Thomas Dolby, A Boat & Back To The Basics of Songwriting

Earlier in the week I made my way downtown to the local music shop. I had received a call that my special order for a Yamaha Tenori-On had arrived. I walked with a little spring in my step that day!

While I was there, I looked over and saw Thomas Dolby on the cover of the February issue of Keyboard magazine. Keyboard magazine used to be a regular read for me (1980’s-1990’s), but it’s been years since their content has been top of my mind on a regular basis. Nonetheless, for a brief moment after seeing this new issue, I remembered the first time I read an interview of his, back in a 1983 Keyboard issue. He was mostly using a Roland Jupiter 8 for live shows then.

I purchased the issue and really enjoyed the interview. I’ve always believed he was a great songwriter and glad to see he’s back at it again. You can find the videos that accompany the interview and more pictures of his studio here.

I thought it was interesting how he didn’t consider himself to be that image of a synthesizer boffin. The very same image that he has always been portrayed as and the one I always envisioned him as. It was Capitol Records, his record company that capitalized on that image. I think it worked out well for him though.

I’ve also been pondering his viewpoint that with technology now so prevalent in so many bedroom studios, it no longer has that innovative appeal that it did in the 1970’s through 1980’s. The synthesizer has lost that “new invention” type of appeal. His new approach is more focused on songwriting as the basis, but to me, he has always been a very good pop songwriter with a synthesizer or without.

Thomas Dolby @ Union Chapel (59)

Thomas Dolby is still a very influential figure in my world, with relation to the synthesizer, and his impact on how we listen to audio on mobile devices and the Internet is further evidence on the important role he has played with the advancement of technology.

If you get a chance, pick up the February issue of Keyboard for some good content and some good pictures of Thomas Dolby, especially the one taken back in 1981. As for me, I look forward to listening to Amerikana EP, Oceanea EP and his upcoming LP, A Map Of The Floating City.

Thomas Dolby: “Love Is a Loaded Pistol”

From For his first studio album release in decades, musical innovator Thomas Dolby has been composing music in the uniquely inspirational setting of a restored life-boat. Here he premieres a gorgeous, evocative song from that album — about one night with a legend. He’s backed by members of the modern string quartet Ethel.


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