Interview With Barbara Dickson
Over the course of her career Barbara Dickson has been in musicals, performed concerts all over the world and more recently starred in the TV series The Real Marigold Hotel. I spoke to Barbara about her new album and forthcoming tour.
Your new album, Time is Growing Faster is out at the end of October, what is the title track about?
The song is the last one on the album. Nick Holland who produced the album said that it should be the last song on the album - the song is very tongue in cheek. A musician friend of mine said that when you get older you have to do all the things you wanted to do. I think when you get to being over 70 it is important to grab life with both hands. I’m lucky in that I still have good health to enjoy things and be able to do them.
You have a paperback version of your autobiography A Shirt Box Full of Songs coming out soon.
That’s right - the paperback version is basically an update of the 2009 hardback version, there are several chapters added. A lot of people didn’t know that I had a book out. Now 11 years on from the original version I have a few more interesting things to add. Women say to me that it is pleasing to see me still performing - it is an inspiration to them just as say James Taylor is to me - he still has something to say. I hate nostalgia, preferring to live in the present and look ahead.
You cover a few Gerry Rafferty songs in your live show but most people only remember him for Baker Street.
I suppose it can be a blessing or a curse when people only know you for one big song. People know his name, in fact when I saw him live in the 1990’s I can’t even remember if he sung the song. He was my friend and I want to keep his flame alive, that’s why I cover songs such as Look Over The Hill and Far Away instead of me singing I Know Him So Well which was of it’s time, although it did keep me in the public eye.
How did you spend the Lockdown?
I have used the time wisely - I have started running too, I wasn’t a mad gym buddie before but my Hubbie did swimming, so we decided to start running. We have some gardens opposite where we live in Edinburgh, I was out earlier this morning, I usually do 3km but on a Friday I do 5km. I have a vivid imagination and I keep thinking “Am I ever going to play on stage again” but I find that the running clears my head.
On the tour next year you are coming to Bradford next March. You were the first act to appear at St George’s Hall when it reopened, what was it like?
It was lovely, I have a lot of friends in the area and they were at the concert. I love Bradford as when I used to play the folk clubs I played in Bradford a lot. I have stayed with friends at Harecroft and my Auntie Lisa lived in Haworth.
The curries too in Bradford I like, in the early 70’s there was only one up Leeds Road where you could get a good curry but now you can get a good one all over the city.
You worked with producer Alan Tarney in the early 80’s what was that like?
Alan was on a roll at the time and I had a lot of respect for him as a producer. At the time he had just been working with Cliff Richard, Leo Sayer and he later went on to produce Take On Me by A-ha. If you listen to the production they are so clean and fresh sounding.
I have worked with Mentor Williams in Nashville and I have always liked Junior Campbell from the Marmalade, I still talk to him. I learnt from all these people. Now though things are different as sometimes in the past I have had to please a whole committee of people, it was always a compromise, whereas now I do not have to do that.
How did you get to do the Real Marigold Hotel BBC TV programme?
They asked me to do it. Who would turn down the opportunity to spend 4 weeks in India? It was very colourful plus it gave me the opportunity to meet other people who were all the same age - what you find is that older people do not fight. I was fascinated by Henry Blofeld and he was very interesting.
India though was an assault to the senses, I enjoyed Pondicherry, it reminded me of a crumbling French seaside resort, I hope to go back there and introduce my husband to it.
You have had a varied career, what have you liked the best?
All of those experiences have made me what I am. Singing is what I like best. I am missing an audience like all musicians - there is no outlet for what we do. I hope we can get to Bradford on 25th March - it is also my brother’s birthday that day too.
The new album, Time Is Growing Faster
is out on 30th October
Northern tour dates 2021
17 March - Lowther Pavilion, Lytham St Anne’s
22 March - Royal Philharmonic- Liverpool
24 March - King George’s Hall - Blackburn
25 March - St George’s Hall - Bradford