Sunday, 30 May 2010

Sunday Morning Coffee with Joan Armatrading

I haven’t counted the posts but I have counted the weeks and this is show number 23 – I missed one week.  It’s very hard to believe that I have gone through this process so many times and you have listened so many times.

I think I’ll make a foolish target and aim not to miss any more weeks until the end of this year.  I’m now guaranteed not to post next week.

You know the process now.  Fill up your coffee, sit down and relax.



I was shocked to find that Joan was almost as old as I – born in December 1950 in St Kitts.  When she was seven her family moved to Birmingham.  I had a couple of her early albums and then as I lost touch with music generally I lost touch with Joan totally.

As my interest in music has blossomed in the last 6 months I have rediscovered my old music and, as with many who have featured in the show, there I found Joan.



Merchant of Love

I start with a song I hadn’t heard before but this was just the right one to open the show.

The bass voice which comes through at the very end of this line  - “Someone help me find the merchant of love” – [not it’s first use] transforms the song in a way I can’t describe.  Strange that such a small part can have such a huge effect on me.   I have spent a long time listening over and over to this but I can’t add to my description.


My two albums are “Me Myself I” and “Walk under Ladders” from 1980 and 1981 respectively and we continue with title track of the first of these.

Me Myself I

Power!  That’s what she has.


Joan is one of those artists who, despite the success she had, never made it up into the next league.  This must happen to so many but it does not reflect in any way on her abilities.

She lost her contracts with the majors and recorded no albums between 1995 and 2003 but since then she has issued four.



During this week, I was very pleasantly surprised to see this song and this video on Colin’s here.   He wrote very succinctly about Joan.

“One of the greatest live performers ever. Have seen her three times.”

And who am I to argue with another lad from Dunfermline.

I love this song. I don’t know why.


I just noticed – Wikipedia – that

“Her first job was working at Rabone Chesterman (makers of fine engineering tools), in Hockley, Birmingham. She was sacked from this job because she insisted on bringing her guitar to work and playing during tea breaks.”

That must have been at a time that workers got tea breaks!


The Weakness in Me

The lyrics are so  …..  I don’t know again  …… wonderful, touching, perfect.  Something like this.


Halfway through.  Top up your coffee if you need to.  Rewarm it if you’ve forgotten about it.  I’ll give you a minute or so.

Right.  Let’s get going again.


Save Me

I didn’t like this on my first hearing but its beauty shines through, the feelings and emotions captured to perfection.


Apparently Joan has been a big influence on others.  This extract from another online encyclopaedia has this.

Such artists as Tracy Chapman and Melissa Etheridge sold millions of recordings thanks to a stylistic blend that was rooted in folk music, with its emphasis on insightful lyrics, but also incorporated blues, jazz, rock, and dashes of various international styles. That stylistic blend was partly the creation of Joan Armatrading, an Afro-British songwriter and vocalist who was in many ways ahead of her time.

“I know I’ve been an incredible influence on many people and I’ve played a big part in all the stuff that happens now,” Armatrading told the Los Angeles Times. “…But it’s almost like people are in denial. If it’s something that has touched you and been a big influence, you should say so.”


In Your Eyes

The simplicity of this song belies the talent required to produce this work of beauty.

I am in love with this!


Every week I get a fright at this point: only two more and the show is over.  Every week I could run and run but I realise that all of you have more in your lives than my little show and so I’ll let you go in another 7 minutes or so.



Call Me Names

This video is from the Secret Policeman’s Third Ball in 1987.  One of the commenters left this,

“A real musician. Could you imagine many of today’s pop stars standing up on the stage with just a guitar and no back up singing a song. I think not!!”

Unfortunately I think he is right.

Do you see what my anonymous commenter was on about?  Solo and absolutely brilliant!


Initially when I was thinking about featuring Joan I wasn’t sure that I’d get  a show from her material far less really enjoy her music.  ha! I was so wrong. 

I wasn’t grabbed as Rod’s music did last week but her mastery of her craft is a joy to hear.  I hope you enjoyed yourselves.


I finish up with a song for all times and not just “these times”.  This was the only way to end this show.

In These Times

These lines

“In these times everyone needs love
In these times do you pray to God
In these times everyone needs comfort
And would welcome a hand to hold
Your passion is the fire
That burns the hurt
That pains the soul
And though my eyes are so polluted
By the sight of lost desires
Good to have you in these times”

say everything.


Week 23 completed and with another show to prepare for I need to leave you now.

Well, that’s it for another week.  I hope you enjoyed your coffee and the music.   Tune in again next week and thanks for listening.


  1. But it’s almost like people are in denial. If it’s something that has touched you and been a big influence, you should say so.

    You said it yourself, Calum - that she didn't grab s much as Rod. She's very good but not spectacular,unique or hugely inventive.

  2. James, You're right: I didn't get as much out of the show as last week's with Rod but that was an exception.

    I wouldn't have many shows if I featured only the spectacular, unique or hugely the inventive.

    Joan is a wonderful all-round singer / songwriter.

    I hope you still enjoyed her though.

  3. agree with James; makes for a pleasant sunday morning but unspectacular.
    Possibly unfair of me because I have had a couple of days of enjoyable nostalgia listening to South American music.

  4. JD After so many positive comments on the series it's disappointing to find two regulars just OK with today's show but I need to remember that my rule is to play the music I like and that is what I will continue to do. Praise for the series would be worthless if there were no neutral or negative comments. Thanks for letting me know your thoughts.

    Hopefully next week you'll get more out of the show but, unfortunately, I can't guarantee the "spectacular, unique or hugely inventive."

    I can guarantee that I will like the music.

  5. There's no accounting for taste Calum. You just never know.....
    I was dragged along reluctantly to a Julio Iglesias concert once. I am ashamed to say that I quite enjoyed it.

  6. A very moving voice. And she certainly knows her guitar. Hear the way she ends Call me Names. And In These Times has powerful, well rendered lyrics.

    First time for me. I enjoyed the discovery. I very seldom compare one singer to another. Don't know enough about this type of music. As far as I'm concerned, if it pleases me, it's more than good enough.

  7. Brilliant, Calum.

    Unequivocally, Joan Armatrading singlehandedly crafted and elevated an important genre in modern music.

    Without Joan there would be no Tracy Chapman or Melissa Ettridge or even Joss Stone et al. Many more are the artistes who owe Joan much of their inspriration.

    It's a pity therefore that a) she has been so undervalued and overlooked and b) a younger generation has sniffed at her and passed her by, not recognising her contribution to aforementioned artistes careers.

    On a personal note, I first saw her live in Hair, then several times over the years as she toured the UK very successfully as a solo artiste. She has a strong fan base amongst women of, shall we say, an appreciative generation, for whom she certainly spoke or, rather, sang!

    Even more personally, her earlier songs take me back to a particular time in my life and a 'first love' sort of time...sigh

  8. Anon Thank you! I'm delighted that you loved the show.

    Do keep dropping in.

  9. [Just some thoughts]

    One does not necessarily have to be spectacular, unique etc. to be good, hm?

    It is perfectly (sic) correct and exquisitely stupid to call f.e. a silver medal-winner 'the first loser'; analogue it is / were perfectly correct to call all but one artist (of a genre) losers.

    Thus, by replacing a u by an i my ingenuous thoughts turn out to have be(en) ingenious.

    Now, that's spectacular!

  10. I never had much of a gift in writing comments. But rest assured, Calum, that although I'll be silent from now on, I'll be listening every day. Many thanks for your music posts.

  11. Claudia


    What has happened?

    Has anything happened?

    Is it just my music posts you're leaving or all my posts or all posts?

    Something has happened. That is clear.

    If it's something I've done or not done then please email me direct.

    Please let me know, Claudia.

    Regardless it will be nice to know that you are out there listening.

  12. Calum - At the present: All posts. On all blogs. Everywhere. Except on very rare occasions. Will hear your music everyday. I'm a music teacher. I love to expand my horizon. Thank you!

  13. Claudia

    You're very very welcome.

    I'll enjoy thinking of you away across the Atlantic listening to the music in my posts.

    Take great care.