FT Arts

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

 

Boney M’s unlikely disco ballad was a hit on both sides of the iron curtain but was banned by Soviet authorities. Harriet Fitch-Little explores its indestructible appeal.

Credits: Ariola Express, Century Media, Super Cassettes Industries, MCI

 

Bruce Springsteen’s bleak ballad of American life has been promoted by politicians from Ronald Reagan to Donald Trump. David Honigmann examines the song’s fraught relationship with power.

Credit: Columbia

http://rss.acast.com/ft-arts/thelifeofasong-bornintheusa/media.mp3

 

Janis Joplin achieved a posthumous No.1 hit with a rueful tale of love and loss, written by her old flame, Kris Kristofferson, which in turn helped launch him to stardom. Richard Clayton follows the song’s bittersweet success.

Credits: Columbia/Legacy, UMC, Top Town Records, Rhino/Warner Bros, Play Digital, Ricordi

 

Billy Holiday’s secular hymn was born out of a blazing family row and its swaying melody went on to become a jazz standard, with versions by Tony Bennett and Sonny Rollins. Mike Hobart follows its history.

Credits: Jazz Moon, Saga, Columbia/Legacy, Island, Geffen Gold Mine

 

Kate Bush retreated to a farmhouse to craft her richly layered song of love and insecurity. It reaffirmed her place as a pre-eminent songwriter and went on to feature in the London Olympics closing ceremony. Richard Clayton follows its history.

Credits: Noble & Brite, Beams, Frontiers Records, Elevator Lady, Italians Do It Better, Obsolete Media Objects

 

Before Julie Andrews’ famous film performance, John Coltrane had turned this Broadway number into an off-kilter jazz classic. Mike Hobart charts its history.

Credits: RCA, FourMatt, Hallmark, EMI, Decca, Universal.

 

Rising above personal tragedy, Edith Piaf wrote a defining classic for post war France.

Helen Brown follows its path, as read by Anna Metcalfe.

Credits: The Restoration Project, Marianne Melodie, Universal Music Group International, Thousand Mile Inc, Naïve

 

It took Wilbert Harrison a long time to get traction with his ode to fidelity, but it became a hit for him, Canned Heat and later Bryan Ferry. Richard Clayton traces its progress.

Credits: The Restoration Project, Marianne Melodie, Universal Music Group International, Thousand Mile Inc, Naïve

 

Bob Dylan’s cryptic number is one of the signature songs of the 1960s, signalling a shift in his career. It helped launch The Byrds to stardom and was pivotal in the development of indie rock. Richard Clayton follows its history.

Credits: Columbia, Legacy, Spectrum, Naxos