Songs and Objects is a podcast that explores the materiality of song. I’ve created it to accompany a research project I have been working on for some years now and which I hope to turn into a book in the future.
Episode 1 – Foolish Things
This episode sets the scene for future episodes by talking about foolish things, little things, and how songs relate to objects.
Episode 2 – The Things We’re Made Of
This episode discusses some songs and objects in the work of the American singer-songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter. Topics covered include shirts, maps and other evocative objects, songs as transformational objects, and the ways in which songs use objects to chart the life course.
Episode 3 – Nightsticks, Water Cannons, Tear Gas, Padlocks: The Musicality of Lists
This episode is about list songs and the inherent musicality of lists more generally. It explores how the listing of objects, events or people in prose and poetry creates some of the necessary conditions for song and describes songs that employ lists as a structuring device, pulling examples from Bob Dylan, R.E.M., Billy Joel, Blackalicious, Nina Simone, Robert Wyatt, John Grant, Joe Pug, Tom Lehrer and Gilbert & Sullivan.
Episode 4 – Richard Dawson’s Object-Oriented Songcraft
This episode is about songs and objects in the work of the British singer-songwriter Richard Dawson. I discuss tensions that build when what we want to focus on is people and lives and memories and communities and connections, but all that seems to remain are traces and trails of objects. I argue that Richard Dawson’s songs are both a brilliant response to such tensions and an example of how songs bring both objects and people to life.
Episode 5 – ‘Maybe This Thing Was a Masterpiece’
In this episode, I talk about some songs and objects in the work of Taylor Swift. I discuss evocative objects, versions, reworkings, uncanny doublings, and song itineraries. I question whether the 10-minute version of ‘All Too Well’ and its accompanying 15-minute film were really necessary and conclude, reluctantly, that they probably were.