Interviewing Ralph Mctell, Singer Songwriter Extraordinaire Part 2

Written by Jan Rosser in Music on 17 Jul 2020 | Views: 193

Interviewing Ralph Mctell, Singer Songwriter Extraordinaire Part 2

I asked Ralph when did he realise that he wanted to be a full time musician and he told me that you just don't dare believe it can happen.

"You don't decide you are going to play the guitar, the guitar decides you are going to play it and you never can escape from it. It is a dangerous and addictive thing and once it gets you, it's forever really. If you're extremely lucky you may get a few things out of it if you are talented enough to do that. If your super super lucky you get to make a living doing something that you love." And thank goodness he had that lucky break! Practising his "noodling" sessions daily, he enjoys playing even more now that the pressure is off. "I have a guitar always on my sofa and as I walk past I often to stop and have a quick noodle on it, 5 or10 minutes or whatever. I just play every day."

I love my acoustic guitar and really should practise far more than I do. Perhaps I must make time daily for my own "noodling" sessions!

I wondered where Ralph gets his ideas for his songs 

Ralph "Well, when I first started I tried to pick subjects that were worth investigating outside of the sphere of what Paul McCartney does, you know what are silly love songs essentially, you never get tired of them but there are other things that occupy my mind and I realised that even if I hadn't discovered the poetry within the idea when I started off, that the poetry might reveal itself. For example one of my early songs Mrs Adlam's Angels, which was really a song about a lady I remembered from Sunday school and she was a beautiful person, but in the end it becomes a song about belief and faith and to think for yourself, but that wasn't clear to me when I started."

"I was kind of musically lost until I heard the words and music of Woody Guthrie"

These days Ralph tries to find the poetry before he starts and for his songs to have two levels. He does not class himself as a folk singer, but believes that many folk songs have lasted for so long because of their great poetry, tunes and a great punch line at the end of a song. That in itself is a good enough criteria for him.

I wanted to know if the music or the lyrics are written first or does that vary?

Ralph "It does vary. When I was young and so immersed in the guitar the tunes would emerge with 2 string chords with a little flowing rhythm and I would end up with a tune. If I played it long enough, it would suggest an idea or mood of some sort which would be refined and I would write the words. Now I quite often get the words first, the only danger with that is you will write in rhyming couplets which can be pretty tedious. I'd keep reading the lyrics until I get a rhythm for that and move onto piano or guitar. Over the last few years I've been probably writing the lyrics at the same time as the tune."

Mrs Adlam's Angels

We then moved onto musical influences from the start of Ralph's career

Ralph. "When I first started I admired Elvis Presley, because he had that sexuality and that excitement and the guitar was kind of an ornament, that was just when I was very young. I liked the Everly Brothers, their songs appealed to me as a kid, I loved that their guitars were iconic looking. I was kind of musically lost until I heard the words and music of Woody Guthrie, a truly inspirational songwriter and guitarist. Here was a man playing simple guitar music, but saying something really strong and meaningful. This then led me onto the blues guitar players."

Then of course Ralph was at the right age to be in on the folk revival movement and the singer/songwriter phenomenon that took place, so he hung onto the coat tails of that in the mid 60s and the rest is history!

Other articles on the website which feature Ralph McTell are:-

My Review of his 2019 CD Hill of Beans. Go to the article here.

Mr review of 8 vinyl albums in which Ralph is featured. Go to the article here.

Part 1 can be seen here.

Part 3 can be seen here.

Part 4 can be seen here.

Support Reviewspot by browsing the products below


Like this post? Share it with your friends

Related Articles

CLARITY -An all natural voice spray

Clarity Voice Spray

Available in great tasting Elderberry or Honey and Lemon flavours.

Directions for use:

Shake before use. Spray into mouth. Use as often as required... Suitable for vegetarian use.


Water, Glycerine, Aloe Vera, Flavour of choice (Elderberry Juice or Honey* Lemon juice)

Rose Cider Vinegar* and natural flavours* (extracts of liquorice, ginger, sage, thyme, rosehip, elderflower)

*organic ingredients used.

Made in the UK.

Give your voice clarity

Available to buy from Amazon in flavours Elderberry and Honey and Lemon

Our goal is to provide our singing community with quality products and resources to help get the most from their singing.

Over 215 FREE videos too, including singing lessons, scales, breathing exercises etc.

Subscribe below


Three uplifting and spellbinding escapist historical romances.

Available on Kindle to buy from Amazon

Quizspot, a world of quizzes at your fingertips!

Why not test your knowledge and have

some fun at the same time?

Click here to go to website.

Creative Writing Student Handbook - Margaret James

Amazon review: a wonderful book, full of practical, useful tips.

If you're thinking about doing some creative writing this winter,

our 5* handbook will inspire you and give you confidence.

Available to buy from Amazon

The Final Reckoning

The Final Reckoning is an atmospheric, twisty thriller set in the peaceful (or maybe not so peaceful) Herefordshire countryside.

When Lindsay Ellis was a teenager,  he stumbled across the dead body of her boyfriend Simon’s father, who had been battered to death.

Someone in the village knows who murdered Simon's father, and why.

Does the actual killer suspect Lindsay also knows the identity of the murderer, and is Lindsay now in great danger, too?

Available to buy from Amazon