Q&A October, Part II
11/12/2010 (updated 11/12/2010)

"Nearly in Love" has always been a special favourite of mine (along with many others from your wonderful repertoire - you should be very proud of what you've achieved).

The lyrics wobble from wry to hilarious - together with "Valerie" it makes a great sock-pow of humour to balance your more, um, sombre work. I also think it's a really pretty tune. A terrific pop song!

But it doesn't seem to crop up on any compilations, apart from one live album, or set lists, and never seems to get a mention in any reviews or discussion pages.

I guess it's a bit tiresome being asked what you think of particular songs (and in many ways the artist's opinion is the least important - it's the listener's that matters most, I suppose), but how do you rate it? - Peter Farrell, Adelaide, Australia

We play it live sometimes in band shows, although not for the last 5 years or so. I would play it solo, but I’m still hunting for the right tuning to get the riff ringing out properly.

As a child I had a horrible stammer and recently read that you had one as well. Out of curiousity, did you naturally grow out of it like I did once my mouth caught up to my brain or did you have therapy? Do you also find your stammer was an unexpected benefit in life as you had to likely listen and observe more than verbally communicate? Finally, were you ever wrongly perceived as a dunce because you were unable to verbally express yourself? Dan Niagara falls, Canada

I never grew out of it. I had therapy as a child, but it didn’t help much. Kids can be very cruel when you’re trying to stammer out a sentence, which just makes it worse. I agree that it forces you to become more of a watcher and listener, which helps as a songwriter. I wasn’t a victim of the dunce thing. I still have problems with certain letters, particularly people’s names that begin with ‘D’ and ‘N’. The worst for me is the telephone, and particularly trying to do live interviews over the phone for the radio – aarrgghh!

A few years back I paid the INA website 6 euros for an excellent download of Pop Deux - the second half of the programme was Fairport Convention live in Paris 1970 - it's truly excellent. Some fairly obvious dubbed clapping at the end of each track, so I suspect a TV shoot with no audience. Do you have any memories? Can it ever be released - it's now part of the show that is not available to even view. Marshall

I remember doing it. There was a live audience of some very confused people – I don’t think British Trad-Rock had hit Paris yet – so maybe they had to beef up the applause. I’m thinking this was at the Olympia? The TV company would own the rights, so it’s up to them whether it’s something to be released.

Perhaps an odd question - but have you thought about publishing the Q&As? There is a lot of fascinating stuff, usually far more in depth than the average journo pieces (though to be fair I thought the recent piece in the Word was very good). As someone who's had a couple of Qs answered in the past I know it's a thrill to have that answer (yes we're quite sad out here!), and I for one would be happy to buy the 'book of the Q&As'. Indeed - you could probably fund it from subscriptions, ie pre-orders. That used to be a very common way of funding print runs in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and I think it does still happen sometimes on private publications. What do you think?

Looking forward to seeing you with Phil Pickett (which was one of my questions you answered!). All best wishes, Graham Keevill

An interesting idea. We could see if it would be popular enough to publish.

Two questions from someone with little knowledge of the music industry or songwriting & arranging

I know from a previous Q&A that you are no fan of bonus tracks on re-released discs. A lot of your old stuff (& Fairport stuff) is coming out with bonus tracks & I believe you said in an interview that you have no control over their inclusion. When you say that, I presume you mean no control over what your old record companies release but that you are still compensated under the royalty regime or whatever.

Yes, no control over what gets released. I think there would be compensation, although most record companies only pay you for so many tracks – usually 12, which makes sense, otherwise everyone would put the maximum number on every record.

I’ve seen you twice live with a band & safe to say you usually “beef up” songs in the live setting – extra guitar solos, etc. Did the live recording of Dream Attic affect your arrangement of the songs i.e. did you, in effect, beef them up from the get-go. Or, to put it another way, had you recorded the disc with the band in a studio, do you think the whole affair might have been a little less – can’t find the right word here – intense? Thanks. Brian Hayes, Ottawa ON

Tracks may have been shorter on a studio recording, as you suggest. It’s hard for me to think that way round, because it didn’t happen.