First, an apology for going AWOL over the last few months! I’ve been busy on the long-promised book and a fair amount of radio work.
The book is now almost complete – hoping to hit the finish line before Xmas. I’ll keep you posted on that.
The radio work includes a show which airs this weekend – ‘Twenty Questions with Paul Brady’.
Paul is an Irish Singer, Song-writer and multi-instrumentalist. Alongside his long and successful solo career, he’s collaborated with some of the biggest names in the music industry – and been covered by even more!
I first came across him back in the Spring of 1984 – when I was counting the days til I could leave boarding school! Like so many teenagers before us (though not too many after), my friends and I used to listen to Radio Luxembourg in the evening.
One night, in among all the chart music, I heard the title track from Paul’s ‘Hard Station’ album. It was tricky to get a clear impression (if you remember the station, you’ll remember the trademark fade!), but I liked what I heard, so went looking for the album (we’re talking vinyl here).
Over the next several years, I tried every outlet I could think of (remember this was pre-internet), but responses ranged from: ‘It’s been deleted’, which may have been true, to ‘It doesn’t exist!’ – which I knew wasn’t true – although there were times when I did start wondering …
I comforted myself with the thought that if I had dreamed it up, I was in good company!
I once heard a radio interview with Paul McCartney in which he told a great story, about a Wings track, which later appeared in the film ‘Give My Regards to Broad Street’.
One morning, he said to Linda:
‘I love that Stones track – “No Values” – but I can’t remember what album it’s on!’ He thought she might help him out – but instead, she looked blank and asked: ‘What Stones track?’ So he sang a bit (although he couldn’t remember all the words); but she was none the wiser. ‘I’ve never heard of it!’ she insisted.
It turned out he’d only heard a snippet in a dream – although he turned the dream into reality, by writing the rest of the song!
Fortunately, in the late-eighties, I caught an interview with Paul Brady in which he confirmed that ‘Hard Station’ definitely did exist outside my subconscious – but I still had no luck finding it.
I eventually ran out of options – til 2004. By then we were, of course, firmly in the internet age. So when events that Summer inspired me to have one more try, I was finally able to find a cd copy, via Paul’s website.
When it arrived through the post, the case was broken – but that didn’t matter. The disc was fine. Some of the tracks on the album were familiar because they’d appeared on others I’d managed to get hold of in the intervening years; but I hadn’t heard the title track in two decades!
A few years later, it opened my first radio show – and the first track on the album closed the programme. That’s ‘Crazy Dreams’, the origins of which Paul explains on this weekend’s show.
So how did I get from a battered cd case to an interview with the artiste?
The presenter who played the elusive track all those years ago was Rob Jones. As you’ll know from posts on this site. Or if you’ve ever wandered around the About section of the Speak For Yourself website, these days Rob is CEO of USP Content – and a friend and occasional collaborator of mine. He’s also heavily involved with The Wireless from Age UK – where (as you might also know) I’ve been doing some work over the last year and a half.
‘Twenty Questions With’ is an interview-based show, with guests who have a public profile and an interesting story to tell. I’ve fancied doing it since it started a few years ago. By April this year, I hoped I might have established enough of a track record with the station at least to float the idea, along with the names of a few potential guests. When I got the go-ahead, I wasted no time in contacting Paul’s management.
I’d been in touch a few years ago, because I would have loved to use part of ‘Hard Station’ as the theme for my regular shows. There were very good commercial reasons why that couldn’t happen – but this was a completely different proposition – and the answer was ‘yes’!
Paul is based in Dublin, so it took a few months to get us both in the same place at the same time; but on 22nd October, it happened. He made a flying visit to London that weekend, to play at Nell’s Jazz and Blues Club in Kensington (I was there!) and the next morning, we recorded at his hotel.
When the recording was done, I asked Paul if he’d sign the cd which took so long to track down. ‘With pleasure!’ he said – til he saw the state of the case – at which point, he burst out laughing! (It’s seen a lot of service since its original bashing at the hands of Royal Mail!).
I now have a brand new copy – signed of course – along with my first chance to host a show which has been making my production and presentation fingers itch for so long!
My professional and personal life is full of apparently ordinary moments which have led to unexpected opportunities, or mad ideas which have become reality years – even decades – later. They remind me of something we all probably need reminding of once in a while – especially those of us in business. Seeds can be planted in the most unlikely places and if they’re kept fed and watered, they can grow up to bear surprising fruit. In business terms, turning last night’s crazy dream into tomorrow’s opportunity takes investments of patience, persistence and time – and nothing happens unless some of those investments are channelled into communication with others; but the returns are worth the risk.
If you’d like to catch my interview with Paul, you can pick it up at 6PM this Saturday (26th November) on The Wireless, on DAB in and around London, or online anywhere.
Talking of communication – as I was a couple of paragraphs ago – I’ve just heard about a piece of research, into a specific situation in which we regularly lie to each other and expect – even want – to be lied to in return. I can tell you, it isn’t about managing expectations – so I won’t lie to you about time-scales! I’ll just say I’ll be back to do it as soon as I can.
In the meantime, if you have any:
Communications issues you’d like to chat through
all my contact details are on the website.