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Thomas Dolby:

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I've been playing TED for nearly a decade, and I've very rarely played any new songs of my own. And that was largely because there weren't any.

(Laughter)

So I've been busy with a couple of projects, and one of them was this: The Nutmeg. A 1930s ship's lifeboat, which I've been restoring in the garden of my beach house in England. And, so now, when the polar ice caps melt, my recording studio will rise up like an ark, and I'll float off into the drowned world like a character from a J.G. Ballard novel. During the day, the Nutmeg collects energy from solar panels on the roof of the wheelhouse, and from a 450 watt turbine up the mast. So that when it gets dark, I've got plenty of power. And I can light up the Nutmeg like a beacon. And so I go in there until the early hours of the morning, and I work on new songs. I'd like to play to you guys, if you're willing to be the first audience to hear it.

(Applause)

It's about Billie Holiday. And it appears that, some night in 1947 she left her physical space and was missing all night, until she reappeared in the morning. But I know where she was. She was with me on my lifeboat. And she was hot.

(Music)

♫ Billie crept softly ♫

♫ into my waking arms ♫

♫ warm like a sip of sour mash ♫

♫ Strange fruit for ♫

♫ a sweet hunk of trash ♫

♫ Panic at the stage door ♫

♫ of Carnegie Hall ♫

♫ "Famous Jazz Singer Gone AWOL" ♫

♫ Must have left the building ♫

♫ body and soul ♫

♫ On a creaky ♫

♫ piano stool tonight ♫

♫ as the moon is my ♫

♫ only witness ♫

♫ She was breathing ♫

♫ in my ear ♫

♫ "This time it's love" ♫

♫ But love is a loaded pistol ♫

♫ By daybreak she's gone ♫

♫ Over the frozen river, home ♫

♫ Me and Johnny Walker ♫

♫ See in the new age ♫

♫ alone ♫

♫ Stay with me ♫

♫ again tonight ♫

♫ Billie, time, ♫

♫ time is a wily trickster ♫

♫ Still an echo ♫

♫ in my heart says, ♫

♫ "This time it's love" ♫

(Applause)

Video Details

Duration: 4 minutes and 36 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Genre: None
Producer: TEDTalks
Director: TED.com
Views: 273
Posted by: tedtalks on Apr 29, 2010

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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