1. Bruce Springsteen | Stolen Car
This song just simmers, as though ready to boil over, but instead just slowly fades out and in doing so it really holds a mirror to the lyrics – loss of control, the sense of things breaking down and the fear of the Unknown. I also really believe there is a sense of escape in this breakdown, a yearning for Freedom or maybe a self destruct? He is a master storyteller, and this always takes me back to that comforting dark place.
2. Bob Dylan | Romance In Durango
Where do you start with Dylan? Like this list, it's virtually impossible to break it down and choose ten. I hear this song, and of all the songs from BD I could choose, this is sometimes the hardest to listen to - purely because of a time and a place. The imagery in the lyrics and some of the instrumentation remind me of a place that is very dear to me, and it's in this place that I first heard the song too, which makes it all the more significant.
3. The Thelonious Monk Quartet | Body And Soul
Because sometimes you just need Music that injects some Llife back into you, that makes you sit up and really listen. Music that can simultaneously make you concentrate and listen intently while making you just float along.
4. Joy Division | Atmosphere
Just listen to it. Beautiful. Fraught with Pain and Love and Danger.
5. David Bowie | Sound And Vision
Like Dylan, where do you start? I wanted to say Five Years, Heroes, Moonage Daydream (I just love the way that song starts), Queen Bitch, Oh! You Pretty Things, Let's Dance, etc., etc., but I choose this because it has a little of everything - and it grooves! His ability to constantly and consistently change and explore Music, the effort he puts into creating without it seeming like any effort at all, is probably the most all-round influence on me. As I'm writing this, Rebel Rebel comes on and I want to change choice!
6. Lou Reed | Street Hassle (Waltzing Matilda/Street Hassle/Slipaway) (with Bruce Springsteen)
I was floored when I heard this the first time. It was The Velvets, but it wasn't. I'd pretty much listened to VU to death, then I heard this and it just took the things I loved about VU to a different place, a different sound that resonated with me better at that moment in time, weird pauses, then coming back in with that riff played on a different instrument (I could listen to it on the bass over and over). And then Bruce comes in. I read that he wasn't credited because at the time he was going through some major legal stuff. It blows my mind, the poetry of these two people who I'd have never put together before this. All the while Bruce was still writing and about to unleash on the World, and here he is just sat so comfortably in this fairly abstract song of Lou's. Genius. You know, some people got no choice. And they can't never find a voice. To talk with that they can even call their own...
7. John Lee Hooker | I Cover The Waterfront (Abe Lyman's California Ambassador Hotel Orchestra Cover)
I was really lucky in that I had family who were immense Music lovers, all slightly varying tastes, and as I remember spending a lot of time with them, it was like a new musical education with each one. So I ended up listening to a lot of Blues growing up, went to Blues festivals and saw amazing performers up close and personal, raw energy, ridiculously mind blowing playing, voices that penetrated and turned you inside out. I remember clearly, being so moved. I wasn't used to it, I was almost scared by it. I never saw JLH, but this song is just so beautiful. Once I heard it it never left. It's so simple, so fragile, and not so obviously Blues sounding.
8. Leonard Cohen | Bird On A Wire
But I swear by this song, and by all that I have done wrong, I will make it all up to thee... We make mistakes in Life, it's inevitable. For reasons that aren't always clear to us, or through situations or something we believe, we do and say things, act a certain way. But ultimately we believe it's for the good, in the end. And there is always a fear that you may be remembered for the not so great moments, like they always say, you remember the bad reviews more than the good. This is that final word, the farewell letter you wish you'd written. Like Dylan, you have to be prepared to realise you'll never quite get it as good as this, and so I surrender and let this say it for me.
9. Echo & The Bunnymen | All My Colours (Zimbo) (Live At The Royal Albert Hall, 1983)
I was in my first band, I heard a Bunnymen song, I went and got everything I could find of theirs. I heard this track and kind of rejected everything that was current and listened exclusively to them. I couldn't believe this Music was made when I was barely able to walk. Drums, drums, drums like this on everything. We probably nicked it, a bit.
10. Nirvana | Aneurysm
We end at the start. Is it a cliché? I don't give a fuck. I would choose every Nirvana track ever, if I could, desert island and all that. I always loved Music, I mimed to my dad's Status Quo records with a plastic SG, tried to dance like Michael Jackson in Billy Jean, moshed on the shoulders of the adults at a Guns N' Roses concert. Then I heard Nirvana and everything changed. I didn't want to just like, I wanted to make. And that's it. This song is just balls out ripping it up dirty and melodic at the same time. The voice. The guitar sound. It's a baptism and an exorcism in one go. I love it so much it makes me sick.
+11. Mercury Rev | The Dark Is Rising
I just love this band through and through. They have probably been the most influence and inspiration over the years, and continue to be so. This song has something of everything in it. It's gentle, intricate, then big and lush. It bursts out of the Dark still midnight lake with sudden colours and movements. His voice is beautifully fragile but with some real knowing behind it. Grasshoppers guitar has been a huge influence on my playing, and to get nods to them in reviews made all the other shit worth it. I love the imagery of Nature, and this kind of Magic Realism in lyrics, this other world you're transported to that feels attainable, tangible. It feels like a helping hand, a reassuring smile and a secret door to which you've just been given a key. They hold a special place in my heart and ears and soul and always will.