Tag Archives: radio

So THAT’S what the song is all about.

Phil: Last week, Candice was blogging about one of her earliest favourite albums – Phil Collins “No Jacket Required” and by coincidence, I was listing to a show on the radio about one of mine.

1985 saw the release of Suzanne Vega’s eponymous first album and to promote it, the first single “Marlene on the Wall” enjoyed heavy rotation on Radio 1. What I should have done is rushed out and bought the album, but in those days, my local library loaned proper vinyl albums out so I simply borrowed it and made a tape using my sisters record player and the tape recorder I used for my ZX Spectrum. Obviously this is bad so don’t do it kids. As they said at the time, “Home taping is killing music” even if the phrase “It tapes tapes” appeared on every stereo system in my mum’s catalogues at the time.

Anyway, while I liked the songs and the imagery, the inspiration for the lyrics was always a bit of a mystery. Until I heard Johnnie Walker’s Long Players last week. The program covered the album track by track with explanations of each from Vega.

Much of it was slightly disappointing, stuff about songs being something to do with whoever she was dating at the time but for pure weirdness, the track “Small Blue Thing” wins.

Inspiration struck when she saw the blue doorknob in a boyfriends apartment. In the centre of the knob (stop sniggering at the back) was the image of a blue eyeball. All of which inspired the opening lines:

Today I am
A small blue thing
Like a marble
Or an eye

Utter barking mad, but oddly, still sounds good today.

So, songwriter, get down to the ironmonger’s for your next hit. It just shows, ideas can come from anywhere.

Mind you, if you think this is oddball, I’m working out how to shoehorn a Lieutenant Pigeon joke into our latest book just to see if anyone spots it…

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Phil, Writing

Grab your marketing opportunities

VFPhil: On Tuesday, spring had sprung, the sun rose early in the morning and the daylight had woken me up. Flipping the radio on I listened dozily to Venessa Feltz. She was looking at the story of a Big Issue seller who had married one of his customers. In an effort to generate some feedback, the question, “How did you meet your partner or one of your friends?” was asked.

Team NolanParker have always felt that the way we met (quango, redundancy) makes a useful handle to hang a story on.

For many minutes I pondered doing something about it. Lounging half awake in the warm, only the thought that I’d regret not grabbing this opportunity made me sit up and grab the tablet.

A few minutes later I’d fired off an e-mail:

I met my friend Candice while working for a quango. When it was closed down we found ourselves having to go to the office while things were wrapped up but had no work to do.

Somehow we discovered a shared passion for writing and 5 years later our novel “Kate vs the Dirtboffins” has been published!

We’re appearing at Stratford literary festival next month – who would have thought something good could come out of losing your job?

Not a long story but enough for a dozy person to type on a tablet computer. I didn’t really expect anything to come of it but in the run up to the 6am news, the letter was read out verbatim!

You can hear it here, 58 minutes in.

Now Candice might consider Radio 2 unfashionable, but then she buys clothes in Marks & Spencer so I no longer think she is entirely reliable on matters cool. Even she was impressed with my guerilla marketing though. What I didn’t know at the time was that the name of our book will have been heard by over 3 million people. Not bad!

OK, so I don’t suppose this will result in a rush of sales. At that time of the day you’re half asleep or doing something useful, but you never know. Maybe a major Hollywood film producer was listening and can’t get the title out of his mind now. Maybe it will be the start of something big. Or maybe I just need to be chuffed that I bagged a bit of coverage while not fully conscious.

If I can do that though, what can I do when I wake up properly?

1 Comment

Filed under Phil, Writing

It’s a business Berkoff

Steven Berkoff - Click on the image to visit his website stevenberkoff.comPhil: Sat on the M1 yesterday, I had the chance to listen to Steven Berkoff plugging his new books.

I’m no expert on celebrity and a bit light on the sort of magazines that could fill in his background but fortunately, Practical Classics tells me that he appeared in an episode of The Professionals called “A Mann Called Quinn” so I know he’s an actor.

Anyway, Berkoff has embraced the world of self-publishing and you can buy the new books on Amazon. It seems that his publishers have quite unreasonably decided that as his previous literary efforts haven’t made any money, they don’t want to publish any more of them. The great author isn’t impressed by this – writers should be treated like rare fruit and delicately nurtured. Never mind your boring business considerations, once you are on the roster, the publishers role is to gently stroke the ego of their charge like a mad old lady fuses each of her collection of pussies.

I’d love to think this is the truth and, if any potential publishers are reading, team NolanParker very happy to be on the end of this sort of cosseting, but we know that’s not how it works.

Publishing is a business. You sell books or the harsh economic winds will be blowing around your ankles as you stand outside your boarded up offices holding a box containing the contents of your desk. No matter how much we rail against Tess Daly being skipping from writing “Once upon a time” to being published to Hollywood film in 6 weeks (Grrrr), it’s a harsh fact of life that she will shift more units than a pair of brilliant but largely unknown writers.

In a way, it’s great news for the world of self publishing that “names” are dipping their toes in the water. Maybe this will reduce the stigma associated with bypassing the traditional methods of getting in to print. How long will it be before someone with a massive media profile goes for it? After all, if your phone is full of the numbers for TV people and the editors of the national press, why not take ALL the money from your work? Maybe this is what Berkoff is doing…

1 Comment

Filed under Phil, Publishing

Summer madness

Will Smith. Yes. He really looks like this. Everything else is airbrushing.Phil: Yesterday the Nolan and I sat in a pub garden chatting in the sunshine. Today we would be inside where it’s warm and not wet. You may mourn the end of summer, but I don’t for one simple reason:

Will Smith.

Any time the sun comes out in Great Britain, every DJ on the radio breaks into his or her summer records box. Top of the list is always “Summertime” by Will “Fresh Prince” Smith.

Imagine the scene. The clouds part. Sunbeams stream forth and bathe the ground with delicious warmth. Somewhere in the distance a radio is playing. The moment the first photons bounce off the slowly drying grass we hear “Drums Please….”

Followed by a howl of pain and the channel being changed. It’s no use. Even Radio 4 is playing the bloody record.

It’s not just the ubiquity. The lyrics annoy the hell out of me. As a writer, all I can see is holes in the timeline. The third verse (with my “issues” marked in red )runs as follows:

it’s late in the day and I ain’t been on the court yet
hustle to the mall to get me a short set
yeah I got on sneaks but I need a new pair
cause basketball courts in the summer got girls there
(that should be ‘cos shouldn’t it. Please try harder)
the temperature’s about 88
hop in the water plug just for old times sake
break to ya crib change your clothes once more
cause you’re invited to a barbeque that’s starting at 4
(4 ? I thought it was “Late in the day” before you went to the mall and jumped in the plug then changed your clothes. Doesn’t sound late to me.)
sitting with your friends cause y’all remincise
(‘cos again. Pay attention Smith)
about the days growing up and the first person you kiss
and as I think back makes me wonder how
the smell from a grill could spark up nostalgia
all the kids playing out front
little boys messin round with the girls playing double-dutch
while the DJ’s spinning a tune as the old folks dance at your family reunion
(your family BBQ has a DJ ? How posh is that ? What’s wrong with the radio. Oh yes, it’s playing Summetime)
then six o’clock rolls around
you just finished wiping your car down
(Didn’t stay long at the BBQ did you ? Takes me an hour to wash the car properly. More if I wax it AND clean the inside. Sounds like someone jumped the queue, nicked a couple of burgers and wolfed them down. Probably got ketchup all over his shirt front.)
it’s time to cruise so you head to the summertime hangout
it looks like a car show
(You’re hanging around a car park ? How sweet. Do you also loiter outside off licences trying to persuade grown-ups to buy you cider ?)
everybody come lookin real fine
fresh from the barber shop or fly from the beauty salon
(When did you do that ? I reckon looking fly from the beauty salon is going to take at least a couple of hours. When I get my hair cut it’s twenty minutes and the only style I request is “shorter”. Why do you want to look fly anyway ? I saw that film with Jeff Goldblum and can’t see many people wanting a bit of that look.)
every moment frontin and maxin
chillin in the car they spent all day waxin
(No they didn’t. Not if they have been to the barbers, JD Sports and a BBQ. They probably dropped it off at one of those dodgy hand car wash places)
leanin to the side but you can’t speed through
Two miles an hour so everybody sees you
there’s an air of love and of happiness
and this is the Fresh Prince’s new defintion of summer madness

I know what you’re thinking. It’s the third verse so you can’t expect greatness. Even the national anthem has descended into stuff about crushing rebellious Scots by this point (technically verse 4 but since the anthem doesn’t, unlike Summertime, have a chorus, we are about the same point in the song).  I don’t care. Will Smith has earned more in PRS fees for this one song than the GDP of Peru so he could reasonably have been expected to put in a full days work on the writing.

Despite this, we get the same tune every time it stops raining, not the far superior song of the same name from Porgy and Bess. Now THAT is the Phil Parker’s definition of summer madness

1 Comment

Filed under Phil, Writing