21 Reasons Ed Harcourt Should Be A National Treasure

With over a decade in the music industry and loads of great tracks, he should be considered a true British great. Here's all you need to get acquainted with one of our best modern songwriters...
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With over a decade in the music industry and loads of great tracks, he should be considered a true British great. Here's all you need to get acquainted with one of our best modern songwriters...


1: Ed's latest single "Hey Little Bruiser" is about his son, Franklyn.  God knows tunes about parenthood can be a mixed bag (ahem) , but this piano-led ditty is just about the most poignant and self-effacing ode to being a dad you’ll ever hear, especially when he drops: “You got the good bits from your mama, and your bad bits from me.”

2: That’s not even the best bit. This is when the strings kick and we are treated (and it is a treat) to: “Where would we be with the dreamers, who pay no heed to good advice?”  If you aren’t affected by these lines, for their sake I hope you don’t have children.

3: You may or may not know this but he’s a bit of a veteran.  His first album, Here Be Monsters, came out in 2001.  Since then he’s released nearly an album a year, including a 2CD Best Of.  You want a nice summation of this dontcha? Well here it is- prolific.

4: Here Be Monsters is a minor post-millennial classic.  I mean it’s very, very good.  It was nominated for a Mercury Music Prize, which as M People will attest, is a sure sign of class. To be fair, it did lose to Songs From The City, Stories From The Sea.

5: If I am any sort of vanguard of its quality (and for the duration of this article I am nominating myself as such), although it came out in 2001 and I have probably listened to 400 times and made most of the people I know do the same, I have never got bored of it.

6:  It has a song called "She Fell Into My Arms" which might be the perfect pop song.  Listen to it and concur, please:

7: Everyone I know that got into that album has stayed in touch with Ed throughout his career, and still pipe up his name when asked about their favourite English songwriters.   Which leads conveniently to…

8: One of the great puzzles is that he's never really made the jump from beard-stroker’s delight.  His tunes are mostly accessible, they generally concern all those lovely/terrifying universal messages, he looks quite nice, some of his stuff wouldn’t sound out of place on Radio 2.  I don’t pretend to know the whys and why nots, but given the consistent level of his output it’s a mystery that he hasn’t had the relative ubiquity of a Badly Drawn Boy or a Richard Hawley.

9: If ever there was going to be a song that got him to the sanctified environs of playlists A and B it would have been “This One’s For You."  It is a dreadfully pretty song and the chorus goes: “My oh my oh my I’ve had a few/my oh my oh my, this one’s for you"  That’s good that is.


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10: “This One’s For You” is from an album called Strangers, which also has a brilliant song called “Loneliness."  It's glorious when he does this live and his backing singers The Langley Sisters (one of whom is his wife) have a bash at the chorus and so do the audience and everyone has a right lovely time:

11: His wife is called Gita.  If you watch the “Hey Little Bruiser” video you’ll see her name is in a burning heart on his arm, which is nice.

12: His first five albums were released on EMI imprint Heavenly.  His most recent, Back Into The Woods, is the first release on CCCLX. This is the new baby of a certain Sean Adams, who is the founding editor of Drowned in Sound and general music industry savant.  The guy knows his rhubarb and having him behind you is a Simon Cowell style seal of approval for people your nan won’t have heard of.

13: Back Into The Woods was recorded in just six hours. Six.  It’s got nine songs.  I can’t do nine pull-ups in six hours.

14: It might have been recorded in an instant, but it sounds anything other than throwaway. Check out the title track.

15: If you like men singing songs at a piano in a generally melancholic way that take in the gothic, the joyful and a fair whack of the blues, you will really dig him.

16: Okay, okay, fans of Cave, Waits, McGowan, (Dennis) Wilson, McCrae, Badly Drawn Boy, Walker and the rest need all take note.

17: Like several of those just mentioned, he’s a proper showman live . He’s often singing tunes that may appear a little down-at-heel, but they really rattle along with his piano before occasionally twisting your heart with the sort of angstthat’ll have you declaring yourself the eye-watery victim of a flash, two-minute cold.

18:  He seems to have a shitloads of confidence in his ability; no shoegazing to be found here.  If you don’t believe me, get along to one these shows coming up. Most of them are in churches, which'll be pretty much the perfect setting.

19: He’s headlining the last ever gig at The Bull and Gate.  That will be magic.

20:  I have had the fortune of being on the peripheries of the music industry for a while now and been in the vicinity of my fair share of heroes and demi-heroes, and Ed is the only person I have bundled up to interrupted, and told how much I liked.  He was a bit ambivalent, which is fair enough considering it was a Friday night in a on the balcony of a packed club and he was in the middle of a conversation.  In a lifetime of not-very-cool moments, this was one of the least refined.

21:  Despite appearances to the contrary, I haven’t got a mancrush on Ed.  (I’d happily admit if I did.) He just deserves your attention.

Follow David on Twitter- @Gobshout