The person who got me through 2021: Huey Morgan comforted me amid a deluge of human waste

I had plumbing problems and his radio show transported me from the faecal hellscape in my garden. It became the ideal soundtrack for my pandemic reality

It was spring, and human excrement was pumping into our garden. I watched through the window as a perplexed young plumber with a long metal pole excavated the dark, gurgling drain. As if lockdown hadn’t been bad enough, our kitchen was now heavy with the stench of a thousand flushes. No one knew how to stop it. There was only one thing to do: brew weapons-grade black coffee and switch on the radio. That’s how I discovered Huey Morgan’s Saturday morning breakfast show on BBC 6 Music. It made everything feel a little more right in the world.

What started as a way to distract from the tide of hot, liquid excrement on our patio quickly became the highlight of the week for my girlfriend and me. Huey – of Fun Lovin’ Criminals fame – thumbing you through his records: early 90s rap, early 80s disco, and early 70s soul to blow away the cobwebs, with choice modern selections marbling the retro soundscape.

As the pandemic wrecked his live music opportunities, ex-marine turned platinum-selling artist Morgan swapped the remnants of his old rockstar lifestyle for a wholesome three-hour set in Britain’s coveted hungover fry-up slot.

Morgan admits he has had “essentially the same record collection for 35 years”, and yet the show never feels formulaic. “I’m proud of my music,” he says. His enthusiasm for his own taste is infectious and it’s hard not to follow that confidence. He doesn’t ask you to trust his choices; you just do.

When we speak, it’s Monday afternoon, a significant point in the weekly creation of the Huey Show. The process is always the same “I start compiling my show on Monday afternoon, writing down ideas in my Moleskine [notebook]. And then – and this is very important for me – I put together a playlist and drive to Costco in Avonmouth. I’m American, and they have all my American shit, so I drive there and get my hotdogs and listen to the music.” On Tuesday, he sends the playlist to his producer, T-Bone. He records the show in the basement of his home in Bath on Wednesday, then sends it to the BBC for vetting on Thursday. (“They wanna make sure I don’t say fuck,” he says.) Then, if the show is profanity-free, it rolls out on Saturday, 10am-1pm.

It is soothing to realise the person putting together the perfect soundtrack for the inane-but-important Saturday mornings of young coupledom – scrubbing ovens, vacuuming stairs, splitting your kittens’ worming tablets in half, prying open their little jaws – is going about his own inane, but important, routine.

“I need something to look forward to every week,” says Morgan of his 2021. “I have my family, and they’re lovely. But I need discipline.” So Morgan pieces together his show, while hunting for frankfurters in a Greater Bristol industrial park. Every single Monday.

His presence on the Huey Show is that of a pithy tour guide, never outstaying his welcome. “When I was younger,” he says, “and I’d DJ in New York nightclubs, they didn’t even give me a microphone. Nobody wanted to hear what I had to say. I try to keep that humility.” He plays you a little Arlo Parks or A Tribe Called Quest, some Joe Bataan if you’re lucky, and throws down some dad-joke wordplay, and a raspy half-laugh, then it’s back to the music.

“I started the show in 2008,” says Morgan, “and I’ve never been the kind of DJ, where – well, you hear ’em. You know who they are. They just love talking, man. And they talk so much, you don’t even know what the fuck they’re talking about by the time they play the record. That’s what I try to avoid.”

Routines that stick have been hard to come by in the pandemic. After 2020’s attempts at regularly scheduled spiritual nourishment didn’t take – quizzes, jogging and YouTube yoga are now a long distant memory – I had given up trying. Monday and Tuesday might have always been crap, but, without the opportunity for football on a Wednesday, cinema on a Thursday and post-work pints on a Friday, my calendar’s arrhythmia left me jaded. But, each Saturday morning, the Huey Show injected something vital.

Ever since that effluent February morning, I’ve come to cherish Morgan’s calming sonic antidote to the apocalyptic news cycle, his warm Noo Yawk accent cradling us till lunch. Through the week, I count down the days to each show, wondering what will be ringing around our kitchen. The vibe he creates, I tell him over the phone, makes a Saturday morning feel like an easy Sunday – only without the dread. His show is a mood that transports me away from the molten faecal hellscape bubbling up on society’s block paving. More than a show, it’s become an idealised soundtrack to my new pandemic reality.

“I’m flattered people include me in moments in their lives,” he tells me, Costco beckoning. “Getting married, people passing away, babies being born, anniversaries, milestones. They genuinely wanna share them with me because I share what I have with them, man. And people can tell when it’s real. This is a bullshit-free zone. I’m not a presenter. I’m not a comedian. You don’t need me telling you my opinion on all the bad shit happening in the world. And I’m not curing cancer here, but if I can keep people away from bullshit for a couple hours and play good music for ’em, then that’s my lane. And I like it.”


Sam Diss

The GuardianTramp

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