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Baker's Dozen

Keen On These: Tom Chaplin Of Keane's Favourite Albums
Yohann Koshy , November 19th, 2013 08:58

Following the release of their greatest hits last week, the band's singer and guitarist selects the best of his record collection


The Divine Comedy – Absent Friends
Neil Hannon, for me, is the greatest living songwriter that we have, apart from Paul McCartney probably. I think the guy’s an absolute genius. Lyrically, he’s a complete master. The attention to detail is just extraordinary. Absent Friends starts with a great song that name-checks all his inspirations and then there’s 'Leaving Today' which I can really relate to; it’s a song about how he wakes up and his girlfriend is clinging to him like the morning dew, saying, “Don’t go, don’t go off again”… it’s this kind of heart-melting song about how he’s got to get up, get in a taxi and bugger off. 'Our Mutual Friend' is probably the best story I’ve ever heard in six minutes. With that song, it’s such a perfect pop song, we asked Neil about it, when he came and did something with Keane a few years back. Tim [Rice-Oxley, Keane keyboardist] asked him, “What is it about 'Our Mutual Friend', why couldn’t that have been a single?” He said, “I just couldn’t cut the song down to make it any shorter for the radio”. And it just illustrates that thing about how fucking annoying it is, that peoples’ attention spans are only three minutes long and you can’t have anything longer than that on the radio, unless it’s 'Bohemian Rhapsody'. It really annoys me that a song like 'Our Mutual Friend' will never find its place even though it deserves it. I think the same can be said for most of Neil’s writing, if pop music was a more intellectual pursuit, which maybe is a contradiction in terms, but if it were, then Neil would be lauded as the King.