Song Lists: Julia Fordham

Since childhood I have experienced what I later found to be called Synesthesia, a mixing or blurring of the senses. This is particularly common in arts people. In my case it manifests itself as hearing music as colour. Why Julia? Most of the other lists in progress are by artists with 40 year histories (RUSH, Roxy Music, Genesis, Eno, Sakamoto and perhaps more fittingly Joni Mitchell) thus I needed an artist whom I could list in short space of time, or so I thought. What I didn’t take into account was the jazz element. So, it has taken around 2 months, longer than Simple Minds who have a career a decade longer than Julia, none the less, here is a rudimentary list of her songs and how I hear them. As her work is more or less jazz imbued pop (and I don’t just mean Genius or the current Language of Love album), key shifts can occur for just one or two lines e.g. I Thought it Was You (see below) and many of her recordings either traverse or drift in and out of certain hues, sometimes difficult to note because of their subtlety (Sugar). The other intriguing thing about doing these lists is the learning curve that is continuously thrown back at me and seeing how each artist operates (some speak in a vocabulary of a few favoured colours). Most of Concrete Love for example is bathed in cool blues (Love, Foolish Thing) or warm greys (title track, Wake Up, Missing Man) and are Happy Ever After and Where Does the Time Go cream, pale pink or an upper octave of white? The realm of music is a fluid one, especially jazz so finding out the answers is a tricky stream to navigate. As always I hope this is both interesting and thought provoking. *please note I don’t list all songs just enough to give an overview.

WHITE

WHERE DOES THE TIME GO? (one of her best known and as I’ve learnt on other lists these can be the most difficult in terms of specific colour, especially the ‘rich girl soon’ line which is somewhere in the pink/rose region)
I THOUGHT IT WAS YOU (this is an interesting one which sits somewhere between white and mint green. As we go on you’ll see she is particularly good at sitting on the musical fence, not just in genre but in her palette. Let’s start with the original single and album versions. Most of its sophistipop swoon is bathed in white with a hint of mint green however the middle births a sudden shift to grey in the ’til the part where you broke my heart’ line and the tail end switches to maroon though to complicate things, her vocal and the shifting piano offset this so it seems lighter than it is, maybe rose. For the ’92 single mix the synth at the front and the verses are in mid blue as is the chorus while the bridge is in crimson. The Collection has yet another version in keeping with the original only with live drums and the interchange between the songs body/tail piece more deftly done and finally – I think – the violet piano version on the Rainbow album)
STOLEN KISS (this could go under either white or cream really, though I’d say the chorus is more in the white)

CREAM

HAPPY EVER AFTER (I’m inclined to list this under cream as its tones are warmer than might be considered white, a similar thing occurs with Sugar a bit further up the track)
GENIUS (another one difficult to gauge – the main part meanders between the warmer creamier tones of white, the faintest red and rose. the ‘inside the miracle’ lines venture into warm red, while the ‘i know’ parts bring the rose elements to the forefront, the latter part to fade is in maroon)
SWEPT
SAFE

MINT GREEN

PRINCE OF PEACE (some lines e.g. ‘i wanna give up the fight’ in yellow)

YELLOW

THE COMFORT OF STRANGERS
PORCELAIN (latter part in dark blue/orange)
MANHATTAN SKYLINE
BETRAYED (some of this uses the very common shift between yellow and light green)
I CAN’T HELP MYSELF (the same yellow/light green shift occurs briefly in the middle of this)
EAST WEST (intro in grey blue)

APRICOT

WISHING YOU WELL (this is the kind of song I do these lists for.. the ones that completely flummox me, but if colour is ever likely to be taken seriously as a way of composing I should be able to say what it is no? The best I can come up with is it’s a dirty, cloudy or dullish variant of apricot for the verse and this is coupled with an equally dirty blue for the chorus – a bit like painting with a paintbrush previously used for black that hasn’t been cleaned correctly, then painting in a light colour, you get that dark smear mixing with – in this case – apricot/blue if that makes sense. There is also a middle section in white. It’s taken a bloody long time to get this one, probably the most challenging in her catalogue both in terms of colour and vocally but important to mention)

ORANGE

FALLING FORWARD (middle alternates between white and orange, as with many of her songs it changes for the latter minute or so, this time to dark blue/orange)
PERFECT ME
I KEEP FORGETTIN’ (intro and chorus in the dark blue/orange couplet)
SKIPPING UNDER THE RAINBOW

ORANGE/GREY

DIFFERENT TIME, DIFFERENT PLACE (middle warm grey)

*more examples of this couplet under grey below

RED (varying shades)

LOCK AND KEY
YOUR LOVELY FACE
PATCHES OF HAPPINESS (‘I don’t wanna be..’ parts and the latter refrain of the title in purple)
RAINBOW HEART (middle in purple latter part leading toward the fade in white)
KILLING ME SLOWLY
I CAN TELL YOU ANYTHING (there is a fleeting shift in the middle to white but again only for a couple of lines. This is a simple acoustic gem but one of my faves – the poignant synth and her harmony vocal really make it)
YOU KEEP ME ON MY FEET (a very fluid piece – moving from red to orange around 23secs then to blue returning to red, this occurs again at 1.07 and 2.28 – not sure if these musical meanderings are a bridge of sorts, but most of the song lay in the warmer registers of fiery red)

GREY BLUE

INVISIBLE WAR
CONCRETE LOVE

LIGHT BLUE

THE OTHER WOMAN (this is an odd hue, somewhere between sky and bright blue)

BRIGHT BLUE

MY LAST GOODBYE
ROADSIDE ANGEL

MID BLUE (varying shades)

SCARE ME
FOOLISH THING
JACOB’S LADDER
WALKING ON THE WATER (this borders on dark blue so perhaps I should list it below, the chorus however is bright blue)

DARK BLUE

CAGED BIRD (I’ve been ooh-ing and ahh-ing over this one but I think it does qualify as a dark blue, initially I noted a slightly lighter hue for the verses but overall dark blue suits it)
LOVE (very similar blue to the cover, though there are some lighter hues in its coda which make an exact shade difficult to pinpoint)

DARK BLUE/ORANGE

SAY HEY KID (chorus yellow, middle mid blue)

DARK BLUE/YELLOW

LIGHT GREEN

AND I SEE
TALK WALK DRIVE (guitar solo and the verse which follows in ‘your lovely face’ red)
SUGAR (I almost listed this under mint green but its tones are a lot warmer than that, though it does lapse into mint green for the chorus, especially during the ‘gotta find me some gold, gotta find me someone to hold’ parts, so another unusual case where she manages to traverse colour or shades within the same colour – perhaps something gleaned from her jazz leanings)

GREEN

AT SEVENTEEN (chorus in grey)
CALL ME (chorus is closer to deep pink, middle piano – sounds like the musical equivalent of climbing a ladder – in grey then apricot leading to yellow then back to apricot, during the latter chorus and again because of the piano shifts we have the couplet of  grey/apricot) *the ladder piano part also occurs at the start, so it’s a matter of seconds in both instances
WHO’S THAT GIRL?

*all of these are not far off being mint green but as with Sugar above are slightly richer in tone, hence my giving them their own colour band

DARK GREEN

PALE PINK (not this shade but it’s the only one on my limited palette)

WOMAN OF THE 80s (intro in grey, chorus at 2.40 in yellow, at 3.25 this switches to dark green)

PINK

LOVE AND FORGIVENESS (verses alternate between pink and grey/pink, while the chorus alternates between burgundy and grey/pink – definitely her most Cocteau Twin-esque moment)
ALLELUIA (yet another example of how excruciatingly difficult it is to differentiate between pink and green – pink/green run together through the colour spectrum – though the intro up to 55secs is in pink/rose. The chorus nods toward crimson for its last line but then returns to the green ..or pink, Joe Henry’s middle part also in crimson)
GOOD SHIP (bridge grey/pink – middle section: pale blue/apricot then back to pink)
THE WORLD KEEPS SPINNING (some elements of grey/pink and crimson in its coda)

CRIMSON

THREADBARE (middle grey, the latter minute or so ‘something missing..’ and ‘love’s a funny thing’ switch to a slightly deeper hue maroon)
HONEYMOON
SOMETHING RIGHT

PURPLE

HOPE, PRAYER AND TIME

GREY (varying shades)

LOVE MOVES IN MYSTERIOUS WAYS (chorus in crimson except for the end chorus which is in the same pale grey as the verses)
BLUE SKY (a nice touch on this one as it veers toward blue for the chorus, the rest – warm grey)
ITALY
WAKE UP WITH YOU (chorus orange/grey)
IT’S ANOTHER YOU DAY (another warm grey coupled with an uplifting chorus possibly another suffusion of orange/grey – the palette on Concrete Love doesn’t stray too far but it works!)
THAT’S LIFE (verse appears to be a deeper orange/grey, but reverts to the familiar orange/grey warmer version for the chorus)
I WANT TO STAY HOME WITH YOU (maybe her most uptempo number but another fave which always makes me smile)

BROWN

JUMP

BLACK

WIND OF FORTUNE (this is from memory as I no longer have any cd’s. I think the chorus may be a cola brown but it’s much of a muchness really)

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