The Argotist Online
Reader is a Scottish singer, known for her work with Fairground Attraction and
as a solo artist. In the early 1980s, she worked as a session vocalist with such
acts as Eurhythmics
and Alison Moyet. In 1984, she teamed up with guitarist and songwriter Mark E.
Nevin to record some of his songs. They subsequently formed Fairground
Attraction, together with Simon Edwards on guitaron (a Mexican acoustic bass
guitar) and Roy Dodds on drums and percussion.
1988, the band released their first single, ‘Perfect’, which became a U.K.
number one hit (going double platinum) and won the Best Single award at the 1989
BRIT Awards. It also reached number one in Japan, Spain and Australia. In the
U.S.A., it went to number 135 in the national charts there. Their first album, The
First of a Million Kisses, reached number one in Britain, Japan, Spain and
Australia, and won the Best Album award at the 1989 BRIT Awards.
Attraction disbanded shortly after starting a world tour; getting as far as
Japan but not the U.S.A. Eddi then worked on new material with a backing band
called The Patron Saints of Imperfection (comprising Roy Doods, Neill and Calum
MacColl, and Phil Steriopoulos). This became her first solo album, Mirmama
(1992), recorded for RCA Records. It was followed by Eddi Reader (1994),
which won her the Best Female Singer BRIT Award that year, Candyfloss &
Medicine (1996), Angels & Electricity (1998), Simple Soul
(2001) and Driftwood (2002)—a "homegrown" release of songs
recorded during the Simple Soul sessions.
2003, she recorded her album of material by Robert Burns with the Royal Scottish
National Orchestra, leading to good reviews and an international resurgence in
interest in Scotland's "bard". In the 2006 New Years Honours List, she
was awarded the MBE for services to music. And in April 2006 she toured
Australia with Boo Hewerdine and Alan Kelly, following the release of St
Clare's Night Out: Live at The Basement.
eighth studio album Peacetime was released in the UK on 29 January 2007
on the Rough Trade record label. Produced by fellow Scottish folk musician, John
McCusker, the album features a few Burns composed songs, alongside brand new
material with long-time collaborator Boo Hewerdine and John Douglas of the band
you think of your lyrics as poetry?
I don’t think I would lay claim to being a poet but when I sit with a pen and
page I use words like I use colours in a painting and I like to think that there
is a difference between when I write my thoughts in images and when I write my
thoughts as diary entries. I love that there is a rhythm to words, and to couple
that with some universal truths said in an unusual and novel way is a massive
joy. Clumsy, (self) conscious and clichéd words are three of the major flaws in
poetry / lyric writing, and it can sometimes work to apply any of those three
“C's”. but in my experience not very often. Music only serves to deliver the
Do you think it is important that songs rhyme and if so why?
Words do not have to rhyme ... e.g. ‘Moonlight in Vermont’ is a classic and
one of my favourite lyrics ... not one rhyme in it.
Do you think song lyrics must conform to recognised song structures such as
clear rhyming schemes, choruses, refrains, hooks and bridges or that songs can
also be like free verse?
Not at all. The idea that you “must do” anything I think kills creativity.
BUT a desire to achieve something within a structure is a creative challenge
therefore healthy, but nothing to get depressed about if not achieved. A good
“hook” to hang a song around has inspired many great songs.
When you read poetry in school or elsewhere did you recognize any connection to
the music you enjoyed?
Yes. I was a very romantic girl and school poetry (even though there was great
effort to eliminate the romance from it), song, and music was some kind of
ecstasy for me so I connected it all: the sight of coloured oil in puddles
connected to feelings of longing, and smashed glittering glass to some kind of
stardust, or lit coloured light bulbs connected to a deep sense that poetry
somehow was in the everyday always. And ALL OF IT connected with the sounds from
radios and records.
Was there anything about poetry in books that influenced your songwriting?
Pablo Neruda's work which I didn’t know much about until during a disastrous
affair with someone who loved Pablo’s work made me check it out, and one of
his love poems mentioned 'an orb of stars around her belly' I tried to use that
image unsuccessfully in a song but it really pierced me, those words of his.
were many axioms and little rhymes that inspired a melody to me: ‘COMFORT ME
WITH APPLES FOR I AM SICK WITH LOVE' was on a plate I had in 1990, and I can
still hear the melody I wrote around it.
I was impressed by Yeats's description of a 'door painted in peacock feather
colours' although I can’t remember what poem that was from, but I wanted to
find that paint in B+Q [UK
retailer offering DIY supplies and goods for the home and garden. Ed].
He has a great painful poem about his love for Lady Gregory, and he describes
how time will wither her. I loved that one but I didn’t put music or anything
to it. But it’s all very possible with good poetry. I just like to get
inspired, so the answer is yes.
Why do you think songs are more popular with people than poetry is?
I don’t believe that to be true, but to answer you: Because it’s like being
read to as a child, when you hear the song it delivers the words to you without
too much effort on the listeners part. You can be doing a million other things
and a song will bring you poetry. With poetry you have to take the time to read
and appreciate it.
think song and music surrounding words are like the flying carpet or DHL [air
express transportation of goods between countries. Ed]
for the poetry, so I don’t look at it like poetry is not as popular. I think
that poetry in song form is the quickest route to delivering poetry to a person
therefore the volume is greater. It only seems like there is a difference, but I
believe this to be a myth.
© Eddi Reader