If Graham Gouldman was known only for his contribution to 70s rock icons 10cc, that would surely be enough to make him a music legend, but by the time 10cc first hit the charts in 1972, Graham had already written some of the most memorable songs that shaped the soundtrack of the sixties.
Graham was just 18 when For Your Love became a top 3 hit for The Yardbirds in 1965. Heart Full of Soul (#2) and Evil Hearted You (#3) quickly followed establishing Graham as one of the brightest young talents in a golden era for rock and pop. More hits for the Hollies (Look Through Any Window and Bus Stop), Herman’s Hermits (No Milk Today) and Wayne Fontana (Pamela, Pamela) were among a catalogue that cemented his reputation and still feature regularly on the radio today.
Graham maintains that a good song can always be performed acoustically and he’ll be doing just that, for only the third time in eight years, when Graham takes his Heart Full of Songs show on the road again, visiting the Pavilion Arts Centre, Buxton on Friday 22 September, part of a UK wide tour the ends at London’s Shaw Theatre on 20 October.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” he told me. “It’s quite different from the 10cc show which is all lights and production, a big band sound. This is a more intimate affair.
“The songs take on a different character. You home in on the lyrics a lot more, listening to them in a pure form and I get to share what is was like the first time it was written. Obviously I was there,” he laughs, “the first time I’m Not In Love was ever played because I co-wrote it! That’s what I want people to feel.
“I’m Not In Love is a good example. It’s quite famous for its production, but to hear it in its pure form, it stands up very well. That’s the sign of a good song, really, if it works like that. The production is a plus but there has to be a good song at the heart of it all.
Image courtesy of Graham Gouldman
“The show also gives me the chance to talk about the songs a little bit, how they came about and what inspired them.”
He revealed that Bus Stop, which hit number 5 on both sides of the Atlantic for the Hollies in 1966, is possibly his personal favourite. “It was semi-autobiographical. Some songs are complete fiction and some a mixture of fiction and reality, with quite a lot of imagination.”
“I did used to take the bus to work every day before I became a professional writer. There is a bit of fantasy there but the bus stop was real. When I was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, you have to perform one song and I chose Bus Stop.”
“Songs from personal experience have an air of authenticity about them. I’ve written a song about my wife, how we met, which turned out to be quite handy,” he explains. “Whenever people ask how I met my wife, I just quote the first verse of the song,” he laughs, “and I don’t have to go through a long rigmarole!”
Graham usually includes a short medley of his other works in his 10cc shows. They are always a popular feature, but Heart Full Of Songs allows him to explore his back-catalogue more fully.
“I hasten to say that I was very shocked to think of how many decades I’m drawing on for these songs! It’s wonderful to have that and it gives me the luxury of being able to pick the songs that really suit being played acoustically. There is one song that I could not get to work at all, so I completely changed the rhythm of it, it goes down great and it’s fun to play in its different form. I don’t really like to change arrangements that much, although sometimes you have to. Going back to I’m Not In Love, there is a whole middle section that I just cut out because it does not work. Some songs are so production orientated that I don’t feel they work acoustically, but I have so many other songs that I can use, so it’s ok.”
Graham appearing with 10cc in 2009
This platform also gives Graham the opportunity to include a couple of tracks from his Wax collaboration with the late Andrew Gold, together with later material including Daylight, Graham’s tribute to Andrew.
Graham with Iain Hornal and Ciaran Jeremiah
Image courtesy of Graham Gouldman
“I love playing that song, I just wish he could have heard it. There are a couple of songs that I wrote with Andrew in the show, they are things I couldn’t do with 10cc. That’s what is so nice about it.”
Graham first performed his Heart Full Of Songs show in 2013 and again the following year, but 10cc’s success over the past three years has been such that this is the first opportunity he has had to take it back on the road again.
“I’m also looking forward to working with my band mates. Iain Hornal is a wonderful musician and singer/songwriter who is a sometime replacement for Mick Wilson when Mick is not available for 10cc gigs. One of the songs we’ll be performing on the tour is co-written with Iain. Ciaran Jeremiah joined me on the last Heart Full Of Songs tour. He is a member of The Feeling and is a super talented musician and singer.”
Graham Gouldman’s Heart Full Of Songs is on tour until 20 October. Visit Graham’s website for a full list of venues.