Soul Music

Soul Music

By BBC Radio 4

Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact


Tiny Dancer

Elton John's slow burner is now one of his most beloved tracks. Released in 1971 during a prolific period for Elton and Bernie Taupin, many people see themselves in the lyrics.Eliza Hewitt grew up in a strict household in Pennsylvania. During the tumultuous early 70s, her brother introduced her to the music of Elton John, and she's still a tiny dancer in her late 60s.Lee Hall wrote the screenplay for Rocketman, the Elton John biopic. He sees the song as a conversation between Elton and Bernie.Podcaster Kirk Hamilton takes us through the song's slow build to a chorus which feels as though it's never going to come.Judith Sibley's daughter Lily-Mae received a terrible diagnosis when she was just 4 years old. Along with her brother Paul and friend Steven, she channelled her efforts into recording a charity single for her ballet loving daughter, and Tiny Dancer was the obvious song.When Ava Forte Vitali and Drew Wood met and exchanged playlists they realised how much they had in common. So much so, that Tiny Dancer had to play a part in their wedding.Produced by Sally Heaven for BBC Audio in Bristol Technical Producer: Ilse Lademann Editor: Emma Harding.
04/05/2427m 42s

Northern Sky

"I never felt magic crazy as this....."For some it's a beacon of hope, for others a metaphor for love. 'Northern Sky' is the penultimate track on Nick Drake's 1971 album 'Bryter Layter'. The sound was shaped by the Velvet Underground's John Cale who added the piano, organ and celeste. His records didn't sell well much to Nick's disappointment, but after his death in 1974 his music and genius became much better-known. These are just some of the stories from whose lives have been profoundly touched by this iconic track. Gordon Hunter had a difficult childhood and says hearing 'Northern Sky' brought a meditative sense of calm to his life, like "finding treasure."Nick Drake's producer Joe Boyd remembers how John Cale became involved in the recording, and his sadness that Nick never got the recognition he deserved in his own lifetime.Singer-songwriter Alex Hart took a job on the Covid-19 111 helpline during the first lockdown and listened to 'Northern Sky' on the drives home. Alex covered the track for one of her albums.Musicians Neil MacColl and Kate St John fell in love on the 'Way To Blue' tour in 2011 and discuss their performance of 'Northern Sky' and Kate's string arrangements. Neil walks us through Nick's guitar tunings and the song's lyrics.It's a song that reminds Laura Barton of spring and the first rush of love which she experienced as a student in Oxford."Brighten my northern sky."Producer: Toby Field for BBC Audio Bristol Technical Producer: Michael Harrison Editor: Emma Harding
27/04/2427m 49s

I Can See Clearly Now

"I can see clearly now the rain is gone / I can see all obstacles in my way / Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind / It's gonna be a bright / Bright sunshiny day"I Can See Clearly Now was written by the Houston-born singer-songwriter Johnny Nash. First released in 1972, it became a huge hit and the song has been covered by hundreds of artists, from the Jamaican singer Jimmy Cliff to the Irish rock group Hothouse Flowers. For recording engineer and producer Luke DeLalio the original of the song is 'a masterpiece', with a sublime vocal performance and an arrangement that is surprisingly experimental for such an apparently simple song. Professor Kathy M. Newman of Carnegie Mellon University tells us about Johnny Nash's life and career, from his early years as a clean-cut crooner and teen idol, to his time recording in Jamaica and his later years, living on a ranch in Texas. For author and psychologist Peggy DeLong it's a song of hope, resilience and love. It was once meant to be her wedding song but took on new significance after she lost her fiancé as a young woman in the 1990s. The song appeared in Brenda Drumm's life when she needed it most. In a moment of darkness and worry, it came on the radio as she was driving home from a day of tests at the hospital near her home in County Kildare. It allowed her to dare to plan for the future. Poet Jack Mapanje was detained in Malawi’s notorious Mikuyu Prison without charge from 1987 until 1991, under Hastings Banda's regime. He remembers singing the song when other political prisoners were released - "it's a song of hope". And the author Joanne Harris talks about the song's "sense of perpetual sky" and how the lyrics provide grounding and comfort in troubled times. Produced by Mair Bosworth for BBC Audio
20/04/2427m 51s

Someone to Watch Over Me

Written by George Gershwin for the musical Oh Kay, Someone To Watch Over Me has endured as a tender ballad about searching for someone special. It has been recorded by many different artists from Ella Fitzgerald to Willie Nelson but it's perhaps Ella's version that is best known. Lyn Mackay grew up listening to it as a small child at her parents' home in Swansea. As she grew up and became a musician and entertainer the song has changed its meaning to her over the years. Nica Strunk heard her father singing it during one of their sessions at his piano. As he sang the line "where is the shepherd for this lost lamb?" she began to understand the difficulties he faced in expressing his emotions and the song brought them closer together. Nicholas McInerny loved Sarah Vaughan's version and his daughter sang it at his second wedding. Music producers James Morgan and Juliette Pochin have been Ella Fitzgerald fans since they met as students and are thrilled to have been behind the most recent release of Someone To Watch Over Me using Ella's original vocals accompanied by the LSO.Producer: Maggie Ayre
13/04/2427m 43s

Sweet Thing

Sweet Thing by Van Morrison has an atmosphere full of tenderness, wonder and joy. But underneath this there a feeling of transience, a melancholy sense of things coming to an end, and of inevitable change. It was written for his 1968 album Astral Weeks, at a time when the Northern Irish born Van had left his home country and was down-and-out in Boston, USA. We hear how the track has come to mean so much to so many. Caroline Mellor from Brighton remembers an intense moment of hearing Sweet Thing whilst staying in the mountains of Andalucía, Spain. Sammy Douglas, Councillor and current High Sheriff of Belfast, reflects on memories of the Troubles and how the song intertwines with the tale of his first love. Ryan H. Walsh, Bostonian and author of Astral Weeks: A Secret History of 1968, explains how the seminal album Astral Weeks came about, and John Payne, flautist on Sweet Thing, shares memories of those extraordinary recording sessions with Van Morrison. And singer-songwriter Alanna Joy from South Africa considers why she opens her live sets with her own rendition of Sweet Thing, and recalls hearing it for the first time through Jeff Buckley's cover.Produced by Eliza Lomas for BBC Audio in Bristol Technical Producer: Ilse Lademann Editor: Emma Harding.
06/04/2427m 37s

Songs My Mother Taught Me

Antonin Dvorak wrote his Gypsy Songs in 1880. He was passionate about the folk music of his native Bohemia and set a poem by Czech poet Adolf Heyduk to music. Songs My Mother Taught Me is the fourth song in the cycle.Songs my Mother taught me In the days long vanished Seldom from her eyelids Were the teardrops banished....It's a wistful melancholic piece evoking memory and loss. Soul Music hears the stories of musicians, poets and singers from around the world of why they are so drawn to it. The poet Raine Geoghegan is the daughter of a Romany woman whose life was weighed down with the loss of her father at a young age. Raine identifies with the sadness of the music because it not only represents grief at the loss of her father but also for the loss of a way of life for the gypsy people. For Emily MacGregor it's all about the music we inherit from our parents. She is writing a book about music and grief and says this piece perfectly represents the bittersweet feeling of listening to music associated with the loss of a loved one. Dvorak had already lost three children in infancy by the time he wrote his Zigeuner Lieder. Paris based violinist and conductor Bartu Elci-Ozsoy associates Songs with the innocence of childhood and was moved to perform it at a benefit concert he organised in aid of the children affected by the devastating earthquake in his native Turkey and Syria in early 2023. The Korean soprano Sumi Jo recorded it in honour of her mother and presented it to her a year before she died in gratitude for her determination to see her daughter become a professional singer. When The Scotsman newspaper commissioned a series of lockdown concerts in Spring 2020 cellist Sua-Lee chose to recreate the concert by Beatrice Harrison a century earlier when she played the piece accompanied by nightingales in her garden in Surrey. Sua set up her cello in woodland near her home in Grantown- on-Spey and performed Songs My Mother Taught Me to a collection of woodland creatures Singer Ruby Hughes performed the American composer Charles Ives' version of the piece for a collection called Bright Travellers - music curated and composed by Helen Grimes from poems by Fiona Benson. Ives wrote his own version of Dvorak's piece not long after the Czech composer had settled in America. She loves the rocking gentle lullaby sensation created by the lilting melodies of both Ives' and Dvorak's compositions.Featuring additional recordings by Sua Lee and Zoe ChallenorProducer: Maggie Ayre
11/11/2327m 47s

Fire and Rain

James Taylor's song of suicide, loneliness and addiction somehow remains hopeful and uplifting, even as people experience their own dark times.Holly Sinclair was driving through a Missouri winter to see her brother, in hospital after a suicide attempt, when the song came on the radio.Michael Granberry, arts writer for the Dallas Morning News, is also a huge James Taylor fan. He's the same age as Taylor, and reflects on the context of assassinations and war raging in America when he wrote Fire and Rain.Peter Asher was James Taylor's manager and producer, and remembers their first meeting, and the first time he heard Fire and Rain.Marcia Hines released a successful cover version of the song after moving from America to Australia as a teenager, and hearing the song blasting out of radios on both sides of the world.Mark Deeks and Jeff Alexander from Sing United community choir talk about the emotions generated when people sing a song they feel a connection to.And Peter Bardaglio, climate change activist, talks about a summer of fire and rain.Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Sally Heaven
04/11/2327m 48s

Pata Pata

Miriam Makeba recorded 'Pata Pata' in 1967 with the help of American producer Jerry Ragovoy. It became a huge hit and Miriam Makeba used newfound fame to speak the injustices of apartheid. Her records were banned and South Africa and she was forced to live in exile. Here, people from around the world share their stories about what this iconic track means to them.Actor John Kani grew up in Johannesburg remembers dancing to the song when it came on the radio and says that Miriam Makeba became an inspiration for how art could bring about change. He would meet her years later after a concert in New York, and again in Johannesburg after apartheid ended. Author of 'Makeba: the Miriam Makeba Story', Nomsa Mwamuka, charts the history of 'Pata Pata' and why Makeba would come to see it as "frivilous".Buks van Heerden is a pace-runner who has completed over 800 marathons. He plays 'Pata Pata' late in the race when the runners he's pacing are getting tired and says it always lifts the mood.Angelique Kidjo says Miriam Makeba was the first African woman on the cover of an album. Hearing 'Pata Pata' inspired her to perform, and later in life she and Makeba became friends.Dr. Niyi Coker devised 'Mama Africa: The Musical' in Cape Town when he realised that a younger generation of South Africans weren't aware of Miriam Makeba of her work. 'Pata Pata' would see two generations of 'Miriam' singing together and it would bring the house down.Produced for BBC Audio Bristol by Toby Field Technical Producer: Ilse Lademann Editor: Emma HardingWith thanks to Rita Ray, Dr. Niyi Coker, and Moses Molapisane at the BBC bureau in Johannesburg.
28/10/2327m 56s

Defying Gravity from Wicked

Wicked the musical is 20 years old in 2023. The story of the Wizard of Oz told from the witches' perspective examines themes of difference, power and alienation. The so called Wicked Witch of the West Elphaba born with green skin experiences the pain of growing up different and of longing for acceptance. No surprise then that anybody who has ever felt marginalised or that they don't fit in is drawn to her story. Defying Gravity is Elphaba's war-cry at the end of Act One as she bravely decides to forge her own path in life - to "close her eyes and leap". The song has become a powerful anthem for people from all different walks of life and this episode tells some of their stories. Edward Pierce the Broadway set designer of Wicked knows the song through and through as he worked on the sequence where Elphaba takes flight and begins Defying Gravity. It wasn't until he became severely ill with Covid that the song took on a different meaning. While he was in an induced coma on a ventilator a nurse sang and hummed Defying Gravity to him. He believes that song played more than a minor role in his recovery. That nurse was singer Felicia Temple who had featured on The Voice America singing talent show performing Defying Gravity. When her musical career was cut short by lockdown in March 2020 she returned to nursing and when she found herself at the bedside of a Broadway set designer there was only one song that came to mind. But it has a personal resonance for her too as she went onto that TV show to sing the song one year on from her own illness with cancer and was resolute that as the song goes 'nothing was ever going to bring me down'. The first British singer to play the role of Elphaba in the West End and Broadway is Kerry Ellis. She recounts how that song has given her so much in life and how grateful she is to its strong message of courage. Kath Pierce formerly of the Manchester Proud Choir outlines why Defying Gravity is such an important song to the LGTBQ community and why the choir and members of the public took to the trams and streets of Manchester one November evening in defiance of a violent attack against two young gay men. They'd been on their way home on the tram singing songs from Wicked after a night out. Hundreds of people assembled in the city centre and sang Defying Gravity as a protest against the hate crime. Musicologist Mel Spencer talks us through the genius of composer Stephen Schwartz's song and how it harks back to Somewhere Over The Rainbow as well as to Wagner!Producer: Maggie Ayre
21/10/2327m 52s

I Will Always Love You

Written by Dolly Parton... sent stratospheric by Whitney Houston; I Will Always Love You is a song that has a worldwide fanbase reflected by the diverse memories shared here:Nagham Kewifati tells how her mother, Mayada Bseliss, had a huge hit in Syria with an Arabic version. It was produced by Nagham's father, Mayada's husband, Samir.Dr. Marie Thompson of the Open University, who co-wrote a short course entirely about Dolly Parton, reveals the unlikely story behind the song and why Elvis Presley was refused permission to record his own version.Member of Parliament, Jim Shannon, explains why he introduced an unusual Early Day Motion in the House of Commons to celebrate the song's 50th anniversary in 2023.Ben Rimalower, host of Giants in the Sky on the Broadway Podcast Network, describes how obsessed he became with Whitney Houston's performances of this track when he was recovering from alcohol and drug addiction.Vocal Coach, CeCe Sammy Lightfoot, describes how difficult Whitney Houston's version is to sing and the technique required to perform this vocal high-wire act.And Marcus Grimmie, brother of singer Christina Grimmie, remembers his sister's beautiful voice and rise to stardom before she was tragically murdered. He set up the Christina Grimmie Foundation in her memory to create a community and provide financial support for families affected by gun violence.Producer: Karen Gregor
14/10/2327m 28s

Fast Car

'Fast Car' is one of Tracy Chapman's biggest hits, with listeners from around the world finding striking connections with their own lives in the song's story. It was released in April 1988, and that summer, the American singer-songwriter performed it to a global audience of 600 million at Nelson Mandela's 70th Birthday Tribute. This broadcast catapulted Tracy and the song to super-stardom, as it became a top ten hit on both sides of the Atlantic and received three Grammy nominations. Ever since, 'Fast Car' has resonated with people around the world. The lyrics describe a working woman trying to escape a cycle of poverty, dreaming of a plan to leave in a "fast car". She speaks of wanting to get out of the life she finds herself in, living in a shelter, and driving towards the city to find something better. This episode features the personal stories of Fitzroy Samuels in Kingston, Jamaica; Priscilla Munson in Indiana, U.S; Gemma Brown in Gateshead, UK and Dev Cuny in California, U.S. We also hear from Alister Wright in Sydney, Australia whose band, Vlossom, covered Fast Car; and Nigel Williamson, music journalist who has met and interviewed Tracy Chapman many times. Produced by Eliza Lomas, BBC Audio Bristol
05/07/2327m 34s

I Say a Little Prayer for You

When Burt Bacharach and lyricist Hal David wrote I Say A Little Prayer For You in 1967 the war in Vietnam was raging. The song was intended as message of support for the soldiers there. It was originally recorded by Dionne Warwick and the following year by Aretha Franklin. Doug Bradley was drafted and served in Vietnam as a war correspondent. He says the music the troops all listened to on AFVN (Armed Forces Vietnam Network) sustained him and others while they were in country. His book We Gotta Get Out of This Place (The Soundtrack of the Vietnam War) documents the vital role music played for the soldiers. Aretha Franklin was a symbol of hope and civil rights for many African American troops and I Say A Little Prayer a soothing and calming message of love. The singer-songwriter Rumer adored the song and all of Aretha's music as an unhapy teenager in England. She went on to write the hit song Aretha about a young girl whose mother has a mental illness confiding all her worries to the Queen of Soul. Her husband Rob Shirakbari was recruited by both Dionne Warwick and Burt Bacharach as keyboard player and musical arranger. To him the song with its mixture of time signatures and different interpretations symbolises many happy years playing with two of the musical greats. Jazz singer Nnenna Freelon has recorded two versions of because it is one she has loved throughout the years but only after the death of her husband Phil in 2019 did it become a song about the expression of grief. Her latest version interprets the song as a plea and a prayer for her late husband as well as for herself. Her podcast Great Grief is a meditation on grief and loss combined with music. In 1968 Aretha Franklin played in Stockholm. 15 year old Hasse Huss and his friend hung around her hotel hoping to meet her. Not only did they meet her but at her invitation they spent the next day with her as she rehearsed for her show. I Say A Little Prayer fills him with happiness and nostalgia for this happy day in the late sixties and he plans to incorporate the song lyrics into a speech for his son's wedding. And Professor Daphne Brooks grew up with older siblings and musical parents who introduced her to the song. It has been with her throughout her life representing for her the 'fullness of black womanhood'. The song very recently helped her deal with her beloved mother's passing at the age of 96.Producer: Maggie Ayre
24/06/2327m 50s

Ghost Town

'Ghost Town' was recorded by British two-tone band The Specials as a comment on urban decay and social unrest. It was released in June 1981 as riots were springing up around the UK and with the help of an iconic video it topped the UK singles charts. It was also be the band's final single. Writer Alex Wheatle first heard 'Ghost Town' in 1981 whilst in a social services hostel in Brixton awaiting his court appearance. He'd been arrested following a day of action in Brixton to protest against racist treatment of Black people, after rumours of police brutality. He was sentenced to one year in prison and sang 'Ghost Town' in his cell, as he began to find hope and purpose in his life.Claire Horton grew up in Dudley and says 'Ghost Town' echoed her experiences of watching the shops and nightclubs of this once vibrant town closing down. Her Dad was made redundant and it had a huge impact on her family, and as a young police officer she would walk the streets and understand why people were getting so frustrated with their situation. Soul and Reggae DJ Dave Marshall Barrett traces the history of The Specials who formed in Dave's hometown of Coventry in 1977. It's the first thing people mention when he says where he comes from.John Collins was surprised when Jerry Dammers asked him to produce the record. John created the initial opening 'ghostly' sounds on a synth at home but he says they now sound more like sirens. The song's success opened doors for John and he loves how it keeps finding new audiences.Broadcaster Samira Ahmed grew up in London and said her the recession of the early 80s hit her family's catering business hard. Too young for nightclubs, she remembers the video of 'Ghost Town' playing on Top of the Pops and says the track made a huge impact on her understanding of music and politics.Jazz singer Beverley Beirne covered 'Ghost Town' for her 2018 album 'Jazz Just Wants to Have Fun' and was reminded of it during the first lockdown when she wasn't able to perform.Founder of The Specials Jerry Dammers reflects on the inspiration behind 'Ghost Town' and how trombonist Rico Rodriguez was the heart and soul of the band.Producer: Toby Field Additional research: Melanie Pearson Technical Producer: Michael Harrison Editor: Emma Harding
17/06/2327m 43s

I Only Have Eyes For You

When I Only Have Eyes For You first emerged in 1934 it was a jaunty ditty written by Harry Dubin and Al Warren for the movie "Dames". But it gained huge popularity when the 1950s doo wop group The Flamingos under the musical arrangement of Terry Johnson transformed it into a dreamy otherworldly love song. Terry explains how he went about turning the song into an evergreen hit that has been covered by many including Art Garfunkel and Carly Simon. Musicologist Luis Cruz attributes the genius of the song to its pedal chord - the repeated use of the C note. It adds to the feeling of fixation he says where the singer cannot see anyone else but the object of his affection. The song is obviously one that speaks of deep love and Vivian Fransen was one of many who chose the song to play at her wedding. She'd been introduced to the Art Garfunkel version in 1975 when she met the man who was to become her husband. 12 years later he revealed a secret he'd been keeping from her which ended their marriage and caused her to reassess the song's meaning. Jess Farr Cox would sing the song to her aged rescue dog Pico as his health deteriorated. Only that song and the theme to Antiques Roadshow would send him to sleep when he was in pain and distress and she still gets emotional when she hears it over a year after he was eventually put to sleep. People underestimate the love you get from a rescue dog, she says. Chris Deerin is a political journalist and part of Scottish band Fat Cops. He recorded a version of I Only Have Eyes For You for the Tiny Changes Young People's Mental Health Charity founded following the death of the singer Scott Hutchison in 2018. Chris says he and fellow musician Bobby Bluebell had always loved the song and felt it was a fitting tribute to fellow musician Scott.Producer: Maggie Ayre
10/06/2328m 2s

I Believe in Father Christmas

Some people say it's a protest song about the commercialisation of Christmas. Others that it's anti-religious. I Believe In Father Christmas is about neither, although lyricist Peter Sinfield concedes that it does include a touch of cynicism but says ultimately it's a song of joy and hope. When Greg Lake co-wrote it in 1975 he had embarked on a solo career away from Emerson Lake & Palmer. Those around him at the time, including songwriter Peter Sinfield and broadcaster Bob Harris, recall how repeating a simple acoustic guitar exercise led Greg Lake to this giant of a song that includes a full choir, orchestra, and an extract from Prokofiev to create an enduring Christmas anthem. For many people it's a comforting song conjuring images of nostalgic picture postcard Christmases of a childhood spent in the ambience of Christmas tree lights and candles with 'eyes full of tinsel and fire'. For others it's a cautionary reminder of the need to look beyond the materialism and commercialism to a quieter, more spiritual time.Producer: Maggie Ayre
24/12/2227m 47s

Nessun Dorma

'None shall sleep'. Jon Christos watched the Italia 90 World Cup with his Dad and says that the live performance of 'Nessun Dorma' by Pavarotti at the tournament was the only time he ever saw his Dad cry. Beatrice Venezia conducted 'Nessun Dorma' at the 'Puccini day' she created in Lucca in 2018. She also conducted Andrea Bocelli's performance of the aria at the Platinum Jubilee celebrations in June 2022. Pavarotti's daughter Cristina talks about the impact this aria had on her father's life and how his 1990 performance of 'Nessun Dorma' inspired many people to become interested in opera.Sir Bobby Robson's son Mark Robson was at Italia 90 and talks about the pride he felt seeing his Dad lining up with the England team for the semi-final against West Germany. It was also sung at Sir Bobby's memorial service in Durham Cathedral.Broadcaster and author Alexandra Wilson explains that the opera Turandot is the story of Prince Calaf who falls in love with the titular Princess. In 'Nessun Dorma' Calaf expresses his determination to win her hand, ending with that extraordinary refrain "Vincerò!" or "I will win". Paul Potts won 'Britain's Got Talent' in 2007 performing 'Nessun Dorma' and recalls singing it to over a million people at the Brandenburg Gate on New Year's Eve in 2010.When Italy locked down in March 2020, hairdresser Piero d'Angelico played 'Nessun Dorma' from a five-story window above Cambridge railway station to show solidarity with his home country and the Italian community in his adopted city.Voiceovers by Mike Ingham and Rebecca Braccialarghe.Producer: Toby Field for BBC Audio in Bristol Technical Producer: Michael Harrison Editor: Emma Harding
17/12/2227m 51s

Killing Me Softly with His Song

"Strumming my pain with his fingers... Singing my life with his words..." Killing Me Softly with His Song is a song about the pleasure and embarrassment of being seen. The feeling that someone has reached into your deepest, most private feelings, and laid them bare: "I felt he'd found my letters, and read each one out loud". It's a song about a singer, and about what music can do. And it's a love song that feels at once happy and sad. The song was a huge hit in two different generations. It won Grammy Awards for The Fugees in 1997 and for Roberta Flack in 1974. Ray Padgett, author of Cover Me: The Stories Behind the Greatest Cover Songs of All Time, unfolds the layers of the song's history as a famous cover of a famous cover. The musicologist Nate Sloan explores what the song does harmonically, oscillating between major and minor chords to create a sense of uncertainty and longing. And Lori Lieberman tells the story of the Don McLean concert that inspired her lyrics for the song, that she was the first to record as a young singer-songwriter in 1972. It's a song that transports Tiff Murray back to the hot New York summer of 1996, when the Fugees version blared from every car radio and shopfront. For her it was the soundtrack to falling in love while far from home. It's also a love song for Julie Daley, but now with a sharp edge. Dr Robin Boylorn listened to the Fugees version as a self-conscious teenager and felt a flush of recognition; Ben heard it the Christmas he first came to the UK from South Africa, played by a busker early one morning in Covent Garden as the first snow he'd ever seen began to fall; and Perminder Khatkar has treasured the song since it played in the delivery room during the birth of her first child.Produced by Mair Bosworth for BBC Audio in Bristol
10/12/2227m 52s

Into My Arms by Nick Cave

"I don't believe in an interventionist God" has to be one of the most original opening lines to a song. It's one that resonates with the people in this programme who take comfort from Nick Cave's love song. Els from Belgium was introduced to Cave's music through her partner Guido and Into My Arms became their song. After Guido died in a road accident Els carried on going to concerts and took great comfort from hearing that song. When she later wrote to Nick Cave's blog The Red Hand Files to tell him her story about Into My Arms she was overwhelmed when Nick Cave responded. The Reverend John Walker feels a strong connection to the song as it's one his musician son Jonny performed just for him one evening on a rainy street in Leeds City Centre as Jonny was about to pack up and leave his busking spot. That special father-son moment has become even more cherished since Jonny's untimely death in 2018. Many different artists have recorded their versions of Into My Arms including the Norwegian singer Ane Brun who performed it as a way of dealing with the heartache of a lost relationship.Producer: Maggie Ayre
03/12/2227m 43s

Chervona Kalyna

Powerful stories linked to this beautiful and stirring Ukrainian folk song which inspired Pink Floyd to reform so they could release their own version, 'Hey Hey Rise Up', alongside Andriy Khlyvnyuk of Boombox.Chervona Kalyna is a clarion call with roots stretching back to 17th century Cossack history; as meaningful now as then, this episode of Soul Music reflects how music can be a unifying force in the most dangerous and difficult of times.Anti-Russian, it was banned prior to Ukrainian independence in 1991 with one of its lyrics calling to 'free our brothers Ukrainian from Muscovites shackles'. Its full title 'Oi u luzi chervona kalyna' translates as 'Oh the red viburnum in the meadow': red viburnum is a common plant in Ukraine and in the song it's a metaphor for the country itself.Telling their stories on Soul Music: Taras Ratushnyy, journalist turned soldier, discusses his beloved son, Roman, and the heroic role he played in Ukrainian society both before after the war began.Elizaveta Izmalkova is a young Ukrainian singer who now lives in Lithuania. She performed Chervona Kalyna as part of a flash-mob co-organised by Egle Plytnikaite who describes why she and other Lithuanians wanted to demonstrate their support for Ukraine.Nadia Morykvas wrote a book about the cultural polymath, Stepan Charnetskyi, who - in the early 20th century - adapted Chervona Kalyna for one of his plays. (Volodymyr Oleyko translates for Nadia Morykvas).Andrij Halushka is a Ukrainian who now lives in London. He describes how his family history, down multiple generations, connects with the song.Julia and Kateryna came to England under the 'Homes for Ukraine' scheme when the war began. Under the name 'Dvi Doli' they raise money for Ukraine by staging concerts where they perform traditional songs on the Bandura.Taras Filenko is a pianist and ethno-musicologist. Originally from Zaporizhzhia in Ukraine, he now lives in Pennsylvania, USA. He discusses the musicology of the song, and recalls a neighbour from his childhood who was imprisoned for performing Chervona Kalyna in the 1940s.Myroslava Hartmond is a British-Ukrainian cultural diplomacy expert. She explains how the current popularity of Chervona Kalyna began when Andriy Khlyvnyuk, the lead singer of Boombox, recorded an a capella version in the centre of Kyiv. This inspired Pink Floyd to collaborate with Khlyvnyuk and release their own version.Please scroll down to the 'Related Links' box on the Radio 4 Soul Music webpage for further information about some of the interviewees and the different versions of the song used in the programme. The programme image is of Taras and Roman Ratushnyy.Producer for BBC Audio in Bristol: Karen Gregor
26/11/2227m 42s

Bruch's Violin Concerto

A Violin Concerto in G minor, Opus 26, became the best-known work of the German composer Max Bruch. Originally written in 1866 it went through many revisions before finally being completed in 1867. It was performed extensively but having sold both the publishing and the manuscript Bruch died in relative obscurity in 1920. The Concerto would continue to be played around the world and the second movement in particular, the Adagio, became a much-loved favourite.Journalist Claire Read describes how much her Mother loved the piece after Claire learned and performed it in school, and how she would listen to it whilst being treated for cancer.Ukrainian violinist Kostia Lukyniuk recalls playing it with an orchestra in his home town aged 11, and how music still gives him strength as he plays for those battered by the Russian invasion of his home country.The second movement brings back fond memories for Archers actor June Spencer who listened to it with her husband and their friends on a veranda in Minorca.Leader of the Welsh National Opera David Adams was inspired to take-up the violin after listening to a recording of David Oistrakh playing this piece, and later performed it at the Fishguard Festival. It was a favourite of his Mum's and that recording was played at her funeral.The Carnegie Hall was the setting for violinist Shlomo Mintz's most treasured performance and he describes how it feels to play those soaring melodies.Curator Robinson McClellan at The Morgan Library & Museum in New York explains how the manuscript of this concerto made its way from Germany to the USA, and why this work would later become a source of resentment for this 'establishment' composer.Studio Manager: Ilse Lademann Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Toby Field.
18/06/2227m 48s

Ne Me Quitte Pas

Ne Me Quitte Pas is a song about begging someone not to go; of promising the world to them, if they'll only stay. From Haiti to New York, Provence to Glasgow... in versions by Nina Simone, Dusty Springfield and Scott Walker... we hear stories of what Jacques Brel's song has meant to people around the world. With contributions from France Brel, Johane Celestin, Alastair Campbell, Brendan McGeever, Peter Hawkins and Malaika Kegode. Produced by Mair Bosworth for BBC Audio
11/06/2227m 50s

Purple Rain

"I never meant to cause you any sorrow, I never meant to cause you any pain..."True stories of what Prince's epic ballad means to different people around the world, from the very first jam in 1983 to the global hit that reigns over us today.Bobby Z, the drummer from Prince and The Revolution, remembers the buzz of the first ever performance of Purple Rain, and how the recording from that night lives on. Susan Rogers, Prince's recording engineer, tells stories from the Purple Rain tour, when the crew took bets on how long Prince's guitar solos would last. Comedian Sindhu Vee first heard the song as a teenager growing up in India and was knocked sideways by it. Weather reporter Judith Ralston describes the beautiful and rare weather phenomenon of purple rain. Social historian Zaheer Ali sees the song as a cry out for change, bringing audiences from different backgrounds together in cross-genre harmony. And finally, an intensive care hospital nurse played Purple Rain to Kevin Clarke while he was in a coma, because his sister knew he loved the song and hoped it might pull him through.Produced by Becky Ripley
30/05/2227m 55s

Young Hearts Run Free by Candi Staton

Candi Staton and others celebrate this 1970's disco classic which delivers an optimistic message.Written by David Crawford and released in 1976 this is the kind of song that feels like a carefree celebration, something to lose yourself in on the dancefloor. But its story isn't quite so simple. As Candi tells Soul Music, Young Hearts Run Free was influenced by her own troubled and abusive relationship which she struggled to leave. In fact the creation of the song helped her gain the confidence to finally walk away. Other contributors are:Singer songwriter, Glen Hansard. He performs the song 'as' his mother because it reminds him so much of what the song meant to her. Ziggi Battles , a singer who chose to cover the song as a way of rejoicing in the role it played in recovering from a very difficult time.Jason Gilkison, the Creative Director of Strictly Come Dancing. It will forever remind him of the first time he choreographed a group dance for Strictly at the Blackpool Tower Ballroom. His grandfather had danced there himself as a young man, before establishing the first dance school in Perth, Australia, which is where Jason developed his own love of ballroom dancing.Neil Brand, composer and broadcaster, analyses why the piece works musically. He also describes the pure joy of a version by Kym Mazelle and - unlikely as it seems - the actor and opera singer, Paul Sorvino. It was used as the soundtrack to the ballroom scene in Baz Luhrmann's film of Romeo and Juliet. Versions used: Candi Staton; Glen Hansard; Maz O'Connor; Ziggi Battles; Gloria Estefan; Kym Mazelle; Kym Mazelle (Ballroom Version) with Paul SorvinoProduced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Karen Gregor
28/05/2227m 42s

A Ceremony of Carols by Benjamin Britten

In 1942, Benjamin Britten boarded the M.S. Axel Johnson, a Swedish cargo vessel, to make the journey home to England after three years in America. During the voyage, the ship stopped at Halifax, Nova Scotia, where Britten came across a poetry anthology in a bookshop - The English Galaxy of Shorter Poems. In his cabin, he began work on setting some of these poems for voices and harp. Originally conceived as a series of unrelated songs, the piece developed into an extended choral composition for Christmas.There are some pieces of music we return to at special moments and, for many, Britten's A Ceremony of Carols is a beloved winter piece - "Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without a performance of it" says harpist Sally Pryce, who recalls performing the piece in deepest winter, desperately trying to keep her fingers warm as she prepared to play the first harp notes. Music writer Gavin Plumley tells the story of Britten's wartime voyage home and reflects on Christmases past and present. Matt Peacock remembers a very special performance of the work bringing together professional musicians, choristers and people experiencing homelessness in an Oxford college chapel. Dr Imani Mosley reflects on how the piece has helped her create a winter ritual in sunny Florida and how its meaning has changed since losing her partner. Conductor and composer Graham Ross is Director of Music at Clare College, Cambridge; he takes us deep into Britten's sound world and reflects on the genius of his approach to setting texts and the mastery of his writing for harp and voices. And Johanna Rehbaum remembers the joy of singing the work with the women of her choir, days before giving birth to her son.Produced in Bristol by Mair Bosworth for BBC Audio
18/12/2127m 54s

U2 - I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For

More gospel than rock, this 1987 hit has inspired great change in people's lives and created memories for music lovers across the world.Brendan McManus was a corporate high flyer with an inexplicable sense that his life needed to change direction. This song was the tipping point that encouraged him to make a huge decision.Raghav Prasad writes a music blog about the songs he grew up with as a young man in India. This track takes him back to the 'chummery' where he lived in Bombay (now Mumbai) when he was starting out on what became a globe-trotting career. This song reflects both his continued urge to travel but also how he regards his Hindu faith.Neil Brand is a musician and broadcaster and a regular Soul Music contributor. He explains that the roots of this track are more gospel than rock.Pauline Henry was the lead singer of The Chimes. Their version of this track, with Pauline's stirring vocals, not only changed her life but was said to be Bono's favourite interpretation of the song.Rory Coleman is a world-class athlete and life coach who loves nothing more than to run for hundreds of miles across inhospitable terrain. However, in his 20s, his life was out of control. Something had to change and this song provided inspiration.Gail Mullin, in Kansas City, describes how much her husband loved U2 and especially this track. Shortly before he died he received a personal letter from Bono explaining what motivated him to write this song. Producer: Karen Gregor for BBC Audio in BristolFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in December 2021.
11/12/2127m 41s

Song to the Siren

"Long afloat in shipless oceans": So begins Song To The Siren whose lyrics were inspired by Homer's Odyssey and the story of the Sirens who lured unwitting sailors to their deaths on the rocks. There is something so ancient and enchanting about the Siren that appeals to us. For the wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson listening to the song reinforced his belief that the eerie calls of seals at night were in fact the original siren voices whose sound and shape convinced sailors that they were being called by strange mer-creatures. His collaboration with poet Alec Finlay led to Chris recording two singers singing to each other across a bay in the North East of England "Here I am waiting to enfold you". Song To The Siren fills him with melancholy. The image of lives lost at sea is one that Meg Bignell strongly associates with the song and when a family friend drowned in the ocean surrounding her native Tasmania she was comforted by the version by This Mortal Coil and Elizabeth Fraser's haunting vocals. Larry Beckett regrets the song's association with death as he intended the lyrics to tell a more hopeful story about love. However Tim Buckley's death at 28 and the tragedy of his son Jeff's drowning in 1997 weigh Song To The Siren with a heavy sorrow that comforts those who have lost a loved one. Former Olympic runner Anthony Famiglietti lost his childhood friend Rob in an accident when they were both 21. Rob introduced Anthony to the music of John Frusciante whose version of Song To The Siren astounded him when he first heard it. It has a profound effect on him and it speaks to him of fathers and sons communicating across time and space, when one has passed on as in the case of Tim and Jeff Buckley, and Anthony's friend Rob and his father, the man who inspired Anthony's career as a runner. When director Zack Snyder lost his daughter he stopped working on his Justice League film but when he completed it four years on he wanted to include Song To The Siren. Singer Rose Betts who recorded it for him explains how she immersed herself in the song to express the love, longing, grief and loss that it evokes. Musician and singer Dominic Stichbury sets out the musical elements that make this such a simple yet devastatingly powerful song.Producer: Maggie Ayre
04/12/2128m 26s

Unfinished Sympathy

Personal stories inspired by Massive Attack's breakthrough single. Featuring the vocals of Shara Nelson, the track together with its iconic video would help catapult this band from Bristol onto the global stage. Stories include the photographer Giles Duley whose work was displayed during the song at the band's 2016 homecoming show in Bristol. Mountaineer Dmitry Golovchenko who named an attempt on the Nepalese mountain of Jannu after the track, and solicitor Marti Burgess who saw early sets from The Wild Bunch, the collective from which Massive Attack emerged, and for whom 'Unfinished Sympathy' helped crystallise her identity. Music Producer Ski Oakenfull deconstructs the track, peeling back the layers of beats, bells and samples. Belgian singer Liz Aku recorded a version of the track during lockdown, bringing back memories of her first love. Melissa Chemam, author of 'Massive Attack Out Of The Comfort Zone' explains the origins of Massive Attack, how 'Unfinished Sympathy' was written and why, when the track was released in 1991, the band had to drop the word 'Attack' from their name. A radio producer and DJ who spent New Year's Eve in a detox centre in London was asked to pick the tune to be played at midnight, and she chose 'Unfinished Sympathy'.Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Toby Field
27/11/2127m 51s

Some Enchanted Evening from South Pacific

Ezio Pinza was the first person to sing Some Enchanted Evening when South Pacific opened on Broadway in 1949. His granddaughter, Sarah Goodyear, recounts his extraordinary life story: from international opera singer, to political prisoner, then a star of musical theatre. Perhaps best known for its 1958 film version, South Pacific famously starred Rossano Brazzi as Emile de Becque. However his singing voice was provided by opera star, Giorgio Tozzi. His son, Eric Tozzi, recalls hearing his father practise Some Enchanted Evening in their California beach-side home.Canan Maxton runs the charity, Talent Unlimited, which supports student musicians. Some Enchanted Evening was the signature tune to her own love story, which inspired her to launch that organisation.Alan Titchmarsh is best known as a TV gardener, but he has a surprisingly good voice. Some Enchanted Evening is a childhood favourite which reminds him of his parents, but he couldn't have foreseen the day when he would sing it live at the London Palladium for an ITV audience (credit to ITV All Star Musicals, produced by Multistory Media for the extract used).Daniel Evans is the Artistic Director of Chichester Festival Theatre. He staged a well-reviewed production of South Pacific, one which explores the racist theme Rodgers and Hammerstein originally sought to address in their Broadway production. He explains the role Some Enchanted Evening plays in the storyline of the show.Julian Ovenden played Emile de Becque in the Chichester production. He describes what it's like to perform this very famous and much anticipated song. Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact. BBC Audio Producer: Karen GregorFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in November 2021.
20/11/2127m 49s

Ain't No Mountain High Enough

Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell made Ain't No Mountain High Enough a hit for Motown in 1967. Diana Ross followed suit in 1970 as a solo artist with her version of the song. It has a place in people's hearts with its anthemic themes of love, loyalty, triumph and perseverance. Cynthia Dagnal-Miron is an African American who grew up in the 1960s and she says the song gave black people a sense of comfort and of being loved. Kevin Patterson recalls meeting an elderly lady in a store in Philadelphia and hearing the song. He learned she had been part of a movement to desegregate a local school in the 1960s and she had sung it then at a talent show. John Harris says music and being part of a choir were what saved him when he sank into drug addiction and crime and ended up in court. When he got clean he sang that song at the Court's 25th anniversary celebration."No wind no rain no winters cold can stop me from getting to you" were the words Lesley Pearl sang to her birth mother as she lay gravely ill in hospital. Lesley had braved Hurricane Sandy to fly to Charleston to be with her and it brought them closer towards the end of her life.At the height of the pandemic in 2020 when New York was suffering huge numbers of Covid deaths and hospitalisations, nurse Kym Villamer sang it to staff and patients at the hospital where she works to remind them of the perseverance of the human spirit and the goodness of humanity.An Assistant Professor of Music at Washington University in St Louis breaks down the various musical elements that make it such an enduring powerful uplifting anthem.Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact.Producer: Maggie AyreFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in November 2021.
13/11/2128m 44s

Take Me Home, Country Roads

"Country roads, take me home To the place I belong"Written by Bill Danoff and Taffy Nivert with and for their friend John Denver, the song went on to be covered by Ray Charles, Toots and the Maytals, Olivia Newton John and many more. A song about the longing for home and the desire to be back with the people you love, 'Country Roads' has become one of the official state songs of West Virginia but it also speaks to people from around the world and across political divides. It's a song about togetherness, belonging, homesickness, the immigrant experience and the hold that the landscape of your 'home place' can have on you. Featuring contributions from Bill Danoff, Sarah Morris, Jason Jeong, Ngozi Fulani, Lloyd Bradley and Alison Wells. And from Molly Sarlé, Alexandra Sauser-Monnig and Amelia Meath of the band Mountain Man. Produced by Mair Bosworth for BBC Audio in Bristol
04/08/2127m 50s

The Parting Glass

"So fill to me the parting glass... Goodnight and joy be to you all."A popular toast at the end of an evening or a heartfelt farewell to a departed or deceased person? The Parting Glass has become synonymous with leaving. It was written in Scotland and has criss crossed the Irish Sea becoming a popular song among Celtic peoples around the world. Folk singer Karine Polwart talks of its fragile beauty as a song that can be a rousing drinking song at the end of the night but equally a poignant farewell at a funeral. For Alaskan Fire Chief Benjamin Fleagle there was no more fitting song to honour his mentor and colleague at his Fire Department when he passed away over a decade ago. The song still brings out raw emotion in him. Alissa McCulloch 'clung' to the song when she heard the Irish singer Hozier sing a version of it at the start of the pandemic in March 2020. At the time Alissa was seriously mentally unwell at home in Australia and was admitted to hospital where she listened to the song over and over finding comfort in its timeless beauty. After Canada's worst mass shooting in its history Pete MacDonald and his sisters recorded an acapella version of the song as a musical tribute to those who lost their lives. It's a tradition in Novia Scotia to sing in the kitchen at parties, wakes and celebrations and they wanted to pay their respects to the dead. The Irish singer Finbar Furey has performed the song with his band the Fureys and talks about its appeal not only in Scotland and Ireland but throughout the Scots-Irish diaspora."But since it falls unto my lot That I should rise And you should not I'll gently rise and softly call Goodnight and joy be to you all"Producer for BBC Audio in Bristol: Maggie AyreSong versions: Karine Polwart Hozier Finbar Furey The High Kings The MacDonalds
28/07/2128m 40s

We've Only Just Begun

The Carpenters - brother and sister duo Richard and Karen - were one of the most popular groups of the 1970s. His outstanding compositions and her stunning vocals created several massive hits including We've Only Just Begun. Originally written as a TV advert for a bank portraying happy young couples embarking on married life full of hope, they loved it and released it as their third single in 1970. Karen's wistful voice gave the song a melancholy that has long resonated with fans. After her premature death from heart failure due to anorexia nervosa, the song took on an extra poignancy with lyrics like "so much of life ahead".Fans tell their stories about the song and how it relates to their own life journeys. For Professor Karen Tongson (named after the singer), We've Only Just Begun is about growing up in the Philippines where The Carpenters epitomised the American Dream. When she emigrated to the USA, the song became a metaphor for the immigrant experience. Nomad and writer Jeff Read remembers his childhood in a poor part of Los Angeles brought up by a single mother who eventually died homeless on the street. The song brings back memories of childhood optimism and his longing for a stable family life. Poet Abigail George recalls seeing a film about Karen Carpenter's life and identifying with the singer's struggles with an eating disorder as she herself had to cope with a difficult family life in South Africa. Retired policeman John Weiss was reminded of the song when he attended the death of an elderly person at a care home. John looked at the deceased man's wedding photos and was struck by the brevity of life. The singer Natasha Khan aka Bat For Lashes always loved The Carpenters and recorded her own version of We've Only Just Begun as part of an album where things don't end well for the young bride. Ironically, her version now features in a commercial for a British bank so the song has come full circle. Randy Schmidt is the author of Little Girl Blue (The Life of Karen Carpenter).Versions of the song featured are by Grant Lee Buffalo Paul Williams Natasha Khan The Carpenters The Carpenters with the Philharmonic OrchestraProducer for BBC Audio in Bristol: Maggie Ayre
21/07/2128m 31s

Smalltown Boy by Bronski Beat

This disco classic tells a powerful story: that of a young, gay man leaving his homophobic small town for the freedom of the big city. Released in 1984, Smalltown Boy continues to resonate and has become an anthem for the LGBTQ+ community. The track appeared on their album 'The Age of Consent' which drew attention to the inequality between the ages at which heterosexual people and homosexual men were legally able to have sex.Taking part in the programme: Shaun Dellenty, an ex primary school leader and author who developed an award winning LGBT+ training programme 'Celebrating Difference-Inclusion For All' which he now delivers to students and staff around the world. Paul Flynn, journalist and author of 'Good As You, 30 Years of Gay Britain'. Diane Anderson-Minshall, CEO and Editorial Director of Pride Media. Colin Crummy, freelance journalistNeil Brand, pianist, composer, writer and broadcasterAdam Carver aka Fatt Butcher, drag artist, creative producer, and community organiser. Archive: The audio of Jimmy Somerville is taken from the BBC archivesMusic:: various versions of Smalltown Boy by Jimmy Somerville, and Bronski Beat. Also covers by Dido, and Orville Peck.Produced by Karen Gregor for BBC Audio in Bristol.
14/07/2127m 34s

Sunshine on Leith

Sunshine on Leith was released in 1988 but didn't become the big hit The Proclaimers had hoped for. However it has endured and become an anthem of love and a celebration of life. It is the song played at Hibs FC matches and has come to symbolise the sense of community felt by supporters. Margaret Alcorn recalls how she and her husband were involved in the Hibs Supporters Club organising and taking part in social events for local people in Leith. When their club came under threat from a merger with rival Edinburgh team Hearts she and her husband worked tirelessly to preserve it - and when her husband passed away the song was played at his funeral. Musician Ross Wilson grew up in Leith and is also a passionate Hibs Supporter. The feelings of comfort and solidarity he experiences at home games led him to create his own version of the song which he performed with a choir to celebrate one of his favourite songs that reminds him of home and that he calls true soul music.Melinda Tetley's family would always sing Proclaimers songs at home in Edinburgh while her three children were growing up. But when her teenage son fell ill with leukaemia, the song took on a special significance for them culminating in a spontaneous joyful singalong on a walk along a lochside.The human rights lawyer Clive Stafford-Smith is a big fan of The Proclaimers and remembers seeing them perform Sunshine on Leith in New Orleans just days after 9/11 to an audience of exactly eight people - half of whom were the prosecuting team in a Death Row murder case he was defending. Musicologist Dave Robb who toured with The Proclaimers explains the song's lasting emotional appeal and spiritual beauty.Producer: Maggie AyreFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in December 2020.
12/02/2128m 30s

David Bowie - Life on Mars?

Life on Mars was released on David Bowie's Hunky Dory album in 1971. Two years later it came out as a single in its own right. Famous for its exploration of disillusionment and alienation, there is no one single definitive story behind it. But that is perhaps the song's beauty and the secret behind its appeal - that its cryptic lyrics are open to interpretation, and can mean different things to different people. Musicians and fans talk about what Life on Mars? means to them, and its lasting emotional impact.Special programme made to mark Bowie's birthday on January 8th 1947 and commemorating his death on January 10th 2016.And what does the question mark in the song's title mean?With contributions from:* Musician Dana Gillespie whose autobiography is Weren't Born A Man * Bowie author Chris O'Leary * Scientist Abigail Fraeman of NASA's Mars Mission * Artist Bridget Griggs * Reverend Steve Stockman * Screenwriter Ashley Pharoah (Life on Mars)Producer: Maggie Ayre for BBC Audio BristolFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in January 2021.
09/01/2128m 44s

Once In A Lifetime

Stories from people about how ‘Once In A Lifetime’, Talking Heads' existential hit from 1980, touched their lives.Talking Heads emerged out of the post punk scene of the late 1970s. 'Once In A Lifetime' is the iconic single taken from their album Remain In Light. With its looped synthesizer and Afrobeat inspired by Fela Kuti it seemed to pre-empt the consumerism and ennui of the 1980s. Writer Ian Gittins interviewed David Byrne and later wrote his book Once In A Lifetime. He says David Byrne had in mind people of a certain middle class existence who seemingly breeze through life with ease when he wrote the lyrics. They may get to middle age or reach a crisis point and ask "How did I get here?" For a song that invites us to question our lives it has a surprisingly emotional core that encourages people to be grateful and make positive changes in their lives where necessary. For Glaswegian Gerry Murphy that meant becoming more present for his family after serious illness forced him to reconsider the amount of time he devoted to his career. He went on to write a book about his experience - And You May Find Yourself: A Guided Practice To Never Fearing Death Again.Ian Peddie was inspired by the song to leave his dead end existence in Wolverhampton in the mid 1980s to 'find himself in another part of the world' following his dreams. Kelly Waterhouse says the song symbolises gratitude for all the things she takes for granted and sometimes struggles with in her life as a busy working mother.And singer Angelique Kidjo recorded her own version of Once In A Lifetime in 2018 after coming full circle with the song from her arrival in Paris in 1983 after fleeing the dictatorship in her home country of Benin. She heard the song at a student party and recognised the Afrobeats adopted by David Byrne and Brian Eno that made her feel both joyful and homesick at the same time.Producer: Maggie AyreFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in December 2020.
29/12/2028m 17s

I Wonder as I Wander

As Christmas approaches, Soul Music leads you through Advent with the Appalachian carol "I Wonder as I Wander".Written by American folklorist and singer John Jacob Niles, its origins come from a song fragment collected in 1933. Mysterious, inspiring, this traditional Christmas carol reflects on the nativity and the nature of wondering. While in the town of Murphy in Appalachian North Carolina, Niles attended a fundraising meeting held by evangelicals who had been ordered out of town by the police. He wrote of hearing the song:“A girl had stepped out to the edge of the little platform attached to the automobile. She began to sing. Her clothes were unbelievably dirty and ragged, and she, too, was unwashed. Her ash-blond hair hung down in long skeins. ... she was beautiful, and in her untutored way, she could sing. She smiled as she sang, smiled rather sadly, and sang only a single line of a song”.The girl, named Annie Morgan, repeated the fragment seven times in exchange for a quarter per performance, and Niles left with "three lines of verse, and a magnificent idea". Based on this fragment, Niles composed the version of "I Wonder as I Wander" that is known today.This most unusual of carols touches people in different ways. With childhood memories from a 1960’s RAF base in Oxfordshire, a Nigerian school girl who found her place in Winchester Cathedral, reflections from a candlelit vigil in an Appalachian town, and a Christmas gift as described by world renowned singer Melanie Marshall. With guests: * Performer Melanie Marshall * Ron Pen (biographer John Jacob Niles) * Viva Choir member Louise Sheaves * Author Chibundu Onuzo * Music scholar John McClain. Featuring music from:* John Rutter * Burl Ives Consultant: Ted Olson.Producer: Nicola HumphriesFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in December 2020.
22/12/2027m 49s

Lean On Me by Bill Withers

An enduring classic which delivers a message of support and friendship. Never more so than in 2020 when Lean On Me by Bill Withers was the musical backdrop to the Covid crisis in the UK, and at Black Lives Matter protests in the US.Featuring: Andy Greene, a senior writer at Rolling Stone magazine, who tells the remarkable life-story of Bill Withers. Composer, Neil Brand, explains how the simplicity of this track is what enables it to pack such a strong emotional punch.Sara Morrell is a nurse whose version of Lean On Me, recorded quickly at home as a way of cheering-up colleagues, caught the attention of some big names in the music industry.Sharmila Bousa organised a community flash-mob to show support to her local shops in Westbury-on-Trym which had suffered a spate of armed-robberies.Arianna Evans has become a voice of the Black Lives Matter protests. She recalls a powerful moment at one of the Washington DC rallies where local singer, Kenny Sway, sang Lean On Me creating a memorable and much-needed moment of joy and unity.Thanks to: Ian DeMartino who recorded the speech given by Arianna Evans; Zaranyzerak who provided the recording of Kenny Sway's performance; and to Tristan Cork who filmed the Westbury-on-Trym flashmob for Bristol Live. Produced at BBC Bristol by Karen Gregor. A BBC Audio production for BBC Radio 4, first broadcast in December 2020.
08/12/2027m 16s

I Will Survive

"At first I was afraid, I was petrified"... From a breakup to a shipwreck, emotional true stories of what Gloria Gaynor's iconic disco anthem I Will Survive means to different people around the world.A woman sets out to become the first female rower to cross the Atlantic solo.A woman listens to the song 35 times in a row after a breakup.A drag queen steps onto the stage of a Berlin nightclub.A mother watches her daughters sing karaoke at a holiday club on the first foreign holiday since leaving her abusive marriage.And women gather on the steps of the Courts of Justice to sing the song together as they await a verdict. Featuring: Elisabeth Hoff Latrice Royale Penny Arcade Pragna Patel Nadine Hubbs Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impactProducer: Mair BosworthFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2020.
10/08/2027m 54s

Harvest Moon

It's a love song about growing old. Neil Young's Harvest Moon released in 1992 is a nod to the 1970s country rock.It's loved by music blogger Alyson Young. It's also a grown up song about love says singer-songwriter Ricky Ross. How do you make the magic last and how do you keep love alive? People tell their stories about what the song means to them: jazz singer Maureen Washington danced to the song with her late husband. Amanda Legere played it to her premature baby daughter when she went to see her in the ICU. She knows the baby responded to that song. Mary Divine and her husband were serenaded on their wedding anniversary during lockdown. The whole neighbourhood came out to watch a teenage neighbour play Harvest Moon for them. Margy Waller drove to work at the White House on the final days of Bill Clinton's Presidency listening to Harvest Moon because she needed to cry. For her it's a song about loss. She is still touched by it today during the pandemic in what she describes as another period of great loss.Versions of Harvest Moon include those by: Neil Young Cassandra Wilson Maureen Washington Nils Lofgren Neil Young UnpluggedSeries about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impactProducer: Maggie AyreFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2020.
05/08/2027m 53s

Pavane Pour Une Infante Défunte by Maurice Ravel

Ravel's beautiful Pavane For A Dead Princess touches many people. While it is not actually about a dead princess it does evoke a sense loss. For Carla van Raay it symbolises the loss of innocence she experienced after sexual abuse as a child which led her to make some difficult life choices. Deal Hudson played it to prisoners in Atlanta and was moved by their reaction. At an academy for troubled teenagers in California the Pavane had a similar effect. Genevieve Monneris comes from the town where Ravel was born on the border with Spain. Her film Henri and Pat tells the story of three French airman who were stationed in York during World War Two. Just days before Henri's plane was shot down the three young men went to a concert of Ravel's music in York. So the piece has a strong emotional meaning for Genevieve whose own father was also stationed with the RAF in York. Professor Barbara Kelly of the Royal Northern College of Music explains the background to the Pavane's composition and why it appeals to the emotions in such a powerful way. Although it was written at the end of the 19th century it became more widely known in the 1920s. That was when a young woman called Lucia Joyce daughter of James Joyce danced to it with her avant garde dance group. The writer Annabel Abbs tells Lucia's tragic story of how her life ended in a mental asylum and how she almost became the imaginary 'dead princess'.Versions used: Pavane Pour Une Infante Défunte William Orbit Julian Bream James Rhodes Maurice Ravel Ravel Pavane arrangement for harp and celloProducer: Maggie AyreFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2020.
22/07/2027m 50s

Feeling Good

The surprising history behind a track made famous by Nina Simone. Feeling Good was written for a now obscure musical and originally performed by Cy Grant, the first black man to appear regularly on British TV. Cy Grant's daughter, Samantha Moxon, describes her father's extraordinary life from Prisoner of War camp to a successful career in the arts. The composer, Neil Brand, discusses why the song has gone on to transcend the almost forgotten musical it was created for. Other speakers are Sam Reynolds, who says the track helped her through challenging times, and musician, Kirsten Lamb, who sings a simplified version with young children at a homelessness project in Massachusetts. Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impactProducer: Karen GregorFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in July 2020.
15/07/2027m 9s

Sittin' On the Dock of the Bay

Sittin' On The Dock Of The Bay was written whilst Otis Redding was reflecting on his life on Sausalito Bay, California, in the summer of 1967. Its upbeat, laidback melody belies the loneliness of the lyrics. In December of the same year, Otis was killed in a plane crash. His song was subsequently released and became the first posthumous Number 1 record in the US.His musician contemporaries including Booker T Jones and guitarist Steve Cropper, who co-wrote Dock of the Bay, tell the story of the song's genesis, and people in their 20s to their 80s reveal why they relate it to dramatic periods in their lives.Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact. Producers: Maggie Ayre and Mair BosworthFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in January 2020.
22/01/2027m 51s


“It’s a goodbye song, but it’s also an inspirational song, It could also mean a new beginning" - Ray DaviesWritten by Ray Davies and released by the Kinks in 1968 'Days' had a very different sound to the rest of their repertoire. Sorrowful but uplifting it's been embraced by listeners across the world who have found solace and hope in its lyrics.Having been covered by numerous artists (most notably Kirsty MacColl), it speaks to people of all generations and captures moments in their lives. For Sim Wood it's an anthem to great friendships and discovery whilst for actor Gabriel Vick it's a song that has journeyed with him from a place of fond memories to heartfelt remembrance. John Slater, who was born the same year that it was released, has his own celebratory take on 'Days' and for Laura and John Mapes it's the song that gave them the words they so needed to express. With contributions from rock critic and writer, Barry Miles.Producer: Nicola HumphriesFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in January 2020.*** If you are suffering distress or despair and need support, including urgent support, a list of organisations that can help is available at *** Or you can call for free to hear recorded information on 0800 066 066.
15/01/2027m 45s

Toto's Africa

Released in 1982, Toto's soft-rock anthem has become an unlikely viral smash-hit.Africa is a song that has changed lives, helped to raise thousands of pounds for charity and provided an unexpected musical cornerstone in a critically acclaimed play. Ralf Schmidt is the Artistic Director of Ndlovu Youth Choir which is made up of young people from the poorest parts of South Africa. Incredibly, the choir made it to the final of America's Got Talent, one of the biggest entertainment shows in the world. Ralf's exuberant, irresistible and uniquely African arrangement of Toto's Africa was their stand-out performance. (Brief extract of AGT (c) Fremantle USA and Syco Entertainment)Michael Savage (aka DJ Michael Vinyl) of Prime Cuts record shop in Bristol, staged what could be considered a night of torture when he played Africa non-stop for twelve hours at a club. As Mike and Olivia Perry recall, this was to raise money for the Bristol based charity, Temwa, which operates in Malawi. They expected a handful of people to turn up, but the event had worldwide attention and was a huge success.Mike Massé's life was completely changed following his release on YouTube of what many consider to be one of the best Africa cover-versions ever recorded. The main photo is of Mike Massé (photo credit: Jim Mimna).David Greig is the Artistic Director of the Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh; an esteemed playwright with intellectual clout. So, why did he include Africa in one of his plays? Well, he nearly didn't, but then he saw the light.And, Abigail Gardner, a reader in music at the University of Gloucestershire, explains why Africa - originally a US No. 1 for just a week in 1982 - has recently undergone a strange modern rebirth, making it one of the most streamed songs on the internet. Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact. Producer: Karen GregorFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in January 2020.
08/01/2027m 50s

Coventry Carol

Performed as part of the mystery plays, the 'Coventry Carol' is from the Pageant of the Shearman and Taylors and tells the story of the Slaughter of The Innocents. A copy of the manuscript survived a fire in Birmingham Library in 1879 by sheer chance. Musician Ian Pittaway describes seeing the play in the ruins of Coventry cathedral in the 1980s - the drama was so powerful it still moves him to tears. The carol was sung on Christmas Day in 1940 in a live broadcast to the Empire just six weeks after the bombing of Coventry that destroyed the city's cathedral. Journalist Donna Marmestein tells of how the carol transformed how she felt about loss in her family. Composer and performer Tori Amos describes what inspired her cover version of the song. Amy Hanson from the Small Steps Charity talks about how much her mother loved the carol. The children from the school her charity supports in Kenya sing their version of the song. Roxanne Burroughs explains about how her daughter Kaitlyn came to have the carol sung at her funeral. The soloist is Samantha Lewis; early music is from The Night Watch; Reading Phoenix choir and Southern Voices sing the carol and the children's choir is from the Rehabilitation centre Immanuel Afrika in Nairobi, Kenya. Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact. Producer: Sara ConkeyFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Christmas Day 2019.
25/12/1927m 33s

We Are Family

We Are Family written by Nile Rodgers and performed by the Sledge Sisters Kathy, Kim, Debbie and Joni was released in 1978 at the height of disco's popularity. Kim Sledge says it has become the anthem for diverse groups of people around the world who come together on the dance floor to form a family. Professor Tim Lawrence says disco at its best was an inclusive music movement that welcomed people of all races and genders, unlike rock music which in the early 1970s appealed to a predominantly white male audience. We Are Family epitomised dance music's appeal to traditionally marginalised groups in the USA - African Americans, Latinos, women and gay men.Listen to the stories of some of the people for whom the song is linked with some of the most significant experiences of their lives.Produced by Maggie Ayre.First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in December 2019.
18/12/1928m 31s

The Boxer - Simon & Garfunkel

People who connect directly with the lyrics and have a deep personal connection to Simon & Garfunkel's masterpiece 'The Boxer' discuss what it means to them.Seamus McDonagh is a former boxer. He describes the tumultuous time he had during and after his famous fight with Evander Holyfield in 1990. He also explains why he identifies closely with the song's lyrics.Julie Nimoy is the daughter of Leonard Nimoy and co-producer of the film 'Remembering Leonard Nimoy' which tells the life story of this much loved actor, most famous for playing Mr Spock in Star Trek. The Boxer was his favourite song, and Julie describes exactly what it meant to him both throughout his life, and in its closing moments.Gary Edward Jones is a singer-songwriter who for years rejected comparisons made of him to Paul Simon. Eventually, he embraced the likeness and his life changed after developing a show called 'Something About Simon - The Paul Simon Story'. Dave Mason is an amateur guitarist who has found deep meaning in The Boxer; meaning that has changed and grown as he has. Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact.Producer: Karen GregorFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in December 2019.
11/12/1927m 53s

Farewell to Stromness

Personal stories about Farewell to Stromness, by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. Written in 1980 as a protest against uranium mining in Orkney, the music has touched and changed people's lives. The Orkney landscape which inspired Max's music is described by his partner Tim Morrison. We hear from Rosalind Newton, for whom the music provided peace after the death of her grandmother. Conductor Christopher Warren-Green recalls his performance of the music at the wedding of the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall. In Stromness we discover a community coming together to face the threat of uranium mining. Guitarist Sean Shibe and writer Ivan Hewett consider why this simple piece is so subtle and affective. And we hear from Jeana Leslie how the music, with its quiet melancholy inspired by folk music, has became traditional , and was a favourite for Peter Maxwell Davies to perform to visitors at his remote island home.Producer: Melvin Rickarby
31/07/1928m 30s

Wind of Change

“I follow the Moskva, down to Gorky Park… listening to the wind of change.”The German rock band Scorpions’ lead singer Klaus Meine was inspired to write Wind of Change at a rock festival in Moscow in the summer of 1989. Politics were rapidly shifting in the Soviet Union at the time as a result of Mikhail Gorbachev’s reforms. Recalling the peaceful yet revolutionary atmosphere at the concerts, Klaus said “there was a whole new generation of Russian kids that said the Cold War would be over soon - we could literally feel the world changing in front of our eyes”.No one had any idea that the Berlin wall would come down only a few months later. Wind of Change was released in 1990, and has since become an unofficial anthem for the end of the Cold War and the reunification of Germany in 1991. The power ballad is one the best-selling singles in history, and popular all over the world.Featuring interviews with lead singer of the Scorpions Klaus Meine, Russian rock musician Stas Namin, and true stories of what the song means to people who lived in the former USSR.Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact. Producer: Sophie AntonFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in July 2019.
24/07/1928m 29s

Streets of London by Ralph McTell

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 considers far better than Streets of London. But this remains his best known, best loved, and most played track. It was first recorded 50 years ago, in 1969, for his album Spiral Staircase although it wasn’t released as a single until 1974. Taking part in Soul Music, alongside Ralph, with their stories and memories connected to Streets of London, are: Jerry Playle, a music producer. His first ever public performance as a teenage guitarist was of Streets of London. The guitar part went well, but when he opened his mouth to sing, he realised - to his horror - that he couldn't...Gwen Ever, a DJ. He became homeless in the 1980s. It’s the unlikely punk version of Streets of London by the Anti Nowhere League that reminds him of this time. Maria Bentley-Dingwall, the daughter of Iris Bentley. Iris was the sister of Derek Bentley who was hanged for a murder he did not commit. Iris spent her life campaigning for his conviction to be quashed. Ralph McTell grew up knowing this story, became a friend of the family, wrote a song about the case, and sang Streets of London at Iris Bentley’s funeral. Producer: Karen GregorFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2019.
17/07/1927m 55s

Back to Black

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 black of drinking and self-destruction. Daisy Buchanan tells her story of addictive love and how Back to Black helped her break free. Umaru Saidu was a vulnerable teenager with mental health issues who lost a dear childhood friend when he was 17. He later trained at the Amy's Yard programme and is grateful for the inspiration she gave him. As a young teenager Amy Charles too identified with the pain expressed in Back to Black and says it helped her deal with depression brought on by a spinal injury.Donald Brackett is the author of Back to Black: Amy Winehouse's Only Masterpiece and believes performing the song may have become traumatic for her in the end as it forced her to relive the emotional pain. Elizabeth Kesses was visiting her terminally ill father at the same hospital where Amy Winehouse was being treated. She recalls seeing her there and hoping she would recover. Sadly it was not to be. But these stories reveal a legacy that goes beyond the music. Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact.Producer: Maggie AyreFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in July 2019.
10/07/1928m 37s

Let the River Run

The story of how a song from a classic 1980s 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 herself, “I wanted it to be large, I wanted it to be vast – it’s about bringing forth a common desire into the world”. In more recent years it has become an anthem for Woman's Rights Movements and global initiatives aimed at making a better life for all. Featuring interviews with: * Carly Simon * Ginny Suss - music producer and part of the team who organised the Women’s March on Washington * Elisabet Barnes - Ultra Marathon Runner * Nina RitzenMusic from The Resistance Revival Chorus.Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact. Producer: Nicola HumphriesFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in January 2019.
23/01/1927m 29s


Charlie Chaplin wrote the music for 'Smile' in 1935 for the film 'Modern Times', but the lyrics were only added nearly 30 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 and Marine Lucas remembers flying to Michael Jackson's memorial on hearing the news of his death. And author Bob Williams remembers after his father died, his mother sitting on the floor listening to the Nat King Cole version and crying when he came home from school.Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact. Producer: Sara ConkeyFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in January 2019.
17/01/1927m 45s

Schubert’s B-Flat Piano Sonata D960

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.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 sonata has marked and shaped their lives.Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact. Producer: Rosie BoultonFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in January 2019.
09/01/1927m 31s

Shine On You Crazy Diamond

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.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 recognised Syd at first; once handsome and slender, he'd gained weight and shaved his head and eyebrows. Another contributor to the programme, Anna Gascoigne, talks about the pain of losing her son, Jay. He was a gentle boy, a talented musician, who eventually succumbed to the multiple mental health problems he had battled for years. Shine On You Crazy Diamond, for Anna, speaks directly to her of Jay; he loved Pink Floyd and Shine On was played at his memorial service. Anna, herself, was driven to the brink of suicide by her son’s death. It was the support of her family – including her brother, Paul Gascoigne - that helped her to carry on. Ed Steelefox, a DJ based in Worcester, describes a New Year’s Eve house-party of a few years ago: as the guests gradually fell asleep he chose to slip out the door leaving a non-stop playlist of different, live, versions of Shine On You Crazy Diamond to penetrate their dreams.And Professor Allan Moore, a regular Soul Music contributor, takes to the grand piano to play and talk about what it is in the track that is so directly reminiscent of Syd Barrett.Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact.'NB: Details of organisations offering information and support are available at you can call for free, at any time to hear recorded information on 08000 566 065. Producer: Karen GregorFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in December 2018.
26/12/1827m 49s


Soul Music with stories of the lasting impact of Joni Mitchell's song '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 Chris Forbes, who lost his father on Christmas Day * Isobel, who fell sick far from home and understands the longing to be elsewhere captured in the song * Laura, who heard the song while pregnant at Christmastime * Writer Rob Crossan, who will forever associate the song with his first love * Canadian poet Lorna Crozier who describes the frozen rivers of her and Joni's Saskatchewan childhoodPlus thoughts from Joni Mitchell's biographer, David Yaffe. Includes a rare live recording of 'River' from a BBC Concert in 1970, hosted by John Peel. The other versions of the song are by (in order of appearance):Joni Mitchell (Blue, 1971) Scott Matthews (Live Session for BBC 6 Music, 2011) Béla Fleck and the Flecktones (Jingle All the Way, 2008) The Belgian indie choir Scala & Kolacny Brothers (Live Session for BBC 6 Music, 2011).Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact.Producer: Mair BosworthFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in December 2018.
19/12/1827m 49s

True Colors

"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 describes his pride at watching the Rainbow Flag being raised above the Stonewall National Monument as he and other LGBTQ campaigners sang that same song. Lesley Pyne learnt to sing 'True Colors' with her local choir. It's a song that resonated with her more than she had ever expected. After six attempts at IVF, Lesley had had to come to terms with the knowledge that she wouldn't be able to have children. It wasn't easy. It has taken years of digging deep to work through the grief but now she helps others to find their true colours and firmly believes that they can be beautiful, like a rainbow. And in 1999, Caroline Paige, a jet and helicopter navigator in the Royal Air Force, became the first ever openly serving transgender officer in the British military. She rose above the extraordinary challenges placed before her to show her 'True Colors' whilst serving her country on the front line in the war on terror. Featuring songwriter Billy Steinberg and music from The Rock Choir Producer: Nicola Humphries First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in May 2018.
02/05/1827m 52s

God Only Knows

"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 the Californian song that spans decades - and continents - to touch souls wherever it's played. And across the ocean, Erin Prewitt tells her love story and describes how tragic and unexpected circumstances meant she has had to learn to live out those iconic lyrics and discover what it means to be without the person you love.With reflections from musician Al Kooper and author Barry Miles. Produced By Nicola Humphries.First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in April 2018.
25/04/1827m 28s

Prelude a l'Apres Midi d'un Faune by Debussy

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 abandon his medical studies in Iran to move to the UK to become a professional conductor and composer. Artist Fiona Robinson specialises in interpreting Debussy's works on paper. She explains how she has been moved to visualise the Prelude, while Debussy's biographer Paul Roberts credits it with having changed classical music forever. Katya Jezzard-Puyraud recalls how the music lifted her out of a difficult time after the birth of her first son and how she uses it now to help people with anxiety and stress to relax.Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact. Producer: Maggie AyreFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in April 2018.
18/04/1827m 33s

A Whiter Shade of Pale by Procol Harum

Why has Procol Harum's surreal track ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ remained enduringly popular for over 50 years? Soul Music hears the stories and memories of those who love it. Released in May 1967, it was the group's first single. It went to No. 1 in the UK, and stayed there for six weeks.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 Rodley remembers the impact it had on him when he heard it for the first time, in the dead of the night, on pirate Radio Caroline. Musician, James Pollard, explains how he created a wedding march for a friend using this track as inspiration.Thriller writer Nelson DeMille describes his year in Vietnam as 'the year without music', but ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ is the one song that reminds him of his time there. Singer Sarah Collins suffered a brain tumour shortly after the birth of her second child. Making the decision to sing again was fundamental to her healing process. As her Dad, Phil, explains 'Whiter Shade' is his favourite song. He was very moved when she decided to record it for her YouTube channel.Produced at BBC Bristol by Karen Gregor.First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in April 2018.
11/04/1827m 44s

Songs of the Civil Rights Movement

Actor Clarke Peters narrates this special edition to mark 50 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.The stories of the songs behind the Civil Rights Movement include the spirituals and freedom songs that were integral to the struggle. In the 19th century, music became a tool for protest and resistance among the enslaved peoples of the American South. Hear the stories behind some of the most popular anthems and Freedom Songs that were later used as part of the civil resistance movement that eventually led to voting rights and desegregation. From Swing Low Sweet Chariot and We Shall Overcome to Amazing Grace, Strange Fruit and A Change Is Gonna Come, witnesses to and participants in the Civil Rights Movement recall how songs were such a vital part of the story.Producer: Maggie AyreFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in April 2018.
04/04/1841m 46s

Cerys Matthews' Soul Music Mixtape - Part One

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, Puccini's La Boheme and Sam Cooke's A Change is Gonna Come.Producer: Mair Bosworth.
12/02/181h 4m

Cerys Matthews' Soul Music Mixtape - Part Two

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, Puccini's La Boheme and Sam Cooke's A Change is Gonna Come.Producer: Mair Bosworth.
12/02/1856m 38s

Cerys Matthews' Soul Music Mixtape - Part Three

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, Puccini's La Boheme and Sam Cooke's A Change is Gonna Come.Producer: Mair Bosworth.
12/02/1857m 34s

Kraftwerk: Computer World

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 the Second World War, out of a desire to create a new, German music. Uwe Schütte from Aston University explains how Computer World embodies the politics of this time and points the way to a computerized future. Brian Carney recalls how the album's glamour and sheen changed his horizons in the industrial town of St Helens. And in South Central Los Angeles, Greg Broussard, aka Egyptian Lover, shows how this album brought love into his life. Life, love and an electronic future as experienced through the music of this pioneering German band. Producer: Melvin RickarbyFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in January 2018.
24/01/1827m 44s

Boys Don't Cry

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 Jeffrey Axt chart the changing fortunes of a giant Boys Don't Cry poster.Producer: Sally Heaven.First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in July 2018.
17/01/1827m 52s

Ich Habe Genug

JS 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.Oboist George Caird recalls playing Ich Habe Genug at his father's funeral. Theologian Paula Gooder recalls the effect of putting her new born baby into the arms of an elderly relative. Danish music therapist Lars Ole Bonde tells how this music provided vital solace for him as a teenager growing up with a father suffering from depression.American Susan Dray remembers how the Cantata helped her when she was grieving for her baby. And tenor Ian Bostridge wonders why we never feel that we have "enough".Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impactProducer: Rosie BoultonFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in January 2018.
10/01/1827m 32s

Redemption Song

"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 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 America. 'Musicians without Borders' practitioner Ahmed al 'Azzeh finds the song inspires him to work towards a better life in the Palestinian Territories. For Jamaican Poet Laureate Lorna Goodison, it is a reminder to continue Marley's call to 'sing these songs of freedom' and for Bob Scott, it will forever be heard in memory of his nephew Dominick who lost his life during the 2004 Tsunami. Featuring interviews with:Neville Garrick Wailers Guitarist - Don Kinsley.Producer: Nicola HumphriesFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in December 2017.
27/12/1727m 44s

O Holy Night

"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 songwriter Katie Melua it's the carol that awoke her love of music as an 8 year old child in Belfast. And for Tymara Walker it's the Christmas family favourite which went viral when she sang it on a Washington subway, eventually reaching a worldwide audience of over 5 million. Featuring choral conductor and composer Bob Chilcott. Producer: Nicola Humphries.
20/12/1727m 56s

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. 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. We hear from people whose lives have been touched by the song, including the singer-songwriter Ren Harvieu, who suffered a back break in a freak accident and found strength in the song during her recovery. And neuroscientist and best-selling author David Eagleman explains why the years seem to fly past ever more quickly as we grow older. Also featuring contributions from Sandy Denny's biographer Mick Houghton and Dr Richard Elliott, Senior Lecturer in Music at Newcastle University. Producer: Mair BosworthFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in June 2017.
14/06/1727m 49s

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 400 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 coma for several months. A resident of 'Tornado Alley' and author of The Mercy of the Sky tells the story of a devastating tornado that hit a town in Oklahoma in 2013, killing several schoolchildren, but how all the toddlers in a nearby daycare centre survived. The staff comforted them by singing You Are My Sunshine as the storm destroyed the building. And pensioner Alice Kennedy fondly recalls a friend from the Irish Pensioners Choir in London, who used to sing the song and add his own cheeky lyrics.Music historian: Paul KingsburyProducer: Maggie AyreFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in June 2017.
07/06/1727m 42s

Siegfried Idyll

Wagner's peaceful Siegfried Idyll was written to thank his wife after the birth of his son Siegfried. On her birthday in 1870, 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 homesickness when he arrived in the UK. Karen West recalls a 50th birthday treat - a trip across lake Lucerne with her father, to visit Wagner's villa. For Tim Reynish, the music has a special connection with his son - when William was born he recreated the first performance on the staircase of his Birmingham home; many years later he conducted the music at his son's memorial concert. And Roberto Paternostro recalls a historic performance in Germany when he took a group of Israeli musicians to perform Wagner's music for the first time at Bayreuth - the opera house built by Wagner, and later frequented by Adolf Hitler.Producer: Melvin RickarbyFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in May 2017.
31/05/1727m 36s

My Favourite Things

"Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens". 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 her during years of unrest through the Iranian revolution and the war that was to follow. It's also the song that travelled with her as she realised her childhood dream of exploring outer space. For vocal coach Heather Mair Thomas 'My Favourite Things' evokes memories of a happy Cornish childhood, growing up with her musical family. It has also become a reminder to always look for the good in life - come what may. Meanwhile Jazz musician David Lieberman takes us on a journey through the 1960's New York club scene to the night where an encounter with John Coltrane's version of 'My Favourite Things' changed his life forever.Plus Sound of Music fan Emma Poulton-White relives her very special wedding day that was topped off with a 'copper kettle' . Featuring Tom Santopietro author of 'The Sound of Music Story'.Producer: Nicola Humphries First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in May 2017.
24/05/1727m 20s

Waterloo Sunset

Waterloo Sunset by The Kinks was released in 1967. 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 on.Allison Moore Adams is an American who married Vernon, a Brit. Waterloo Sunset was sung at his bedside following a terrible road accident. The painting used to illustrate this edition of Soul Music is of Vernon and Allison on Waterloo Bridge. It's by Allison's friend, Isabelle Logie, who also sang to Vernon in hospital.Christopher Young used to work in mental health. For him, the lyrics of Waterloo Sunset symbolise the isolation that many people feel.Professor Allan Moore, a musicologist, discusses why this beautiful pop song works so well.Producer: Karen GregorFirst brodacast on BBC Radio 4 in May 2017.
17/05/1727m 18s

The Star-Spangled Banner

America's national anthem was written by a lawyer, Francis Scott Key, after watching the British navy bombing Fort McHenry in 1814. It was set to an English social men's club song and recognized as the national anthem in 1889. Notoriously difficult to sing, and traditionally played at public sports events and orchestral concerts, the anthem has inspired emotion and attracted controversy. We hear from: Dr John Carlos who along with Dr Tommie Smith, raised their fists on the Olympic podium in the Mexico City Olympics in 1968 as the anthem was played.Jose Feliciano who sang the anthem at the 1968 World series and provoked criticism.Conrad Netting IV who discovered the truth about his fighter pilot father's history which led him to a cemetery in Normandy.Writer Crista Cloutier who associated it with President Obama's election.Members of the Coldstream Guards band who played the anthem at the changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace the day after 9/11. And Leon Hendrix, Jimi's brother, who was in the army at the time of Woodstock, and was put on 'potato peeling duty' because of the 'dishonourable' version his brother had played.Producer: Sara ConkeyFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in November 2016.
01/11/1627m 11s

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

Memories of first love, first borns and loss are stirred by 'The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face'.This timeless love song was written by Ewan MacColl for Peggy Seeger, and made famous by Roberta Flack. Activist and folk musician Peggy Seeger recalls her first meeting with the Scottish folk musician, which would inspire him to write the song, and talks about what the song means to her today. Ewan MacColl's biographer Ben Harker explains why this song is so different from much of his other work. Julie Young talks about singing the song to her son Reagan, who had severe complex needs following a cardiac arrest as a baby.Writer Louise Janson speaks about what the song came to mean to her as she set out on the path to becoming a mother on her own. Writer and academic Jason King tells the story of how Roberta Flack came to cover this ballad, and how it catapulted her to fame. And Kandace Springs, a singer and pianist from Nashville, Tennessee, records her version of the song and talks about why the song is one of the greatest love songs of all time. Producer: Mair BosworthFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in October 2016.
25/10/1627m 46s


"Jerusalem" has become a quintessentially middle-class and very English song, but it is held in the hearts and memories of people from different backgrounds and cultures. There is a bit of cricket - commentator Jonathan Agnew (Aggers) discusses England's stunning and unexpected victory in the 2005 Ashes. Jerusalem reminds him of that extraordinary summer. Pamela Davenport is the daughter of a man who felt that the words of Jerusalem highlighted inequality in society; lack of money prevented him fulfilling his academic potential and he died in a care home that didn't care well enough for him. For American poet, Ann Lauterbach, the unusual and little-known Paul Robeson version was the theme-tune to her escape from the difficult years of Nixon and Vietnam to 1960s London.Singer, Janet Shell, recalls the burial of her Great Uncle who was killed during World War One, but whose body was only discovered in 2009.Susanne Sklar - a scholar of William Blake - discusses the inspiration behind the words of the poem. Probably, she says, he wrote them while awaiting his trial for sedition; he was in trouble for fighting with a soldier who had urinated in his garden.Composer and writer, Paul Spicer, plays, sings and talks through the tune which was composed by Sir Hubert Parry.Producer: Karen GregorFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in July 2016.
18/10/1627m 27s

A Change Is Gonna Come, by Sam Cooke

Sam Cooke's A Change Is Gonna Come has become synonymous with the American Civil Rights Movement.It was released in December 1964, two weeks after the influential singer was shot dead in Los Angeles. Contributors include: Sam Cooke's brother LC, singer Bettye Lavette who sang it for Barack Obama at his inaugural ceremony and civil rights activists from the Freedom Summer of 64, Jennifer Lawson and Mary King.Producer: Maggie AyreFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in October 2016.
12/10/1627m 54s

Feed the Birds

'Feed The Birds' was written for the film Mary Poppins by Richard and Robert Sherman.
03/05/1628m 15s

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 while Felix Buxton reveals his love for Mozart and the divine nature of the Requiem. And Mozart expert Cliff Eisen takes us inside the composer's world: how the orchestra and choir conjure visions of funerals, beauty, hellfire and the confusion of death. He recounts how Mozart was commissioned to write the piece by a nobleman who may have intended to pass off the work as his own. The stern challenge faced by people trying to complete the piece are described by composer Michael Finnissy, who himself wrote a completion of the work.The Requiem was performed at the funerals of many heroic figures - Beethoven, Napoleon and JF Kennedy, among others. Gordana Blazinovic remembers one extraordinary performance during the horrors of the Bosnian war - a show of defiance and grief from the ruins of Sarajevo City Hall.Producer: Melvin Rickarby.First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in April 2016.
26/04/1627m 36s

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 Rogers while she was washing her hair, the song won an Oscar. It has been recorded by Frank Sinatra and Billie Holiday. Sarah Woodward, daughter of actor Edward, recalls how aged 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, and being distraught when he broke the gramophone record as a five-year-old.And Glaswegian singer, Eddie Toal describes making an album of jazz songs, including 'The Way You Look Tonight' to remember his late wife, Irene.Series about pieces of music that make a powerful emotional impact. Producer: Sara Conkey First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in April 2016.
19/04/1627m 25s

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 unforgettable melody, it has since been covered hundreds of times in countless languages. California peach farmer Mas Masumoto tells the story of his family's internment in an Arizona relocation camp following the bombing of Pearl Harbor and explains what the song meant to him and many other Japanese-Americans in the years after the Second World War. Violinist and composer Diana Yukawa plays the song as a way to remember her father, who died in the same plane crash that killed Kyu Sakamoto, the original singer of 'Sukiyaki'. Michael Bourdaghs, author of 'Sayonara Amerika, Sayonara Nippon', talks about the songwriting team behind the song (Rokusuke Ei, Hachidai Nakamura and Kyu Sakamoto), and the surprising roots of the song in the Japanese protest movement of the early 1960s. Janice-Marie Johnson of A Taste of Honey talks about writing an English version of the song and how she interpreted the Japanese lyrics. While Gemma Treharne-Foose speaks about her experience of travelling to Japan from her home in the Rhondda Valleys, and what the song came to mean to her. And we hear the story of how Ue o Muite Arukou became a 'prayer for hope' following the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in March 2011 from musician Masami Utsunomiya. Producer: Mair BosworthFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in July 2016
14/04/1627m 31s

Bring Him Home

Bring Him Home is a beautiful and moving prayer-in-song that has developed meaning and identity outside of the hit musical, from Les Miserables.What has been its impact? Celebrated tenor, Alfie Boe has sung it 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 members describes singing it at the funeral of PC Dave Phillips in 2015.The original Cosette, from Les Miserables, Rebecca Caine now sings this song - written for a male voice - regularly as part of international recitals.And for Becky Douglas it will forever be a reminder of her daughter whose death inspired the foundation of a leprosy charity.Jeremy Summerly, Director of Music at St Peter's College, Oxford plays through the piece and describes why it moves us emotionally.Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact. Producer: Karen GregorFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in April 2016.
05/04/1627m 27s

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 'cars big as bars and rivers of gold'.Gaelic footballer Alisha Jordan came to New York to play football aged 17 from County Meath in Ireland. Despite being dazzled by the glamour and pace of New York City, she missed her family and friends and stencilled the words 'Fairytale of New York' on her apartment wall as an affirmation of her determination to make the most of her new life in the city. When she was later attacked on the street by a stranger, the words came to signify her battle to recover and not to let the horrific facial injuries she suffered defeat her or her ambition to captain her football team. Rachel Burdett posted the video of the song onto her friend Michelle's social media page to let her know she was thinking of her and praying for her safe return when Michelle went missing suddenly one December. Stories of redemption and of a recognition that Christmas is often not the fairytale we are sold, told through a seasonal favourite.Producer: Maggie Ayre.
22/12/1527m 22s


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.The Right Reverend Nigel McCulloch - National Chaplain to the Royal British Legion - talks about hearing it played at the Festival of Remembrance in the Royal Albert Hall stirring memories of his own father who died in WW2, and serving as a reminder of all those lost or injured in war.Margaret Evison's son, Lieutenant Mark Evison of the Welsh Guards, was killed in Afghanistan in 2009. Nimrod played an important part in his funeral which was held at The Guard's Chapel in London.For Lord Victor Adebowale, Chief Executive of the charity Turning Point, Nimrod is a piece that reminds him of his father and the struggles he had as a Nigerian immigrant to the UK.Composer and conductor, Paul Spicer, plays through Nimrod at the piano exploring why it is a piece that stirs such deep emotions.Producer: Karen GregorFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in December 2015.
15/12/1527m 3s

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 it with her father as a child, playing bongos to accompany him.Lenny Kaye from the Patti Smith Group recalls how he and Patti did a version of 'Mack The Knife' at their first ever performance together at St Marks Church in New York on 10th February 1971, as it was Brecht's birthday.Film-maker Malcolm Clark tells the story of the song's first public performer, Kurt Gerron, an actor and director, who took the song into the darkest places of the Third Reich.Contributors:Stephen Hinton Stephen Parker Jane Tipping John Bird Malcolm Clarke Lenny Kaye Suzi QuatroSeries about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact. Producer: Sarah ConkeyFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in December 2015.
08/12/1527m 17s

Nkosi Sikelel iAfrica

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 missionary's at that time. It went on to travel the African continent but most significantly it became one of the defining symbols of a united South Africa - a country that still holds this song at its heart. Having travelled through the country's Christian congregations it soon rang out from meetings and protest rallies throughout the apartheid era eventually becoming the unofficial anthem of the ANC (African National Congress Party). At a time of great hardship and pain, it was a song that offered hope and encouragement to millions of South Africans. Having being sentenced to life imprisonment, Nkosi Sikelel iAfrica was the song that Nelson Mandela will have heard being sung out by his supporters as he and his fellow ANC members were driven away to Robben Island. Decades later it was the hymn that he would use to unify his country as it was adapted into the South African National Anthem. Featuring interviews with: Albert Mazibuko of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Lord Joel Joffe, author Sindiwe Magona, Edward Griffiths - former CEO of South African Rugby during the 1995 World Cup, music journalist Robin Denslow and the Za Foundation's Zakhele Choir. Produced in Bristol by Nicola HumphriesFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in December 2015.**We’re sorry that due to copyright restrictions, if you are listening abroad, you will not be able to listen to this programme.**
01/12/1527m 40s

Mr Blue Sky

Mr Blue Sky is the Electric Light Orchestra's brilliantly off-beam classic song. 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.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': usually associated with downbeat emotions, this is a peculiar subversion of that cultural norm with the word 'blue' conjuring happiness and good weather.Tremayne Crossley and his friend, Jo Milne, tell the extraordinary story of how Jo heard music for the first time. This track played an important role in that event.For Dr. Sam Illingworth, Mr Blue Sky will always take him back to the low-flying research-flights he made over the wetlands, greenlands and seas of the Arctic Circle with the shadow of the BAE146 plane beneath him and clear blue skies above.The children of King's St. Albans in Worcester sing the track featuring at the end of the programme. Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impactProducer: Karen GregorFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in November 2015.
24/11/1527m 7s

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 of Dibley' describes how he composed it in a taxi. Selina Scott says that the Crimond always puts her in mind of her Scottish grandmother.Contributors: Howard Goodall Ian Bradley Marion Dodd Emily Badger Athena Kruger Esther Sternberg Selina Scott Harriet Bowes-Lyon Adrian Goldberg First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2015.
12/05/1527m 42s

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 ParsonsNo 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. Setting off from Whitby Abbey, they journey to Scarborough on foot, sensing the song as they go, learning to sing it, interpreting it in a new way just as thousands of traditional singers have done throughout time.This too is the landscape of Martin Carthy, the 'father of folk' who has made his home along the Yorkshire coast. It was from this legendary singer that Paul Simon first learnt Scarborough Fair, creating a version that came to represent a generation continuing its journey far and wide, weaving its spell in many different guises, never truly being pinned down.Decades on Harpist Claire Jones recorded a version of her own. Arranged by her husband, the composer Chris Marshall, hers is a very personal journey through unexpected illness to recovery. Whilst for Mike Masheder it is a song that brings memories of his wife Sally, who approached the journey of life with love and equanimity. "It can change or stay the same. And the more it changes, the more it stays the same" - Martin CarthyWith expert contribution from Sandra Kerr, musician and lecturer at Newcastle University School of Arts and Culture.Producer: Nicola HumphriesFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in May 2015
05/05/1527m 34s

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 Ike and Tina Turner's former backing singer, PP Arnold. PP describes the emotional connection she felt to the lyrics, having emerged from an abusive marriage shortly before recording it.The song's original producer, Mike Hurst describes how he achieved the huge 'wall of sound' production using double drums, a huge string section, and a harp instead of a guitar to play the signature riff at the the start of the track.There are many personal stories associated with the track: Carsten Knauff recalls a childhood sweetheart - his first true love - and explains why the Cat Stevens' version brings back bitter-sweet memories for him.Rosemarie Purdy saw PP Arnold give an extraordinary live rendition at a club in Portsmouth in 1967. Never before had she seen such a heartfelt, emotionally charged performance. It's something she's never forgotten.The Sheryl Crow version reminds Rachel Batson of a very difficult phase in her life; it's a song she says reflects her own faith journey.And former Radio Caroline DJ, Keith Hampshire, describes the circumstances that led to him having a No.1 hit with the song in Canada. It was the first time 'First Cut' reached No.1 anywhere in the world.Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact.Producer: Karen GregorFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in April 2015.
28/04/1527m 41s

Bach Cello Suite No 1 in G Major

Johann Sebastian 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 200 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 surprises and excites him. Fellow cellists Richard Jenkinson and Jane Salmon talk about the challenge of playing it and we hear from the Dominic Martens, a member of the National Youth Orchestra and his teacher, Nick Jones as they explore the piece together.Garden designer Julie Moir Messervy, describes how Yo-Yo Ma's recording inspired her to design The Toronto Music Garden and doctor Heidi Kimberly explains why she chose the piece for her wedding and why she believes the suite to have healing powers. While historian and author, Eric Siblin, reveals the extraordinary history of the suites and why some still argue that they was written by Bach's second wife Anna Magdalena.Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact. Producer: Lucy LuntFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in April 2015.
21/04/1527m 29s


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 the song is deep and profound: singer Brandi Carlisle listened to it over and over again as a troubled teenager; it became a sound-track to James Talerico falling in love and Jim Kullander made a connection with the song after the death of his wife.
18/04/1527m 50s

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.Soul Music ventures 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 London's Royal Opera House. Alongside his memories of sharing pasta with a young Pavarotti we hear the stories from those whose lives have been touched by - and often reflect - the essence of this most popular of operas.From the romantic gesture of a probationary constable serenading his soon to be bus conductress wife in 1950s Torquay to the moment that a devoted husband passed away - La Boheme has touched the lives of opera lovers around the world.Featuring interviews with author Mavis Cheek and opera devotees Ray Tabb and Nancy Rossi.Producer: Nicola HumphriesFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in December 2014.
09/12/1427m 39s

There Is a Light That Never Goes Out

'There Is a Light That Never Goes Out' by The Smiths is explored through personal stories. Released in 1986 on 'The Queen Is Dead' album, it's 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 hours of the morning. For comic artist Lucy Knisley, the song got her through a bad break-up with her long-term boyfriend - and its meaning changed for her when unexpected events unfolded.Also featuring: Mike Garry Teddy Jameison Mark Gatiss Simon GoddardProducer: Sara Conkey First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in December 2014.
02/12/1427m 30s

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, it 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 tortured and imprisoned under the Pinochet regime in 1973 recalls how playing the song on guitar in prison for other inmates helped keep their spirits and hopes alive under the most brutal circumstances. Australian writer and actor Ailsa Piper recalls being gifted the words to Gracias A La Vida by a fellow walker along one of the holy routes in Spain, and how the song has become a poignant reminder of the fragility of life.Producer: Maggie Ayre.First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in November 2014.
25/11/1427m 45s

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

Marianne Faithfull recalls the classical French Love song which went on to inspire a 1960s hit record by Elvis Presley. 'Plaisir d'Amour' somehow found its way through 18th century orchestration (Hector Berlioz) and 1960's folk revival, to an unexpected re-invention as Elvis’s 'I Can't' Help Falling in Love with You'.Written in 1784 by Jean-Paul-Égide Martini, the song muses on the pleasures and pains of love and was inspired by a poem in Jean-Pierre Claris de Florian's novel 'Célestine'.For 17 year old Marianne Faithfull it was a song of innocence, recorded in a tiny booth in London’s old Decca studios whilst happily pregnant with her first child. Meanwhile, author Julia Donaldson and husband Malcolm busked it on the streets of Paris. This was in the summer of 1969 and police hid in alleyways, still fearful of students following the 1968 riots.Inspired by Elvis, West Point Military Academy Freshman Andrew Scott learnt to pick the tune on guitar – helping him win the heart of his wife. For Henry and Christine Wallace, it summed everything up "It was what I was looking for, someone to share my life and the words 'take my whole life too was in tune with what I wanted'. Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impactProducer: Nicola HumphriesFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in November 2014.
19/11/1427m 42s

A Shropshire Lad

"Into my heart an air that kills From yon far country blows: What are those blue remembered hills, What spires, what farms are those? That is the land of lost content, I see it shining plain, The happy highways where I went And cannot come again."So wrote the poet AE Housman lamenting the loss of his brother in the Boer war in his epic poem A Shropshire Lad. It harks back to a simple idyllic rural way of life that is forever changed at the end of the 19th century as hundreds of country boys go off to fight and never return. George Butterworth adapted his words to music in 1913 just before the outbreak of the Great War. We hear from those whose lives continue to be touched by the loss of so many young men between 1914 and 1918. Broadcaster Sybil Ruscoe recalls visiting her Great Uncle's grave in a military cemetery in France with Butterworth's Rhapsody as the soundtrack to her journey. A concert at Bromsgrove School in Worcestershire where Housman was a pupil remembers the former schoolboys killed in action, and singer Steve Knightley discusses and performs his adaptation of The Lads In Their Hundreds. The Bishop of Woolwich connects his love of the countryside and Butterworth's music with his father's battered copy of Housman's poems which comforted him while held captive in Singapore during the Second World War.Contributors:James McKelvey Phillip Bowen Tish Farrell Michael Ipgrave Steve Knightley Stephen Johnson Sybil Ruscoe Sam AdamsonSeries about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact Producer: Maggie AyreFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in November 2014.
12/11/1427m 40s

Adagio in G minor

Albinoni's Adagio in G Minor, is one of the most popular and moving pieces of music.But, as academic and composer Andrew Gant explains, it wasn't written by Albinoni and is now attributed to 20th century Italian composer, Giazotto.Award-winning veteran BBC foreign correspondent, Malcolm Brabant recalls the ' cellist of Sarajevo', Vedran Smailovic, playing it everyday for weeks amidst the wreckage of the beautiful city, as Serbian gunfire raged around.Actress Virginia McKenna explains its importance to her and her late husband, actor Bill Travers, who died in 1994. The piece was played at the beginning and end of his memorial service.And TV producer, Gareth Gwenlan reveals why it was chosen as the theme for the character played by Wendy Craig, in the BBC’s 1970s TV sitcom, Butterflies.Producer: Lucy LuntFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in April 2014.
29/04/1427m 31s


The hauntingly beautiful Welsh song Myfanwy 'is in the air in Wales' according to singer Cerys Matthews.She along with others discuss what the melodic tale of unrequited love means to them. They include a Welsh woman living in Sicily for whom the song represents 'hiraeth', a longing or homesickness for Wales and another who believes it expresses the 'wounded soul of the Welsh'. A man remembers how his late brother and he used to sing it in pubs in North Wales and how the song symbolises the unrequited love he felt for him. Members of the Ynysowen choir, started after the mining disaster in Aberfan as a way of dealing with the emotion, talk about the song's power, and an ex soldier recalls digging for survivors with lines from it playing in his head "Give me your hand, my sweet Myfanwy".Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact.Producer: Maggie AyreFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in April 2014.
22/04/1427m 50s

Something Inside So Strong

Labi Siffre wrote Something Inside So Strong in 1984. Widely believed to have been inspired by seeing film footage from South Africa, of young blacks being shot at by white policeman, the singer-songwriter now reveals that the lyrics were also informed by the oppression he had experienced as as a gay man. The song has been taken up by individuals and groups around the world who have suffered from discrimination. The Choir With No Name in Birmingham, made up of homeless singers, always close their concerts with the song. Choir members explain why it's so important to them, giving them a sense of pride and dignity. American singer Suede, talks about the power she finds in the song while South African singer, Lira talks about making a special recording of it for the birthday of Nelson Mandela, as it was one of his favourite pieces. Also hear how Celtic football fans sing it as an act of solidarity with their beleaguered manager, Neil Lennon.In his first interview for over a decade, Siffre explains how he still sings the songs as he tries to put his life back together after the death of his partner, Peter.Contributors:Labi Siffre Bill West Peter Churchill Neil LennonSeries about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impactProducer: Lucy LuntFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in April 2014.
15/04/1427m 31s


"It's the kind of music that makes you feel like you're just hurting so good"People of different ages reflect on why the pop country classic 'Crazy' made famous by Patsy Cline brings out such strong emotions in them.Featuring a young woman mourning the loss of a father's love after divorce - and broadcaster Fiona Phillips reflects on losing her father to Alzheimer's disease.87 year old Wayne Rethford met Patsy Cline in 1961 and two years later happened upon the crash site where she died after her plane came down in a heavy storm in Tennessee."That music becomes embedded in your soul" he says.Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impactProducer: Maggie AyreFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in April 2014.
08/04/1427m 40s

Rhapsody in Blue

"I'm convinced it's the best thing ever written and recorded in the history of things written and recorded" - Moby.Rhapsody in Blue was premiered on February 12, 1924, in New York's Aeolian Hall. Through its use at the opening of Woody Allen's 'Manhattan' it’s become synonymous with the city that inspired its creation. But for people around the world, George Gershwin's "experiment in modern music" has become imbued with the most personal of memories.LA based screenwriter Charles Peacock reflects on how this piece has become entwined with his life and how, on an evening at the Hollywood Bowl this music "healed him". When Adela Galasiu was growing up in communist Romania, Rhapsody in Blue represented "life itself, as seen through the eyes of an optimist". For world speed champion Gina Campbell, the opening of that piece will forever remind her of the roar of the Bluebird's ignition as it flew through the "glass like stillness of the water" and brings back the memories of her father, the legendary Donald Campbell - it was played at his funeral when he was finally laid to rest decades after his fatal record attempt on Coniston Lake.Featuring interviews with:Professor of Music, Howard Pollock Musician, Moby Producer: Nicola HumphriesFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in April 2014.
01/04/1427m 33s

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

The story behind the song, 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas'.It was first performed by Judy Garland in the 1944 MGM musical Meet Me In St Louis', for the now famous scene in which she and her seven year old sister, played by Margaret O'Brien are downcast about the prospect of moving away from their beloved home.Garland asked the composer, Hugh Martin to modify his original lyric, explaining it to be too depressing for her to sing, or the audience to hear. Martin's collaborator and friend, John Fricke, explains the importance this song had for the composer and the joy he experienced in hearing it covered by every major artist since, from Frank Sinatra to Chrissie Hynde, Punk band Fear to Cold Play, Rod Stewart to James Taylor.It's clear that the song's enduring power lies in a beautiful melody with a melancholic feel that sums up our emotional ambivalence to the Christmas season. We hear from those who have a special connection to the song.Soul Music is a series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal.Producer Lucy Lunt First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in December 2013.
24/12/1327m 29s

Brahms' German Requiem

How Brahms' German Requiem has touched and changed people’s lives.It was written as a tribute to his mother and designed to comfort the grieving,Stuart Perkins describes how the piece arrived at the right time in his life, after the death of his aunt.Axel Körner, Professor of Modern History at University College London, explains the genesis of the work and how the deaths of Brahms' friends and family contributed to the emotional power of the piece.Daniel Malis and Danica Buckley recall how the piece enabled them to cope with the trauma of the Boston marathon bombings.Simon Halsey, Chief Conductor of the Berlin Radio Choir, explores how Brahms' experience as a church musician enabled him to distil hundreds of years of musical history into this dramatic choral work.For Imani Mosley, the piece helped her through a traumatic time in hospital. Rosemary Sales sought solace in the physical power of Brahms' music after the death of her son. And June Noble recounts how the piece helped her find her voice and make her peace with her parents.Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impactProducer: Melvin RickarbyFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in December 2013.
17/12/1327m 37s

Can't Take My Eyes Off You

Few songs can claim to be - quite literally - as far reaching as the 1967 classic 'Can't Take My Eyes off You'. Former astronaut Christopher Ferguson heard this song as an early morning wake-up call aboard the space shuttle Endeavour. Mother of two, Michelle Noakes sang this classic piece to the baby she was told she may never be able to carry. A honeymoon couple recall how their marriage proposal began with a hundred strong 'flash mob' performance of this track.Singer Frankie Valli reflects on one of the most moving performances he ever gave when he sang 'Can't Take My Eyes off You' to a crowd of recently returned Vietnam Veterans. DJ Mark Radcliffe recalls the many artists since Valli who have covered this song (not least his mum who sang along to the Andy Williams version).Composer Bob Gaudio reveals how this piece of music began life in a room overlooking Central Park, with a melody originally penned for a children's nursery rhyme.Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impactProducer: Nicola HumphriesFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in December 2013.
12/12/1327m 35s

Gymnopédie No 1

From the seat of a concert hall piano, Pascal Rogé, one of the world's greatest interpreters of French piano music, leads us through a personal and musical journey of Erik Satie's Gymnopédies. You may not immediately know the title but in hearing just the first few notes you are most likely to know the music.Erik Satie's Gymnopédies are a collection of short, atmospheric pieces of which Gymnopédie No.1 is perhaps the most popular. Music historian and author Mark Prendergast has studied Satie's work and reveals the complex character of the man who revolutionised the 19th century classical music of Europe. Melbourne based artist Colin Duncan reflects on the music's 'physical form which takes you into space and time' and for him inspired a body of work created in braille. Murder Mystery writer Cathy Ace remembers how this meditative music could shut out the noise of the city as she sped around London in her old brown mini, whilst Mathematician and author Ian Stewart explores the mathematics of this special piece and how music can touch our soul.Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impactProducer: Nicola HumphriesFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in December 2013.
03/12/1327m 23s

Strange Fruit

"Southern trees bear a strange fruit, blood on the leaves and blood at the root..." Billie Holiday's famous song expresses the horror and anguish of those communities subjected to a campaign of lynching in the American South. Soul Music hears the stories of people whose relatives were lynched by white racists and of the various forms of grief, anger and reconciliation that have followed. These include the cousin of teenager Emmett Till, whose killing in 1955 for whistling at a white woman, added powerful impetus to the civil rights movement.Despite its association with the deep south, the song was actually composed in 1930's New York by a Jewish schoolteacher, Abel Meeropol. Meeropol adopted the children of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg after they were executed in 1953 as Soviet spies. One of those children, Robert, talks of his adopted father's humanity and his belief that the Rosenberg's were killed in a 'state sanctioned lynching by the American government'. For him, Strange Fruit is a comforting reminder of his adopted father's passionate belief in justice and compassion.Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact. Producer: Maggie AyreFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in November 2013.
26/11/1327m 42s

Elgar's Dream of Gerontius

How the choral work The Dream of Gerontius, by Edward Elgar, has touched and changed people's lives.For Terry Waite, it was the first piece of music he heard as a hostage in the Lebanon, after four years in solitary confinement.Writer and broadcaster Stephen Johnson describes how Elgar's own fragile emotional state is written into the music, which describes the journey taken by a dying man.Singer Catherine Wyn-Rogers explains how Elgar's music helped her come to terms with the loss of her parents.Martin Firth recalls a life-enhancing performance of the piece in Bristol cathedral.Jude Kelly, artistic director of the South Bank Centre, explains how she experienced the choir in this piece as a 'spiritual army' when she performed it at university.Martyn Marsh describes how the music brought him to a realisation about how he would like to end his days.And Robin Self recalls a life-changing performance of this piece, which enabled him to grieve for his son.Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact. Producer: Melvin RickarbyFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in July 2013.
02/08/1327m 37s

Don't Leave Me This Way

Don't Leave Me This Way was written in the early 1970s by songwriters Huff, Gamble and Gilbert who were the composers behind the famous black American Philadelphia Sound. It was first performed by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, featuring Teddy Pendergrass on lead vocals, and later became a hit for Thelma Houston and The Communards. As the title suggests, the song is all about longing, yearning and loss. Remarkable stories reflect the pain expressed in this soul classic, including one told by Dr Dan Gottlieb, a quadriplegic therapist who befriended Teddy Pendergrass after he became paralysed in a car accident. Sharon Wachsler recalls dancing to the version made famous by The Communards in 1986 before a devastating illness left her housebound and reliant on her beloved service dog Gadget, who gave her a reason to keep going. When he died, the song was the only way she could express her grief over his loss. The Reverend Richard Coles, formerly of The Communards, talks about the significance of Don't Leave Me This Way as a dancefloor anthem for young gay men in the 1980s that was later to become associated with the AIDS epidemic that took so many of their lives.Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impactProducer: Maggie AyreFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in July 2013.
25/07/1327m 24s

Make Me a Channel of Your Peace

The hymn 'Make Me a Channel of Your Peace' found its way into weddings, funerals and school assemblies and in this week's 'Soul Music' we hear how it has also embedded itself into the hearts of peace campaigners, charity workers and reformed alcoholics.The simplicity of this hymn often belies the challenges at its heart. Its lyrics call for unconditional love and forgiveness in the toughest situations. The words are based on a poem which has often been attributed to St Francis of Assisi. However, Franciscan Historian, Dr Christian Renoux, suggests it was most likely to have been written by an anonymous French noble women. The poem travelled across the globe with translations published during the first and second world wars, subsequently bringing inspiration to public figures ranging from Mother Theresa to President Roosevelt.In 1967 it caught the eye of South African born musician and 'yogi' Sebastian Temple who put these words to its most famous musical arrangement. It's Sebastian's version that was played at Princess Diana's funeral and that has also touched the hearts of millions worldwide.Mathew Neville of children's charity 'World Vision' recalls his encounter with this hymn in the Democratic Republic of Congo, whilst closer to home Wendy and Colin Parry share their memories of this music and the role it played in remembering their son Tim, who was killed in the 1993 Warrington Bombings. In Minnesota former lawyer Mike Donohue reflects on how this hymn has guided him on a journey through alcohol abuse and dementia and Sarah Hershberg remembers her good friend Sebastian Temple, who first played this simple hymn in her front room before it went on to travel the world.First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2013.
16/07/1327m 29s

Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez for Guitar

Written by Joaquin Rodrigo in 1939, the Concierto de Aranjuez is a guitar classic. He wrote it amid the chaos of the Spanish Civil War, and in circumstances of poverty and personal tragedy. How has it touched and changed people's lives? The composer's daughter Cecilia Rodrigo explains how the blind composer was inspired by the fountains and gardens of the palace of Aranjuez. Nelício Faria de Sales recounts an unforgettable performance deep inside one of Brazil's largest caves.David B Katague remembers how the piece got him through a difficult period of separation from his family in the Philippines.Guitarist Craig Ogden explains the magic of the piece for a performer, while actor Simon Callow recalls how hearing the piece was a formative experience for him during his schooldays, when it turned rural Berkshire into a piece of Spain.Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impactProducer: Melvin RickarbyFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in July 2013.
09/07/1327m 34s

Lili Marlene

Stories of love, loss and friendship through the Second World War favourite, Lili Marlene. She was made famous by Marlene Dietrich - with songs sung by soldiers on both sides.Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impactProducer: Maggie Ayre.First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in July 2013.
03/07/1327m 39s


Written by Elvis Costello and Clive Langer for Robert Wyatt, Shipbuilding was recorded in several versions by Elvis Costello himself, Suede, June Tabor, Hue and Cry, Tamsin Archer and The Unthanks.The blend of subtle lyrics and extraordinary music makes this a political song like no other. It transcends the particular circumstances of its writing: the Falklands War and the decline of British heavy industry, especially ship-building.Clive and Elvis describe how the song was written in 1982 and how legendary jazz trumpeter and flugelhorn player, Chet Baker, came to perform on Costello's version.Philosopher Richard Ashcroft wants the song, which he sees as a kind of secular hymn, played at his funeral because it gives a perfect expression of how he believes we should think about life. Not being able to feel the emotion of the song would, he feels, be like being morally tone-deaf. If you don't like this song, he'd find it hard to be your friend.The song's achingly beautiful final couplet about "diving for pearls" makes former MP Alan Johnson cry. It's also inspired an oral history and migrant integration project in Glasgow. Chris Gourley describes how the participants found a way to overcome their lack of English and communicate through a shared understanding of ship-building practice.Other contributors include Hopi Sen, a political blogger who was an unusually political child, and the Mercury Prize winning folk group The Unthanks. They toured their version to towns with ship-building connections as part of a live performance of a film tracing the history of British ship-building using archive footage.Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impactProducer: Natalie SteedFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in March 2013.
08/03/1327m 33s

Pergolesi's Stabat Mater

The Stabat Mater's imagines the sufferings of the Virgin Mary at the foot of the cross, and Pergolesi's 18th-century setting remains a choral favourite.Pam Self tells the moving story of how this piece unites her and her friend Helen Vaughan, both during life and after.Soprano Catherine Bott reflects on the piece's themes.The Stabat Mater has been reinterpreted many times over the years: Sasha Lazard recalls singing it in the school choir, before later taking the melody and transforming it into a dance version for her album 'The Myth of Red' rechristening it 'Stabat Mater IXXI' in the wake of the September 11th attacks.Victor Alcantara also sang it as a boy, before returning to the piece as an adult and transforming it into a jazz opus.Composer and Conductor Paul Spicer examines the musical tensions in the piece, likening its opening to "a heartbeat."Professor Anthony DelDonna recalls a performance of the Stabat Mater in his hometown of Naples, and reflects on the moment which reaffirmed his his faith.Producer: Toby FieldFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in February 2013.
26/02/1327m 34s

She Moved Through The Fair

The Irish traditional song She Moved Through The Fair is well loved and well recorded by many. To some it is a ghost story that tells of unfulfilled longings and of hopes and aspirations cut short. Sinead O' Connor and other fans talk about the haunting beauty of this ancient song and of why its imagery is carved into their souls.Featuring: Sinead O'Connor Catriona Crowe Bernie Warren David Johnston.Producer: Maggie AyreFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in February 2013.
19/02/1327m 54s

Beethoven's Fifth Symphony

More than just 'da da da dum': Beethoven's 5th Symphony is this week's Soul Music.It accompanied Sir Robin Knox-Johnston on the regular Bombay to Basra route he sailed during his early days in the Merchant Navy. Archaeologist and crime novelist, Dana Cameron, spent many a long day in a dark, lonely basement analysing artefacts from a merchant's house in Salem, Massachusetts. A CD player was often her only companion and Beethoven's 5th buoyed her through these arduous days working towards her PhDAnd for conductor, Christopher Gayford, it was the piece which provided a breakthrough in his musical life. Recalling the time he spent rehearsing it with the Sheffield Youth Orchestra - for a tour in East Germany - he describes the build up to one of the most memorable performances of his career.Producer: Karen GregorFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in February 2013.
12/02/1327m 34s

Peggy Lee's Is That All There Is?

‘Is That All There Is?’, a Leiber & Stoller song made famous by Peggy Lee, is based upon a short story by Thomas Mann called 'Disillusionment'. But those who know and love it feel it's inspirational rather than a cynical, world weary musical take on existentialism and the futility of life.‘Soul Music’ uncovers the compelling individual stories behind our collective love of music.Producer: Maggie AyreFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in February 2013.
08/02/1327m 41s

Bach's St Matthew Passion

Bach's St Matthew Passion was written in 1727 and was probably first performed as part of the Good Friday Service at Thomaskirche in Leipzig. This programme explores ways in which Bach's St Mattew Passion touches and changes people's lives. Guitarist Andrew Schulman describes what happened when he was played this music whilst he was in a coma. James Jacobs talks about the St Matthew Passion providing solace in difficult times during childhood. And singer Emma Kirkby, conductor Paul Spicer and musical historian Simon Heighes explore how the music works and what it's like to perform.Producer: Rosie Boulton.First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2012.
09/10/1227m 41s

Brothers in Arms

An exploration into the enduring appeal of the Dire Straits classic, Brothers in Arms.Although thought to have been written by Mark Knopfler in response to the Falklands war in the mid 1980's, it's a piece that people now associate with many other conflicts; military, personal and social.Bass player, John Illsley explains why it remains such a special piece for Dire Straits, while Marines chaplain, Nigel Beardsley, recalls the important part it's played in the lives of so many soldiers in Iran and Afghanistan and why it's now often heard at military funerals.Irish playwright, Sam Millar describes why he based a very personal play around the song and Snuffy Walden, music director of the hit American TV show, The West Wing, talks about how the series writer, Aaron Sorkin insisted on it being used in its entirety during a crucial episode.Professor Alan Moore of Surrey University explains how it's Knopfler's brilliant use of harmony that gives the song the sense of yearning that has made it into one of the most enduring pop songs of the last century.Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal.Producer: Lucy LuntFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in September 2012.
08/10/1227m 51s

The Skye Boat Song

The Skye Boat Song brings back a wealth of childhood memories for many.The words "Speed Bonnie Boat Like a Bird on the Wing" tell the story of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s escape to the Isle of Skye - dressed as a maid - after defeat at the battle of Culloden.Originally written by Sir Harold Boulton and Anne MacLeod back in the 1870's, we explore the song’s beauty and how it continues to touch people's lives across the world in very different ways.The Queen's Piper, who has played it in happy and sad times, recalls his rendition outside the Queen's window and leading Princess Margaret's cortege. A New Zealand artist shares his memories of time spent with his father, and the sound of him whistling the song on their way home as dusk fell. A sailor from the Isle of Skye, describes his connection with the spirituality of piece and the Loch on which he sails.Acclaimed violinist Tasmin Little shares her own arrangement of the piece and explains why it works so well musically. An Australian mum, tells how important this song has been in connecting with the two girls she has adopted from China. Gaelic singer Maggie MacInnes tells the history of the piece.Featuring music by Julian Lloyd Webber, The Corries and Pete Lashley.Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal.Producer: Rachel Matthews First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in September 2012.
08/10/1227m 43s

Beethoven's Violin Concerto

Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D major Opus 61 was written in 1806, but was not a success at its premiere. 200 years on and this Concerto is regarded as one of the greatest pieces ever written for the violin. Beethoven Violin Concerto has touched and shaped people's lives in many ways. Writer Kelly Cherry describes her father loving this piece and still remembering it even when he had Alzheimers. Violinist Robert Gupta talks about this piece being the music which cemented his friendship with Nathaniel Ayers - a moment which changed Robert's life. Joe Quigley remembers hearing the Concerto at a crucial point in his life whilst living in a monastery. Devorina Gamalova recalls being entranced by this music as a child. And violinist Christian Tetzlaff talks about what it's like to play the Beethoven Violin Concerto. Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal.Producer: Rosie Boulton.First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in September 2012.
08/10/1227m 51s

Dvorak's New World Symphony

While for many, it will be always associated with brown bread, the Largo from Dvorak's New World Symphony is an enduring a piece that never fails to move and inspire. Anti- apartheid campaigner Albie Sachs explains that through whistling the theme while in solitary confinement, he was able to make contact with the wider world and kept his spirit and hope alive.Margaret Caldicott recalls the important role the piece played in her mother's life while in a Japanese prisoner of war camp.Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal.Producer Lucy LuntFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in June 2012.
28/08/1227m 35s

The Hallelujah Chorus

The Hallelujah chorus from Handel's Messiah is stirring, emotional and unmistakable.The Alzheimer's Society runs a group called 'Singing for the Brain'. It's for people with dementia or Alzheimer’s and their carers who come together to sing in a group. As music is tied so closely to emotional memories, often lyrics and music remain firmly fixed in the brain, while other memories have died away.Julia Burton recalls the power of the Hallelujah Chorus, as performed at a special event by Singing for the Brain groups in Wiltshire and Dorset.Mrs Vera Fiton, whose late husband - Ted - had dementia talks about how important the weekly singing group was for both of them. Carol Pemberton, of the Birmingham-based a capella quintet 'Black Voices', took part in the reopening concert of Birmingham Town Hall in 2007. The programme director suggested they sing The Messiah, but not as Handel intended, rather a daring interpretation arranged by Quincy Jones, called the 'Soulful Messiah'. It's a soul/gospel version which has to be heard to be believed! Carol describes performing it as one of the biggest highs of her career to date.Jennifer Blakeley runs Alphabet Photography, a photo company based in Niagara Falls in Canada. She came up with the idea of staging a Flash Mob to promote her company. The Hallelujah Chorus had long been a favourite piece, and she - along with her local choir - set up a flash-mob in a local shopping mall. The result was emotional, extraordinary... and achieved so much more than the intended aim to boost her business. Even passers-by joined in., while others cried as emotions ran high. And the resulting You Tube video has now attracted over 37 million hits.Paul Spicer, composer, conductor and organist, describes the historical backdrop to Handel's exhilarating composition. Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal.First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in February 2012.
28/02/1227m 25s

Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien

The powerful song, Non, je ne regrette rien was made famous by Edith Piaf.Written in 1960 by Charles Dumont, in a fit of despair, he gave the music to lyricist Michel Vaucaire, but was surprised by the words he wrote. Dumont thought the song should be about war or revolution. Vaucaire explained he wanted to give the song to Edith Piaf. She was living in Paris at the time, having recently finished her 'suicide tour' during which she had collapsed. At that time, Piaf didn't think much of Charles Dumont and tried to cancel their appointment. But on hearing the song, Piaf told Dumont that with this song, she would sing again.Contributors include: * Charles Dumont who lives in Paris at the same apartment, with the same piano on which he wrote the song in 1960. He plays the song on the very same piano.* Lord Lamont, who became associated with the song when asked by a reporter which he regretted most - talking about the 'green shoots of recovery' or allegedly singing in the bath after the withdrawal of Britain from the Exchange Rate Mechanism. Lamont famously replied 'Je ne regrette rien.'* Christine Bovill, who tours a one-woman show about Piaf's life.* Carolyn Birke, biographer of Piaf.Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal.First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in February 2012.
21/02/1227m 18s

Rachmaninov, 2nd Piano Concerto

Rachmaninov's 2nd Piano Concerto - famously featured in David Lean's film "Brief Encounter" - is one of the world's most popular pieces of classical music. Some of its fans describe the way in which it has touched and shaped their lives. Featuring a pianist from Taiwan whose memories of a repressive childhood were dispelled by the emotions contained within this music. Plus a story from an acclaimed pianist from Argentina who was told she would never play the piano again after a serious car accident, but who has recently performed this piece in New York. And finally an account of the place that this piece of passionate and heartfelt music played in the life of John Peel and his family, told by his wife Sheila Ravenscroft. The concerto is also given historical and musical context by pianists Peter Donohoe and Howard Shelley.Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal.Producer: Rosie Boulton.First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in February 2012.
14/02/1227m 33s

Gresford, the Miners' Hymn

An exploration of the haunting melancholy of Gresford, the Miners' Hymn. Written by a former miner, Robert Saint, to commemorate the Gresford pit disaster in 1934, it has been played at mining events ever since. George Leslie Lister wrote the words in 1970.With the thoughts of Albert Rowlands who was working in the lamp-room of Gresford colliery when there was a devastating underground explosion. His father was among the men lost.Plus the composer's grandson, David Saint, organist at St. Chad's Cathedral in Birmingham. And Cecil Peacock, a former miner who recalls playing Gresford at the funerals of 83 miners who died following the Easington Colliery disaster in 1951. With thanks to Trevor Sutherland and the Llay Welfare band.Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appealProducer: Karen GregorFirst broadcast on Radio 4 in February 2012.
07/02/1227m 46s

Baker Street

Baker Street is Gerry Rafferty's glorious and instantly recognisable hit. It’s arguably the most popular track from his widely respected musical legacy. (Gerry sadly died aged just 63 in 2011) His daughter Martha Rafferty recalls hearing him develop the melody in the attic of their Glasgow home. His inspiration for the lyrics came from a book by Colin Wilson about the sense of disconnection from the world that artists often feel. Featuring: * Musician and founder member of Stealer's Wheel, Rab Noakes. * Singer-songwriter, Betsy Cook * Poet, Ian McMillan * Busker, Gavin Randle * Guitarist, Hugh BurnsMusic featured: An acoustic version of Baker Street is played especially for Soul Music by the Hugh Burns.The original demo of Baker Street, on which Gerry Rafferty plays the famous sax solo on guitar. Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal.Producer: Karen Gregor (whose first decision when starting work on this programme was to NOT mention the urban myth about Bob Holness and the saxophone riff!)First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in January 2012
31/01/1228m 0s

Let's Face the Music and Dance

Irving Berlin’s enduring classic, Let's Face the Music and Dance is celebrated by those for whom it has a special significance. It was written in 1932 as a dance number for the film ‘Follow the Fleet’ starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.Since then it has taken on a life of its own, being recorded by hundreds of artists including Diane Krall, Shirley Bassey, Frank Sinatra, Vera Lynn, Ella Fitzgerald and Matt Munroe.For Sir John Mortimer's widow, Penny, it conjures up the very essence of her husband, who loved life, romance and dancing - even though he was no Fred Astaire, a fact he always deeply regretted.Lawrence Bergreen, Berlin's biographer and academic Morris Dickstein explain why this song has such a unique place in popular culture. Cabaret singer and composer, Kit Hesketh Harvey explains why the melody continues to haunt us.We hear from the bride and groom who decided to dance down the aisle to it after their wedding and the redundant welder for whom the song will be forever associated with the demise of our ship building industry. An insurance executive recalls how the song became central to their advertising campaign, bringing success to the firm and also placing Nat King Cole's version back in the charts nearly 60 years after it was written.Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal.Producer: Lucy LuntFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in September 2011.
13/09/1127m 44s

Dear Lord and Father of Mankind

The words of one of our most loved hymns, Dear Lord and Father of Mankind, were taken from the last six verses of John Greenleaf Whittier's poem, The Brewing of Soma, an attack on ostentatious and overt religious practise. But it wasn't until over 50 years later, that a school teacher at Repton in Derbyshire had the inspiration to pair it with a tune by Sir Hubert Parry, thus confirming it as a favourite for assemblies, funerals and weddings. Repton’s former music director, John Bowley, explains how this happened, while composer and conductor Bob Chilcott explains why this was a musical marriage made in heaven.We hear from those for whom the hymn has special significance, including Gloucester MP, Richard Graham; when briefly imprisoned in a Libyan gaol in 1978 he found enormous comfort in the words and tune. Pipe Major Ross Munro remembers recording the piece in the sweltering heat of Basra with members of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards and film director Joe Wright recalls how the inclusion of this hymn was central to the power of his famous scene depicting the evacuation of Dunkirk in his film, Atonement.Contributors:John Bowley Richard Graham Ian Bradley Bob Chilcott Joan Lambley Ross Munro Richard Hoyes Joe WrightSeries exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal.Producer: Lucy LuntFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in September 2011.
06/09/1127m 48s

Spiegel im Spiegel

Exploring the impact that Estonian composer Arvo Pärt's Spiegel im Spiegel has had on people's lives.Written in 1978, just prior to his departure from Estonia, Arvo’s piece for piano and violin is musically minimal, yet produces a serene tranquillity.It's in F major in 6/4 time, with the piano playing rising crotchet triads and the violin playing slow scales, alternately rising and falling, of increasing length, which all end on the note A. The score of the piece looks deceptively simple, but as violinist, Tasmin Little explains, it's one of the most difficult pieces to perform because the playing has to simply be perfect, or the mood is lost."Spiegel im Spiegel" in German literally can mean both "mirror in the mirror" as well as "mirrors in the mirror", referring to the infinity of images produced by parallel plane mirrors.The music inspired visual artist Mary Husted to produce a set of collages called "Spiegel im Spiegel" which in a roundabout way, led to her being traced by her long lost son.Contributors:Doreen Macfarlane Rhona Smith Mary Husted Tasmin Little Vicky SmithSeries exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal.Producer: Rosie BoultonFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in August 2011.
30/08/1127m 41s

Wichita Lineman

Witchita Lineman is the ultimate country/pop crossover track - written by Jimmy Webb for the Country star Glen Campbell. Released in 1968, it tells the story of a lonely lineman in the American Midwest, travelling vast distances to mend power and telephone lines. The song has been covered many times, but Glen’s version remains the best-loved and most played.Johnny Cash also recorded an extraordinary and very raw version. Peter Lewry, a lifelong Cash fan, describes how it came about.David Crary is a lineman from Oklahoma, who recalls his reaction to the first time he heard the song. Meggean Ward's father was a lineman in Rhode Island. As a child she always felt it was written for him.Glen Campbell is also interviewed. Shortly after it was recorded, he went public about his diagnosis of Alzheimer's. His contribution is brief, but it includes an acoustic performance of the song. It was a privilege to record ‘down the line’. Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal.Producer: Karen Gregor.First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in August 2011.
23/08/1127m 44s

Mendelssohn's Octet

An exploration of the impact that Mendelssohn's Octet has had on different people's lives, demonstrating the healing power of music in a variety of situations around the world.Felix Mendelssohn wrote his Octet for double string quartet in 1825 aged just 16. Despite his youth, this is a mature and brilliant piece of music described by our interviewees as "carnivalesque", "a romp", "a party".Choreographer Bill T Jones describes the way in which the Octet showed his company how to keep living during the onslaught of AIDS in the 1980's. Cellist Raphael and violinist Elizabeth Wallfisch talk about falling in love whilst learning this music in the 1970's. South Korean Lisa Kim tells a story about going on tour with the New York Philharmonic to North Korea and her intense fear and mistrust being replaced by wonder when they played the Octet with a North Korean Quartet. And Matthew Trusler describes the importance of playing this work after the death of his son.The featured recording of the Mendelssohn Octet by the Emerson String Quartet on Deutsche Gramophon.Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal.Producer: Rosie BoultonFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in August 2011.
16/08/1127m 46s

Mahler's Adagietto

Gustav Mahler wrote his 5th Symphony during the summers of 1901 and 1902. The Adagietto is the 4th movement which is thought to have been inspired by falling in love with Alma who he married around this time. This single movement is the composer’s most well-known piece of music. It was famously used in the 1971 Luchino Visconti film Death in Venice. It was also conducted by Leonard Bernstein at the mass at St Patrick's Cathedral, New York on the day of the burial of Robert Kennedy. Composer David Matthews explains the significance of this piece in Mahler's output. Psychoanalyst Anthony Cantle describes listening to it with his mother during her last days of dementia.Malcolm Reid tells how this piece signified a change in himself as a young man in the British police force with narrow, racist views, to hearing it in Australia and shifting to becoming a liberal.And Helen Epstein explains why it was played at her mother's funeral.Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal.Producer: Rosie BoultonFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in March 2011.
29/03/1127m 41s

Schubert's Winterreise

Winterreise was written the year before Franz Schubert's death aged just 31, these 24 songs based on poems by Wilhelm Müller describe a journey that takes us ever deeper into the frozen landscape of the soul. Singers Thomas Hampson, Mark Padmore, Alice Coote and David Pisaro describe the experience of immersing themselves in this music. And Bernard Keefe tells of the time he sang these songs in Hiroshima to survivors of the bomb.Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal.Producer: Rosie BoultonFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in March 2011.
22/03/1127m 37s

The Impossible Dream

In this series that explores those pieces of music that never fail to move us, this week we feature, 'The Impossible Dream', a song that talks of the resilience of the human spirit. It tells the story of a quest and it's had a surprising journey of it's own. It was originally composed for the 1965 musical The Man of La Mancha which was inspired by Miguel de Cervantes story of Don Quixote. The music was written by Mitch Leigh and the lyrics by Joe Darion. Now in his 80's Leigh explains how his first writing partner was WH Auden and talks about why this particular piece struck a chord with African American friends at that time. Generations on, international Soprano Lesley Garrett recalls how this song inspired her childhood dreams in Doncaster, Yachtsman of the Year Geoff Holt talks about how this song carried him across the Atlantic on one of the most important voyages of his life and former advertising executive Rob Chew explains how this piece is helping him face lifes biggest challenge. Contributors: Geoff Holt Rob Chew Mitch Leigh Stuart Pedlar Lesley Garrett Producer: Nicola HumphriesFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2011.
15/03/1128m 1s

Simple Gifts

Simple Gifts started life as a Shaker Hymn and became incorporated into the hymn Lord of the Dance and Aaron Copland's ballet suite Appalachian Spring.Nora Guthrie describes the central place this tune has played throughout her life. Pete Lashley tells how he heard it unexpectedly whilst touring in New Zealand. Michael Carter explains why his father chose this tune for his famous hymn "Lord of the Dance" and Scott Malchus describes running a marathon whilst listening to this music.Featuring: Thomas Swain Michael Carter Nora Guthrie Scott Malchus Pete Lashley Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal.Producer: Rosie BoultonFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in August 2011.
08/03/1127m 56s

Mozart's Clarinet Quintet

Mozart's Clarinet Quintet was written in 1789, two years before the composer’s death. The first ever work for string quartet plus clarinet remains a firm favourite for music lovers around the world. Professor Paul Robertson describes how his wife played this piece to him whilst he lay in a coma. Clarinettist Peter Furniss tells of the solace the slow movement provided his mother as she lay dying. And Alex Smith explains the importance of this piece in his work to help children with autism, Asperger's, dyslexia and other childhood disorders. Featuring: Paul Robertson Peter Furniss Alex Smith John Playfair David Campbell Robin BatteauSeries exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal.Producer: Rosie BoultonFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in March 2011.
01/03/1127m 47s

The Emperor

Beethoven's fifth and final piano concerto, The Emperor is majestic and moving in equal measure.Richard McMahon plays extracts and discusses the virtuosic it demands. Australian film producer, Hal McElroy, talks about using the Adagio (the second movement) to illustrate the classic 1970s film Picnic at Hanging Rock. That was where Andrew Law – who was Chaplain at Malvern College - first heard the piece. He describes the Adagio as being 'one of those pieces of art which it is worth being alive to have heard'.Concert pianist, James Rhodes, describes how The Emperor was central to his childhood and his developing love of Beethoven's piano music. Music teacher and singer, Prue Hawthorne, recalls how her father (an amateur clarinetist) labouriously transcribed by hand the horn and clarinet sections of the first movement so they could play along with the record in their living room. Also contributing is the renowned Beethoven biographer, John Suchet.Concert pianist Richard McMahon has now retired as a teacher at the Royal Welsh School of Music and Drama.Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal.Producer: Karen GregorFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in October 2010.
05/10/1027m 51s

How Great Thou Art

An examination of the enduring popularity of the hymn, How Great Thou Art. Based on a Swedish poem by Carl Gustav Boberg, it was written by the British missionary Stuart Hine in 1949. It subsequently become an Elvis Presley classic and as the country and western star , Connie Smith explains, it's the piece she always sings to close her show, the stirring lyrics and soaring melody having the ability to move and inspire audiences of all ages and backgrounds.At the age of 101, George Beverly Shea shares his clear memories of singing it at hundreds of Billy Graham crusades.Featuring: Bud Boberg Ray Bodkin Bev Shea Jerry Schilling Malcolm Imhoff David Darg Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal.Producer: Lucy LuntFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in September 2010.
28/09/1027m 37s

Faure Requiem

"He wanted it to be something that's consoling and helpful. It's the end of their lives where they can rest in peace."World renowned choral conductor Sir David Willcocks, shares his personal reflections on the Faure Requiem alongside those for whom the music has comforted and inspired. Known for its peaceful and hopeful nature the Faure Requiem has been called 'The lullaby of death'. Whilst Gabriel Faure himself never spoke directly about what inspired his interpretation of the Requiem, author and biographer Jessica Duchen has speculated that it may have been born out of his experience as a soldier during the Franco-Prussian war. Featuring personal stories of conflict and deliverance shared from across the decades. Reaching from the beaches of Normandy to the plains of Afghanistan and into the skies of Salisbury.Faure composed the first version of the work, which he called "un petit Requiem" with five movements, of which the Pie Jesu and In Paradisum have become arguably the most popular."Everything I managed to entertain by way of religious illusion I put into my Requiem, which moreover is dominated from beginning to end by a very human feeling of faith in eternal rest."Featuring: David Willcocks Jessica Duchen Christina Schmid Paul Hawkins Ross MallockSeries exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal.Producer: Nicola HumphriesFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in September 2010.
21/09/1027m 52s

Ma Vlast

At the core of Czech cultural identity Bedrich Smetana’s Ma Vlast. Written in the late 19th century, it's a series of six symphonic poems. For a western audience the most popular and best loved is Vltava, a soundscape conjuring up vivid images of the river which runs through Prague.Jan Kaplan is a Czech born film-maker who has lived in the UK since 1968. He describes the 'educational concerts' he had to attend as a young boy when - bored to tears - he would endure long performances of Smetana's music. However, as an adult living in exile, his experience of Czech culture was tinged with a remote sense of patriotism and he grew to appreciate his national composer. When - following the 1989 Velvet revolution - he was eventually able to return home, he witnessed one of the most famous and moving performances of Ma Vlast at Smetana Hall in 1990. Also at that concert was musicologist, Professor Jan Smaczny, who describes his memories of that evening, and explains the history and mythology portrayed in Ma Vlast.Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal.Producer: Karen Gregor.First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in September 2010.
14/09/1027m 47s

Send in the Clowns

Stephen Sondheim's song, Send In the Clowns, from the musical 'A Little Night Music' was written late in rehearsals for the actress Glynis Johns, playing the part of Desiree. A song of regret and anger, the part has famously been played by Judi Dench, and the song became an independent hit, sung by Judy Collins, Shirley Bassey and Barbra Streisand. Hannah Waddingham played the youngest ever Desiree in Trevor Nunn's production, and used her memories of an unhappy relationship to inspire her performance.Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal.Producer: Sara Conkey.First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in September 2010.
07/09/1027m 54s

Bach's Goldberg Variations

Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal.Bach wrote his Goldberg Variations for harpsichord in the 1740s, but today it's performed by pianists all over the world. People describe the place these pieces have in their lives, including a neuroscientist from New York, pianist Angela Hewitt, a father driving his family through the night in the Australian Outback, and a woman from Oregon whose life was transformed, perhaps even saved, by this music.Produced by Sarah ConkeyFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2010.
23/03/1027m 40s

He's Got the Whole World in His Hands

Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal.He's Got the Whole World in His Hands is a spiritual song originating in the United States, but it first caught the public's attention when Laurie London took it to the top of the charts in 1958. In this programme, people describe the place that the song has in their lives. Including the conductor of a choir for refugees and asylum seekers and the minister who led prayers on President Obama's first day in office.The programme also includes a performance from Washington Performing Arts Society's Children of the Gospel Choir. They sang an arrangement of He's Got the Whole World in His Hands made by their conductor and Artistic Director Stanley J Thurston at the National Prayer Service at the Washington National Cathedral on January 21, 2009. President Barack Obama, Vice President Joseph Biden and their families attended this service and the sermon was given by the Reverend Sharon E Watkins.Contributors: John Copley Ian Bradley Amy Mclean Philip Wright Sharon Watkins Mike McGrother First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2010.
16/03/1027m 28s

Dido's Lament

Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal.Dido's Lament is a popular name for a famous aria, 'When I am laid in earth', from the opera Dido and Aeneas by Henry Purcell, with the libretto by Nahum Tate. Mezzo soprano Sarah Connolly talks about why she finds the piece, sung by the likes of Janet Baker and Emma Kirkby, so extraordinary, and the skill it takes to perform it. Composer and cellist Philip Shepperd's musical life was transformed when he was part of the rock singer Jeff Buckley's performance of the piece at the 1995 Meltdown Festival.Contributors: Alison Moyet Sarah Connolly Jeremy summerly Graham Jones Sheryl Sarnet Nicholas Witchell Philip Sheppard First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2010.
09/03/1027m 48s

Mendelssohn Violin Concerto

Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal.When Mendelssohn wrote his Violin Concerto in 1844 he could hardly have imagined how famous and well loved it would become. In this programme, people tell how it has played an important part in their lives. Violinist Daniel Hope tells how he got caught practising this concerto secretly locked in the bathroom at school. Harry Atterbury remembers hearing the Mendelssohn for the first time on the night before a Second world War air raid which turned his life upside down. Composer Stephen Pratt describes discovering that his father had played this concerto to cheer fellow soldiers in the jungle in Burma, and explains how this inspired him to write his own violin concerto.To find out more about Stephen Pratt's Violin Concerto, go to: The recording of the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto featured in this programme was by violinist Maxim Vengerov with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra conducted by Kurt Masur. Teldec 4509-90875-2.First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2010.
02/03/1027m 57s

Praise My Soul

Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal.Based on Psalm 103, this hymn was written by Henry Francis Lyte, who also penned Abide With Me, and is most asssociated with the tune by John Goss - even though the two men never met. Their hymn has become one of the most popular for weddings, and was used at those of the Queen and Prince Philip and Charles and Camilla. Increasingly it is also used at funerals, and the widow of DC Stephen Oake, killed while on duty during an anti-terrorist raid, explains why it's so important to her and her family. It's also the perfect tune for teaching young choristers to sight read music, although these days they often misplace the comma in the line, 'Father like, he tends and spares us'.Contributors John Ridyard Lesley Jenkins Ian Bradley Gordon Giles Daniel Hyde Rob White John Ganjavi Gillian WarsonFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2010.
23/02/1027m 42s

Richard Strauss' Four Last Songs

Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal. Richard Strauss was 84 when he completed his last work. It was the Four Last Songs, which, although about death, convey a sense of calm acceptance. It was written of its time in 1948, but it still touches the hearts of many listeners today. As the soprano voice delves ever deeper into the richness of the music, interviewees tell how the Four Last Songs have brought calm and beauty at key moments in their lives.Contributors Alan Yentob Michael Kennedy Gillian Weir Margaret Nelson Jamie Nichols Gabe Meline First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2009.
29/09/0927m 32s

You've Got a Friend

Written by Carole King and made famous by James Taylor, You've Got a Friend won a Grammy Award in 1971. In this programme people tell how this song has affected their lives. Contributors:Carole King Nick Barraclough Marcella Erskine Estelle Williams Karen Garner James Taylor Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal. Producer: Terry CarterFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in September 2009.
22/09/0927m 25s

Vaughan Williams' Fantasia on a Theme, by Thomas Tallis

Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal. Fantasia on a theme by Thomas TallisWhen Vaughan Williams wrote his Tallis Fantasia in 1910, he changed the course of British music. Here at last was a piece of music which was no longer under the Teutonic influence, but which drew on old English hymn tunes and folk idioms for its themes. As the string music builds to a climax, interviewees tell how this music has brought solace and hope in times of tragedy and changed the course of their lives.When composers Herbert Howells and Ivor Gurney heard the premiere of Vaughan Williams' Tallis Fantasia in Gloucester Cathedral in 1910, it's said that they walked the streets of Gloucester all night because of the sheer excitement of possibility that this new piece had awakened in them.This programme tells how the beauty and richness of Vaughan Williams' Tallis Fantasia awakened a life long love of classical music in a nine year old boy at bedtime; how it served as comfort for an artist in despair and how it brought solace to a grieving fatherContributors: Michael Kennedy Ian Clarke EM Marshall Rolf Jordan Peter Phillips Harry Atterbury Colin WoodProducer: Rosie BoultonFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2009.
15/09/0927m 35s

The Look of Love

Hal David discusses writing The Look of Love with Burt Bacharach, for the soundtrack of the spoof 1967 James Bond film Casino Royale. This classic track, sung by Dusty Springfield, provided the musical backdrop for a love scene between Peter Sellers and Ursula Andress.Dusty Springfield's former backing singer, Simon Bell, remembers being on stage at the Albert Hall when Dusty laughed her way through a performance of the song, and musician Jonathan Cohen describes how the samba rhythm underscoring Dusty's smooth vocals combine to make this an enduringly popular love song.It has been covered many times by artists including Isaac Hayes, Gladys Knight and the French singer Mirielle Mathieu. This programme hears from people whose personal memories of love and loss are forever linked with The Look of Love.Contributors:Sue Clarke Wally Welling Simon Bell Trevor Foster Jonathan Cohen Hal David Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal. Producer: Karen GregorFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2010.
08/09/0927m 57s

Allegri's Miserere

Allegri wrote the chord sequence for his Miserere in the 1630s for use in the Sistine Chapel during Holy Week. It then went through the hands of a 12-year-old Mozart, Mendelssohn and Liszt until it finally reached England in the early 20th century and got fixed into the version we know today.The soaring soprano line that hits the famous top C and never fails to thrill has become a firm favourite for concert audiences around the world. Textile designer Kaffe Fassett, writer Sarah Manguso and conductor Roy Goodman explain how they have all been deeply affected by this beautiful piece of music.With Peter Phillips.Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal. Producer: Rosie BoultonFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in September 2009.
01/09/0927m 28s

What a Wonderful World

Louis Armstrong recorded the classic 'What a Wonderful World' in 1967, amidst civil rights demonstrations and protests against the Vietnam War. It was a song written for him. Was it naïve or a powerful anthem for peace?Featuring: Prof. Peter Ling Laurence Bergreen Simon Weston Katie Melua Troy Andrews Milan Bertosa Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal.Producer: Sara ConkeyFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in October 2008.
14/10/0827m 36s

Chopin's Ballade No 1 in G Minor

Chopin's Ballade clearly tells a story, and yet that story differs for each person who hears or plays it. Pianist Peter Donohoe heads a cast of people whose lives have been shaped and changed by hearing and playing this technically demanding, emotionally turbulent piece of music.Featuring: Peter Donohoe Pete Rosskamm Edi Bilimoria Richard Bielecki Andrew Armstrong Dr Jay B. Hess Joshua WrightSeries exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal.Producer: Rosie BoultonFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in October 2008.
07/10/0827m 36s

So What

On 2nd March 1959, Miles Davis and his sextet began recording a new album: "Kind of Blue". The first track was "So What" and the album became the best selling Jazz album of all time. This programme tells the stories of people whose lives have been changed by this piece of music.Featuring: Clemency Burton-Hill Jonathan Eno Estelle Kokot Ashley Kahn Dr Richard Niles Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal.Producer: Rosa Boulton First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in September 2008.
30/09/0827m 39s

Swan Lake

Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake is based on a children's show he wrote for his nephews and nieces. Discover the story behind the famous ballet And what is the impact on those who hear it and dance to it? Featuring: Dr. Elena Denzhkina-Campbell Dr. Margaret Reynolds Tom Conlon John Warrack Francesca Allen Jane Hackett Barbara Hughes Sir Roy Strong Matthew Drury, piano Marion Tait Gaylene Cummerfield Matthew Lawrence Scott AmblerSeries about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impactProducer: Sarah ConkeyFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in September 2008.
23/09/0827m 13s

Spem in Alium

Thomas Tallis's work is one of the most elaborate and spectacular pieces of choral music ever written. Scored for 40 voices, the piece is best sung and heard in the round in order to appreciate an extraordinary sonic experience. Choral conductor Simon Halsey and Michael Morpurgo discuss the music's spine-tingling effect on both performers and listeners.Featuring: Graeme Fife John Davies Clive Stafford-SmithSeries about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact.Producers: Rosie Boulton & Melvin RickarbyFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in January 2008.
29/01/0827m 48s

Tainted Love

Originally a Motown song written by Ed Cobb and recorded by Gloria Jones, Tainted Love became famous on the UK's Northern Soul scene in the late 1970s. It was heard by Marc Almond and Dave Ball who later became Soft Cell, and recorded a classic version. Featuring: Mark Ravenhill Peter Christopherson Ray Harris Russ Winstanley Alan King Dave Ball Mike Thorne Danny McNamara Nev FountainSeries about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact.Producer: Sara Conkey First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in January 2008.
22/01/0827m 46s


Jean Sibelius's glorious orchestral work was adopted by the Finnish people as a symbol of its fight for independence from Russia, and well over 100 years later it is still regarded as Finland's second national anthem. Its popularity is international, both in orchestral form and also in shorter form as the Finlandia Hymn. Featuring Sibelius's great-grandson Jaakko Ilves and conductor John Storgards.Series about music that makes the hairs stand up on the back of our necks.Producer: Karen GregorFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in January 2008.
15/01/0827m 25s

New York, New York

Andrew Collins and Mark Shenton present the story behind the classic song New York, New York. Songwriting duo John Kander and Fred Ebb wrote the title song for the film. Unfortunately, the star Robert de Niro didn't like it, so they furiously wrote another one.John Kander talks about the story behind the classic song.Featuring: Lorrena Turner Michael Freedland Huw Madoc-Jones Terry Bennett Alun Howells Gareth Valentine John Kander Patrick Sasso Rosemary WattsSeries about music that makes the hairs stand up on the back of our necks.Producer: Sara ConkeyFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in January 2008.
08/01/0827m 36s
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