Monday, March 10, 2014

I Want To Feel What You Feel

"Love Belongs Right Here" - Mary Hopkin


One of the first artists the Beatles signed when they launched Apple Records in 1968 was a young Welsh singer named Mary Hopkin.  

The first commercial single the label released, Apple #2, was Hopkin's "Those Were The Days."  Produced by Paul McCartney, the record became a huge international hit and made Hopkin a star. 






Hopkin's next single was a McCartney original, "Goodbye," a #2 hit in the UK and #13 in the U.S.  Prime Paul, its catchy melody is a perfect match for Hopkin's lilting vocals.






(Apple single #1, by the way, was a private pressing of Frank Sinatra (!) singing a revised "The Lady is a Tramp" for Ringo's wife, Maureen.)  

 



Credit: Morgan Visconti



Mary Hopkin has been involved in various music and theatrical projects in the years since, from the Blade Runner soundtrack to the theme song for a Billy Connolly TV series, working with myriad artists from David Bowie to Dolly Parton to the Chieftains. 






Credit: Morgan Visconit





Hopkin's children, Jessica Lee Morgan and Morgan Visconti, share her musical talents and she has collaborated with both.





My impression, right or wrong, is that she has never seemed commercially motivated, that she is driven instead by a love of singing. Hopkin doesn't do much press or perform publicly often, but she's no recluse - she tweets regularly (@themaryhopkin) and has a nice website (www.maryhopkin.com).  And she continues to grace us with new recordings.

Her most recent album, "Painting by Numbers," concludes with a powerful yet intimate song, "Love Belongs Right Here." You can listen to it here and you can buy the album here.

 I sent Hopkin seven questions about LBRH.  She quite kindly responds:

1 - You wrote LBRH with your longtime guitarist Brian Willoughby for a solo album he released in 1998. What was that process like?

Mary Hopkin: Brian had already written a lovely 8-bar melody on guitar, which we used for the verses. Once we'd worked out the chords for the rest of the song, I wrote the remaining melody and lyrics.


2 - The only instruments on the track are two guitars, one electric and one acoustic. Is that Brian and/or you?

MH: I wish! Brian played all the guitar parts - beautifully. I just played the keyboard pad.

3 - On LBRH (as well as the rest of "Painting by Numbers") your voice is as beautiful and distinctive as it was when you signed with Apple records in 1968. What's your secret?

MH: Thank you - it must be neglect! I prefer my voice now, though - my range has improved and it seems to reflect more of what I'm feeling.

4 - Have you ever tried singing LBRH in Welsh?

MH: No, but there is a translation and it has been sung by the lovely Welsh singer, Heather Jones.


5 - Did you do anything special to get in the right mood to record the vocal for LBRH or do you just start singing and the emotion comes easily?

MH: What are you suggesting? Have you heard the lyrics? :-) No, no foreplay necessary - I'm a professional :-)

6 - Was it easy to keep the arrangement simple or were you ever tempted to add strings, bass, percussion, etc?

MH: Brian's whole album (Black and White) was beautifully understated - in fact, he didn't use the electric guitar part on his album version. A big arrangement would have affected the intimacy of the song - although we did think of pitching it to Celine Dion :-)

7 - Why did you decide to end the album with LBRH?

MH: I chose it as the last track because it's the only song that is not a demo, but a finished recording. I also like the way the slow fade leads the listener gently into silence.


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I'll leave you with a video of "Gold and Silver," another fine song from the album:


                                         

4 comments:

  1. excellent thanks for sharing this ...

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  2. Here's "Goodbye" with footage of Paul and Mary working together: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sRhBnotMkyA
    Here's Paul's demo of the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eyet4WxAmpM

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  3. I have just enjoyed listening to Mary singing "Gold and Silver". I woke quite early this morning after having dreamt of past years just before I left the army in 1976. Has with all dreams, I was still confused with why I had "Those Were The Days" going round and round in my head. I went outside for a smoke and it came back to me that I had met Mary briefly when I went into a Welsh village shop one morning to buy a packet of cigarettes . I was out on radio test operations in the area at that time and had driven down off the side of the mountain to the nearest place. I was very surprised to see Mary there as I entered the shop and as I remember I said something like "Mary Hopkin I presume". I think I would have felt a fool if it had not been her,but being a fan even though that was the first time I had the pleasure to meet face to face I recognised Mary straight away with that beautiful smiling face. Ho was I full of it when I got back up to my radio detachment. Boasting, I've just met Mary Hopkin. The lads did not believe me at first.
    That is one memory that will go to the grave with me. I am so glad that I decided to Google "Mary Hopkin" and found this Website.

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  4. Pat, thanks for the kind words. John, that's a terrific story and I appreciate your sharing it here.

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