John Cooper Clarke

Poet — Salford

Name, where are you from?
I’m John Cooper Clarke, originally from Salford.

Describe your style in three words?
I dress carefully. That’s how I would describe my style. I dress carefully, I didn't say 'well'!

Tell us about 'This Time It's Personal'
Yeah, I've got an album out. It was released in collaboration with Hugh Cornwell, late of The Stranglers, it's an album of covers.

Hugh chose all of the tracks. He originally invited me in just for ‘MacArthur Park’. He figured I would speak the lyrics in my normal, poetical style because of the arcane and poetic nature of the lyrics. But, that never occurred to me actually. I saw it as my big opportunity to make it as a singer, so I turned up and sung it. He was pleasantly surprised, and unlike ‘MacArthur Park’, I already knew the lyrics to all of the other songs. They were much easier.

There are ten tracks…

'It’s Only Make Believe' - A hit for a hit for Conway Twitty
'Way Down Yonder In New Orleans' - A hit for Freddy Cannon.
'Spanish Harlem' - Written by Phil Spector and Jerry Leiber
'Johnny Remember Me'
'Macarthur Park' - The most modern track on the album going back to 1968, released at the height of the psychedelic boom…seems like yesterday...hahaha.
'She's a Woman', A hit for Peggy Lee and Ray Charles.
'Donna'. Beautiful ballad. Not the 10cc version, heaven forbid. Written by Richie Valance and a hit for the same guy in 1957.
'Jezebel' - A hit for Frankie Laine around 1952.
'Love Potion No. 9' - Originally by The Clovers.
'Sweeter Than You' - Directly from my heart to my lady wife. A beautiful song, a hit for Ricky Nelson, in 1978.

What was the first track you played on repeat?
That would have to be the first Elvis record. Unbelievable, ‘Heart Break Hotel’… phenomenal. Me and 70 million people would give you the same answer, I imagine.

Song you wish you'd written?
‘White Christmas’, the most lucrative song ever written.

Favourite song lyric?
I've got many. I don't think any song was ever a hit because of the lyrics. They're not the first thing to make an impression. I think the tune comes first and then by osmosis, over the years the lyrics become extremely important and come back to haunt you.

Songs that alerted me to the power of songwriting, would have been the great American songbook. People like Rodgers and Hart, Cole Porter, Sammy Cahn… the people who wrote for those pre-rock n roll artists - people like Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Doris Day, Ella Fitzgerald.

One song that I find very haunting and extremely poetic lyric wise is 'You Don't Know What Love Is'… my favourite version being the one by Chet Baker.

Who do you listen to every day?
Every day at some point I listen to Elvis, Frank Sinatra, Chet Baker, George Jones.

It changes every day, one day when I go on Desert Island Discs I'm gonna nail it. Actually, I'll give you a playlist if you want… there are loads of songs in my bag. Why don't we do that!

The Young Rascals ‘Groovin’ - My signature tune.
The Chantels ‘Maybe’
Robert Gordon & Link Wray ‘If This Is Wrong’
Elvis ‘Poor Boy’
The Everly Brothers ‘When Will I Be Loved?’ 
Claudine Clark ‘Party Lights’ - There's another classic.
Françoise Hardy ‘All Over The World’
The James Hunter Six - Van Morrison says he's the best singer that England has ever produced. James Hunter, he's a friend of mine, check him out. He sounds like an agreeable cross between, Ray Charles, early James Brown and a little bit of Sam Cook. Fabulous singer. 
Nico ‘I'll Keep It With Mine‘
The Ramones ‘Suzy is a Headbanger’ 
Blondie ‘Denis’
Jackson C. Frank ‘Blues Run The Game’
Jerry Keller ‘Here Comes Summer’
Lonnie Donegan ‘Gamblin' Man’
Chas & Dave ‘Railroad Bill’
Nat King Cole ‘Stardust’
The Students ‘I'm So Young’
The Ronettes ‘Baby I Love You’ 
The Skyliners ‘Since I Don't Have You’
Sydney Youngblood ‘If Only I Could’
Mark Morrison ‘Return Of The Mack’
Robert Palmer ‘Some Guys Have All The Luck’
Phil Upchurch ‘You Can't Sit Down’ - Mod anthem!
Dion ‘The Wanderer’
Sham 69 ‘Hurry Up Harry’ - My daughter's favourite punk anthem.
Finally, The Chips ‘Rubber Biscuit’.

Name, where are you from?
I’m John Cooper Clarke, originally from Salford.

Describe your style in three words?
I dress carefully. That’s how I would describe my style. I dress carefully, I didn't say 'well'!

Tell us about 'This Time It's Personal'
Yeah, I've got an album out. It was released in collaboration with Hugh Cornwell, late of The Stranglers, it's an album of covers.

Hugh chose all of the tracks. He originally invited me in just for ‘MacArthur Park’. He figured I would speak the lyrics in my normal, poetical style because of the arcane and poetic nature of the lyrics. But, that never occurred to me actually. I saw it as my big opportunity to make it as a singer, so I turned up and sung it. He was pleasantly surprised, and unlike ‘MacArthur Park’, I already knew the lyrics to all of the other songs. They were much easier.

There are ten tracks…

'It’s Only Make Believe' - A hit for a hit for Conway Twitty
'Way Down Yonder In New Orleans' - A hit for Freddy Cannon.
'Spanish Harlem' - Written by Phil Spector and Jerry Leiber
'Johnny Remember Me'
'Macarthur Park' - The most modern track on the album going back to 1968, released at the height of the psychedelic boom…seems like yesterday...hahaha.
'She's a Woman', A hit for Peggy Lee and Ray Charles.
'Donna'. Beautiful ballad. Not the 10cc version, heaven forbid. Written by Richie Valance and a hit for the same guy in 1957.
'Jezebel' - A hit for Frankie Laine around 1952.
'Love Potion No. 9' - Originally by The Clovers.
'Sweeter Than You' - Directly from my heart to my lady wife. A beautiful song, a hit for Ricky Nelson, in 1978.

What was the first track you played on repeat?
That would have to be the first Elvis record. Unbelievable, ‘Heart Break Hotel’… phenomenal. Me and 70 million people would give you the same answer, I imagine.

Song you wish you'd written?
‘White Christmas’, the most lucrative song ever written.

Favourite song lyric?
I've got many. I don't think any song was ever a hit because of the lyrics. They're not the first thing to make an impression. I think the tune comes first and then by osmosis, over the years the lyrics become extremely important and come back to haunt you.

Songs that alerted me to the power of songwriting, would have been the great American songbook. People like Rodgers and Hart, Cole Porter, Sammy Cahn… the people who wrote for those pre-rock n roll artists - people like Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Doris Day, Ella Fitzgerald.

One song that I find very haunting and extremely poetic lyric wise is 'You Don't Know What Love Is'… my favourite version being the one by Chet Baker.

Who do you listen to every day?
Every day at some point I listen to Elvis, Frank Sinatra, Chet Baker, George Jones.

It changes every day, one day when I go on Desert Island Discs I'm gonna nail it. Actually, I'll give you a playlist if you want… there are loads of songs in my bag. Why don't we do that!

The Young Rascals ‘Groovin’ - My signature tune.
The Chantels ‘Maybe’
Robert Gordon & Link Wray ‘If This Is Wrong’
Elvis ‘Poor Boy’
The Everly Brothers ‘When Will I Be Loved?’ 
Claudine Clark ‘Party Lights’ - There's another classic.
Françoise Hardy ‘All Over The World’
The James Hunter Six - Van Morrison says he's the best singer that England has ever produced. James Hunter, he's a friend of mine, check him out. He sounds like an agreeable cross between, Ray Charles, early James Brown and a little bit of Sam Cook. Fabulous singer. 
Nico ‘I'll Keep It With Mine‘
The Ramones ‘Suzy is a Headbanger’ 
Blondie ‘Denis’
Jackson C. Frank ‘Blues Run The Game’
Jerry Keller ‘Here Comes Summer’
Lonnie Donegan ‘Gamblin' Man’
Chas & Dave ‘Railroad Bill’
Nat King Cole ‘Stardust’
The Students ‘I'm So Young’
The Ronettes ‘Baby I Love You’ 
The Skyliners ‘Since I Don't Have You’
Sydney Youngblood ‘If Only I Could’
Mark Morrison ‘Return Of The Mack’
Robert Palmer ‘Some Guys Have All The Luck’
Phil Upchurch ‘You Can't Sit Down’ - Mod anthem!
Dion ‘The Wanderer’
Sham 69 ‘Hurry Up Harry’ - My daughter's favourite punk anthem.
Finally, The Chips ‘Rubber Biscuit’.

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