The Boxer - Simon & Garfunkel. People who connect directly with the lyrics and have a deep personal connection to the song discuss what this masterpiece means to them.
Seamus McDonagh is a former boxer. He describes the tumultuous time he had during and after his famous fight with Evander Holyfield in 1990. He also explains why he identifies closely with the lyrics of The Boxer.
Julie Nimoy is the daughter of Leonard Nimoy and co-producer of the film 'Remembering Leonard Nimoy' which tells the life story of this much loved actor, most famous for playing Mr Spock in Star Trek. The Boxer was his favourite song, and Julie describes exactly what it meant to him both throughout his life, and in its closing moments.
Gary Edward Jones is a singer-songwriter who for years rejected comparisons made of him to Paul Simon. Eventually, he embraced the likeness and his life changed after developing a show called 'Something About Simon - The Paul Simon Story'.
Dave Mason is an amateur guitarist who has found deep meaning in The Boxer; meaning that has changed and grown as he has.
Scroll down for photos, and to the 'Related Links' box to find out more about these interviewees.
Producer: Karen Gregor
Farewell to Stromness
Personal stories about Farewell to Stromness, by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. Written in 1980 as a protest against uranium mining in Orkney, the music has touched and changed people's lives. The Orkney landscape which inspired Max's music is described by his partner Tim Morrison. We hear from Rosalind Newton, for whom the music provided peace after the death of her grandmother. Conductor Christopher Warren-Green recalls his performance of the music at the wedding of the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall. In Stromness we discover a community coming together to face the threat of uranium mining. Guitarist Sean Shibe and writer Ivan Hewett consider why this simple piece is so subtle and affective. And we hear from Jeana Leslie how the music, with its quiet melancholy inspired by folk music, has became traditional , and was a favourite for Peter Maxwell Davies to perform to visitors at his remote island home.
Producer: Melvin Rickarby
Wind of Change
“I follow the Moskva, down to Gorky Park… listening to the wind of change.”
The German rock band Scorpions’ lead singer Klaus Meine was inspired to write Wind of Change at a rock festival in Moscow in the summer of 1989. Politics were rapidly shifting in the Soviet Union at the time as a result of Mikhail Gorbachev’s reforms. Recalling the peaceful yet revolutionary atmosphere at the concerts, Klaus said “there was a whole new generation of Russian kids that said the Cold War would be over soon - we could literally feel the world changing in front of our eyes”.
No one had any idea that the Berlin wall would come down only a few months later. Wind of Change was released in 1990, and has since become an unofficial anthem for the end of the Cold War and the reunification of Germany in 1991. The power ballad is one the best-selling singles in history, and popular all over the world.
Featuring interviews with lead singer of the Scorpions Klaus Meine, Russian rock musician Stas Namin, and true stories of what the song means to people who lived in the former USSR.
Producer: Sophie Anton
Streets of London by Ralph McTell
50 years after it was first recorded, Ralph McTell and others discuss a song that was written for a heroin addict, became an anthem against homelessness, and transcended the folk genre to become an enduring classic.
Ralph McTell says he’s thought constantly about the “blip in my graph” that is Streets of London. People say to him “50 years. One hit. You think you’d have given up by now”. But, Ralph says, that’s not why he writes songs. And, of course, he’s written many. Many that he considers far better than Streets of London. But this remains his best known, best loved, and most played track. It was first recorded 50 years ago, in 1969, for his album Spiral Staircase although it wasn’t released as a single until 1974.
Taking part in Soul Music, alongside Ralph, with their stories and memories connected to Streets of London, are:
Jerry Playle, a music producer. His first ever public performance as a teenage guitarist was of Streets of London. The guitar part went well, but when he opened his mouth to sing, he realised - to his horror - that he couldn't...
Gwen Ever, a DJ. He became homeless in the 1980s. It’s the unlikely punk version of Streets of London by the Anti Nowhere League that reminds him of this time.
Maria Bentley-Dingwall, the daughter of Iris Bentley. Iris was the sister of Derek Bentley who was hanged for a murder he did not commit. Iris spent her life campaigning for his conviction to be quashed. Ralph McTell grew up knowing this story, became a friend of the family, wrote a song about the case, and sang Streets of London at Iris Bentley’s funeral.
Producer: Karen Gregor
Back to Black
Amy Winehouse died in July 2011 aged just 27. Back to Black the title track of her second and final album is a torch song to tragic love, addiction and loss. People who loved her and her music talk about how she helped them cope with their own struggles.
Lesley Jamison is now a successful writer but at 27 she was an alcoholic. She stopped drinking the same year that Amy died. Lesley reflects on how her own life could have followed the same path had she gone further into the darkness or the black of drinking and self destruction. Daisy Buchanan tells her story of addictive love and how Back to Black helped her break free. Umaru Saidu was a vulnerable teenager with mental health issues who lost a dear childhood friend when he was 17. He later trained at the Amy's Yard programme and is grateful for the inspiration she gave him. As a young teenager Amy Charles too identified with the pain expressed in Back to Black and says it helped her deal with depression brought on by a spinal injury.
Donald Brackett is the author of Back to Black: Amy Winehouse's Only Masterpiece and believes performing the song may have become traumatic for her in the end as it forced her to relive the emotional pain. Elizabeth Kesses was visiting her terminally ill father at the same hospital where Amy Winehouse was being treated. She recalls seeing her there and hoping she would recover. Sadly it was not to be. But these stories reveal a legacy that goes beyond the music.
Producer: Maggie Ayre