Today in 1968: Al Stewart Takes a Nightride

Tuesday, May 29, 2018
This Day in Music

50 years ago today, Al Stewart made an appearance on a well-respected radio program and, as a result of stopping by the studio, was inspired to set a poet’s work to music.

When compiling a list of disc jockeys whose work can truly be said to have had a hand in changing music history, there aren’t but so many individuals whose names would make the cut, but John Peel most certainly would. Although he’s best known to Americans for having been the man behind the so-called PEEL SESSIONS, John Peel was and remains a legend in the UK for having transformed many an indie artist into a superstar.

In 1968, Peel was serving as the occasional host of a radio show called Night Ride, and on May 29 of that year, Al Stewart was Peel’s guest, as was poet Pete Morgan. The two gentlemen met and hit it off, with Stewart finding himself sufficiently inspired by the encounter to put one of Morgan’s poems, “My Enemies Have Sweet Voices,” to music. 

The resulting song, which maintained the same title as the original poem, went on to serve as the opening track on Stewart’s 1970 album, ZERO SHE FLIES, and if the website is accurate, then it’s a notable composition for two reasons:

1.    It’s the only original Al Stewart song on which he’s used someone else’s lyrics.
2.    It’s possibly the only song ever to be co-written by an Englishman living in Scotland and a Scotsman living in England.

While “My Enemies Have Sweet Voices” never had a chance to rocket up the charts as a single, it did find its way onto the B-side of one of the singles from the album: “Electric Los Angeles Sunset.” Regrettably, the single failed to chart, but the ZERO SHE FLIES album did prove to be Stewart’s first LP to make it onto the UK Albums chart, which was a pretty momentous occasion in its own right.

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