30 Days Of Music, Day 12 - A Song By A Band I Hate.

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. 

30 Days Of Music, Day 10 - A Song That Makes Me Fall Asleep.

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. 

30 Days Of Music, Day 6 - A Song That Reminds Me Of Somewhere.

Ah, which one to choose? 

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 
But it's the studio version that actually has smells attached - here it is on Spotify

30 Days Of Music Day 5 - A Song That Reminds Me Of Someone

Again, a list of LOADS of songs comes to mind - so many friendships have their own soundtrack, so many encounters have a theme tune. It's tough to pick just one from the list to single out for posting here... 

OK, let's go for what is now possibly the most evocative piece of music I know of - the music that was playing when our son, (@baby_flapjack) was born - The Soundtrack to Lars And The Real Girl by David Torn. I'd already been listening to it pretty much non-stop in the run-up to him being born, as it's a really beautiful collection of tunes, but it was in the playlist for the Delivery room and happened to be playing when the little guy came out into the world. So now, it's that, whenever we hear it. We still listen to it a lot, and it never fails to move us. Look it up on Spotify to hear the whole thing, or just buy it from Amazon MP3. 

Oh, and see the film, it's brilliant. 

30 Days Of Music, Day 4 - A Song That Makes Me Sad.

wow, there are LOADS of songs that make me sad. Sadness is just one of those things that songwriting was made to express. Far more effectively than unbridled joy, in fact (contrast how often it's the case that someone's best album is their divorce album, vs. the smugness of most songs about having kids... 'Isn't She Lovely' being the awesome exception that proves the rule...) 

The song I've chosen though, is one that's utterly devastatingly sad, wrapped up as a fairly trad pop breakup ballad. Rosie Thomas' version isn't the first one I heard - Tommy Sims, one of the co-authors of it, did it on his exceptional (and completely unknown) album Peace And Love (here it is on Spotify), but that's not on Youtube, or anywhere else embeddable that I can find... 

So here's Rosie's version of It Don't Matter To The Sun, that I heard a few years later... Still just as heartbreaking. It's a break-up song that instead of claiming that the entire world is about to collapse, undoes that metaphor and uses the parallels with the world not giving a shit to contrast the person's own pain. Genius songwriting, and possibly inadvisable to listen to if you're still raw from a recent break-up. Srsly

30 Days Of Music, Day 3 - A Song That Makes Me Happy.

Lots of music makes me happy. Hearing musicians play the music they love makes me very happy. Listening to my own music makes me happy, and grateful, thankful, etc... 

So I picked a song that makes me feel almost euphoric, for a whole host of reasons. 

I've said quite a few times that, along with Tony Benn and Miriam Margoyles, Billy Bragg is one of a handful of people who make me feel proud to be English - he represents our tradition of dissent that goes back hundreds of years, he's an honest mess of contradictions, an exceptional guitar player (the missing link between Bob Dylan and Joey Santiago) and has written endless songs that make me very happy indeed. I was even happier when he started talking balls about music and the internet - I love it when my heroes prove themselves flawed - but happier still when he modified his stance and started making lots of sense again, in opposition to the Digital Economy Act. A marvellous man. 

So 'Waiting For The Great Leap Forwards' sums up everything that's great about him - fab guitar hook, positivity and cynicism side-by-side, and about 80% of the lyrics in the song are things I'd be happy to wear on a T-shirt. The world is a better place because Billy Bragg is making music in it. Long may he continue. 

(as a footnote, one of the fun things he does with this song is update it periodically (and spontaneously) - click here for a version from Henry Rollins' TV show in the US.  

30 Days Of Music, Day 2 - My Least Favourite Song

These days I don't really have least favourite music. I don't get any pleasure out of hating music. I've got really good at filtering out bad music, and actually very rarely hear anything I don't like (there's a whole other blog post in that!) I'm far more likely to be disappointed by music than hate it - when someone makes a record that should've been full of promise but turns out to have been hijacked by whatever... 

So here's a song that when it came out sent me into utterly irrational insane rage whenever I heard it - I was 8 or 9, and I would scream at people for even singing it. Proper mental. 
It still sounds like risible shit today, but I'm not shouting while listening to this on youtube. Just giggling at the load of old toss that used to get to number one... :) 

30 Days of Music - Day 1 (Your Favourite Song)

Inspired by Hugh Garry (@huey) I'm going to have a bash at this over the next month. It's a meme that asks you to post a song on a different theme each day. Here's Hugh's post about it, 

and here's the list: 

day 01 - your favorite song
day 02 - your least favorite song
day 03 - a song that makes you happy
day 04 - a song that makes you sad
day 05 - a song that reminds you of someone
day 06 - a song that reminds of you of somewhere
day 07 - a song that reminds you of a certain event
day 08 - a song that you know all the words to
day 09 - a song that you can dance to
day 10 - a song that makes you fall asleep 
day 11 - a song from your favorite band 
day 12 - a song from a band you hate 
day 13 - a song that is a guilty pleasure 
day 14 - a song that no one would expect you to love 
day 15 - a song that describes you 
day 16 - a song that you used to love but now hate 
day 17 - a song that you hear often on the radio 
day 18 - a song that you wish you heard on the radio 
day 19 - a song from your favorite album 
day 20 - a song that you listen to when you’re angry 
day 21 - a song that you listen to when you’re happy 
day 22 - a song that you listen to when you’re sad 
day 23 - a song that you want to play at your wedding 
day 24 - a song that you want to play at your funeral 
day 25 - a song that makes you laugh 
day 26 - a song that you can play on an instrument
day 27 - a song that you wish you could play 
day 28 - a song that makes you feel guilty 
day 29 - a song from your childhood
day 30 - your favorite song at this time last year

So, for day 1, My Favourite Song... That's a tough one. [this is take two, having already scrapped a description of a piece that I think I'll use in a later category...]

Right, got it - I love everything about this song - the lyrics, the vocal delivery, the groove... even the production is perfect... KD Lang's phrasing is outstanding... love it love it love it - enjoy.