Plenty of tea towels

14th April, 2011

    Back at home after the album tour – and a fine tour it was too, if I say so myself. Some good turnouts and we sold a few CD's and plenty of tea towels. I tell you, I'm big in the tea-towel market. We also made some great lunchtime stop-offs thanks to our well-thumbed good pub guide.The nag's head in Pickhill and the olive branch in clipsham were both outstanding meals, and lovely places to spend a few hours' in-between the cities & motorways. Quite proudly as a touring party we never once set foot in motorway services. We bought fuel and provisions in towns and ate in country pubs. It's a small detail, but it made us feel good.

    It's also been good to register people's opinion of the record – you have to take all this stuff with a pinch of salt if you write songs and release them though- time is the only real reviewer. Music reviews are a weird one, Literary cirtsism, unlike music critiscm enjoys the advantage of existing in the same medium (language) as the art it explores and esteems. To write about a song, or a collection of songs is a unenviable task, two chords put together with a melody can have a profound effect on one person without them knowing why, yet have the opposite effect on someone who had a pile of CD's to review for a deadline.

    There's an old Bright eyes song – I can't remember which one - with the line in it "I do not read the reviews, because I am not singing for you".  A sentiment shared by many a songwriter & performer I'm sure. But it also suggests to me that he's read a few of his own reviews, bad ones perhaps, and it's encouraged him instead to concentrate on the people who enjoy his music. There is a very human curiosity in wanting to know what other people think of what you're doing, reading a good review is a nice feeling, but ultimately there's not a lot you can do about it if someone doesn't like your stuff. You make up the songs, and record them the best you can and once it's released then you have to let it go. Sure, it's often a surprise when you receive a slagging. But it's not worth spending too much time thinking about. Much better to concentrate on those who like it, as the song suggests.

    Generally speaking 'the impossible song & other songs' fared well with the critics, and seems to be faring even better with the public and people who come to the shows. Certainly there was nothing along the lines of a review idlewild receives years ago for our album 'warnings/promises', which started 'the problems with this band rest squarely at the feet of woomble...' and then went on to assassinate my character and abilities in 500 words leaving me feeling that I'd been slapped around by some invisible hands. It was almost funny how awful it was. Almost.

    Tea Towels

    Rather late here but: Tea towels! Are they still going? Were they at the Apple Store!? What do they look like?

    I definitely support the use of tea towels as decoration. I have one on my wall with pictures of Scottish delicacies: Irn Bru, Scotch Pie, Scott's Oats, Tennets Super, a Wham bar and a loaf of Mother's Pride.

    I've been yearning for a trip back to Mull since going to the lovely show at the Apple Store. Maybe I'll save up properly so I can take the shorter trip via the big boat this time!

    I still need to buy the album, I'm afraid. Mairi Hedderwick was a wonderful choice; my sister is a fan of Katie Morag and reads them to the wee children she teaches for storytime! And I think my Mum still gets the Hebridean diaries she does too!

    All the best :-)

    Tea Towels

    I bought one of your lovely tea towels, but it's far too nice to use, perhaps I'll frame it!! Came to see you in Nottingham, as I do on most of your tours. Brilliant as always. Shona has a beautiful voice too. Keep it coming...

    Love this Blog!

    As someone that refuses to follow people twittering or whatever it is they do i genuinely love reading this blog.

    Being a huge fan the insight is wonderful and i especially like hearing about what music you are listening to, what you make of new band's such as Mumford & Son's etc. You and Connor Oberst are my favourite lyricists so to hear you mention his work for example makes me feel oddly happy?! The lyric is from 'Lets not shit ourselves', the closing track on Lifted.

    Keep writing and i'll keep reading.... i'd even learn how to use twitter if you do :)


    I always felt Warnings/Promises is the most accomplished Idlewild record and in particular features some of your best vocal performances. This is the album which has faired the best over time. I always think its the albums that take a few listens to understand that can be enjoyed for longer. So if the reviewer only listens once or twice, they'll never 'get it'. Does that make sense?

    Medlody Maker


    I remember reading a review in Melody Maker which was also a bit of an unfair character assassination. I think the reviewer caught up with you in Shetland around the time of 100 Broken Windows and opened with the gambit, "shouldn't it be a little discourage-ment'.

    Bob Woodward he/she was not.

    Enjoying your new album by the way.



    I would like to thank you for your touring this year - twice in N. Ireland is a bonus for us
    Was at the Black Box in Belfast in January, a great afternoon. I've bought the new album (preordered, so got it on release date), and looking forward to 27th May, again at the Black Box. In January it was worth the 130 mile round trip and it will definitely be worth it again the week after next.... really looking forward to it especially with John McCusker. I love all of the new album, my favourites are Hour after hour and Make something out of what it's worth.
    Safe travels when you come over Roddy

    Was at the Black Box in

    Was at the Black Box in Belfast in January, a great afternoon. I've bought the new album (preordered, so got it on release date), and looking forward to 27th May, again at the Black Box. In January it was worth the 130 mile round trip and it will definitely be worth it again the week after next.... really looking forward to it. I love all of the new album, my favourites are Hour after hour and Make something out of what it's worth.
    Safe travels when you come over Roddy

    Here's an idea...

    If literary criticism exists in the same medium, perhaps it music critics could be required to offer their opinions in musical form? It might silence a few...

    I'm still loving the new album although I was quite surprised to listen to it driving to Ikea, get out of the car, and then hear 'Roll Along' being piped into the multi-storey carpark!

    The Criticisms

    I'm sure you know as much as any musician, you gain fans, you lose fans. Old fans and new fans come and go, some longer than others. In your own words, everything is always changing! There are plenty of people who love what you do and especially W/P which is probably my favourite Idlewild album, time has proved that one. Like Mr Oberst concentrate on those who appreciate your output. Really enjoyed seeing you, Sorren, Seonaid and Duncan on tour earlier in the year and keep up the hillwalking!

    Hi Roddy, Was great to meet

    Hi Roddy,

    Was great to meet you in York a few weeks back. Just wanted to say that the new album is amazing - I particularly love a new day has begun, hour after hour and between the old moon. Not sure if you'll remember, but I'm the person who asked you the lyrics to the chorus of 'between the old moon.' I think you were really brave in the way you recorded the album - it was far from what I was expecting but in a pleasantly surprising way. I have you to thank for getting me into folk as a genre - with Idlewild being my favourite band i tentatively checked out your debut and loved it - after seeing DMW I started listening to Boo Hewerdine, LAU, Kris Drever, Heidi Talbot, John Mccusker, Aidan O' Rourke, Graham Coxon and all sorts - so thanks! By the way, the warnings/promises review is a load of rubbish - it's an amazing album which still gets a regular spin from me! I think Idlewild's best are actually post electric blues and make another world, so as far as I'm concerned, you keep on getting better. I sincerely hope you record more albums in the future with Idlewild, although I'm finding I love to listen to your solo music just as much. I don't think there'll ever be a band whose music will mean as much to me as Idlewild (sorry if that sounded corny or if I've come off as too much of a fanboy). One thought I had for a future RW project would be LAU v Roddy Woomble - what do you think? They've done a couple of these now with Adem and Karine can only dream.

    All the best Roddy

    More gigs

    Will you be doing any more gigs in the Glasgow/west coast area this summer? The reason I ask is that I currently live abroad and will be coming home for a short while this summer.

    Reviewing art of any form

    Reviewing art of any form doesn't sit comfortably with me. How can one person successfully assess an objective, emotional item of expression? Can't be done........I only ever find myself reading reviews purely out of boredom and then enduring a period of guilt.....what if I would have liked that record but now I've read the review slating it, I will never be able to listen to it without prejudice (sorry George).

    I, for one am enjoying your new record very much. Where can I buy the tea-towel?

    Impossible Song lyrics

    Loving the album the more I hear it. But there are still places where I can't make out what the lyrics are. Is there not some place where you've got the words posted? No record should ever be released without a lyric sheet, I'm tellin' you. ;-)

    Roddy big-ish in Germany...

    Just a note to mention that my German mother-in-law is a big fan of all your solo stuff Roddy. This despite the fact that she understands none of the lyrics! I put together a compilation of your solo projects for her and it's all on her MP3 player which she listens to while gardening.

    So there you have it - your target demographic should be middle-aged German women who like gardening. You don't need to break the US after all!

    Keep doing what you do. To paraphrase; your melodies, chords and lyrics can have a profound effect on some people. And I'm one of them.

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