It’s Katie Melua’s birthday today. Happy Birthday Katie.
Katie and I go way back, as you can see. This picture of Katie Melua staring up at me was taken when she visited Durban in September 2008. Well, OK, to be brutally honest, it’s a picture of me staring down at a poster of Katie………
Anyway, Jen and I fell in love with Katie’s voice, music, and lyrics when we first heard “Nine million bicycles”. It’s a beautiful love song that Jen and I have claimed for our own. Since then I have bought all of her albums, the only artist I have ever collected. Friends often point me to other artists with a similar style but there’s something about her Georgian-Irish-British voice along with her stunning good looks and simple style that appeals to me. I also like her lyrics—some of my favourites are her own words and some are by her producer, Mike Batt.
William Orbit, who produced her latest album, The House said, “I have been hypnotised by the many colours and moods of her voice, and the deep emotional waters of her lyrics and melodies. She is one of the most complex and intriguing artists that I have ever worked with.”
I know too little about music to be able to agree with that, but the parts I do understand resonate with me. When I was about 12 years old I received a telephone call one Saturday morning from a dear lady from the church who was preparing us for a Sunday School Anniversary service. It was the day before the service. I remember only that it was a long conversation about this and that until she finally plucked up the courage to ruin my life. She said, “Er…..Ian, please don’t sing too loudly tomorrow.”
You will therefore understand that I cannot critique or even review Katie Melua’s music, except to say, “I like it.” But her words, well that’s another story.
The “Bicycle” song is a delight in its simplicity, born out of the words of a Chinese guide when they were on tour in China. It was one of those fairly useless facts produced for a guidebook. Batt turned it into:
There are nine million bicycles in Beijing,
That’s a fact; it’s a thing you can’t deny
Like the fact that I will love you ‘till I die.
I was sad to read on her website that Katie is suffering from exhaustion and has been ordered by her doctors not to work until after Christmas. Looking at her tour programme, which has had to be cancelled, one can understand; it’s a punishing schedule. I did add a note to her web page wishing her well but as I was number 19,724 to do so, I’m not really expecting her to notice.
More about Katie’s songs tomorrow.