Radio & Music

What's the most important album of your life?

Paul Simon: Graceland It’s 1986. I’m fourteen years old. I’ve had a few albums bought for me before, but I’m basically illiterate when it comes to popular music. I’m living in a village of eighty people, ten miles away from my nearest friend. My brother is one year old. I spend most of my time in my room – reading and listening to the radio. The outside world seems a hundred thousand miles away.

One day I buy Graceland. Essentially it’s the first album I ever really bought myself. And I got it because I’d heard ‘You Can Call Me Al’ on the radio. And I’d liked it. In many ways it set the tone for the rest of my teenage years – thoughtful before my time, disconnected from deep disturbing bodily urges, unsettled and slightly jaded.

There are a hundred times I can remember involving the album. I played it until the tape died. Then I waited a couple of years and bought the CD. It was an album that my mother listened to with me in her Vauxhall Astra on the way into school on frosty winter mornings, my legs only recently out of grey short-trousers. It was the album that played when Glyn, Simon and I wandered around the south of England in my rusty yellow Polo, when I was eighteen. As I get older I get less up-tight, less nervous. And Graceland grows with me.

“Over the mountain, down in the valley, lives a former talk show host. Everybody knows his name. He says there’s no doubt about it, It was the myth of fingerprints. I’ve seen them all and man, they’re all the same.”

What’s the most important album of your life?