How popular music ‘both nods to history and makes history’

Stuart Maconie.
Stuart Maconie.

A great pop song is more than just three minutes of catchy music.

So says Stuart Maconie, writer, broadcaster and firm believer in the historic power of the popular tune.

His live one-man show ‘The People’s Songs’, based on his book of the same name, takes his audience through the stories behind some of the greatest tracks of the past 70-odd years.

Everything from Vera Lynn to Dizzee Rascal gets the Maconie treatment, as he uses his immense knowledge, anecdotes and passionate politically and socially-charged rants to get across the significance of great songs to our nation’s culture.

Maconie, a regular ‘talking head’ on TV music documentaries, is co-host of the Radcliffe and Maconie Show on BBC Radio 6 Music with Mark Radcliffe, as well as The Freak Zone and The Freakier Zone on 6 Music,.

He has also written and presents dozens of other shows on BBC radio and TV.

As well as acclaimed official biographies of Blur and James, he is also one of the UK’s top selling travel writers, with ‘Adventures on the High Teas’ bringing comparisons to Bill Bryson and The Times calling him a National Treasure.

Maconie also came up with some of the best ‘urban myths’ during his career as a music writer, including his claim that Blockbusters quiz show host Bob Holness played the saxophone riff on ‘Baker Street’ by Gerry Rafferty, that David Bowie created the board game ‘Connect 4’ and that Neil Tennant from the Pet Shop Boys was a qualified rugby referee.

His book ‘The People’s Songs’ calls pop music “a defiant, unsanctioned concept at its heart, the ability to speak to people, to affect people, to occupy people, to transform their lives. It both nods to history and makes history.”

It also covers how Pink Floyd’s ‘Another Brick In The Wall’ portrayed our nation’s education system, his opinion that The Beatles were a manufactured band, and his controversial views on why ‘Shaddap You Face’ by Joe Dolce kept ‘Vienna’ by Ultravox off the number one spot in 1981 (“a song about getting on and making a success of life in a new country with fortitude and good humour, was a great deal more relevant to them and others than ‘Vienna’ which, let’s face it, meant nothing to Midge Ure or indeed most of us”).

This opinion-filled show ideal for fans of pop music and its place in British social history comes to The Platform in Morecambe on Saturday night, April 18 at 7.30pm.

Tickets cost £14 (£12 concessions) and are available by calling 01524 582803 or visit Morecambe or Lancaster Visitor Information Centres.