Being a singer - story

A story told by Jake on 'Jake Thackray and Songs', BBC TV 27 January 1981

There's another thing about . . . about being a singer. I like the job; I like being a singer. You know: when I grow up I want to be a singer. But perversely enough you cannot be a singer without having to talk. You've - you've got to talk. What I prefer to do, given the chance, just facing you like this . . . I'd just prefer to sing the songs, you know, pell-mell, one after another: I sing, you go clap; I sing, you go clap - or not, as the case may be. And for me, any case, the evening would be pleasant; I could . . . it'd trot away nice and briskly.

But you can't do that. You can do it if you're an acrobat. I mean, if you're an acrobat all you've got to do, you're billed as an acrobat so, what do you do? - you check your flies are done up and you come on and you acrobat; you just acrobat all night. Hooray! And if you're a conjurer, you come on and conje. You know. And people would be disappointed if you sat down and gave them a few Helen Shapiro numbers at the piano. Perversely enough, if you're a singer, and it's something that I'm trying to get used to and I cannot: it might sound a bit disingenuous but I - can't get used to it: the fact that you've got to talk. 'Cos if you don't - if you don't talk, after a few songs just like that, you know, in my case people . . . I can see 'em: I can look down and after song number three without saying anything I can see them; and they're going: 'Say, can't the bugger talk?'

Going home in - afterwards in the motor car, I used to think: How did you sing the songs? Well, that was a bit duff. I used to think about the songs and then I thought: Christ, what did you say in between? And I remembered, and then I started blushing, erm, and there's nothing worse than blushing to yourself in the dark. So. . . so, listen I stopped doing it, erm, I've stopped doing it. If . . . Sometimes I just won't stop. Sometimes I'll finish a song and just lumber on into the next one. And then when I feel that I ought to do a talking bit, I'll stop, and do a talking bit.

Buy the DVD

jake bbc dvd

The DVD of the BBC series 'Jake Thackray and Songs' is now available to buy online via Amazon.

'Magnificent' (The Independent)

'Jake Thackray and Songs', broadcast in 1981, captures him at the height of his powers; it paints an intimate portrait of Jake as a live artist, playing to audiences in the small venues where he felt most comfortable.

This BBC-licensed DVD, professionally produced from the original BBC masters, features all of Jake's performances from the series: thirty of his greatest songs, along with his inimitable between-songs chat and storytelling.

Also included are previously unreleased performances by three outstanding guest artists: Ralph McTell, Alex Glasgow and Pete Scott.