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June 27, 2005

One in a Million

One of the people we were keen to see at the Crawley Folk Festival was Chris Wood, whose new album The Lark Descending has been getting good press. He was playing with his small, serious band, the English Acoustic Collective. I'd heard a couple of tracks off the album, but was still slightly ambivalent.

In their main set The English Acoustic Collective were playing some of Wood's solo material and some traditional tunes, arranged for two fiddles and a concertina and with some improvisation. About two thirds of the way through the set, someone called out "One in a Million". Wood looked thoughtful. "I was thinking of playing that... but it's a bit long". "It's what I'm here for!" said the heckler. So the set got totally derailed at that point as Wood set about playing a ten minute solo, preceded by a short explanation.

It's a love song, set in a chip shop; the story takes place against a backdrop of wet fish on the slab, fish sizzling in the batter. Wood got the words from storyteller Hugh Lupton, and added a tune; he described Lupton as a "consummate storyteller", which I think may be understating his own contribution. The story it tells isn't quite new; it picks up elements from other songs and from myths; the setting is deliberately and fiercely contemporary, but the tradition runs through it. And it makes you laugh and cry in turns.

Back at Crawley, you could have heard a pin drop. The crowd, previously polite and warmly enthusiastic, burst into rapturous applause at the end of the song, whooping and cheering and astonished by what they'd just heard. When the tumult died down, the original heckler called out "works for me". This is going to be a signature song for Wood, something that he's asked for everywhere he goes, something that becomes a classic of the genre.

No, it's not online. You could watch out for it on Late Junction, where Wood played it online in a session on 27 April -- many BBC sessions are available in RealPlayer, but not for some reason the Late Junction ones. Otherwise, I don't know what to suggest; most radio stations are a bit hard on ten-minute ballads. Alternatively, you could just buy the CD.

Posted by Alison at June 27, 2005 08:00 AM


Hi there

Thanks for the link from your site :o)

Mike Harding played this track on his Radio 2 show last night (29th June) so if anyone whats to hear it then it'll be there until next week. It's well worth hearing, as is the rest of the album.

Best Wishes


Posted by: Fee (from Cool As Folk) at June 30, 2005 11:10 AM

Oh, hi Fee! For regular readers, Fee Nutbrown is one of the presenters of Reading University's fine folk radio show, Cool as Folk. I've ordered the Chris Wood album; now, if only there was a way to stream Mike Harding's show without including any of Mike Harding, I'd be sorted.

Posted by: Alison Scott at June 30, 2005 08:36 PM


I am writing in response to youe comments re one in a million, written June 2005.

As of June 2007, you are a prophet.

If you are a DJ, you are one in a million.


Posted by: Declan Askin at June 22, 2007 02:24 AM

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