Thursday 19 March 2015

Nominations invited for the "Couldn't Shout Coals" award

Mine is Janis Joplin


Note: 'Why, s/he couldn't shout coals' (but pronounced differently) is a Geordie/ Pitmatic Northumbrian dialect phrase ejaculated as a judgement on somebody's singing. 

It suggests that the person in question would be unable, due to the poor quality of their voice, to obtain employment announcing wares for sale from the back of a horse-drawn wagon, as it traversed the back streets disbursing sacks of carboniferous fuel.


Note on the note: Pitmatic is, or was, the dialect of the mid-Northumbrian coalfield, spoken by many close and distant relatives during my childhood. 

My Father tells me that the Newbiggin by the Sea pronunciation would have been something like "Cannat Shoot Kerls"

For further info:


drizzz said...

Totally disagree. I nominate the late Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead even though I think he was a fine guitarist.

Anonymous said...

Kurt Cobain

stephen c said...

Maria Callas (alleged soprano), Jean Redpath, Glenn Gould (vocals only), Frank Sinatra (voice is okay but Good Lord the heartlessness of that sound...).

Bruce Charlton said...

Some good suggestions - but I think Maria Callas is especially relevant because she was so often put forward as a great singer, alongside Joan Sutherland (who really *was* a great singer - perhaps even the greatest); when Maria Callas was objectively bad in terms of wrong notes, and subjectively bad in terms of sounding actively unpleasant. I can only assumes she used some kind of mass hypnosis on the music critics.

Another opera/ oratorio singer who couldn't shout coals was Peter Pears who had a vibrato so wide you could construct a three lane motorway inside it - but his eminence was obviously explained by his relationship with Benjamin Britten, who was always a critics favourite (although not so popular with audiences).

Nicholas Fulford said...

Leonard Cohen, Billie Holiday

Anonymous said...

Adam Levine of Maroon 5. I'd rather listen to two alley cats screeching at each other.