Coles Corner

This, from Richard Hawley, just seems appropriate this morning.

Hold back the night from us
Cherish the light for us
Don’t let the shadows hold back the dawn

Cold city lights glowing
The traffic of life is flowing
Out over the rivers and on into dark

I’m going downtown where there’s music
I’m going where voices fill the air
Maybe there’s someone waiting for me
With a smile and a flower in her hair


Because I’m addicted to his Made in Sheffield album at the moment, please enjoy some more Tony Christie as he covers the Human League’s 1984 Top 20 hit Louise, complete with Richard Hawley on piano, several gratuitous candles and a trumpet that could only be straight out of South Yorkshire.

For the original, featuring a monochromatic canal boat – youtube is your friend.

Chasing the sun with Tony Christie

Because of the timing of the flights on my recent trip up to Durban, coupled with the relative geographical positions of that city and Cape Town and with the addition of a pinch of the turning of the earth, I found myself chasing the sunrise east on the flight out and chasing the sunset back home on the flight back. Needless to say, our pursuit was rather fruitless last night and so we gave up when we reached Cape Town airport, but we tracked down the sunrise on Wednesday morning with no difficulty. It was almost as if it wanted to be caught.

And all the while, I was enjoying something very chilled on the iPod: Tony Christie’s Made in Sheffield, in which Christie covers songs written and previously performed by Sheffield artists and bands such as Richard Hawley, Arctic Monkeys, Pulp, Human League and others.
And while you can listen to Christie’s wonderful cover of
The Only Ones Who Know via that link to  the album review above, here’s Alex Turner singing an (almost) equally relaxed version with Richard Hawley at the Union Chapel in Islington.

Christie’s gentle pub crooner/swing/jazz style didn’t seem wholly appropriate as we set off, but it soon became apparent that it was the perfect accompaniment for gazing out of the window at South Africa beneath me. And ironically, it probably prevented me from smashing the aggravating bloke sitting next to me in the face, South Yorkshire style.

How did I miss Richard Hawley?

One of the most difficult things about emigrating is keeping up with things back home. Sure, you want to embrace the new lifestyle and the culture of your new home, but that doesn’t mean that you should completely lose touch with the land of your birth.

And thus, when I find myself watching Sky News and finding out about a musician I’ve never heard of – the surprise nominee for the Best Solo Male at the upcoming BRIT Awards – and he’s from Sheffield, I know I’m letting it slip a bit.

Richard Hawley is 41 years old* and has been working in music for years as a session musician for the likes of REM, Gwen Stafani, Nancy Sinatra, All Saints and Arctic Monkeys.
His first solo album came out in 2000 – long before I left the UK, but he’s achieved little commercial success. His albums to date have all had a Sheffield reference to them, including his 2007 offering Lady’s Bridge, promoted by the release of special edition Henderson’s Relish bottles. Too cool.

But it was his comments on Sheffield’s steel industry that made me laugh. He, like me, gets a little depressed and nostalgic when he goes to Kelham Island Museum. As he points out:

Working in Sheffield’s steel industry was a job that had dignity.
Can you see there being Call Centre Museums in 30 years time?

“Look, that’s where your dad plugged ‘is phone in”
“I can remember, me laptop used t’ sit rate ‘ere”

No, because those jobs don’t have dignity. No-one wants to remember them.  

As for the music – Roy Orbison meets Jarvis Cocker, Morrissey and Nick Cave. Perhaps a little Country/Folky/Pub Crooner for some, but it’s worth a listen anyway. Plenty to watch and listen to on YouTube.

I won’t mention his taste in football clubs. He has none.

* so getting on a bit… (P.S. Hi Ant! *grin*)