Comments to Your Queries - Part II

I just bought an Anne Briggs CD, with an epic novel masquerading as a booklet which quoted you as having met her twice - Briggs being unconscious on both occasions. Are there any other musicians you admire who you'd particularly like to have met but never got the chance?

I suppose mostly those generations that I just missed. Richard Farina, Maria Callas, Enoch Kent, Billy Pigg, Shostokovich, Jeannie Robertson, Marilyn Monroe, Truman Capote, etc. Sorry, some of those aren’t musicians.

What was the first song you learned to play on the guitar?

I thought no-one would ever ask. Like so many of my generation, I started with Bert Weedon’s ‘Play In A Day’ tuition course, and I actually could play ‘Bobby Shaftoe’ (page 3) after a couple of hours. Thank you, Bert!

Which football team do you support? (I've always assumed Arsenal or Spurs).

Celtic is one of the ‘family’ teams, the other is Queen of the South. I’m not thrilled with Celtic at the moment, even though they’re streaking away with the title. Strachan is not my idea of a great replacement for Martin O’Neill, and I’m pretty bored with the SPL. Queens are finding life a little too rich in the Scottish First Division. I don’t really support a Premier League team, but I’ll enjoy anyone showing good form, including Teddy’s team (Liverpool) and my youngest’s team (Chelsea). I’ve enjoyed a lot of football this season from Bolton, Wigan, Spurs, West Ham – and many others. Best I’ve seen is Barcelona, no question. I also keep an eye on Shrewsbury, currently coached by my friend Mick Wadsworth, and lying safely in mid-table in League Two.

As a budding songwriter myself I find it relatively easy to come up with lyrics and chord progressions that I like, but much more difficult to bridge the two with a good melody - how do you approach that side of things yourself? Is it fairly intuitive or do you have any suggestions for us amateurs?

Woody Guthrie had a great suggestion for tunes. He proposed simply taking someone else’s tune and tweaking it a bit, until it’s yours. Bertholt Brecht used to kind of grunt his lyrics at Kurt Weill, so that he could get the rhythm and the intention, and then Weill would imagine the tune from that. Walking is good, some kind of rhythmic activity, where you can be reciting at the same time, and at a certain point, a melody may emerge. If the lyrics are dense, you don’t need much of a tune anyway – one note may suffice! (Stuck inside of Mobile with the Memphis blues again!)