So I could say that I don’t normally do these things – after all that’s what I said last time. I don’t know how many more times I can not normally do these things before it starts to look a bit of a hollow statement. A little longer, I should think. Ho hum.
Anyway, I have been passed the musical baton by Phil (and I think probably also by Leonard a while back, although I didn’t act upon it). This musical baton thing is – in a nutshell – a few questions that you answer and then pass on to some other poor unsuspecting victim. It’s like a happy chain-letter of musical love. They were kind of huge about four years ago in the LiveJournal community and it looks like they’re now starting to do a second pass. Except this time, the questions are a bit less dumb. And with that glowing endorsement, here I go:
Total volume of music on my computer? These figures are going to be a bit deformed by the number of podcasts I’ve been downloading recently either via the BBC or from Odeo. I have 9,684 tracks on my computer at the moment. This takes up 42.49Gb of hard disk space and would take twenty-seven days, thirteen hours and forty minutes to listen to if I started right now.
The last CD I bought? Actually I did a real ‘fifty quid bloke’ thing about two days ago and bought four CDs at the same time. Collective cost: pretty much exactly £50. I’m such a cliché. As usual I’d been carousing around metacritic looking for stuff with really good reviews that I hadn’t heard of. After a little online sampling of various albums, I decided to buy a mix of more and less risky stuff: Martha Wainwright, Lost and Safe by The Books, Frank Black Francis and Funeral by The Arcade Fire.
I kind of knew I’d like Funeral, because I’d listened to a few of its tracks over and over until my ears bled – but I’m surprised by how much I’m liking The Books’ album. It’s perfect to work to. I don’t know how well it’ll sit on my iPod though, all chopped up and disaggregated. The Wainwright album is pretty cool too. The one real anomaly is the Frank Black Francis album – it comprises two CDs, one with some very early acoustic demos of Pixies songs on it, the other with Frank Black and some guys with string instruments doing new versions of classic Pixies tracks. Many of the ‘re-imaginings’ are pretty way-out and I’m not sure are terribly good. Some are interesting. Not sure what I think of it, all things considered.
Song playing right now? It’s called Don’t Let Me Explode by The Hold Steady. My playcount tells me that I’ve listened to it once before ever. It may not be any good at all for all I know. Don’t take this as an endorsement. I have no idea. I don’t even really know why it’s on my computer. It’s kind of growing on me, actually. Hm. I wonder what the rest of the album is like.
Five songs I listen to a lot or that mean a lot to me? Hmm. Bastard question. I wave my fist at thee. I’m doing it right now. Er. Impromptu plan – look at iTunes ‘Most Played’, and scrub off the ones I’ve got bored of. Maybe then add in a couple that have a particular importance to me for some reason? Hm. Or maybe I’ll just cheat and start off by doing songs that have a lot of emotional significance (don’t listen to these, they’re all depressing or cheesy) and then do the good ones in a moment:
- Somewhere in My Heart by Aztec Camera. I was strawberry-picking one summer school-holiday in a field near Tunstead in Norfolk. I’d wear my Walkman and when I got bored of all the bending over, I’d cash in my strawberries and walk to Roys of Wroxham and brag the latest “Now That’s What I Call Music” collection. Then I’d listen to it over and over again for weeks. This song represents that sticky, bright, strawberry-flavoured summer for me. (Close-run runner up from that summer – The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll by Prefab Sprout)
- Morning Theft by Jeff Buckley. There was this relationship that I nearly had that pretty much destroyed me and this song somehow expressed really strongly how much I wanted things between us to work out well. Rest of the story in a nutshell: it didn’t. (Close run major relationship soundtrack goes to: Everyloving by Moby which I should frankly be ashamed of)
- Something So Right by Paul Simon. When I was a kid I could play this on the piano. It’s not a great song. It’s really sappy. But it was either that or Slip Slidin’ Away which I wrote off a car to.
- Following by The Bangles. This might be the most melancholy and self-deceiving song I’ve ever heard and I adored it when I was a teenager.
- If It Be Your Will by Leonard Cohen. This is the song I want played at my funeral. I think it’s stunning and beautiful and devastating and I think could easily be rescued from its apparent theism and reinterpreted as a proper humanist hymn. (Close run second and third place Leonard Cohen tracks: Everybody Knows & The Future)
Here are the songs that I listen to because they’re just good. These I would thoroughly recommend that you get you filthy mitts upon:
- Subbacultcha by Pixies. So I was cruising the clubs one night and I saw a lot of fine ass that I was hoping to get in the sack. I was kind of looking handsome… It’s a whole story really. Anyway, many years later, I heard this song and thought ‘that’s about me’ or something. Best song ever… (Close-run second place Pixies track: Wave of Mutiliation (UK Surf))
- Combat Baby by Metric. I have heard no other songs by Metric. I have no idea if they’re terrible or not. But this song has been playing over and over on my iPod for the last year or so and is a wonderful paean to being a stroppy bastard.
- Utopia by Goldfrapp. This has to be the most beautiful song ever constructed that contains the word ‘Fascist’. I listen to it all the time. It generates a weird aesthetic perfectionism in me and is perfect for doing design work.
- Lonesome Tears by Beck. It’s probably my second favourite song ever and contains this enormous bank of rising chords at the end that just goes on and on and just won’t quit. It’s definitely the most-played song from my iTunes playlist.
- Heard it Through the Grapevine by The Slits. The only cover that you can’t live without. Best drums, best beats, fun howling ladies – it’s somewhere between disco and new wave and tribal dancing, but with a sense of humour and no top on.
- Walking in the Dark by Throwing Muses. Weird, bouncy, creepy, spidering, awesome. Listen to it about a dozen times and then try to stop yourself feeling like dancing whenever it comes on the stereo. Proper weird art-guitar-dance with some nutty woman barking over the top. Sorted.
Five people to whom I’m passing the baton: Gawd that’s a tricky one. As usual I’d like to see what Matt Webb would come up with, but I don’t think he’d participate. Also Matt Biddulph’s music taste intrigues me. After hearing stories about her teenage encouters with Michael Hutchence, I really want to know if there’s any INXS in Fiona Romeo’s dark past. Also Cal Henderson is a bit of a music consuming monster. And I think I’ll end up with Alice Taylor who’s kind of intriguing and mysterious…