Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.
I think of this quote with every review I read. What Music sounds like can hardly be expressed in words. There's no point. That's what the Music is for. What follows here is just a list of some tracks I love and some of the emotional connections I have with them.
1. Kate Bush | Cloudbusting
I loved this song from the first moment. It took on a whole new meaning though when I read Listen Little Man by Wilhelm Reich. Reich was a genius, an individual, a scientist and a free thinker. Listen Little Man changed my life and it was only later that I realised Cloudbusting is about him, written from the perspective of his son. To capture someone so remarkable in such a great track is very special indeed. The video is pretty strange but Kate Bush is a unique artist who does her own thing; this is an attempt to tell the important story of Reich's work and the way he was persecuted by the US government. It was his outrageous imprisonment which led to his tragic and untimely death. Also, I will one day look worryingly like Donald Sutherland.
2. Talking Heads | Once In A Lifetime
I love everything about this track. Some members of Clock Opera feel it's the best song of all time and I find it hard to disagree. Musically it's astounding. In live performance he/they take it to a whole new level. The meaning also has a very powerful affect on me. This track always gives a sense of Empowerment to forget about possessions and get on with what really matters. That's my interpretation anyway.
3. Dave Matthews Band | #41
Anyone between the ages of 15 and 60 is able to legitimately claim that Ecstasy pills used to be a lot better. I wasn't fortunate enough to be in Ibiza when that something special began or at the Hacienda some years after. I was too young. But I had my own golden age. For me this is typified by Dave Matthews Band's #41. I got back to my room from a club to get a few things before heading to an after-party. I was in love and in a rush. But the combination of superb drugs and this music made me very very late. NB... Excellent E's do still exist.
4. Bat For Lashes | Daniel
Terence McKenna is an impossible being to describe. You have to listen to him to understand. Part of his greatness was his exploration of Existence through Psychedelic drugs and one such discovery resonates incredibly deeply with me... Something the mushrooms told him once; Nature Loves Courage. Check it out on YouTube. I've discovered this to be true in my reality too and this track is one of the infinite examples in my life. I showed some real courage and had a life-changing conversation during which this song was discussed at length. Not thirty seconds afterwards I walked back out into the venue and on it came, loud and clear over the sound system. Richard Dawkins and his allies can call it what they like but for me it's just another little knowing wink from Nature. A brilliant track too.
5. Randy Newman | Feels Like Home
I first heard this song at a memorial service. Someone very close to me had lost his best friend. They'd travelled through all their lives together. Hundreds of remarkable people turned out to celebrate a unique being. This song was one of his favourites and from that moment on it has meant a huge amount to me.
6. Other Lives | Tamer Animals
You asked for something current, Vlad, and right now I absolutely love this song.
7. Yeasayer | 2080
I was at the great escape in Brighton in 2008, playing with my former band. Yeasayer were new to me then and this track was my absolute favourite. I played my show and headed to their venue full of Adrenalin and other chemicals. There was a massive line outside but we managed to use artists rights to get in (it's not fair but needs must). As I neared the stage, through the crowd, this song started. For me it was a very special moment indeed. As with so many tracks I love, I turn to the live performances on YouTube rather than the original recordings to get the best feeling. In this instance, it's Live on KEXP for me. We've supported Yeasayer on a few UK dates and they are a class band. Brilliant people and musicians.
8. Elvis Perkins | While You Were Sleeping
I avoid sleep at all costs. I'm also passionate about lyrics. It's hard to imagine the two being combined in a more beautiful and interesting way than this.
9. Regina Spektor | The Flowers
If you're a man living in our culture then the chances are you grew up learning not to cry. Most of us get pretty good at controlling it in the end. Until we can't do it at all anymore. But as Arthur Janov brilliantly expresses in The New Primal Scream, we need to cry sometimes. It is the most natural act of all. Every baby does it as soon as they enter the World. Trauma is resolved in many ways through the act of Crying. For me, some music helps to unlock emotions at key times. This beautiful song by Regina Spektor does it on many levels. In my mind it's about Love, Loss, Denial, Hope, so many things. She's a very special artist.
10. Adem | Launch Yourself
My secondary school was bizarrely full of people who would go on to become prominent in British Music. Adem was one of the first to do so and his integrity as an artist and a human being is as unshakable now as it was when I was 13 years old. The Truth, Compassion and Empathy in this song mean a lot me.
+11. Ray LaMontagne | Jolene
For me this is one of the greatest songs of recent years. I can say no more than that.
+12. Marvin Gaye | Let's Get It On
The remarkable comedian and storyteller Daniel Kitson once said something like the following in a live show I went to... True Happiness is doing something you love while anticipating doing something else you love. As a teenager he would try to give his best friend that experience by making him a toasted cheese sandwich after a Friday night out. Just as his friend took a bite of the sandwich, Daniel would remind him... It's football focus in the morning. On the same note I'm listening to Let's Get It On right now and the tennis at Wimbledon is about to start.