The Bard of Hull’s po­ems get a new lease of mu­si­cal life

Yorkshire Post - Culture & The Guide - - MUSIC - Chris Bond

FOR a man who spent so much time peer­ing fear­fully into the grave, it is mor­dantly ironic that Philip Larkin’s death proved such a good ca­reer move. In the 25 years since he passed away on a hos­pi­tal bed in Hull, his pop­u­lar­ity has soared.

The Philip Larkin So­ci­ety pro­motes the poet’s life and work both here and abroad and, ar­guably, to­day no other English poet is more quoted than the author of The Whit­sun Wed­dings.

He has spawned an in­dus­try that stretches far be­yond his slen­der col­lec­tion of care­fully crafted po­ems and in­cludes nu­mer­ous TV dra­mas, doc­u­men­taries and plays. There has also been no short­age of mu­si­cal trib­utes over the years and now a self­em­ployed painter and dec­o­ra­tor from Hull has added his name to the list.

Jim Or­win, a lo­cal song­writer and ar­dent Larkin fan, has pro­duced All Night North, an al­bum of Larkin po­ems set to mu­sic, hav­ing spent years re­search­ing Larkin’s mu­si­cal con­nec­tions.

“ Well over a third of the po­ems from Larkin’s Col­lected Po­ems have been set to mu­sic on at least one oc­ca­sion. Mu­sic and Philip Larkin are my two great pas­sions, so it seemed a log­i­cal pro­gres­sion to get lo­cal bands from the area to have a go at do­ing some­thing sim­i­lar,” he says.

Like many fans, Or­win first be­came in­ter­ested in Larkin’s work as a young­ster.

“For me, Larkin’s work ap­peals be­cause its lan­guage is ac­ces­si­ble. It’s of­ten col­lo­quial and de­cep­tively sim­ple but it re­wards the reader on lots of dif­fer­ent lev­els. He pro­duced more great po­ems than any other poet of his gen­er­a­tion which, in my view, makes Larkin the great­est poet writ­ing in English of the 20th cen­tury.”

Or­win has been in­volved with the Philip Larkin So­ci­ety for more than a decade and he thought a mu­sic al­bum could be a fit­ting way to mark the 25th an­niver­sary of the poet’s death. He be­gan search­ing for song­writ­ers from East York­shire back in Novem­ber 2008. “I asked them to choose which Larkin poem they wanted to set to mu­sic and let them get on with it,” he says.

The al­bum, which con­tains 12 songs, fea­tures ev­ery­one from punk and in­die bands, to folk singers and coun­try out­fits. The record was funded by Hull City Arts Unit, through Larkin25 and The Philip Larkin So­ci­ety, and Or­win is de­lighted with the end re­sult. “I re­ally love ev­ery­thing on the al­bum,” he says.

“The idea was to bring Larkin’s work to a younger, mu­si­cal au­di­ence and hope­fully we’ve done that.”

All Night North is out now.

TRIBUTES: Philip Larkin.

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