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Baker's Dozen

Spiders' Webs From Scraps: Guy Garvey's Favourite Albums
Lisa Jenkins , May 11th, 2016 09:59

Before his edition of the Meltdown festival begins next month, the singer-songwriter, broadcaster and Elbow frontman talks to Lisa Jenkins about his love of Talk Talk, lyrical grey areas and nutmeg-based mishaps


Jolie Holland – Catalpa
My friend Tony recommended Jolie Holland. I'd never heard it. He heard it through his girlfriend, and he said, "This has been made in a bedroom and it's beautiful." She even coughs in the middle of a song, she does: "All the morning birds", she hits a beautiful, fluty high note and then clears her throat and she just left that recording the way it was.

I was so into it, much like the Chet Baker record. It's just a singular mood. You put the whole album on and drift off into her world for a bit with her. And it is literally a bedroom musing. And then I found out it was one of Tom Waits's favourite records. That was validation to my opinion, and I just loved it.

Then when I came to making my solo record, very nervous but on a whim, I contacted Jolie and said: "There is no one on earth I'd rather do a duet with, and I know you don't know me from Adam, but any chance?" And she got back and she said, "I'd love too", and we recorded 'Electricity' together, which was great. We were both conducting transatlantic love affairs at the time, and I'm obsessed with the transatlantic phone cable, what it took to lay it. It's 3,000 miles, it's 10-feet thick cable, and every time it snapped they had to start again. The way they did it, it was steamships in those days, so paddle steamers in effect. Two steamers met mid-Atlantic and circled each other, while attaching their halves of the cable together. And then took off in different directions, that's how it happened. And there was a huge fuss when it was connected. Everybody celebrating. Imagine the money involved in the endeavour, because every time it snapped that it, you've lost the cable, you've got to start again. When it arrived in New York and in England, of course both sides celebrating wildly; in actual fact, it stopped working after a couple of days. These endeavours were fresh in my head at the time, so Jolie and I wrote a song called 'Electricity', which is about precisely that, conducting a love affair transatlantically. My favourite bit being I said to her at one point: "What haven't we said that you always say on a long-distance phone call?" And she said, "'What are you wearing?'" And I said, it's got to go in, but you're singing it [laughs].