The story of how a song from a classic 80’s movie became an inspirational anthem for a 21st Century generation.
Carly Simon’s ‘Let the River Run’ was originally conceived as the title track for the 1988 movie ‘Working Girl. It went on to win the Academy Award for Best Original Song. It also went on to win the affection of people around the world.
Initially thought of as a ‘hymn for New York’, ‘Let the River Run’ encapsulates the spirit of striving for a better life. As Carly Simon puts it herself, “I wanted it to be large, I wanted it to be vast – it’s about bringing forth a common desire into the world”. In more recent years it has become an anthem for Woman's Rights Movements and global initiatives aimed at making a better life for all.
Featuring interviews with: Carly Simon, Ginny Suss (music producer and part of the team who organised the Women’s March on Washington), Ultra Marathon Runner Elisabet Barnes, Nina Ritzen and music from The Resistance Revival Chorus.
Produced by Nicola Humphries
The music was written by Charlie Chaplin in 1935 for the film 'Modern Times', but the lyrics were only added thirty years later. Chris Philips tells the story of how his grandfather was inspired to write the words when he left his father at boarding school; Gemma Lowery talks about how her son Bradley loved the song; writer Bryony Rheam describes why she associates the song with her grandmother; Marine Lucas remembers flying to Michael Jackson's memorial on hearing the news of his death and author Bob Williams remembers after his father died, his mother sitting on the floor listening to the Nat King Cole version and crying when he came home from school.
Shine On You Crazy Diamond
Shine On You Crazy Diamond discussed by voices including David Gilmour of Pink Floyd.
Understood to have been written about Syd Barrett, their former band member, it’s both a tribute, and a call for him to ‘shine on’ despite suffering serious mental health issues.
In this edition of Soul Music, David Gilmour of Pink Floyd recalls the legendary day that Syd Barrett unexpectedly appeared in the studio where they were recording Wish You Were Here, the album bookended by Shine On. Nobody recognised Syd at first; once handsome and slender, he'd gained weight and shaved his head and eyebrows.
Another contributor to the programme, Anna Gascoigne, talks about the pain of losing her son, Jay. He was a gentle boy, a talented musician, who eventually succumbed to the multiple mental health problems he had battled for years. Shine On You Crazy Diamond, for Anna, speaks directly to her of Jay; he loved Pink Floyd and Shine On was played at his memorial service. Anna, herself, was driven to the brink of suicide by her son’s death. It was the support of her family – including her brother, Paul Gascoigne - that helped her to carry on.
Ed Steelefox, a DJ based in Worcester, describes a New Year’s Eve house-party of a few years ago: as the guests gradually fell asleep he chose to slip out the door leaving a non-stop playlist of different, live, versions of Shine On You Crazy Diamond to penetrate their dreams.
And Professor Allan Moore, a regular Soul Music contributor, takes to the grand piano to play and talk about what it is in the track that is so directly reminiscent of Syd Barrett.
NB: Details of organisations offering information and support are available at bbc.co.uk/actionline, or you can call for free, at any time to hear recorded information on 08000 566 065. Please scroll further down this page to 'Related Links' for direct links to actionline, and for more information about Jay's story.
Producer: Karen Gregor
A new series of Soul Music begins with stories of Joni Mitchell's 'River', from her iconic 1971 album Blue. A song about the breakdown of a relationship and of a longing to be elsewhere that has become a melancholy Christmas anthem.
It's coming on Christmas / They're cutting down trees / They're putting up reindeer / And singing songs of joy and peace / Oh I wish I had a river / I could skate away on....
Emotional true stories of what the song means to different people, including comedian Chris Forbes, who lost his father on Christmas Day; Isobel, who fell sick far from home and understands the longing to be elsewhere captured in the song; Laura, who heard the song while pregnant at Christmastime; writer Rob Crossan, who will forever associate the song with his first love; Canadian poet Lorna Crozier who describes the frozen rivers of her and Joni's Saskatchewan childhood; and from Joni Mitchell's biographer David Yaffe.
Includes a rare live recording of 'River' from a BBC Concert in 1970, hosted by John Peel. The other versions of the song are by (in order of appearance) Joni Mitchell (Blue, 1971), Scott Matthews (Live Session for BBC 6 Music, 2011), Béla Fleck and the Flecktones (Jingle All the Way, 2008) and the Belgian indie choir Scala & Kolacny Brothers (Live Session for BBC 6 Music, 2011).
Producer: Mair Bosworth
"Your true colors...are beautiful, like a rainbow..."
Billy Steinberg's lyrics were originally inspired by his mother but his song writing partner Tom Kelly recognised it's universal appeal and with a slight re-write, it became the song that Cyndi Lauper made famous the world over.
Growing up in a small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Ken Kidd could never truly be himself. Watching Cyndi Lauper perform True Colors on MTV showed him that it was OK to be his authentic self. Years later he describes his pride at watching the Rainbow Flag being raised above the Stonewall National Monument as he and other LGBTQ campaigners sang that same song.
Lesley Pyne learnt to sing 'True Colors' with her local choir. It's a song that resonated with her more than she had ever expected. After six attempts at IVF, Lesley had had to come to terms with the knowledge that she wouldn't be able to have children. It wasn't easy. It has taken years of digging deep to work through the grief but now she helps others to find their true colours and firmly believes that they can be beautiful, like a rainbow.
And in 1999, Caroline Paige, a jet and helicopter navigator in the Royal Air Force, became the first ever openly serving transgender officer in the British military. She rose above the extraordinary challenges placed before her to show her 'True Colors' whilst serving her country on the front line in the war on terror.
Featuring songwriter Billy Steinberg and music from The Rock Choir
Produced by Nicola Humphries.