The Songs That People Sing

First let's hear somebody sing me a record that cries pure and true

Month: February, 2009

Sounds For Sunday

It so easily could have felt like the longest winter ever. One of the side effects of children – so my mum used to tell me – was that time moved so much faster. Never enough time, she used to say, never enough time. And while for a brief moment during the last six months I was frozen in place, now I’m thawing out and time is moving normally, fast even thanks to my own incoming offspring. I knew I was coming back to life, when I was finally able to write about how I was feeling recently. I normally am only able to write about my feelings when I’m on the other side of them. While I’m in the middle of a storm I’m too busy trying to survive.

I certainly wouldn’t have been able to get through the winter without The Beautiful Wife. So I’ll dedicate this Sounds For Sunday to her. Five years ago this weekend we became an official couple, after several months of dancing around the fact. Everybody knew what was going on, but sometimes you just have to be patient. And now look at where we are, where we’ve come, the road we’ve travelled on to this point, and the road we’re about to travel on.

Like nobody’s business… x

The tune today is Sister Sledge, Thinking Of You. Which is another one of those that I forget about until I hear it; a fantastic performance, song, and production, possibly the best Chic production. A perfect tune for the imminent rise of spring and drifting away with somebody special.

Sister Sledge – Thinking Of You

Random Play

Everyone else seems to go for a dance on Friday. I think I’ll go a little bit dreamy.

I inherited from a family friend the first four Blondie albums back in about 1982. When we were younger kids we used to listen to them in his front room and pretend we were Clem Burke, while his twin sister pretended to be Debbie Harry.

And here I am 30 years later still listening to them. And going off in a day dream to the best whoaah woahs ever.

Happy Friday!

Blondie – Shayla

Random Play: Donovan

I’ve a pile of albums around here that I may only listen to a handful of tracks from. Maybe a greatest hits that only four out of the twenty tracks were the reason for purchasing. I’ve a few of Donovan’s sixties albums which I listen to quite often, and a best of that is only useful for some of the 60s singles. But occasionally the odd track will come up on random by these sorts of people and I’ll sit back and go “what is that??!”

Rock ‘n’ Roll Souljer is from Donovan’s mid 70s output, when he wasn’t anywhere near as successful as he had been. Unsurprisingly this track pretty much disappeared from trace. Which is a shame because it’s damn good.

What does it sound like? Well, I’ve always thought that Bowie and Bolan owed Donovan a lot, musically, vocally, even image at various times (have you seen early pictures of Bolan in the Fisherman’s cap?); so it’s probably not a surprise that Donovan may have repaid the favour. Rock ‘n’ Roll Souljer is a glam rock pop stomper that sounds like T-Rex, Bowie and Steve Harley’s Come Up And See Me. And yes it does make me smile!

Donovan – Rock ‘n’ Roll Souljer

Acoustic randomness

Turning 40 was pretty painless thanks to The Beautiful Wife. Film and pizza on the day (Slumdog Millionaire – very very good, if you’re a Danny Boyle fan then you will enjoy it and the cast is excellent); then my favourite Thai restaurant on Sunday with friends, organised in secret by TBW. Highlight of the day was surely singing a duet with my best mate’s 9 month old daughter.

Monday finds me in acoustic reverie with a random selection from iTunes that are running on repeat currently in this house.

Firstly as a result of his passing I’ve been digging into John Martyn’s earlier works and, in one of those funny little connections I find myself posting John The Baptist a week after posting Salome. It’s a song I know, but you know sometimes tunes just make sense at a particular time. Well this just gets me right now, I love the opening lines:

“I’m John the Baptist
And this is my friend Salome
And you can bet it’s my head she wants
And not my heart only
If you see me smiling
And you wonder why
You can bet it’s a private joke
Between her and I.”

And when John and Beverley repeat the verse as a duet halfway through I just melt. And the harmonies over the end are just beautiful.

Next up on the playlist is Kevin Mcdermott and a little tune from a little solo album (Slow Time And Temptation) he made back in the mid 80s called Farewell To Jenny Lynd, which I think is one of the most beautiful little songs ever, with a gorgeous melody and some great vocals.

Give Me Another Chance by Big Star has been a favourite around these parts in small bursts for a couple of years, a big Beatley melody that sparkles across slow strummed acoustics. It sounds like the sun coming out on a frozen winter morning.

Then a very random little tune, a demo of the song I Start Counting by Basil Kirchin which comes from a compilation called Fuzzy Felt Folk. Basil Kirchin had a long and interesting career, big band jazz, film soundtracks and experimental found sound albums and is well worth investigating. There are other versions, for instance you may know one by Dusty Springfield. But this is lovely.

Finally Sally Free And Easy by Davy Graham from his album Folk Blues And Beyond. A hugely talented and influential musician who passed away last December and whose death should have gotten just as much attention around the blogs as John Martyn. This probably isn’t hugely representative of his work but it’s a cool little folk pop tune all the same.

John And Beverley Martyn – John The Baptist

Kevin McDermott – Farewell To Jenny Lynd

Big Star – Give Me Another Chance

Basil Kirchin – I Start Counting

Davy Graham – Sally Free And Easy

February 14th #2

Happy Birthday. Me. 40. Whoah.

February 14th #1

Happy Valentines Day to my beautiful wife x


I had a whole thing about brown corduroy, old sofas and Soft Cell, somehow tied up with Abigail’s Party and Jarvis being the best pop star ever lined up for this. Then I watched the video, which somehow does exactly the same without being poncey.

This song features my favourite lyric and my favourite exclamation in a song ever.

Random Play: U2

Quite possibly my favourite U2 track, Salome was a b-side from their Achtung Baby sessions. I’ve heard the various demos of the track and it was quite different, sounding more like the noisy Krautrock of Zoo Station than the glam rock of the finished track. The major change was the addition of a chorus, which when it kicks in just makes me go all peculiar. Bono’s doing his best Elvis impression and the band sound like prime era Adam & The Ants, especially on that chorus.

Love it.

U2 – Salome

Sounds For Sunday On Monday

I’m on a bit of a Beatles kick this week, especially the mid period pre Revolver. Beatles For Sale is probably my favourite album of theirs alongside Rubber Soul and Revolver, and the singles around 64-65 are sublime.

Anyway, the following was named by John himself as a huge influence on a couple of singles from that time.


“So anyway I look across the room and I can see you sitting at the table talking to some random. You’re smiling at me and I know you’re starting to feel the tingle, the little shivers up and down the arms. I take a drag on my cigarette and try and focus on the conversation I’m having. A little difficult, made even more so by the appearance of Other-D on his hands and knees in front of the washing machine. A moment later he sticks his head in the drum and starts singing.

I step back a little from the chatter, at least mentally if not physically. I’m starting to feel each and every rumble of that bass, the tempo rising, the clitter clatter of the percussion. Meanwhile the sounds of the room start to move away from me, like I’m climbing upward through a tunnel. There’s only the tune and me left and your eyes across the room clocking what’s happening, just as it’s happening to you. There’s a taste of puke in my mouth as my stomach feels it before I do, then I’m going off like a rocket, over the top on the roller coaster and there’s a whooshing in my head, ears, body. My skin spikes, and again, blue wireframe over everything.

I let it take me, like a leaf on the breeze, up and down and sideways. I feel like I need to hang on to something, somebody, anything. Instead I sway slightly and take a deep deep puff on my cigarette. Across the room you laugh a little, quietly and mouth the word ‘jesus‘ at me. Other-D is still singing in the washing machine, the kick drum is getting faster, the ascending note over the top rising upwards, ever upwards. Then the roof goes off again. Main man D and his lady E start nodding their heads in time with each other and the waves. Then they look in my direction and smile, kindred spirits.”

The Chemical Brothers – The Sunshine Underground