Departure lounge ramblings on music, places, climate change and stuff outdoors

Jarvis and Attenborough in radio heaven

What a day Sunday was on Radio 6 (6Music if you must): British Sea Power choosing eclectic Scottish-themed tunes on Tom Robinson, Cerys and guests teaching us about the history of the bass guitar, and Guy Garvey delivering another Finest can't-turn-the-radio-off-before-midnight-in-case-you-miss-something Hour. But Jarvis Cocker stole the day with his two hour chat about music and nature with living legend David Attenborough.

It turns out that the world's greatest naturalist is as passionate about music as he is about wildlife, and it came across in every idiosyncratically half-whispered sentence.

In his early days as a BBC producer he teamed up with ethnomusicologist and audio-recording pioneer, Alan Lomax, and we were treated not just to the stories of how these two tried to scientifically understand the role of singing in human evolution, but to some amazing folk archive recordings along the way, along with Attenborough's musings on mating calls, avian mimicry, and Bach.

The best moment was when Jarvis managed to surprise his guest by digging out a recording from an obscure gypsy singer, Margaret Barry, whom Attenborough remembered ruining a live recording 50 years ago by getting blind drunk in the hour between the sound-check and turning on the tapes, but on the evidence of what we were privileged to hear this Sunday was a rare talent indeed.

I won't babble on about it any more because you just have to listen to the show – public service broadcasting at its best!


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