Paolo Nutini: Fish-And-Chips Slinger Turned Singer When you close your eyes and listen to Paolo Nutini's new album, Sunny Side Up, you can hear the echoes of Bob Marley, Otis Redding or a young Dean Martin. Nutini grew up in Scotland, and as Scott Simon found out, he is very, very Scottish.
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Fish 'N' Chips Slinger Turned Singer Paolo Nutini

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Fish 'N' Chips Slinger Turned Singer Paolo Nutini

Fish 'N' Chips Slinger Turned Singer Paolo Nutini

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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When I close my eyes and I listen to Paolo Nutini sing, I sometimes hear the voices of more famous performers. There are echoes of Bob Marley…

(Soundbite of song, "10/10")

Mr. PAOLO NUTINI (Singer): (Singing) Other people want to try you, girl, and I hope you tell me where to go…

ZWERDLING: Sometimes Nutini reminds me of Otis Redding…

(Soundbite of song, "No Other Way")

Mr. NUTINI: (Singing) Darling, my frustration, it gets me, it gets me where it hurts me most…

ZWERDLING: Or Nutini can sound like a young Dean Martin…

(Soundbite of song, "Keep Rolling")

Mr. NUTINI: (Singing) Keep rolling, rolling…

ZWERDLING: These songs are all from Paolo Nutini's new album. It's called "Sunny Side Up." Nutini is not just a singer - he's also a songwriter. Rolling Stone magazine has raved about him. Some of his songs have been hits in the U.K. Nutini grew up in Scotland and, as you're about to hear, he's very, very Scottish.

Three generations of his family have run a fish and chips shop.

Mr. NUTINI: It's been there for about - for over a hundred years. I worked there for a little while. My father would probably argue otherwise, that I didn't.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. NUTINI: It's harder than writing any song.

ZWERDLING: In what way?

Mr. NUTINI: You can get burned.

ZWERDLING: Now, is that word burned?

Mr. NUTINI: Oh geez, yeah. Burned, burned…

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. NUTINI: …like a fire.

ZWERDLING: You know, if we were making a TV movie about your life, there would be a scene where you were, you know, agonizing - should I work in the fish and chips shop or should I become a musician? Did that ever happen in real life or…

Mr. NUTINI: Not so much, man. I see that my father, he always wanted me to join, do something else. He never really wanted me to come into the shop but it was in the family, you know? And still (unintelligible) man, let's not count the chickens. That could be India in a few years.

ZWERDLING: Wait a minute: what was that last sentence? Did he say something about…

Mr. NUTINI: Let's not count our, let's not count our chickens, man. That could be India.

ZWERDLING: Let's not clone our chickens?

Mr. NUTINI: Count our chickens.

ZWERDLING: Oh, let's not count our chickens before they're hatched.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. NUTINI: There you go. You see, let's not clone them? (Unintelligible) little red noses and blue eyes. That'd be funny.

ZWERDLING: I really apologize. I'm so parochial that it's like I'm having trouble with your Scottish accent.

Mr. NUTINI: I just like the idea of little chickens with clown faces painted on.

ZWERDLING: So, you know, I would love - you have a guitar there, so this is a rare amazing opportunity to hear you play unplugged. Do you feel like singing a song right now?

Mr. NUTINI: Um-hum. It's called "Rich Folks Hoax." Here we go…

(Soundbite of song, "Rich Folks Hoax")

Mr. NUTINI: (Singing) The moon is hanging in a purple sky. Babies crying while its mother sighs. Talking 'bout the rich folks, the rich folks tell the same jokes, and they meet in older places. The priest is a preacher from a shallow grave, counts his money, then he paints you saved.

Not talking about the young folks, the young folks tell the same jokes, but they meet in older places. So don't tell me about your success. And all your recipes for my happiness. I smoke in bed, I never could digest the illusions you seem to have going. The moon is hanging in a purple sky. Babies crying while its mother sighs. Oh, that's why I'm talking about the young folks, young folks tell the same jokes and they meet in older places.

So don't, don't tell me about your success or your recipes for my happiness. Smoke in bed, I never could digest the illusions that you claim to have going. Oh, the illusions you claim to have going. Oh, the illusions you claim to have going.

ZWERDLING: Wow, that is beautiful. It's haunting. You know, you have such an unusual voice. Can you remember - when did this first strike you? When you did you first realize, hey, I have a different voice than most people, I've got something going on here?

Mr. NUTINI: Yeah, don't know. (Unintelligible) I think there's certainly like a croak. I'm not really, essentially, I'm not really very technically trained. I know some of the warm-ups, you know.

ZWERDLING: Do you do scales like…

(Soundbite of humming)

ZWERDLING: Do you do that sort of stuff?

Mr. NUTINI: Not really, man, not really. So, I just go (makes noise) - like a (makes noise) - and then you just, you know, (unintelligible) - (makes noise)…

ZWERDLING: I like that.

Mr. NUTINI: Vocals broken down, and by a guy who doesn't know what he's talking about.

(Soundbite of laughter)

ZWERDLING: Before I forget, Paolo, I just want to take you - forgive me for sort of stopping this train of thought - but I want to take you back to something. We were talking briefly some minutes ago about the fish and chips shop. You have a very sweet song on this new album about your father and his work, among other things in the fish and chips shop.

(Soundbite of song, "Simple Things")

Mr. NUTINI: (Singing) Oh, if you love the life you live then you'll get a lot more done. Be more inclined to take the reins than turn away and run. It's very rare, it seems, to get a lifetime guarantee, so I suppose self-satisfaction be the key.

ZWERDLING: Would you mind singing a few of the lines in the middle? I love it. You start talking about his schedule.

Mr. NUTINI: (Singing) Oh, he gets up each day at five and starts a car and makes a drive, and shutters up and starts a fryer. Serves out food to all the buyers in the town, and you stand up in the same old line and get there every day at the same old time. Now, you're never going to hear him grumble or groan because they're the people in the line that he built in on…

(Soundbite of laughter)

(Soundbite of song, "Simple Things")

Mr. NUTINI: (Singing) …and like me he cherished the simple things, like going round his mum's house for a tea. And argue with his sister, only God knows how he missed her. It's the simple things that mean the most to him…

ZWERDLING: Do you think your father ever felt in any way dismissed by you because you decided, you know, to go into a totally different profession? Did…

Mr. NUTINI: My dad's like, you know, he's - there's no way he (unintelligible) he's loving the occasional (unintelligible) and things that he gets to come to see us play. He loves that too much now. He was never one fond on the big bright lights and streets and cities. You know, that was never his idea of a holiday. I think now his excuse is he's going to go see his son and he looks at it a different way.

(Soundbite of laughter)

ZWERDLING: Well, listen, Paolo Nutini, before we go, I should describe what I have read about you in newspapers. Okay. Are you ready for this?

Mr. NUTINI: I can't wait.

ZWERDLING: This is how various newspapers have described you - and I'm quoting here: puppy dogs eyes, tussled hair - here's probably your favorite part - lips are so full he could make Angelina Jolie jealous. What do you see when you look in the mirror?

Mr. NUTINI: I see Angelina Jolie looking right back at me.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. NUTINI: You are attractive, man. No, no, I don't see none of that, man. I just see usually, like (unintelligible) from whatever was going on the night before.

(Soundbite of laughter)

(Soundbite of song, "Candy")

Mr. NUTINI: (Singing) I was perched outside in the pouring rain trying to make myself a sail…

ZWERDLING: Paolo Nutini has joined us from the Talbot Sound Studios in Nashville, Tennessee. Thank you so much. I had fun.

Mr. NUTINI: Thank you, man.

(Soundbite of song, "Candy")

Mr. NUTINI: (Singing) …the most honest means of travel. It gets me there nonetheless. I'm a heartless man at worst, babe, and a helpless one at best, darling I'll bathe your skin…

ZWERDLING: And I wish you all a great Saturday. This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. Scott Simon is away. I'm Daniel Zwerdling.

Mr. NUTINI: (Singing) Just give me some candy, before I go. Oh, darling…

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