Listen to my Xmas 2021 playlist
Compiling a Xmas playlist is always a challenge: enough favourites to please everyone but not too many tunes that have been flogged in the shopping centres since early November.
My Xmas 2021 playlist includes the great band leader Louis Prima, a grumpy offering from the Pet Shop Boys, Beck's bent Little Drum Machine Boy, Ella Fitzgerald, Bob Dylan, and a gem from Minnesota Indie band, Low.
Listen to the Mike Nesmith story
In 1966, American TV executives wanted the "youth" market. They'd seen the success of the zany Beatle films and wanted some of that action. But they didn't have a band. So they invented one.
The Monkees was a TV show about a band, played by actors Mike Nesmith, Peter Tork, Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones. But the actors became the band, taking over from the studio musicians and songwriters who created the Monkees hit records.
When the Monkees split, Mike Nesmith went on to succeed as a solo act, a songwriter, and a pioneer of video in music. It was Mike that pitched the idea of a music clip television show to Warner Brothers - that became MTV. Inventing ran in the Nesmith family. His mother, Bette, invented the typewriter correction fluid that became known as Liquid Paper.
Mike died in December. He was 78.
Listen to the sounds of 2001 here
This year, we’ve looked at the way music changes over time.
We’ve gone to the first year of each decade – starting with the swinging big bands of 1941. In 51, we were on the cusp of rock and roll, which vanished, for a time, in 1961.
We immersed ourselves in the musical highs of 1971, rode the new wave of 81, went clubbing to the music of 91.
And so, we come to our last stop – 2001, when yes, music had changed, but not as much as the way we got it. It was the year of the iPod.
Listen to great Dolly Parton songs
Dolly Parton is one of music's biggest stars. She's so much more than her major hit records like Jolene and 9 to 5. Dolly is a great songwriter, blessed with an almost supernatural talent for arranging. She's a gifted singer, a great interpreter of song. Dolly's voice inhabits a song, and it feels that she does too. She sings from experience - Dolly has lived these songs, or she knows and cares for someone who did.
So here's a collection of "deep Dolly" - songs you may not have heard before that show why Dolly Parton is the real deal, a very big deal.
Richard is a writer, podcaster, radio and TV broadcaster, an editor, and a lover of music. He tells the stories of how great songs are made, and of the people who make them.