famously forgot the words when performing live in Berlin in 1960 and her improvised version won a Grammy. Suzi Quatro talks about how she performed...

Duration: 00:27:17

Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika

Nkosi Sikelel iAfrica (Lord Bless Africa) is a song that runs through the very soul of South African life. It was originally composed in 1897 by Enoch Sontonga, a Xhosa clergyman at a Methodist mission school near Johannesburg who is said to have been inspired by the melody of John Parry's 'Aberystwyth', a hymn that would've been shared by Welsh missionaries at that time. It went on to travel the African continent but most significantly it became one of the defining symbols of a united...

Duration: 00:27:40

Mr Blue Sky

ELO's brilliantly off-beam classic, Mr Blue Sky, is explored in this week's Soul Music. It was released as a single in 1978, having first appeared on the ELO album 'Out of the Blue' in 1977. Written by Jeff Lynne, it was a no.6 hit in the UK, and has endured on the radio airwaves ever since. Contributing to the programme: Tracey Collinson whose husband, Nigel, loved the track tells of the meaning it has for her. Musicologist, Allan Moore, discusses the anomolous use of the word 'blue':...

Duration: 00:27:07

The Lord Is My Shepherd

This much-loved hymn based on Psalm 23 has been set to music many times, including Brother James' Air and Crimond. The Queen requested the Crimond version at her wedding. Harriet Bowes Lyon's tells the story that her mother, Lady Margaret Colville, ( formerly Lady Margaret Egerton) taught the descant to the Queen and Princess Margaret, and was summoned to sing it when, two days before the wedding, the descant music could not be found. Howard Goodall, who wrote a new setting for 'The Vicar...

Duration: 00:27:42

Scarborough Fair

"Tomorrow we're going in search of a song and in search of a dream of England which has travelled right around the world" - Will Parsons No one can be sure of the true origins of the song Scarborough Fair. It's a melody of mystery, of voices of old, of ancient days. It's travelled through land and time, drawing singers and listeners in where ever they maybe. For Will Parsons and Guy Hayward it's a song that has inspired a pilgrimage through a landscape that is embodied in the lyrics....

Duration: 00:27:34

First Cut Is the Deepest

Long before it was a worldwide hit for Rod Stewart, the Cat Stevens song 'First Cut is the Deepest' made a name for the former Ike and Tina Turner backing singer, PP Arnold. In an interview for Soul Music she describes the emotional connection she felt to the lyrics, having emerged from an abusive marriage shortly before recording it. Also contributing to the programme is the song's original producer, Mike Hurst. He describes how he achieved the huge 'wall of sound' production using double...

Duration: 00:27:41

Bach Cello Suite No 1 in G Major

Bach's Cello Suite No I in G major is one of the most frequently performed and recognisable solo compositions ever written for cello. Yet it was virtually unknown for almost two hundred years until the Catalan cellist, Pablo Casals discovered an edition in a thrift shop in Barcelona. Casals became the first to record it and the suites are now cherished by musicians across the globe. The world renowned cellist, Steven Isserlis describes his relationship with the piece and why it still...

Duration: 00:27:29


Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah' took him years to write. It originally had as many as 80 verses. Recorded for his 'Various Positions' album, it was almost ignored when first released in 1984. Only Bob Dylan saw its true worth and would play it live. John Cale eventually recorded a version which was heard by an obscure musician called Jeff Buckley. The song has been covered by hundreds of artists including Rufus Wainwright, K.D.Lang and Alexandra Burke. We hear from those whose relationship with...

Duration: 00:27:50

La Boheme

"La Boheme is a work of genius, for me it's the perfect opera. There's not a bar or a word or anything you'd want to alter. It just gets to you" - Opera Director John Copley CBE. For the final programme in this series of Soul Music, we venture back into the Parisian winter of Puccini's beloved 'La Boheme' where legendary Opera Director John Copley CBE reflects on his 40 years of bringing this tale of friendship, love and loss to the stage of the Royal Opera House. Alongside his memories of...

Duration: 00:27:39

There Is a Light That Never Goes Out

The Smiths' 'There Is A Light That Never Goes Out' is explored through personal stories. Released in 1986 on 'The Queen Is Dead' album, it has become an anthem of hope, loss and love. As a teenager, Andy listened to it with his father, as he drove him to work. They had a moment of connection, and when his father died suddenly a few weeks later, the song took on huge significance. When her young son was ill, Sharon Woolley drew strength from this music as she sat by his bedside in the small...

Duration: 00:27:30

Gracias A La Vida

Gracias A La Vida - thank you to life - is a song that means a lot to many people around the world. Recorded by artists as diverse as Joan Baez and the magnificent Mercedes Sosa, the song reflects the bittersweet nature of life's joys and sadnesses. To the people of Chile where it was written in 1966 by Violetta Parra, it has become an anthem that brings people together in times of trouble. One man who was tortured and imprisoned under the Pinochet regime in 1973 recalls how playing the song...

Duration: 00:27:44

Plaisir d'Amour/Can't Help Falling in Love with You

In this week's Soul Music Marianne Faithfull recalls the French Love song which went on to inspire Elvis's 60's hit, 'I Can't Help Falling in Love with You'. 'Plaisir d'Amour' is the classical French love song which somehow found its way through 18th century orchestration (Hector Berlioz) and 1960's folk revival, to an unexpected re-invention into the Elvis hit 'I Can't' Help Falling in Love with You'. It's been recorded by Marianne Faithfull and busked on the streets of Paris by 'The...

Duration: 00:27:42

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