Born on this day, 24 January 1941, Neil Diamond, singer-songwriter. There's something very nice and warm about Neil Diamond - he's like an old friend, a comfy pair of slippers, he's your favourite uncle. You see, I'm saying all this and I've never even met the guy. But reading about him confirms my thoughts.
Fifty one years ago, Blowin' In The Wind was adopted as some kind of clarion call for an energetic, shackled and questioning youth to stop relying on their elders for answers, to open their eyes to the unfairness around them, to strive to find a different path at the end of which truths would miraculously materialise.
The new 100-strong musicians' letter on behalf of the still-jailed Pussy Riot members Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova is a wholly good thing. And it is. It's not about whether I'd listen to music from this enormous body of artists (though I would in a few cases), but ... well, you know what I'm saying. It ain't what you do, it's the way that you do it.
Serious-minded songwriters have returned. Gone is the foul, metastasising era of Stock Aitken and Waterman and their 'Hit Factory', swept aside at long last by a tide of musicians dedicated to making music of depth that resonates with a music-loving public, a public which is awakening from its own bad dream of botox, gussets and 'Zig-a-zig-ah'.
The cold and increasingly long winter nights are drawing in and Christmas is loitering on the not too distant horizon like a giant festive iceberg. This makes it the ideal time of year to take refuge in a warm pub with friends, family, loved ones, strangers, colleagues and people you actively dislike, to relax, drink, chew the proverbial fat and take shelter form the outside world.
Summer is over. My big brown winter coat twinkles at me. But, I ignore his advances. As I explain to him, Jack Frost isn't exactly banging on my windows shouting obscenities. I have not yet walked outside and quivered the words "Cor blimey guvnor". No doubt I will, but not yet my big brown friend. You stay where you are. Oh, you heard me. Back to the coat hook. Off you go.
Numerous critics have been praising Bob Dylan's 35th studio album Tempest as the finest record he has made in a long time. Lyrically, it is a Dylan chef-d'oeuvre. Lines breeze out of him as he maximizes wordplay, and growls through his ballads. It is the album of a man who has found his calling as a totemic elder statesman of American folk and blues, and is a stark reminder why this septuagenarian remains music's foremost storyteller.
Florence Welch may have had to cancel her appearance due to a vocal injury and Bat For Lashes may have pulled out after getting stuck on a bus, but th...