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Baker's Dozen

A Woman, A Man: John Parish's Favourite PJ Harvey Recordings
Jennifer Lucy Allan , February 3rd, 2021 08:42

As PJ Harvey continues a major series of vinyl reissues of her incredible discography, her long-time collaborator and friend John Parish guides Jennifer Lucy Allan through his favourite 13 of her recordings


‘April’ (From A Woman A Man Walked By)
This track was cut live in Toybox Studios, Bristol. I remember listening to the playback in the control room with Polly, Carla, Eric and Giovanni and everybody had that look of barely contained excitement when you know you’ve recorded something really special. It felt in many ways like the most traditional song on a very untraditional record. I think the lyric is great, really unusual, very poetic. It was one of the first lyrics I’d seen after she became more interested in poetry.

There is a massive difference between poetry and song lyrics, and it's quite difficult to make that jump. A lot of lyrics are great but do not work as poetry, and visa versa, but this was one of the first you could read as a piece of poetry or as a lyric. The whole of ‘April' works as poetry. Something about the ‘inappropriate clothing’ – when I first heard that line, it was so unusual to hear a line like that in a song and how it's delivered. The delivery is so strange too, the voice Polly uses in that song. That recording was live, a special moment where everything suddenly came together. I'm still very attached to it.