I¡¯ve put lists of songs I sing on my web site so that anyone thinking of booking me to play can get a better idea of what I can offer. 98% of those listed I should be able to play from memory when requested. 2% I¡¯d prefer a days notice. If I haven¡¯t played a song for a while, I may need to run through it again to refresh my memory. Categorising songs is not straight forward. e.g ¡°Dirty Old Town¡± was written by Ewan McColl in 1949 for a play of his called ¡°Landscape with chimneys¡±. He was from Salford, Lancashire though both his parents were Scots (Ewan MacColl was born James Henry Miller). So does that make ¡°Dirty Old Town¡± a show tune? popular song of 1940¡¯s? English or even Scottish song? Most people think of it as an Irish song because The Pogues 1985 version is the version usually played on the radio and juke boxes, so an Irish song? popular song of 1980¡¯s? Shane McGowan, the front man, singer and songwriter of The Pogues was born in Kent and has spent most of his time in South East England (though both his parents are Irish). Ewan MacColl is mostly remembered as singer, writer and collector of folk songs, yet he wrote ¡°First time ever I saw your face¡± in 1957 which was recorded by Roberta Flack in 1969 but didn¡¯t become popular until 1972 after being featured in Clint Eastwood¡¯s ¡°Play Misty For Me¡± in 1971. So does that make ¡°First time ever I saw your face¡± a popular song of the 1950¡¯s, 1960¡¯s or 1970¡¯s? Is it a folk song in the same category as ¡°Dirty Old Town¡±?...not straight forward. I¡¯ll be moving songs about as I get more information about them. These lists have been for my own reference only until now but I ought to sort them out ¡°proper¡± now they are up here for others to view.
Why bother? I hear you say. What does it matter? Why put songs into pigeon holes like that? Well for me it¡¯s for 2 reasons:
1. It helps me keep hundreds of songs in my head if they are in some order that makes sense to me.
and 2. Being aware of where and when a song was popular means I can size up an audiences taste more effectively and hopefully play songs they can relate to. That¡¯s my theory for what it¡¯s worth.
Doubtless, I¡¯ve got lots of songs incorrectly listed. Please let me know what¡¯s out of place if anyone gives a flying far ten away!