As you’d expect from a guy who’s spent most of his adult life scribbling words down in various formats, my taste in what used to be called Rock and Pop (and still is in some of those rare beasts we used to call record shops) tends towards the lyrical. If I was asked, off the top of my head, to list my favourite artists over the past few decades, it would probably run something like:
BobDylanBruceSpringsteenElvisCostelloNickLoweSuzanneVegaStoneRosesReginaSpektorJasonIsbellCoryBranan… (continue ad nauseam)
In other words, a lot of songwriters noted for their words as much as their music. More, by the way, on the last of those two, in a future post.
However, if you asked me to name my favourite all time song, whilst those guys (and yes, I do note they’re mostly guys) would feature strongly, others might include ‘Go Your Own Way,’ by Fleetwood Mac. Best lyrics ever? Hardly. Despite it being a definite contender for my favourite song ever, I couldn’t sing you it – there’s something about shacking up which apparently continues to annoy Stevie Nicks, (yes, this was Lindsay Buckingham’s break up song about their relationship that she’s since had to do backing vocals to, more or less continuously, ever since) and then the chorus: ‘You can go your own wayyyyy, go your own way…’ etc. And that fretboard-melting guitar solo.
But I’m also a sucker for a piano-led tune with a soulful female voice. Two from ‘Tapestry,’ as written and sung by Carole King, would be ‘Natural Woman,’ and ‘Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow’ – and yes, I mean her versions. The lyrics are deceptively simple, direct, and personal – and, allied to stunning vocal performances and a great understated arrangement, they get me every time. Which brings me to Callaghan.
I can’t remember exactly how I first heard this British-based but frequently US touring singer: it was through one or other form of social media. Inevitably, there was a free EP to be had, and the song I’ve linked in below was on it: ‘Green Eyes.’ The lyrics are simple,and direct, about someone with green eyes. That works for me: both my wife and daughter have green eyes, so depending on my mood and circumstances, the words can mean different things to me. But, as with Carole King, it’s the music that moves me more.
First off, it’s Callaghan, and that gorgeous voice of hers, accompanying herself on the piano. It’s a great melody, and then the music builds: at a crucial point, the Hammond B3 takes it to church with that spiralling, gospelly chorus, and finally the guitarist brings it on home with a solo so good you could swear he’s has been touched by the guitar-playing hand of an angel. The first time I heard it, I thought it must be a studio crafted track, right up until the applause started at the end, the band is so tight.
And the best news? I missed Callaghan last time she came past, but this time, I’m going to see her, at Edinburgh’s Voodoo Rooms, on Sunday. I cannot wait: and the good news is, there are tickets left, there and elsewhere on her tour.
I just hope she plays this song.