10 November 2016
Righting the songs
As the fallout from Bob Dylan’s elevation to the Nobel laureateship continued fitfully to descend, this week-long examination of the power of the pop lyric could have hardly been more timely. Why, there was even Dylan aficionado Professor Christopher Ricks to talk about the connection between simple-sounding poetry of the Larkin kind and the charm of the three-minute single. Larkin would doubtless have been horrified, although his collected letters do contain mostly approving references to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.
If Nick Berkeley’s series of sit-downs with songwriters, scholars and all-round cultural types covered some fairly obvious one-word topics (“solitude”, “family”, “lust”), then he also demonstrated a winning enthusiasm to cram as much material as possible into the tiny quarter-hour slots allowed him.
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