Friday 26 December 2014

Dear Justin

As pre-warned, things have been a bit quiet here at Is the BBC biased? in the past couple of weeks.

So quiet in fact that we missed one of the biggest controversies of all - whether the late Joe Cocker's With a Little Help From My Friends is the best cover-version of all time. 

Justin Webb got into a right mess about it one day in the very recent past, just after the death of Joe Cocker (can't quite remember when - though, being slightly OCD and having checked, it was actually the 23rd December). Today got two pop music experts in (can't remember who though - but, OCD-alert!, it was Robert Webb and Pete Paphides), to discuss successful cover-versions. 

It has to be said that Ol' Justin didn't seem able to go much beyond his pre-written questions, obviously having little interest in the subject. Worse, he couldn't even tell his two guests apart and got their names completely confused, eventually ending up trying to laugh it all off. How unprofessional, Justin!

Still, one of the two Today guests (I forget which - though, having checked, it was Robert Webb) said that Joe Cocker's stroke-of-inspiration was to transform With a Little Help From My Friends from 4/4 time to 3/4 time; indeed, he appalled his band by announcing that he'd like to make a waltz out of it! One of my favourite mind-games for many a year has been (inside my head)  to turn great classical pieces of music into catchy Strauss waltzes, so it's pleasant to think that Joe Cocker was thinking along similar lines about great pop songs.

The great debate spread far and wide. 

Fraser Nelson at the Spectator simply announced that Joe Cocker "was the only singer to improve a Beatles song". Thankfully, his BTL brigade weren't so sure and the top-rated comment - to my great delight - sang the praises of an old favourite of mine: Dear Prudence by Siouxsie and the Banshees, which is (I think) unquestionably better than the Beatles' original, thus disproving Fraser's sweeping claim.

And here's the proof:

Typical BBC/Spectator LibLabCon pro-Beatles bias.


  1. I’ve invented a honky-tonk version of Silent Night. I’m no expert on time signatures, but I think it’s in 6/8.
    It’s very catchy, especially “sleep in heavenly pea-eace”. (Doodly doodly doo - ooh! Doodly doodly doo.)

    1. Oh Gawd, Sue, I'm going to sound nerdy here but....

      6/8 would be great for 'Silent Night'. Many an old Baroque Christmas piece was in 6/8 time.

      I'm imagining it now, played over a rustic drone. Church mice in Austria dancing with Herr Gruber from 'Allo Allo' (who famously wrote it for Rene), watched by various Von Trappist monks as they sang about eider ducks.

      The preferred Baroque form was the sicilienne (with, of course, means 'Corsican' in Arabic. A Jimmy Wales fact).

      Si-i-i-i-i-lent Ni-i-i-i-i-ight. Ho-o-o-o-er-ly Ni-i-i-i-i-ight.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.