The Birds

Maybe you’ve been a follower of this blog for a while. In that case, you’ll know I take a lot of inspiration and acquire much of my new music from the recommendations of Guy Garvey, the lead singer of Elbow during his weekly program, Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour on BBC 6 Music, on Sundays (2:00 pm GMT, 8:00 am CST).

In the past, I’ve featured songs from three of their albums: The Take off and Landing of Everything (“This Blue World“); The Seldom Seen Kid (“Mirrorball“); and Build a Rocket, Boys! (“Dear Friends“). My cousin from Wales introduced me to the band’s music on Sweety’s and my first visit together to Liverpool in 2008. (My first time there was in 1973, travelling with my parents… highlight of that trip: seeing David Bowie play live at the Liverpool Empire Theatre.)

Garvey’s program has become such a treasured part of my life that I no longer listen to it live. I always wait for the archive to appear in the BBC Sounds app to look over the track list and notes, savour what’s playing, and look forward to what’s coming, and repeat as needed. Since COVID-19 hit, Garvey has occasionally featured what he calls diary entries from his siblings. Many of these are deeply poignant, describing the situation most of us live in these days: not being able to be near our families and friends, and missing hugs and even a loving, reassuring touch on the arm. I’ve had a few tears as a result of these beautiful vignettes.

Right now, I’m most of the way through the December 6 instalment of the program (“Real Estate – Featured Artist”). Earlier today, I was somehow drawn into looking on YouTube for a series of live performances Elbow did in 2014 at the Eden Project in Cornwall, on the southeastern coast of England. The Eden Project (check out the Wikipedia page on it) reclaimed a former clay pit that was in use for more than 160 years. It was turned into a site with geodesic domes that house two main biomes, one simulating a rainforest environment and the other, a Mediterranean climate. Thousands of species of plants grow in the biomes. Reclamation and construction started in 1998.

Since 2002, the site has also hosted music festivals under a covered stage. It looks like a stunning site for an outdoor concert… I think I’d want to tour the whole place for a day in advance of the show… and I think all the plant life would attract my sweety for sure! It is a dream of ours to travel to Cornwall someday, and for me, attending a concert there would be “the bee’s knees,” as my late Mum would put it.

Anyway, after seeing the videos several years ago but not finding them again for a while, serendipitously I did locate them today on the Eden Sessions YouTube channel. There are 14 videos of Elbow performing songs there in 2014… check them out. The video for “The Birds” features some spectacular shots of the site from the hilltops surrounding the former pit mine.

The song is the opening track on Build a Rocket Boys! and the album closes with a reprise version, sung by John Turner, an elder piano tuner who worked on the album with the band. His voice reminds me a little of English actor and theatre director John Gielgud (1904-2000).

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

As Garvey would say, “watch the video; it’s a cracking one.”

And if you’re like my friend who likes to read the lyrics, they’re available on Lyrics.com.

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