Darragh McManus’s week on the radio
As one half of the songwriting team in Suede — greatest British band since the Beatles — Bernard Butler created the greatest rock album ever in Dog Man Star (both IMHO, of course).
All that, however, was in the past (depressingly far in the past if that record coincided with your own heyday). These days, Butler is a composer, producer, lecturer — and, as heard on The Ray D’Arcy Show (Radio 1, Mon-Fri, 3pm) — is keeping his hand in as a working musician.
He’s recorded an album, For All Our Days That Tear the Heart, with the extremely and multitalented Jessie Buckley. They made a very charming pair, quick to laugh and free of the usual star egotism, as they recounted how they met, Bernard’s Irish roots, recording during “breaks” in lockdown, channelling the spirit of Sinéad O’Connor while in Cabaret.
A really nice piece, with a brilliantly funny line from Jessie’s dad (recorded earlier) about how, during her recent run of awards nominations, he wouldn’t be looking for Bafta tickets but would hold off for the Oscars. Being from Kerry, he said, “You don’t bother going to the semi-final — you wait till the All-Ireland.”
My only gripe was that the host didn’t ask about Bernard’s acrimonious divorce from — and later reconciliation with — the mighty Suede. But you can’t have everything. Oh, and Jessie sang beautifully in studio; the human voice is a magic thing.
Or is it? According to research discussed on Lunchtime Live (Newstalk, Mon-Fri, 12pm), people are less willing to answer their phones. Some 75pc of UK office workers prefer email or social media. Younger respondents even claimed to find phone calls aggressive and confrontational. Depends who’s calling, presumably?
Contributors had mixed views. One said he would “definitely” let the call ring out, even from his father. Another said that, for her, work calls generally meant someone complaining, in which case it was good to have a metaphorical paper trail of emails.
Contrariwise, one woman reckoned calls were better for “getting a vibe of who the person is”. Another contributor decried the move towards automation and constant redirection towards a website for information.
Besides, if the trend accelerates, what will it mean for that hardy old staple of radio — indeed the raison d’être of this very show — the listener phone-in?
Meanwhile, proof positive that art is impossibly subjective. The Hard Shoulder (Newstalk, Mon-Fri, 4pm) reported on An Bord Pleanála’s ruling that Cathy McGovern remove a giant mural — two ballerinas in boxing gloves — which is “out of scale with the façade” and would “seriously injure the visual amenities of the properties in the vicinity”.
So they hate it. I think it’s fantastic, a really cool piece of art that makes the house look even better. Where do you stand? Phone now, our operators are waiting to take your call.