John and Emma

Johnny Black and Emma Scarr – Happy Anniversary

“I bet you don’t remember me, I can’t forget you”

To listen to the song, please click on the player above.


East London singer-songwriters Johnny Black and Emma Scarr have embarked upon a very exciting duo adventure. Both well known and respected artists in their own right, their mutual membership of London Premier 5 piece band ‘The League of Nations’ and a fondness for a good old fashioned styled duet has inspired them to write some up to date duets for our times, and their place – Walthamstow, Leytonstone, and not very much further beyond. Their distinctive voices, instrumental styles and mix of hard-hitting (his) and understated but plain-spoken (hers) writing have produced a set of songs that are musically striking and lyrically captivating. Some touch upon the challenges, agony and delights of middle-aged relationships, while others focus on a fondness for the often humdrum, but nonetheless comfortingly routine lives we end up with and the shabby but familiar places we end up in.

The essence of this material is perhaps a conflict between the wish for excitement and adventure, and the desire for the well-known and everyday. The “cosy night in the Rose and Crown” and “Sunny walk by the River Lea” of “Together” as opposed to the “Adventures to be had” and the “Big old world out there,” longed for by the dissatisfied wife in “Walking Down The Line.” Beneath the hard exteriors and bravado of the characters in their songs there is sensitivity and vulnerability. Bitter experience has spawned a fear of failure and loneliness. What risks should we take? Will it be worth the possible (probable) pain? How long have we got left anyway? these, and more, it seems, are emotions still to be found at the end of the (Victoria) line, wrapped in acoustic guitar- driven, fiddle-splashed, harmony-filled, lovely London folk music!

You can find them here (more songs to listen to!), here (John’s band’s Facebook), here (Emm’a Mysapce – more great songs!) and here (Emma’s Faecbook). If you like the track, please let them know (and all the other musicians) by “liking” them on Facebook etc.

John and Emma’s Comments

It is a co-written song. A tuneful waltz, on the surface, perhaps, a celebratory song, but as soon as the words start, it becomes apparant that it is not a happy anniversary. The character in the song breaks down every year on the day that her lover left her, and the pain is carried in the lyrics, with the bitterness clearly detectable in the singing of the Happy Anniversarys of the chorus.

The song is sung in male/female harmony throughout, in a country style.

We brought this song to Mark having only played it with a guitar and fiddle, just a few times. It was very enjoyable to add banjo, harmonica, 2nd guitar there and then, with limited time. Without too much time to get precious about the arangements, and as well as being a crystal clear recording, it has come out with a nice natural feel.

We are very pleased to be involved with Mark’s project, enjoyed being photographed, and look forward to the launch!

Mark’s comments

I was really pleased that John and Emma decided to get involved in the project. They were the first to respond to my advert and the first to record – from the moment they both appeared outside on John’s motorbike they had got the project off to a great start. As well as giving me the chance to record a nice blend of instruments (as well as each other, they managed to fit a guitar, a banjo, a violin and a harmonica all on the bike), the raw honesty of the song combined with their own down to earth enthusiasm and integrity left me fully reassured that this was going to be a project well worth throwing my energies at.

John and Emma were also the first to be photographed. They live not far from Walthamstow and so we met up there at a local landmark, outside the now disused dog track. Their song, ‘Happy Anniversary’, is about people with a shared past moving apart, one leaving the picture and the other one getting left behind in the shadows. It’s a powerful theme and I explored it with the photographs I took of them.

All website images are the copyright of Mark Hucks © all rights reserved.


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