Thomas Dolby Rocks the Computer in Studio 4A Thomas Dolby arrived in the 1980s with his hit, "She Blinded Me with Science." He sets up new equipment and performs in NPR's Studio 4A, demonstrating how times have changed for electronic musicians.

Thomas Dolby Rocks the Computer in Studio 4A

Thomas Dolby Rocks the Computer in Studio 4A

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/6701720/6701731" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Songs from Studio 4A

Thomas Dolby set up his equipment in Studio 4A for a performance. Chris Nelson, NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Chris Nelson, NPR

'She Blinded Me With Science'

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/6701720/6701729" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Thomas Dolby deconstructs 'Hyperactive'

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/6701720/6701727" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

'Airwaves'

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/6701720/6701725" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

'Your Karma Hit My Dogma'

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/6701720/6701723" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

1993 Interview

Liane Hansen's 1993 Interview with Thomas Dolby

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/6701720/6701752" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

All news is bad news. Or so the saying goes. Many Brits firmly believe this — and use it as a branch to beat their journalists, one of the more despised species in these isles.

Thomas Dolby's last studio recording was in 1993. He has since been creating ringtones with his company, Beatnik. Scroll down to hear songs from the Studio 4A session. www.conqueroo.com hide caption

toggle caption
www.conqueroo.com

It is, of course, untrue. There's no better example of the media's appetite for good news than the tsunami of euphoria with which they've greeted Andy Murray's Wimbledon triumph on Sunday.

The English are feting Murray as a British hero. They're calling for him to be made a knight of the realm to honor his prowess with racquet and ball, and his status as the first British champion in men's singles at Wimbledon in 77 years.

Thomas Dolby, the mad-scientist-as-musician first boggled listeners in the 1980s with his smash hit, "She Blinded Me with Science." Fans will also remember equally arresting songs like "Hyperactive," "Airhead" and "One of Our Submarines."

Murray's actually from Scotland. Many Scots view him not only as their hero — not England's — but as the greatest Scottish sports star since they all wore kilts, and horned ginger-haired highland cattle were freely roaming their hills.

Why does this matter?

Dolby's last studio recording was in 1993, and we haven't heard much from him since... at least not directly.

Because next year, Scots will vote on whether to stay in the United Kingdom. The possibility of Scottish secession is the subject of a fierce political contest between British Prime Minister David Cameron — who has vowed to fight tooth and nail to save the union — and Scotland's first minister, the nationalist Alex Salmond.

When Murray won, Salmond craftily whipped out a big Scottish flag and joyously brandished it behind Cameron's head in full view of the cameras — and violating Wimbledon's house rules. We can expect to see that image many times in coming months, as the fight for Scottish independence gathers momentum.

For one thing, he's been busy developing ringtones.

Salmond was at Sunday's championship match, sitting in the Royal Box, behind his adversary, Cameron.

The opening lines of a front page story in Rupert Murdoch's usually hard-nosed Sunday Times, (published before Murray's victory) captured this trend: "Britain is basking in unaccustomed sunshine, sporting triumph and the best spirits for three years this weekend," it gushed.

Thomas Dolby founded a company called Beatnik, which sold software to Nokia.

Britain's current appetite for Good News is not confined to sport. The cynicism and skulduggery of the British newspaper industry now comes hand-in-hand with a determination to peddle happiness.

The tabloids are already churning out stories about "Baby Cambridge," along with maps of the royal maternity clinic. There are accounts of Kate's Yummy Mummy Baby Group, and her penchant, during pregnancy, for vegetable curries and Haribu candies.

Now, about 300 million phones play polyphonic melodies thanks to Dolby's dabblings.

Those who find this happy-clappy stuff a little stomach-turning better toughen up. More, much more, is to come: A royal baby is due in a few days.

He thought it would be a brief hiatus from music, but the new business took him away from the stage and the recording studio for more than a decade. Now, he's playing and touring again, with a new CD of live performances called The Sole Inhabitant.

The birth will be marked by a 41-gun salute in Hyde Park, popping champagne corks from the kingdom's royalists, a hurricane of unctuous guff from the nation's anchormen and women, and world-weary sighs from a dwindling band of Brits ... who're discovering they actually prefer bad news.

Thomas Dolby set up his equipment for us in NPR's Studio 4A earlier this month, and it's striking to see how times have changed for electronic musicians. Gone are the days of bulky synthesizers, tape loops and vacuum tubes.

Dolby's setup consists of a couple of small keyboards, a drum pad and a Macintosh laptop.