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Ralph McTell set to play Electric Palce gig
3:53pm Monday 30th September 2013 in News
SOME people have one moment of glory in their careers and then feed off it for the rest of their lives.
Others win their moment of glory but carry on regardless, despite, rather than because of, their moment of fame.
Singer-songwriter Ralph McTell, who turns 70 at the end of next year, has enjoyed a 48-year career that has included – but is not defined by – the gorgeous, melancholy, Ivor Novello award-winning ballad Streets of London.
Next month he comes to the Electric Palace in Bridport as part of his One More For The Road tour, where fans and newcomers to his work will no doubt hear the ubiquitous Streets alongside many other of Ralph’s beautifully crafted, narrative songs, combined with dextrous finger-style guitar playing and evocative storytelling.
“I am looking forward to coming to Dorset because I grew up in Poole, not that I would recognise it now, and it’s a beautiful part of the world,” said Ralph, who lives in Cornwall for most of the time. “I love touring this country because it is so varied and beautiful, the different accents and scenery.
“With this tour I’m at the point where I regard it as a celebration of still being here and writing songs and that people are still coming.
“It will be an intimate and friendly evening, and I hope there will be some challenging songs for people and complex guitar playing.
“There is a bond between myself and the audience that I always hoped there would be. The people who like my music have tended to stay with me, despite the blip in the graph all those years ago.”
The ‘blip’ he refers to is Streets of London, which reached number two in the charts back in 1974.
“I went on a Radio 4 show called How to Learn to Love your Albatross and it was incredibly reassuring for me to hear from people who have had recognition for just one thing.
“We all feel the same thing that when you reach a point that the song, or whatever, is part of the firmament you are very lucky, because what would you be doing if you hadn’t had that moment?
“I might be painting and decorating, who knows?
“But if you are of a creative nature, you like to think you are getting better at what you do, and I do think I am.
“I’ve had the big time, but some people never have.”
He added: “Music today is an industry rather than an adventure, like it was when I started out.
“Then, people wrote their own songs and used them to raise people’s consciousness.
“Now if you want a Christmas number one you just go and win X Factor, it’s pathetic.
“But the public seem to love it and they are welcome to it.
“Half the bands you see playing down the pub have much more advanced equipment than I did the first time I played the Royal Albert hall, but where will it get them? They don’t do songs, so where will they go? It’s a strange old world and I don’t envy the kids starting out.”
Ralph began playing guitar when he was a boy ‘because I loved the sound, not just because playing a guitar gives a lad sex appeal’.
He added that although more than 100 guitars have passed through his fingers over the years, he still usually turns to one he started playing in 1965, while following in the footsteps of legends such as Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan.
“Dylan was the most important artist of my generation. Some of us can play guitar better but no one can write songs better and he has the most incredible voice.
“I was listening to The Times They are A-Changing and it is a beautiful song with soaring free vocals.
“It is a unique sound.
“Making music has been a great adventure and it’s good to still be hanging in there.”
- Ralph McTell is at the Electric Palace, Bridport on October 6 at 8pm, door open from 7pm. Tickets are £19 in advance from Bridport TIC and £21 on the door.