The following quote (‘Songman’ by Will Hodgkinson – published by Bloomsbury, 2007) prefaces the book:
‘I remember the excitement of friends in bands when we were in our early twenties, when boxes containing copies of their debut single would arrive from the record pressing plant and they would stare at the slab of vinyl in their hands, marvelling at this sacred object. Those friends got older, their bands split up, they found jobs and had families, but that single would be rediscovered in attics, basements and charity shops, perhaps even cherished in a few record collections, and almost definitely have its ghost lifted onto the internet. It had a story of its own and would, in one form or another, live on.’
Following on, I write: ‘This is the tale of one of those singles – plus a load of other stuff. Oh, and 187 gold discs!’
Below is a brief biog:
Will Hodgkinson is a journalist and author from London, England. He writes for The Guardian newspaper, 'The Times newspaper, 'Mojo magazine, and presents the Sky Arts TV show Songbook, in which he interviews contemporary songwriters. His book "The Ballad Of Britain" (2009) 'Portico is a travelogue for which he travelled through Britain making field recordings in an attempt to capture the spirit of the place and its people. Guitar Man (2006) and Song Man (2007) (Bloomsbury) are narrative non-fiction in a comic style. In Guitar Man, Hodgkinson picked up the guitar for the first time aged 34 with the aim of playing a concert six months later. He received lessons and advice from the Scottish folk guitarist Bert Jansch, Johnny Marr, former guitarist of The Smiths, Roger McGuinn of The Byrds, PJ Harvey and the pioneering guitarist Davey Graham. For Song Man he learned the basics of songwriting with the goal of recording a single at Toe-Rag Studios in London, this time picking up tips from Keith Richards, Andy Partridge of XTC, folk queen Shirley Collins and the hippy era songwriter Bridget St John. Guitar Man and Song Man are published in the US by Da Capo. In 2007, Will launched a project in conjunction with the Guardian Newspaper to create and run a record label, 'Big Bertha', which he wrote about in a monthly column. The label featured Cornish folk band Thistletown and Pete Molinari.
Will Hodgkinson is the brother of Tom Hodgkinson, editor of The Idler. Their father is the science writer Neville Hodgkinson and their mother is the non-fiction writer Liz Hodgkinson.
‘The Ballad Of Britain’ (Portico, UK)
‘Guitar Man’ (Bloomsbury, UK, Da Capo, US)
‘Song Man’ (Bloomsbury, UK, Da Capo, US)
MB: Will Hodgkinson is an innocent abroad, investigating different aspects of music (mainly pop and folk) such as learning to play guitar, making a pop record and travelling around Britain to discover and record live performances from a motley collection of individuals. Though its unlikely experienced musicians will learn much about their craft they didn’t already know, Will Hodgkinson’s self-deprecating and often amusing attempts to get to the bottom of his subject are very readable and even illuminating. Unlike many other music journalists he doesn’t pretend to be cool or knowing but seems to have a genuine respect for those he meets, whether rich and famous or struggling unknowns.
A recent TV venture for Hodgkinson is ‘Songbook’ on Sky Arts.
‘This innovative series explores the magic of song-writing with some of today's most successful talents. An intimate interview in which they discuss their song-writing careers, the process of constructing and developing the song, and their hopes and fears once it was completed, followed by an 'unplugged' performance of the tune in question. Songbook is presented by music journalist and author of Guitar Man and Song Man, Will Hodgkinson. “The pop song is a powerful art form, simple and universal yet hugely difficult to get right,” comments Hodgkinson. “Learning from songwriting greats about how they wrote their most famous songs has been a fascinating, rewarding experience.”