Radio Yesterday (in collaboration with Ed Baxter)

Broadcast on Resonance FM for 24 hours on June 19th 2010 and again on New Year's Day 2011.

A/the Radio Yesterday Story

For a few years I’d been idly collecting cover versions of Yesterday. It’s the most covered song in history with the Guiness Book of Records claiming 3000 or so versions. I had some vague ideas of making a piece with them. Perhaps an installation or epic collaged Yesterday of Yesterdays.

A fortuitous meeting with Ed Baxter at Resonance FM brought the Radio Yesterday concept into existence. He’d had the idea for many years to set up a concept radio station that only played Yesterday covers. (Suddenly) we decided to make it happen.

I only had a few hundred versions, so spent the next months scouring the known world and beyond for enough to fill up 24 hours. I drained the internet dry and found salvation in a few European collectors who owned Beatles covers you couldn’t even imagine existed, including versions in Finnish, Hungarian and Chinese.

The date was set for the day after Paul McCartney’s birthday, making it a celebration of Yesterday in more ways than one. Two ways.

Ed’s press release succinctly summarised the key ideas behind the piece:

“Most radio stations rely on playlists. Most rely upon the repetition of familiar tunes. Resonance104.4fm, the award-winning radio station which famously does not have playlists, presents an entire day devoted to a single song.

Radio Yesterday presents 24 solid hours of radio in the company of The Beatles’s “Yesterday,” reputedly the most covered song in history – in as many cover versions as it’s possible to secure. Midnight to midnight, the day after Sir Paul McCartney’s 68th birthday.

Radio Yesterday works on many levels. It’s a forensic examination of “variations on a theme.” It’s an homage to an enduring masterpiece. It’s an investigation into what turns a pop song into currency. It’s a satirical take on “golden oldie” playlists. It’s a exercise in casual listening taken to a crazy extreme.

As comfort zone turns into endurance test and back, Radio Yesterday is presented as a conceptual radiophonic artwork, conceived and produced by Ed Baxter. It is curated by Dan Scott who will be live-blogging throughout the day. It features the voice of our favourite continuity announcer Piers Gibbon.”

Radio Yesterday was a choice pick on Radio 4's PM Show. Listen here.

You can also see my 24-hour blogathon that leads you up and down Mount Yesterday, from midnight to midnight, here.