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Baker's Dozen

Mercurial Rev: Richard Coles' Favourite Music
Alex Burrows , April 14th, 2021 08:57

Vicar, musician, broadcaster and ex-Communard, The Reverend Richard Coles tells Alex Burrows how music is still important to belief and why parish choirs are the new punk. Portrait by Tim Anderson.


Jenn Colella – ‘Me And The Sky ‘
It’s from Come From Away, a fantastic Canadian musical about what happened after 9/11 when 38 planes were diverted to Gander [Newfoundland, Canada]. In the old days, Gander was just somewhere airplanes stopped on the way to more interesting places. All of a sudden, thousands of people are stranded there. It’s such a great premise for a drama: lots of unlikely people suddenly forced into each other’s company in an expected place.

This song is based on the real life of a woman called Beverley Bass, a female pilot and the first female commercial airline captain. Again, a woman making her own way in a man’s world. It’s a great musical and so much fun. The world got a lot darker after 9/11 and while it’s a musical about that period, it’s one that just insists there are irreducibly wonderful things about being human and what the potentiality and possibilities of that are. It’s very encouraging. I took the parish to see it and they all cried – except for one person.

I’m probably a failed musical writer when I think about it. I wrote one when I was 12 or 13. There was a report about it in the Kettering Evening Telegraph with a picture of me writing the score. It was never performed; it was more of a scene than a musical. I can’t even remember what it was about or what it was called. I just remember being very excited at seeing my picture in the Kettering Evening Telegraph. I felt like Cole Porter.