Charity album of songs for keyworkers inspired by St Mary’s nurse’s photographs
PUBLISHED: 12:26 18 November 2020 | UPDATED: 12:33 18 November 2020
Highgate Brit winner Mark Nevin talks about writing songs for key workers, curated by Squeeze songwriter Chris Difford and inspired by Hannah Grace Deller’s photos
It’s not often a single image inspires an entire album, but these are not normal times.
St Mary’s paediatric matron Hannah Grace Deller’s powerful snapshots of her colleagues’ heroic battle against coronavirus made headlines this autumn.
Yet it was one image in particular, of a PPE-laden nurse standing within the Paddington hospital’s COVID emergency zone, which caught the eye of Squeeze songwriter Chris Difford.
“I asked my co-writing chums to use her photographs as inspiration for songwriting. Together we have created a body of work to raise funds for frontline workers, it has been so inspiring to hear the results,” he says.
Nick Heyward, Julia Fordham, Robert Vincent, Judie Tzuke, Kathryn Williams and Highgate songwriter Mark Nevin were among those who stepped up to create Song Club, a 20-track tribute to NHS staff with proceeds going to the Royal College of Nursing.
The Fairground Attraction founder, who wrote the band’s hit Perfect as well as songs for Morrissey, said: “We were so moved and inspired by those photos and thought, wouldn’t it be great to write a bunch of songs that do the same – bring attention to the work of NHS nurses and staff?”
Nevin was particularly motivated by local health workers’ valiant efforts .
“I’m fortunate not to have had COVID or a direct connection with anyone who has needed treatment. But the Whittington is right next to where I live and I admire the courage of the people working there so much.
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“When I was writing “It Has To Be Done” with [LA-based] Judith Owen, we agreed that as songwriters we live in a dream world. These people are on the front line and the title of that song is about the fact that somebody has to do it – as songwriters, we’re humbled.”
With the spectacle of Clap for Carers now a relic of the first lockdown, Nevin says Song Club was born out of a desire to create something beyond simply a gesture.
“At first, Clap for Carers was a great opportunity for everyone to express their gratitude, but as the weeks went on there was a feeling of, “This again”?
“I’m glad they stopped it when they did because it was on the verge of becoming something different from the original spirit.”
Yet if the past few months have proved stressful and often bleak for millions, Song Club feels like an attempt to remember the things that make us happy.
“Sick of the Sight of You”, co-written with Nashville-based Bill Lloyd, is one of several playful reflections on the jarring experience of love in lockdown.
Nevin said: “There were quite a lot of serious ideas going round and I realised the album would need some light, because there’s an awful lot of shade anyway.
“The song starts off with a cheerful idea about being stuck in the house with someone, and then we got thinking about the poor people stuck at home on their own. So at the end of the song we turn it around to say, “Lucky me, I’m so glad to be sick of the sight of you.”
The last word should go to Grace Deller: “I hope the voices of all the unsung heroes, their efforts and sacrifices are heard in this music. For me this record is a thank you to all my colleagues on the frontline, from the porters and domestics, to the doctors and nurses. I’ll never forget how we stood side-by-side on the frontline fighting this illness together.”
But a copy at https://slinky.to/SongClub
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