The Goss-pel According To Matt…
The night was shivering.
Even the rain was tapping the windowpane in submission. In search of compassion.
A door opened to a vocal undulation, warm enough to steam-press away the wrinkles of the day.
In response, followed a love-letter to sound, dotting the i’s of vocal and creative intention and inflection, whilst crossing the t’s of technique, tears, Truth.
Curled up at the foot of the laptop, I was content to become one with an imminent musical selection from Matt Goss, which I knew would cruise like a beguiling, classic Bentley… celebrating a songbook which I knew would shine like a city on a hill and beam like a lighthouse to articulate an emotive signpost.
I was justified to believe in my heightening expectations as, from Lewisham to Las Vegas, Ratpack to Rock, in excess of two memorable hours were to change through crooning gears of such greats as Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Kay Starr, Perry Como, Dinah Washington, Harry Connick Jr, Billie Holliday… and ever-onward.
The genius of this, the second Christmas compilation selected by Goss for “his favourite station in the world” of BBC Radio 2, would be the deftly-navigated hairpin turns visited by back-to-back features, allowing for revelatory anecdotes, with profound and courageous destinations of sentiment.
Winding along the, oft, searing side-roads of Donny Hathaway’s angst-infused renderings in ‘Song For You’, served to expand significant apertures into Matt’s life… The self-penned triumph of ‘Mustang’, with lavish strings and Sting’s ubiquitous hit, ‘Englishman In New York’ concisely charted the course of erstwhile love and the acute loneliness of feeling like a small fish in a big pond, respectively… Yet, it is with respect to following the poignant pathways of Roberta Flack’s ‘Killing Me Softly’, which led to the most painful revelation… that of it being played at the funeral of his beloved Mother, Carol.
Such intensely personal moments unified Matt, the presenter and we, the listeners, with experiences, swooping and spiralling into our collective soul. However, just before sorrow had the occasion to settle, rather than move through the experiential labyrinth, we were expertly manoeuvred into the surreal and mesmeric sounds of ‘White Room’ by rock triumvirate, ‘Cream’, dedicated to his Father. We were to be further uplifted by, yet more, divine back-to-back explorations via his mentor, the perennially-masterful, Stevie Wonder, to whom he attributed the extraordinary “ability to take words and describe a complete movie…” How wonderful it was to be wrapped up by the perfect pop-of-sound delivered in ‘What Christmas Means To Me’, whilst being encouraged to indulge in ‘Love’s In Need Of Love Today’, “…a song… seven minutes and six seconds long… [which is] a luxury that most musicians don’t have anymore”…
In a touching tribute to George Michael, “a generous man, a loving man [who] was blessed to be a great songwriter” and “a massive influence” on Goss, ‘Jesus To A Child’ would symbolize an unexpected first-hand flashback for me, to cool December days and eves, living in Northern France. Reflective of the New York recollection, I, too, was very much aware of being away from my precious London but, equally, as excited to be on a new adventure, breaking new ground in the unfurling story of my life.
“Tapestry-of-life kind of legends” whisked me back to the present…
I found it to be a particularly charming example of the song-writing eloquence with which to describe the collaboration between David Bowie and Bing Crosby, from he who has been donned ”The New King of Vegas”*! Matt is, of course, entirely correct in such a description of the delightfully unique pairing and was absolutely inspired in the placement of ‘Peace On Earth/ Little Drummer Boy’ after the sumptuous ‘Favourite Things’, as stylishly performed by Tony Bennett, accompanied by deluxe orchestration which hopped and skipped like stones across a sinuous river, glistening in setting sunlight.
As if this most delectable chocolate box of treats could not get any better, the melodic trip through time signatures and tales was brought to a momentous resolution with Otis Redding’s version of ‘White Christmas’, an absolute classic which, to me, has always been an ultimate solid-gold soul gem, deliciously transposed through the dynamic medium of Redding’s agonisingly mellifluous vocal chords…
Quite possibly my favourite thing of the entire broadcast was, in fact, the spirit in which it was transmitted. Matt, not only, rolled out the Christmas red carpet with a cadence of class, but captured the imagination by metaphorically embracing emotion with sentimental croons, themselves, harmoniously aligned with concept tunes. Wholeheartedly-expressed through the viewfinder of family and underpinned by love, his was the festive gift that kept on giving, which saw us all sublimely into the wee small hours of the most wonderful day of the year…
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”Matt Goss Until Midnight” on BBC Radio 2 is available online, for the next 18 days at:- http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09jqgtm
All quotes from “Matt Goss Until Midnight”, BBC Radio 2, 24/12/2017 except ‘New King of Vegas’* which is from MGM Resorts.
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