Cover image of FT Life of a Song
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Arts
Performing Arts

FT Life of a Song

Updated 11 days ago

Arts
Performing Arts
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Each month FT music critics and contributors discuss the story of a song, from its origins and early recordings through cover versions good and bad. Formerly called FT Arts.

Read more

Each month FT music critics and contributors discuss the story of a song, from its origins and early recordings through cover versions good and bad. Formerly called FT Arts.

iTunes Ratings

14 Ratings
Average Ratings
13
0
1
0
0

Really? Not.

By Shankar Fan - Aug 21 2019
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And The Beatles 1967 Sergeant Pepper album doesn’t beat out the 1968 album mentioned in this podcast as the first concept album? What are you thinking? This is just wrong wrong wrong. And I don’t like any of the tunes played either. Sorry! Not.

Love it!

By ALEX> - Oct 12 2017
Read more
This is a fantastic show! Really love it and the song histories they go through!

iTunes Ratings

14 Ratings
Average Ratings
13
0
1
0
0

Really? Not.

By Shankar Fan - Aug 21 2019
Read more
And The Beatles 1967 Sergeant Pepper album doesn’t beat out the 1968 album mentioned in this podcast as the first concept album? What are you thinking? This is just wrong wrong wrong. And I don’t like any of the tunes played either. Sorry! Not.

Love it!

By ALEX> - Oct 12 2017
Read more
This is a fantastic show! Really love it and the song histories they go through!
Cover image of FT Life of a Song

FT Life of a Song

Latest release on Apr 20, 2018

The Best Episodes Ranked Using User Listens

Updated by OwlTail 11 days ago

Rank #1: The life of a song: When the Levee Breaks

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From recordings by Memphis Minnie and Led Zeppelin to sampling by Dr Dre, Eminem and Massive Attack, David Cheal traces the various incarnations of ‘When the Levee Breaks’. Credits: Columbia, Atlantic, The Chronic Interscope  

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Feb 20 2015

5mins

Play

Rank #2: The life of a song: Misirlou

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Peter Aspden tells the story of 'Misirlou', the swaying Anatolian love song that was reinvented as a 1960s surfers' anthem before gaining a massive audience with Pulp Fiction and sampling by The Black Eyed Peas. Credits: Parker Street Records, JB Production, Universal Music Group  

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May 29 2015

5mins

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Rank #3: Real to reel

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Documentary films are breaking UK box office records and are, arguably, having more success than ever before. As "The Queen of Versailles", one of the hits of this year's Sundance Film Festival, heads for UK cinemas, Raphael Abraham discusses the new appetite for reality with critics Nigel Andrews and Leslie Felperin  

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Aug 23 2012

19mins

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Rank #4: The life of a song: Watermelon Man

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Herbie Hancock's soul jazz classic 'Watermelon Man' originally drew on his 1940s Chicago childhood but went on to be given funk, disco, ska, pop and hip-hop makeovers, says Mike Hobart. Credits: Roslin Records, Columbia/Legacy, Salt & Pepper, History Of RnB Records  

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Jul 31 2015

8mins

Play

Rank #5: The life of a song: Me and Mrs Jones

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From Billy Paul’s adulterous original in 1972 to Amy Winehouse's gender-bending twist on the song 30 years later, Ludovic Hunter-Tilney gets to grips with 'Me and Mrs Jones'. Credits:Philadelphia International, 143, Island  

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Apr 17 2015

6mins

Play

Rank #6: The life of a song: Peg

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Recorded by musical perfectionists Steely Dan, sampled by hip-hop trio De La Soul and recycled in other pop songs, the story of 'Peg' is one of originality and appropriation, Peter Aspden says. Credits: MCA Records Inc, Rhino, The Echo Label Limited  

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Jun 12 2015

5mins

Play

Rank #7: The Life of a Song: Lady Marmalade

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"Lady Marmalade" began life as a sleazy soul anthem by Bob Crewe and Kenny Nolan before being funked up by Labelle, given an R&B twist by Sheila E and overlaid with cheesy rap for the film "Moulin Rouge". Ian McCann charts its evolution. Credit: Epic, 20th Century Records, Fania, Warner Bros., Polydor Associated Labels  

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Mar 04 2016

6mins

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Rank #8: The Life of a Song: This Land Is Your Land

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Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land" has been used in the campaigns of George HW Bush, Obama and, most recently, Bernie Sanders. Richard Clayton investigates the colonial overtones and contested legacy of America's alternative national anthem. Credit: Smithsonian Folkways Recording, Daptone Records, Delta, North Face and Jib Jab.  

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Apr 15 2016

7mins

Play

Rank #9: The Life of a Song: In The Air Tonight

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The coolification of Phil Collins is among pop's most curious turnarounds. Richard Clayton explains what the song owes to gangsta rap, "gated reverb" - and a drumming gorilla. Credit: Rhino, Atlantic, Def Jam  

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Apr 29 2016

6mins

Play

Rank #10: Florence and the machines: the British Library Sound Archive

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Peter Aspden visits the basement treasure-house where recordings of Florence Nightingale, 1940s electronica and other rarities are stored alongside some equally exotic audio technology  

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Jan 09 2015

7mins

Play

Rank #11: The Life of a Song: Grandma's Hands

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How did Bill Withers' little blues inspire a 1990s R&B hit and a Simon Cowell-produced football anthem? Ian McCann charts its history. Credit: Columbia, Legacy, Sony, Ministry of Sound, Syco  

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Mar 25 2016

6mins

Play

Rank #12: The Life of a Song: Stairway to Heaven

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David Honigmann follows Led Zeppelin's 'Stairway' from its origins in a Welsh cottage to 'Wayne's World', the White House and bedrooms everywhere  

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Dec 30 2016

7mins

Play

Rank #13: The Life of a Song: Like a Rolling Stone

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Peter Aspden deconstructs the creation of Bob Dylan's legendary song over the course of a single day in the studio. This podcast was originally published in November 2015; it is republished in celebration of Bob Dylan's Nobel Prize for Literature. Credits: Columbia/Legacy  

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Oct 14 2016

6mins

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Rank #14: The Life of a Song: Hallelujah

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Leonard Cohen's most famous song nearly wasn't released after being rejected by his record label. It is now among the most covered songs, with notable contributions from Jeff Buckley, John Cale and Rufus Wainwright. Credits: Sony Music, UMOD, Syco Music, Columbia, Nonesuch  

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Nov 11 2016

8mins

Play

Rank #15: Life of a song: Ice Ice Baby

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Ludovic Hunter-Tilney uncovers the back story of Vanilla Ice’s hit Ice Ice Baby. Credits:Ultra, EMI  

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Mar 27 2015

4mins

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Rank #16: The Life of a Song: Fast Car

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Richard Clayton on how Tracy Chapman's searing ballad of low income life carried her to global acclaim. Credits: Elektra, King Tubby's Music, Virgin EMI  

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Sep 25 2016

6mins

Play

Rank #17: The Life of a Song: Hotel California

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Peter Aspen looks at how The Eagles turned a few improvised chords into one of the most iconic, and enigmatic, rock songs of the 1970s. Credits: Rhino/Elektra, Parlophone UK, UMG Recordings, Elemental Records, Sony Music Entertainment  

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Apr 03 2017

6mins

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Rank #18: The Life of a Song: So What

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Miles Davis' "So What" is one of the most famous compositions in jazz. Ian McCann explores its many incarnations, from Ronny Jordan's funk hit to Smiley Culture's musings on racial unrest. Credit: Not Now Music, Columbia/Legacy, Universal-Island Records, Universal.  

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May 20 2016

6mins

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Rank #19: The Life of a Song: Dem Bones

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This song has its roots in an ancient refugee crisis and the more recent struggle for racial equality. Over the years, it's been adopted by Fats Waller, The Four Lads and the rapper M.I.A. Written by Helen Brown and read by Anna Metcalfe. Credit: Hit Wonder, Document Records, Diamond Coast, Sinetone AMR and XL Recordings.  

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Mar 18 2016

6mins

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Rank #20: The Life of a Song: Every Rose Has Its Thorn

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"Every Rose Has Its Thorn" by Poison's Bret Michaels was the last popular flourish of transvestism in rock. Ludovic Hunter-Tilney discovers what inspired the classic power ballad. Credit: Capitol Catalog, Hollywood Records, Kidz Bop, BMB/Poor Boy Records  

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May 13 2016

7mins

Play