Ok, this is a tricky one - the kind of 'I'm like this...' type self-reflection required to attach a song to my personality is a tough path to tread... Proper student-y thinking... so, here's one that describes bits about me, bits about my relationship with rock and roll and its seductive mythology, with what I wanted in my 20s but even then without all the nonsense, and which describes both the nonsense and the attraction of rock mythology... Something about the way Paddy McAloon writes and sings makes so many Prefab Sprout songs feel like they were written either about my life or from the perspective of my life... wonderful stuff.
Wow, I totally dropped the ball on this after getting out here to the states... let's get going again.
Right, Day 14, A Song That No-One Would Expect Me To Love.
...that's a tough call, given that I have something of a reputation for liking lots of music, just because I talk about lots of music. I've happily cheer-led for jazz, metal, ambient, pop, country, rock, electronic... all kinds of stuffs...
So, lemme think...
Here's something that would probably surprise you just how much I LOVE this song. It's pretty much perfect in every way. Take it away Dolly and Kenny, and all credit to the BeeGees for writing it:
I'm sure this is getting a bit repetitive, but I don't really believe in guilty pleasures. Notions of 'cool' are the death of music. The times in my life when I was most concerned about 'cool music' were the least creative, the most stifled. When I gave up on that, things got way more interesting. That said, I don't tend to tell may people that I love this song: I'm a sucker for high-camp disco :)
I don't hate any musicians - at least not for their music - so this one will have to be bent a little. The worst crime music can commit is to be dull, and dull music is ignorable, hence it's tough to hate things if you're ignoring them.
So, instead, here's a great version of a tune by someone who I have no time for at all. The song is apparently a Lady GaGa tune - I'm not even interested enough in her to know the original. I've spent all of about 30 seconds ever watching footage of her, and have only knowingly heard her music in supermarkets. Not a person for whom I have any time at all, really. Just not interesting.
However, this version of her song 'Paparazzi' by John Goldsby's trio, is excellent. As I said, I don't know the tune of the original, so I've no idea how far they've mashed it up, and to be honest, I can't even be bothered to look the original up on youtube or spotify to find out. But I really like this.
The rest of the album, The Inn Keeper's Gun, is brilliant. Go and google it. Fabulous, exciting, edgy, music. I love it.
I'll answer this one quite literally, as most of my favourite music comes from solo artists. Not many from people who play just on their own, but mainly from individuals who work under their own name - Joni Mitchell, Bruce Cockburn, Bill Frisell, Jonatha Brooke...
So my favourite band is probably The Blue Nile. They're a band I got into quite late. I'd bought an album, maybe even two, of theirs on Andrew Howie (AKA Calamateur)'s suggestion, but hadn't really listened much. But flipping through my iPod sitting in the car outside a post office somewhere in rural Ohio, Summer 2007, I put them on, for no apparent reason, and they got me. Hook, line and sinker, I fell for them. It all clicked. And I've been pretty much obsessed ever since.
They're an easy band to be into, as they've only released four albums in the 84 years they've been together (OK, 20-odd years, but it feels like more) - not very prolific. I'm always on the lookout for other projects that Paul Buchanan has been involved with, from producing Michael McDonald to solo tunes on compilation albums (I think I have a christmas song or two of his tucked away somewhere.
But as The Blue Nile, I love pretty much every note they've ever recorded. Which is exactly how it should be when every album takes 7 years to make :)
Story-time again - back in the late 80s, as a fledgling bassist, I was a huge fan of Nick Beggs. In fact, still am a huge fan of Nick Beggs. He was the bassist in Kajagoogoo, then in Ellis, Beggs and Howard, and from there he joined a gospel/prog/ambient/new-age band called Iona. I was rather excited about this, as I tended to follow what was going on with his career.
One of their first gigs (if not their first gig) as a full band was at Greenbelt in 1990. It was my first year, and as an excitable music-lovin' 17 year old, I spent the entire weekend watching bands. Over 60, if I remember rightly. Iona were a few days into the fest, in a venue called The River - lots of acoustic stuff, music for grown ups. I went in there a couple of hours before they were on, to see the rest of the afternoon line-up (including, I seem to remember, the wonderful Ben Okafor...) But not having slept more than about 2 hours for the previous 3 or 4 days, not long after I sat down, I was fast asleep. In the middle of the tent.
I woke up to see Iona leaving the stage. I only knew it was them cos I recognised Nick disappearing off to the side, not to return. I'd missed their entire set.
So not really the theme of the day, but then, never let rules get in the way of a good story. Here's what Iona sound like when you're awake.
As a footnote, for you history-buffs, my relationship with the band/Nick went thusly - in 95, when Tim Harries (who had replaced Nick on bass) left Iona, I was asked by a mutual friend of the band if I was interested in auditioning... I said no, thinking I probably wasn't up to it.. and there's no knowing whether they'd have liked my playing anyway (Phil Barker who got the gig was very good... lots better than I was, so I'm pretty sure he'd have got the gig anyway..)
Another couple of years after that, Nick was in a band called Ragatal - a quartet of spanish guitar, elec, violin, tabla and chapman stick. I went to their first gig too (didn't fall asleep) at the indian high commission, and was suitably blown away. So when Nick had to leave the band due to other commitments (heading out on tour with Howard Jones), I was asked to join, and we did an album (called Fragments Of Grace, billed as Jason Carter And Ragatal).
When Nick then got hired to join John Paul Jones' trio, it clashed with his Howard Jones touring commitment, and as I'd been helping him out with some of the theory-side of Johns very complex music, he put me up for the gig with Howard, which I did.
And finally, in 2008, I recorded an album with Dave Bainbridge, the guitar player in Iona. He was putting together a new band (called Open Sky), and so I went and played on the album, and did a short tour with them. Here's some video footage from the sessions.
More college days reminiscence: Thursday night was indie night in whichever local nightclub in Perth was hosting it at that time. Gary, the DJ, played all kinds of fabulous stuff, and we'd head down pretty much every week and dance for upwards of 3 or 4 hours.
The dancefloor had tables along one side that acted as podiums, which for us as deeply self conscious 19 year olds meant us each having a theme song or two that we would get up onto the podiums for.
Mine were pretty much all Smiths or Morrissey tunes, given that I had a well-kept Morrisey quiff at the time, and a well-developed obsession with all things Smiths. So I'd get up there, wearing all kinds of layered nonsense and a jacket with oversized shoulder pads and do my Morrissey thing. It was all kinds of fun. Deeply student-y nonsense, but who gives a shit, we were students! :)
So, here's This Charming Man - my favourite song in the world for swinging imaginary gladioli along with :)
There really aren't that many songs I know all the words to... On songs that I have to play I often only know just enough of the words to get me cued in at the right points...
However, there are certain songwriters whose words have been touchstones throughout my life, the poetry that acts as a sacred text, the prose that makes sense of so much that seems otherwise unfathomable. Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Tracy Chapman, Michael Franti, The The, The Blue Nile and top of the tree, Bruce Cockburn.
This is one of a handful of songs I'd like played at my funeral (which means I'll have to think of a different one for the day when that's the category here...)
(footnote - I've not seen this version before, and had no idea that Bruce had ever got to play this live with Edgar Meyer on bass - Edgar's playing on the album is so beautiful (he's on 2 or 3 tunes) - it's called 'Nothing But A Burning Light' and is pretty much perfect.)
My college years were really interesting. For much of my first year, I was a compete arse - just didn't deal all that well with moving away from home. My second year started in a shared house, but I moved back into Halls part way through they year. The bloke in the room next door was a fabulous artist called Keiran. He and spent loads of evenings fixing the world, none moreso than during the week we were snowed in (the snow then melted in a day and flooded the whole town, doing incredible damage). For that week, Keiran and I spent most of our time talking about big stuff - science, faith, doubt, politics, art, all in the way that only 20 years olds who want to change the world can - listening to music and occasionally making a foray out to the canteen where we were still being served food... (were the dinner staff snowed in too? How did they get there? Never did find that out...)
Anyway, it was an amazing week, despite the snow. It was the first time I heard Consolidated, and we listened to Roger Water's Amused To Death a lot too. But the album that really sums it up for me is Dusk by The The - I've previously blogged about this as one of the albums that changed my life. Indeed it did, and it also soundtracked our snow-week perfectly.
OK, let's dig back into my teenage years. This ones massively evocative, and it reminds me of The Trading Estate in Berwick Upon Tweed. We lived in a little new-build middle-class estate on one side of it, and the town was on the other... it was about a 40 minute walk, I guess, from one to the other. I used to do it regularly, and in my mid teens, it was invariably late at night, with my then ever-present portable stereo, with one blown speaker, playing The Cure. or occasionally Napalm Death, or The Pixies. But mostly, The Cure.
Just the sound of the intro to this song brings back the smell of pastry, hops and diesel fumes that permeated the trading estate. The feeling of utter bewilderment that accompanied the two occasions on which I attempted to traverse it stoned (one of which involved me walking around it for hours and hours... it didn't feel like hours, but I left home at about 2am and arrived at my destination after dawn...) That trading estate is significant for me in other more salubrious ways - it was where I failed - then later passed - my driving test. Good times.
So here it is - One Hundred Years by The Cure - the open track from Pornography. I had a TDK D90 with this on one side and The Head On The Door on the other.
I could only find a live version (endless live versions!) on Youtube, here's my favourite of them