Single premiere: 'Who Would Have Thought' – Fiona Kennedy and Beth Nielsen Chapman

Single premiere: 'Who Would Have Thought' – Fiona Kennedy and Beth Nielsen Chapman

credit: Laurence Winram

Fiona Kennedy talks us through the story behind her new single

I was thinking about what I could give my husband for our 30th wedding anniversary and despite the fact that he's not outwardly romantic (a true Aberdonian …) I thought I'd surprise him by writing him a song reflecting our life. So what would it be? A love song? Don't think so. He wouldn't like that. No big shows of affection for him; he's a no-holding-hands-in-public sort of guy. Give him a golf club, a power tool and a sit on mower and he's a very happy person. But soppy songs – forget it.

However, a phrase kept coming to me: 'Who would have thought?' So that was the starting point – and the lyrics came quite quickly. The first line: 'Who would have thought after all of these years, we'd still be dancing in time' fell into place and felt right, but the tune was harder.

So I rang friend Beth Nielsen Chapman, a singer-songwriter who lives in Nashville and sent her the lyrics. She said: 'get on over here and let's put this baby to bed.'

Beth and I had met some years ago when we were both singing at Celtic Connections and we struck up a great friendship and went on to write The Kist together. She's an amazing lady and a brilliant crafter of songs.

So armed with the lyrics and a vague idea of a tune I made my way to Beth's, crossing oceans to write this song. A bit extreme, perhaps, but I thought it was worth it and I love going to Nashville.

We sat down in her studio at home and literally worked on the song for one afternoon, made a demo and both got very excited that we'd written something we thought Francis would like. At that point it was just for him to hear.

For the anniversary we were having a bash for family and friends and my secret plan was to stand up and sing it at the party. Our kids all said a few words and some friends spoke and then I got up with a little trepidation to give the song its first airing.

Some of my girlfriends cried and even a few macho men were moved. Francis, at the end of the song, stood up, looking rather taken aback and said: 'Well. That was very commendable.'
I nearly divorced him on the spot!

'Commendable?'

Now I've recorded it, he actually said that it's quite good, but immediately spoiled it by saying it's quite annoying, as he can't get it out of his head. I can't believe we're still married.

The song was the catalyst for the whole album and it truly galvanised me into writing more, fine tuning everything and working with some wonderful people. It gave me a real spring in my step and felt unafraid of getting back into the saddle again.

The more I sing it live, the better it feels. It seems to connect with so many people, the sentiments are universal and it's been really lovely when audiences respond. Earlier this year I had 900 people in Aberdeen at an event called 'Sing, Sing Sing', in aid of VSA's mental health work, join in and sing the harmonies. That was wonderful to be part of.

The University of Aberdeen Chapel Choir and I sang it at The Savoy Hotel at The St Andrews Day Lunch and that was also special. Beth and I sang it live at a concert in Braemar and it was so good to sing it together and watch Francis' expression.

Commendable.

(As told to Kirstyn Smith)

Listen to 'Who Would Have Thought' below.

'Who Would Have Thought is out Thu 9 Nov; Fiona Kennedy's album, Time to Fly, is out Fri 27 Oct via Pixie Productions.

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