Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Searching for a new 'Song for Bath'

This first appeared in the Bath Chronicle of March 31

I have often waxed lyrical in this column/blog about the fact that Bath truly is a city of music.

No matter what tastes you have there is plenty of musical choice out there for you to enjoy.

And, just as importantly, it seems there are thousands of people in our community performing as well as listening. It is a city built on sound.

Even with that as a context, however, I can say that I have been truly staggered over the past few days as I have been listening to the entries for the first-ever Song For Bath competition which has shown what a remarkable collection of songwriters and musical storytellers we have in our community.

I am lucky enough to be one of the judges of this great competition and so a while ago I was handed (by the irrepressibly enthusiastic organiser Paddy Doyle), a box of CDs and a huge catalogue of music and lyrics of the near 100 entries from which to pick my favourites.

When it was set up those of us involved in the contest had no idea if it would take off and capture the local imagination and, indeed, in the early days it did look as though it may be a struggle to get the kind of numbers we needed to make this a viable musical battle.

Well, we need not have worried.

For as the deadline for entries got closer, they poured in and the result is a splendid collection of tunes covering everything from rock songs to choral and classical pieces. And just about everything in between. The idea is that my fellow judges and I (and they are all far more qualified than I am in this process) have now got to whittle down the entries to just ten for our grand final in June (more details of which will be announced shortly).

And it is not easy.

As we all know musical taste is very subjective so I've tried to bring other people into my selection process. But such is the diversity of songs that with other people's input the shortlist is now a very long list.

So, therefore, this weekend I will have to go back to the tunes again before making my final choices. My selections will be added to those submitted by the other judges in the hope that between us we can come up with a group of finalists we can all be happy with.

Overall, I have been genuinely impressed at the effort which people have put in to write and record these songs about our city which inspire both musically and lyrically.

The most important thing of all, however, is that I'm certain we ARE going to find a strong winner as there are plenty of golden nuggets amidst the collection. There are tunes I found myself whistling hours later and lyrics that quickly wrote themselves onto my brain.

A worthy Song for Bath is on those CDs. We just have to dig it out.

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