Saturday, 11 December 2010

Mixing it up and breaking it down - the music

Here's the guest blog I recently posted over at Gary Davison's blog:

As Gary mentioned recently, we've decided to mix up our blogs again and write about our favourite music across the last four decades - or, at least, the songs that have had an impact on us. Easier said than done. As soon as I tried, I realised we'd set ourselves a ridiculously hard task. I love music - all kinds of music - from rock to blues to classical to world roots to... so how could I possibly identify four songs out of the hundreds or thousands that I've raved about and danced to? Impossible. If we'd allowed ourselves 100 tracks per decade then I might've stood a slim chance, but then this post would have had to scroll several metres off your screen, off your desk and across the floor. Anyway, I've had a go, albeit one that focuses on the mainstream for the sake of simplicity. And I've started with the Noughties, because the Seventies - that golden era when music was changing at a phenomenal pace - is too hard a place to begin.

The Noughties: Xavier Rudd, Jack Johnson, Regina Spektor, Charlie Parr, The White Stripes, The Black Keys, Emilie Simon, Cat Power... Ye gods, this isn't easy. But the big name - the single musician who has had the biggest impact - well, I'll have to settle for Ben Harper. And as for a single track - well, that's as hard again. I don't think this is the very best of Ben Harper, but it's dynamite for its broad appeal and almost an anthem: Burn One Down.

As for the Nineties, I'll try not think too hard about it and dive straight into Radiohead and, from OK Computer, Exit Music (For a Film). How's that?

Same for the Eighties. This one got banned by the BBC, which is always a good recommendation, and it still makes me want to turn the volume up full bore and start dancing: Frankie Goes to Hollywood playing Relax.

But as for the Seventies. Well, almost every song I listen to from that period is a nostalgia trap and I'm not quite sure how to get past that: 10CC's I'm Not in Love or Life is a Minestrone, The Cream, Yes, Kraftwerk, The Stones, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Velvet Underground, Joan Armatrading and on and on and on. It might be easier to cheat and give a nod to Whispering Bob Harris (and The Old Grey Whistle Test) or John Peel as 'channellers' of great music. However, no cheating here, and so I'm going to plump for the band and the track that has had such an impact on me I featured the song in my second novel, The Grease Monkey's Tale: Bob Marley & The Wailers performing No Woman, No Cry on the Live! album. Definitely one of my favourites of all time. And to think that I passed up the opportunity to see this band playing in my home town when I was 17 because I hadn't heard of them at the time. A week later I was kicking myself, and have been loving this album - this track - ever since. Enjoy.

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