120 episodes

Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact

Soul Music BBC

    • Personal Journals

Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact

    Sittin' On the Dock of the Bay

    Sittin' On the Dock of the Bay

    Sittin' On The Dock of the Bay was written while Otis Redding was reflecting on his life on Sausalito Bay in California in the summer of 1967. Its upbeat, laidback melody belies the loneliness of the lyrics. Just a few months later Otis Redding was killed in a plane crash and the song was released, becoming the first posthumous number 1 record in the US. His musician contemporaries including Booker T Jones and guitarist Steve Cropper, who co-wrote Dock of the Bay, tell the story of the song's genesis, and people in their twenties to their seventies reveal why they relate it to dramatic periods in their lives.

    Booker T Jones' Time Is Tight is published by Omnibus Press

    Producers: Maggie Ayre and Mair Bosworth

    • 27 min
    Days

    Days

    “It’s a goodbye song, but it’s also an inspirational song, It could also mean a new beginning" - Ray Davies

    Written by Ray Davies and released by the Kinks in 1968 'Days' had a very different sound to the rest of their repertoire. Sorrowful but uplifting it's been embraced by listeners across the world who have found solace and hope in it's lyrics.

    Having been covered by numerous artists (most notably Kirsty MacColl), it speaks to people of all generations and captures moments in their lives.

    For Sim Wood it's an anthem to great friendships and discovery whilst for actor Gabriel Vick it's a song that has journeyed with him from a place of fond memories to heartfelt remembrance. John Slater, who was born the same year that it was released, has his own celebratory take on 'Days' and for Laura and John Mapes it's the song that gave them the words they so needed to express.

    Produced By Nicola Humphries
    With contributions from rock critic and writer Barry Miles

    For Help and Support

    BBC Action Line support: Emotional distress
    www.bbc.co.uk/actionline
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/4WLs5NlwrySXJR2n8Snszdg/emotional-distress-information-and-support

    The Samaritans
    www.samaritans.org

    Cruse Bereavement Care provides support after the death of someone close including face to face, telephone, group support, as well as bereavement support for children.
    www.cruse.org.uk

    SUDEP Action provides information and bereavement support to families affected by Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP) and other epilepsy related deaths.
    www.sudep.org

    Young Epilepsy is a national charity supporting children and young people aged 25 and under living in the UK with epilepsy.
    www.youngepilepsy.org.uk

    • 27 min
    Toto's Africa

    Toto's Africa

    Released in 1982, this soft-rock anthem has become an unlikely viral smash-hit.

    Africa by Toto is a song that has changed lives, helped to raise thousands of pounds for charity and provided an unexpected musical corner-stone in a critically acclaimed play. Telling their personal stories in Soul Music:

    Ralf Schmidt is the Artistic Director of Ndlovu Youth Choir which is made up of young people from the poorest parts of South Africa. Incredibly, the choir made it to the final of America's Got Talent, one of the biggest entertainment shows in the world. Ralf's exuberant, irresistible and uniquely African arrangement of Toto's Africa was their stand-out performance. (Brief extract of AGT (c) Fremantle USA and Syco Entertainment)

    Michael Savage (aka DJ Michael Vinyl) of Prime Cuts record shop in Bristol, staged what could be considered a night of torture when he played Africa non-stop for twelve hours at a club. As Mike and Olivia Perry recall, this was to raise money for the Bristol based charity, Temwa, which operates in Malawi. They expected a handful of people to turn up, but the event had worldwide attention and was a huge success.

    Mike Massé's life was completely changed following his release on YouTube of what many consider to be one of the best Africa cover-versions ever recorded. The main photo is of Mike Massé (photo credit: Jim Mimna).

    David Greig is the Artistic Director of the Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh; an esteemed playwright with intellectual clout. So, why did he include Africa in one of his plays? Well, he nearly didn't, but then he saw the light.

    And, Abigail Gardner, a reader in music at the University of Gloucestershire, explains why Africa - originally a US No. 1 for just a week in 1982 - has recently undergone a strange modern rebirth, making it one of the most streamed songs on the internet.

    Please scroll down to the 'Related Links' box to find out more about the interviewees.


    Producer: Karen Gregor

    • 27 min
    Coventry Carol

    Coventry Carol

    Performed as part of the mystery plays, the 'Coventry Carol' is from the Pageant of the Shearman and Taylors and tells the story of the Slaughter of The Innocents. A copy of the manuscript survived a fire in Birmingham Library in 1879 by sheer chance. Musician Ian Pittaway describes seeing the play in the ruins of Coventry cathedral in the 1980s - the drama was so powerful it still moves him to tears. The carol was sung on Christmas Day in 1940 in a live broadcast to the Empire just six weeks after the bombing of Coventry that destroyed the city's cathedral. Journalist Donna Marmestein tells of how the carol transformed how she felt about loss in her family; composer and performer Tori Amos describes what inspired her cover version of the song and Amy Hanson from the Small Steps Charity talks about how much her mother loved the carol. The children from the school her charity supports in Kenya sing their version of the song. Roxanne Burroughs explains about how her daughter Kaitlyn came to have the carol sung at her funeral. The soloist is Samantha Lewis; early music is from The Night Watch; Reading Phoenix choir and Southern Voices sing the carol and the children's choir is from the Rehabilitation centre Immanuel Afrika in Nairobi, Kenya. Producer: Sara Conkey

    • 27 min
    We Are Family

    We Are Family

    We Are Family written by Nile Rodgers and performed by the Sledge Sisters Kathy, Kim, Debbie and Joni was released in 1978 at the height of disco's popularity. Kim Sledge says it has become the anthem for diverse groups of people around the world who come together on the dance floor to form a friend family. Professor Tim Lawrence says disco at its best was an inclusive music movement that welcomed people of all races and genders, unlike rock music which in the early 1970s appealed to a predominantly white male audience. We Are Family epitomised dance music's appeal to traditionally marginalised groups in the USA - African Americans, Latinos, women and gay men.
    Listen to the stories of some of the people for whom the song is linked with some of the most significant experiences of their lives.
    Producer: Maggie Ayre

    • 28 min
    The Boxer - Simon & Garfunkel

    The Boxer - Simon & Garfunkel

    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

    • 27 min

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