Tag Archives: Mike Batt

Is God on the Drums or in the Dance?

Durban September 2008 An intriguing song from Katie Melua’s latest album is “God on the drums, the Devil on the bass” written by Katie and her original producer, Mike Batt. The song as a whole has a Phantom of the Opera feel to it. That might just be me or perhaps it’s Mike Batt’s influence, since he co-wrote both.

I don’t know what Katie and Batt meant but it seems as if they are saying that life is a dance. With God on the drums and the Devil on the bass, we have to find our space somewhere between them. As we enter the dance floor we hear the music that’s been playing for a thousand years, without beginning and without end. Nothing is wrong or right, black or white, and those who hold to those extremes are just “trying to start a fight between God on the drums and the Devil on the base.”

Parts of the Old Testament might seem to suggest that sort of constant struggle among human beings to move away from the Devil’s side of the floor to God’s side, with the Devil’s drums seeming to have more pulling power. But the birth of a baby in a Bethlehem stable paints another picture entirely.

Sydney Carter’s song, “I am the Lord of the Dance” comes to mind and I think that, as long as we are on this earth, it’s the Devil who’s playing the music. God has abandoned the drums (if ever he was on them) and has joined us on the dance floor. He is humming a different tune in our ears, calling us to dance to a different rhythm. As we learn the steps and discover its beauty we can move more freely around the dance floor, engage with others, and introduce them to this new and liberating dance.


Filed under Katie Melua, Odds & Ends

Happy Birthday Katie

It’s Katie Melua’s birthday today.  Happy Birthday Katie.

IMG_2195 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.

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Filed under Katie Melua, Odds & Ends