Ten Songs by Grant Nicol

A big thank you to Allen Miles for this opportunity and experience. I, like him, tried to do this without the plethora of British rock bands that I always seem to spout at people when they ask me what sort of music I listen to. Doing this list without The Cure, The Cult, The Smiths or Joy Division forced me to look at the bands and songs that influenced my tastes in somewhat more formative years and the moments of live magic that have stayed with me ever since rather than simply repeating the names of my favourite songs from my record collection. It has been a memorable experience recreating the moments that shaped my musical past and present.

 

 

 

  1. Add It Up – Violent Femmes

There was a time in my life, about a year in fact, when you couldn’t go to a party anywhere in Auckland without hearing the Violent Femmes first album in its entirety at least ten times over the course of any given evening. It became an anthem for every misconstrued, ill-thought of and awkward teenager there ever was. ‘Add It Up’ is a song about the difficulties of getting laid as a teenager aimed squarely at a demographic who think about nothing else. In New Zealand Gordon Gano, Brian Ritchie and Victor DeLorenzo quickly became part of musical folklore and their concert in Auckland touring the mighty follow up album, ‘Hallowed Ground’ was extraordinary. Their eponymous first album went gold on our tiny islands faster than anywhere else in the world. Gordon’s haunting and yet menacing vocals still resonate today and it’s hard to imagine how bands such as the awesome Placebo could have ever existed without this one coming first.

 

  1. This Must Be The Place – Talking Heads

‘Speaking In Tongues’ was another album that was a revelation to my teenage ears. As was all of Talking Head’s early albums. ‘Fear Of Music’ and ‘Remain In Light’ have to be mentioned here as well. They opened my eyes and ears to the way that music could be looked upon as a performance art-form as opposed to simply a recorded medium. This culminated in their 1984 movie, ‘Stop Making Sense’ which was more like going to see a concert than a movie at the cinema with people dancing in the aisles and singing along to all the songs. Talking Heads become the uber-hip benchmark for all other cool bands of the late 70’s and early 80s. David Byrne and his collaborations with Brian Eno were also heavily influential especially their ‘My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts’ album which I had the dubious honour of listening to just as a dose of psilocybin was kicking in one night. ‘The Jezebel Spirit’ was indeed an interesting choice to start that night off with.

tALKING HEADS

  1. A New England – Billy Bragg

This was the first real love affair I had with a musician’s work. I saw Billy Bragg five times over the course of a year and a half in Auckland. His brutal honesty and heart-broken lyrics hit a chord like no other performer at that time. Such simple and yet beautiful songs performed with just a guitar slung around his neck and his heart worn on both sleeves were a breath of fresh air in a time of synth-pop and New Romantic over-indulgences. His plaintiff love songs sung in his unmistakeable accent were unlike anything else we had heard in NZ before. His live concerts were raw and real with his cover of The Clash’s ‘Garageland’ in particular bringing back the best days of British punk. His songs rang out from the stage like poetry put to music. Sonnets with an electric guitar commenting on everyday life through the eyes of a realist trying so very hard not to become a cynic.

 

  1. Jennifer’s Veil – The Birthday Party

This song was the beginning of the end for me. Or the beginning of the beginning, or the end of the beginning of the end. Something like that. I’ll never know for sure. What it definitely was, was the beginning of a lifelong love affair with the music, novels and screenplays of Nick Cave. My friends and I conspired to get this song to the top of Auckland student radio station BFM’s Alternative Top Ten chart and keep it there. And we did. For almost two whole months. The Mutiny EP was the first thing I listened to that scared me. It affected me in the same way that Stephen King’s ‘The Shining’ did and the way the ‘The Exorcist’ did as well. It was proof that scary could be fun. It’s beautiful (albeit in a pretty weird fucking way) and it’s horrible too. It’s the musical equivalent of disease-ridden wounds and trench warfare nightmares that you could never fully recover from even if you did survive. Nick has gone on to write some of the most beautiful love songs ever written and some of the most disturbing images ever transmitted from one human being to another. And I love him for them both. For beauty and disgust go hand in hand in this world. That is an inescapable truth.

 

  1. Celebrated Summer – Husker Du

These guys were the greatest band in the world. The first sensitive and emotionally relevant punk band. The Clash had certainly been emotive but these guys wrote love songs. And meant them. It heralded the beginning of something completely new in punk and ‘New Day Rising’, ‘Flip Your Wig’, ‘Candy Apple Grey’ and ‘Warehouse: Songs And Stories’ were all staggering albums. If you were to look at the American rocks bands of the last thirty years there wouldn’t be too many of any quality who wouldn’t cite these guys as a significant influence. They were the first punk band to be signed to a major label and considering that they probably never allowed themselves to hit their potential the indent they left on music was truly unforgettable. Nirvana and The Foo Fighters in particular owe enormous debts to the trailblazing exploits of Husker Du. Bob Mould, Grant Hart and Greg Norton gave their all so that others could follow in their footsteps.

husker2

  1. The Mission Soundtrack – Ennio Morricone

Okay, so this isn’t exactly a song but I couldn’t pick one track off this soundtrack that would have told the whole story. One night in the late 80s a group of friends and I headed to a disused WW2 bunker under an old gun emplacement dressed as outcasts from a Zodiac Mindwarp video. We spent the evening in there covered head to toe in leather, bandannas and the glowing liquid contents of a dozen Cyalume sticks sprayed liberally over every surface in the place, including ourselves. We were of course all completely off our heads on acid at the time. There could be no other explanation for such behaviour. The space we created looked like the universe seen inside out and upside down from the brain of a giant insect supernova and all the time we were listening to Ennio Morricone’s masterpiece. It was the most religious and spiritual experience of my life and if God does actually exist he was definitely checking us out that night. For we were on a par with him. Morricone’s music transports you to another time and place of your choosing. It is what cathedrals would sound like if they could make their own music without our help. It is a recording from above delivered to us through the ears, fingers and imagination of an Italian master. God bless him.

 

  1. Man of Golden Words – Mother Love Bone

The song I want to be buried to. Andy Wood’s painful soul-aching lyrics on this track from one of the greatest rock albums ever made can break your heart into a thousand pieces. And if you spend too much time thinking about how he was to die shortly after recording it they probably will. The sorrow within the songs on this album as it swells towards its end is immeasurable. Listening to it one night (with the aid of LSD admittedly) I realised that what on the outside appears to be a great American psychedelic rock album is actually the journal of a truly beautiful man sliding away from us into the arms of heroin. It starts off as a celebration of life and spirituality with the joyous ‘This Is Shangrila’ but slowly becomes darker and darker still until you find yourself at ‘Man Of Golden Words’ and ‘Crown Of Thorns’.

“Wanna show you something like the joy inside my heart, seems I’ve been living in the temple of the dog.”

‘Temple Of The Dog’ would become the tribute album made in his memory shortly after his death by his flatmate Chris Cornell and the guys who would go on to become Pearl Jam. Along with the death of Jeffrey Lee Pierce this was one of the greatest untimely losses ever to American rock.

  1. The Ship Song – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Now I know that technically I shouldn’t be using the same artist here twice but this seems so far removed from his earlier days with The Birthday Party that I thought I might get away with it. ‘The Ship Song’ was the song I wanted to get married to back in the days when I thought I might actually wind up getting married. They’re long gone but this is still one of the most sweepingly beautiful love songs ever written (along with ‘Are You The One That I’ve Been Waiting For’ and ‘Straight To You’) by a man who understands poetry as a way to woo any woman’s soul like no one else on this planet. No one still alive anyway. If this doesn’t make you want to fall in love your heart has long ceased to work properly. I have been fortunate enough to have seen Nick live twice. Once with The Bad Seeds and once solo with nothing more than a piano to aid him and frankly that’s all he needs. All his songs begin on a keyboard and songs such as ‘The Ship Song’ don’t need anything else.

news nick cave rc

 

  1. My Iron Lung – Radiohead

One of the greatest live experiences of my life. I saw Radiohead play in Sydney when they were at the peak of their powers touring ‘OK Computer’. At that point in their career they only had three albums to pick their set-list from which is what made the show so good. Because those albums were three of the finest rocks albums ever. ‘Pablo Honey’, ‘The Bends’ and ‘OK Computer’ are all completely different and that has always been part of what makes Radiohead so unique. Never wanting to stand still they have continually pushed the boundaries of what they have done. Thom Yorke’s towering vocals and Jonny Greenwood’s awesome prowess as a guitar player and multi-instrumentalist made them a true force to be reckoned with. These guys were quite simply magical in their heyday.

 

  1. Popplagið – Sigur Rós

The moment when the wave broke for me (to steal a phrase from the late great Hunter S. Thompson). A massive turning point in my life. Reduced to a gibbering speechless idiot after first seeing these guys live in Reykjavík I was forced to admit to myself that there was no other place on earth I wanted to live apart from Iceland. A move that has proved to be the best thing I’ve ever done with myself. They are still the most incredible live act I have ever seen and with six years in my twenties as a guitar technician for a number of rock bands I have seen hundreds of live shows. I have now seen Sigur Rós three times. I travelled to Denmark to see them at the Roskilde Festival and have also seen them in Dublin. They are beyond any doubt one of the ‘must see before you die’ bands in the world. The sensory overload that they inflict upon you at their concerts has reduced a number of people to tears. I had a girl standing in front of me at Roskilde who wept for about three songs. Not because there was anything wrong with her but because she was simply overwhelmed by what was going on in front of her. Their songs are from another planet. They don’t sing about anything. They open you up and let whatever is in there come out. Most of the time it is joy. In the shape of tears. Popplagið is the last song they play at all there shows because after it has finished there is simply nowhere left to go. They have taken you as far as you can go and it is simply time for them to let you go and get back to reality. You will probably find that your reality has changed a little bit after seeing them in the flesh. I did.

 

Grant is 45 and lives in Reykjavík where he is an author. He has two books published both of which are set in Iceland, ‘On A Small Island’ and ‘The Mistake’ are available on Amazon as eBooks or paperbacks at:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Small-Island-Grant-Nicol-ebook/dp/B00I8LM48Y/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

And

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mistake-Grant-Nicol-ebook/dp/B00RMB0AFA/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=&qid

 

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Ten Songs by Darren Sant

If you asked me to name my top ten songs again in twelve months I’d probably picked a totally different ten, such is the nature of my ever shifting love of music. It would have been easier to name a hundred tracks. Here goes, in no particular order:

Superstition by Stevie Wonder
Quite simply, this song exudes funk. So much so that it makes a bald, fat old git like me want to dance. It makes me feel alive – that is why it has made my top ten.

Across 110th Street by Bobby Womack
I first heard this track on the soundtrack to the Tarantino film Jackie Brown. I like songs that talk to me about reality and there’s a very hefty dose of that in this track. Funky as hell too.

Sometimes by James
You can hear the rain. You can feel the desperation. A track that is exceptionally well produced and album that would make my top ten every time.

The Needle and the Damage Done by Neil Young
A song that oozes melancholy by a master song writer. Young’s plaintive vocal is a warning so heartfelt it’s impossible not to take notice.

Waterfall by The Stone Roses
With my friend, Shaun Kelly, I saw the band at the height of their powers at a small venue in Paris. Full of cheap red wine we felt like kings of the world and as this track washed over me I felt that anything was possible.

Kelly’s Blues by The Triffids
In the early days of CDs I happened upon their album Calenture. Every track is a gem and the concept of Calenture stays strong with several of the tracks. The album was so different to anything I’d heard at the time. I still play it, often.

Brain Damage by Pink Floyd
Stoned off my gourd having ingested a large chunk of cannabis I lay in bed and although it may be a cliché I played Dark Side of the Moon. As I grew increasingly light headed this album took on a life of its own. Classic album and I’m not ashamed to be clichéd now and again! A good friend of mine lost his Father to a brain tumour and it was his Dad’s wish to play the track at the funeral. The dark humour (and bravery) wasn’t lost on anyone.

Northern Sky by Nick Drake
Because no top ten of mine would be complete without a Drake track. Rest in peace you melancholic genius. You left us too young.

Karma Police by Radiohead
An influence from my late brother. With the release of OK Computer I finally “got” Radiohead. Check out the video to this track and if you’re feeling flush splash out their DVD 7 Television Commercials. You won’t regret it

Just Dropped In (To See What Condition my Condition was In) by Kenny Rogers
Another track I love because of a film. This song could have been written for the dude. Treat yourself and watch the Big Lebowski

daz

Darren Sant is originally from Stoke but now lives in Hull, he is the editor of hard-hitting fiction site http://www.close2thebone.co.uk/, and he is the author of several books and collections, most notably Tales From The Longcroft Estate. You can check him out at his website http://darrensant-writer.yolasite.com/, and follow his tweets @groovydaz39 & @longcroft_tales

Ten Songs by Andy Richardson

1.Jackie Wilson -Higher & Higher
This was my taste of classic R&B, quarter of a century ago at the age of 7. I heard this song, like most people making a toaster dance in Ghostbusters 2. I think at a young age while you’re still cultivating your music tastes and you hear a song like this how can you not join the toaster dancing to such an upbeat, feel good song?

2.Marilyn Manson – Fight Song
To some Marilyn Manson is as mad as a box of frogs, to be fair they are a bit but their so much more. To me he was a General in the army of teenage rebellion and this song was my call to arms! Amazing rock porn really.

3.Foo Fighters – My Hero
They say everybody knows their own funeral song, this is my first of two? Selling points being the amazing guitar work, roaring bridge/interlude, and just the lyrics “there goes my hero, watch him as he goes, there goes my hero, he’s ordinary” instantly reminds me of my father.

4.Warren G – Regulate
If you was a teenager in the 90’s and thought you was a bit gangsta! Then I bet you know all the words to this song. To my eternal shame thought I was Tupac from the age of 14-18, I know, people change, jeez! Still, soon as you hear “MOUNT UP” you’re that annoying teenage version of you again for the next 3 minutes haha.

5. 3 Days Grace – Riot
Gym goers are getting knocked a bit in the media lately, being portrayed as superficial, metrosexual dandies with a keener eye for fashion than Cher from “Clueless” NA! Don’t get me wrong that stereotype does exist but only because they don’t have music like this on their playlist. The anger from this song helps me focus on a workout.

6.Bob Dylan – Knocking on Heavens Door
No explanation needed other than WOW!

7.Kansas – Carry on my Wayward Son
The 2nd of my funeral songs. This belter is a medley of classic rock guitar riffs, confirmed by its appearance on the Guitar Hero 2 play list. To me this song is a shining example of classic 80’s rock!

8.Traffic – Mr Fantasy
I first heard this on one of my favourite tv programmes. Our 2 tough as old boots protagonist brothers loose their only constant father figure, and in a moment of mourning play this song. Not only is it a touching moment but the lyrics are relatable “please don’t be mad, if it was a straight mind you had, we wouldn’t have known you all these years”. Even in 67 there was still a place for us “strange” people in society.

9.Odetta – Hit or Miss
I feel this song is confidence personified in the form of music. Soulful Motown that reaffirms the need to be yourself rather than follow a crowd and being a sheep. Especially in this day and age of hashtags, trending and following, the message in this song is as important as ever! Can have a good boogie to it too!

10.Puddle of Mud -She Hates Me
Ultimate break up song! I remember getting dumped once and sitting on my bed with this on repeat smoking 20 lamberts one after the other till I wasn’t depressed anymore. “Trust”

Andy Rich picAndy Richardson is a 32 year old male in the Hull area with an acute Peter Pan syndrome which he wears on his sleeve with pride. It could be said Andy is a little obsessed with superheroes, enjoys the gym, has just taken up archery and is known to like a drink.

Ten Songs by Gareth Spark

For me, music…song…has been more than a solace. These songs are magic spells, able to bring back dead days and friends and afternoons and the eyes of that one you loved, and lost, and the heat of a summer on the back of your neck on a beach you’ll never see again. They are incantations that invoke not only the bitter sweetness of nostalgia, but hopes that the crazy days, the whisky-stained and heartsick riotous days, might come again, and that somewhere in the routine beating you down, the drums are pounding, the bass is thumping alongside your heart and, man, that guitar don’t weep, it screams.

1/
Today by the Smashing Pumpkins

That riff takes me back twenty years to the dust and cigarette butts littering the long, long sun broken streets of Whitby in high summer. To a bunch of kids sitting in torn jeans and patchwork shirts stinking of joss sticks and menthols, looking out into the blue afternoon at a future that would be the greatest thing they could ever imagine. The trembling guitar, Billy Corgan’s petulant adolescent whine, that silver ring of guitar against a cloud of distortion captures perfectly the idle, ignorant beauty of a teenaged dream.

2/
Stolen Car by Bruce Springsteen

It’s dark in that little house out on the edge of town; the chords are picked out with a heavy, relentless futility echoing the voice of the song, a lament for a love that faded like car headlights into a night you never thought would come, but which always was, just the same. Springsteen captures with such haunting simplicity the lives of ordinary men and women as they veer off the highway, into nothingness, and he never did it better than here.

3/
Copper head Road by Steve Earle

Nobody evokes the stink of diesel, smoke and steel quite like Steve Earle. From the opening chords to the hammer slam of the beat beneath his voice, you’re transported not just to that world of moonshiners, drug runners and fractured war vets, but into it. You feel the sweat and grime on the steering wheel as you run from the D.E.A. chopper; you smell that whisky burning up on the road and taste the bitterness of applejack, nicotine and blood. One of the greatest songs ever that does more in its few minutes than most novels are able in 500 something pages.

4/
The Devil’s Waitin’ by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

This song was a revelation; to use that phrase of Eliot’s, it communicates before it’s understood. We have war, definitely, prison, Jesus, the devil and judgement and it’s a potent brew. A singsong melody over an open tuned acoustic that could belong to any time, it’s man’s soul as a civil war that never ends. You taste gunpowder, hear the iron rattle of chains and just hope that drunken preacher in the next cell’s right with all that forgiveness talk.

5/
Dead Man’s Hands by Jerry Sword

If it hadn’t been for a B-movie of dubious quality, I would never have discovered this, a song that has meant more to me than perhaps any other. I found it stuck in the middle of the soundtrack, like gold in a handful of ash. For a long time I couldn’t find it and had to put the movie in, queue up the specific scene, just to listen. It’s genuinely haunting, with a sliding country riff moving between a shadow and the sun while the song’s narrator sings “I don’t know if there’s a heaven, but I’ll do everything I can….” It’s an amazingly beautiful song, filled with regret, longing, the dust-blown blue eyes of lost love, but with hope too…that maybe things you’ve lost don’t stay lost forever.

6/
Round Here by Counting Crows

I heard this song first 21 years ago and saying that so bluntly, yeah, it makes me feel antique, but I still remember the thrill of recognition in the song’s wistful longing. Its catalogue of souls grown desolate in the machinery of the world, still cling to the hope there is somebody out there who will understand, something we all hope at some point or another. I hear the guitar ring out, and it’s that afternoon again, walking in the black dust beside the rail lines and a river rainbow-stained with petrol, where I first heard it.

7/
Ruby’s Arms by Tom Waits

Possibly the saddest song ever written; a man’s leaving his love, because he knows he’ll always let her down; he climbs out into the rain and is so emotionally broken he can only concentrate on the tactile physical details of his world. Then, with the rain falling down on him he finally allows himself to feel “Jesus Christ, this goddamn rain, I’ll never kiss your lips again, or break your heart.” Perfect.

8/
It’s the end of the world as we know it by R.E.M.

It’s the combination of Michael Stipe’s scattershot zeitgeist capturing poetry and that pounding rhythm; it really could be the end of the world and we wouldn’t care. There’s a real anxiety here, but a hope too, the hope that you only find after an absolute resignation.

9/
Radioactive by Kings of Leon

Kings of Leon are one of those bands, when they’re off, they’re really off, but when they hit that golden driving power all great music has, there’s nobody better in the world. This is one of those songs, filled with the woodsmoke and beer stained beauty of the rural south; a song of some kind of redemption at the end of a red dust trail. Nobody does that better than these guys.

10/
Shenandoah (traditional)

My favourite song; a song of yearning for a home that might never have been but which you still feel the longing for; as old as the battlefield of Shiloh and as young as whatever’s topping the charts right now, a truly beautiful and timeless work, and like the best ballads, anonymous. The greatest art grows out of the conscience of a whole time, from somewhere deep and everlasting in the hearts and hopes of ordinary people toiling in the fading sunlight of history, and that’s what I hear whenever those first notes start; the longing for something we’ve lost.

Gareth SparkGareth Spark writes dark fiction from and about the moors and rustbelts of the North East where grudges are savoured, shotguns are cheap and people get by in the economic meltdown any way they can. His work has appeared at Near 2 The Knuckle, Out Of The Gutter, Deep Water Literary Journal and Shotgun Honey.

Ten Songs by Michael Bell

1: John Adams: Shaker Loops (Trembling and Shaking)
I realise that I’ve started a list of ten songs with something that technically isn’t a ‘song’ but as I grow older, the type of music I listen to and the effect it has on me has changed. This is a good example, because the best time I have to listen to music is during the 3-4 hours a night while I’m painting. This piece has a restless, rumbling pace and energy that makes me engage with what I’m doing and get down to business. Over the last 2 years I must have played this every day in my studio and I still haven’t grown tired of it.

2: Joy Division: Disorder
Considering Unknown Pleasures is probably my favourite album by anyone, ever! You’d think there would be a good story about how I came to hear it; the truth is it was pure chance. I bought it in an HMV ‘3 CDs for £10’ offer, after choosing 2 albums, I looked for something new and I saw a cover that really caught my eye, just a set of shimmering sound waves in a black void, I looked at the back and there were no track listings, just the band’s name and the album title. So I bought it, got on the bus, arrived home and put it on…….From the first few seconds of hearing this track I was hooked, like never before, by any other band.

3: Radiohead: Idioteque
This is a truly menacing piece of 21st century blues; savage, angry and desperate, all at the same time. I had this playing loudly on repeat when I had a moment of realisation whilst painting many years ago; I smeared, scratched and mauled a half-finished canvas into my first real painting ‘Caught’. Ever since then I’ve played this to remind me of that feeling of being excited by something I had created for the first time.

4: Andrew Bird: Hole In The Ocean Floor
Andrew Bird is an artist who I’ve only come across in the last couple of years, but he’s quickly become one of my favourite contemporary musicians. His work doesn’t really fall into any straight forward genre; it effortlessly draws from every time and style, with wit and faultless musical attention to detail. This track is my favourite from his last album ‘Break It Yourself’ which is a work of art from beginning to end.

5: Patrick Wolf – Wind in the Wires
There’s a strange irony around this particular song for me, as the lyrics talk about the encroaching grip and pace of the modern world and; A) This was that last CD single I ever bought and now that format has completely disappeared!. And B) I bought the single from an independent record shop, a once important part of our high street that now seems as antiquated as a blacksmith’s! Patrick Wolf’s more recent work has been a bit too cheery and bombastic for my taste, but this song typifies his brilliant early work, which mixed elements of classical and English folk with some electronic touches.

6: Washington Phillips: Take your burden to the Lord
6 or 7 years ago, I was sat in my car with mate Ian Allen, we were playing music, smoking and talking shite, like we normally did on an evening. I’d put on a mix CD from a music magazine (I can’t remember which one) and this was the last track, as it played we both sat there in a silent awe, taking in this strange, spooky relic from another age. I love it because it embodies a world view that doesn’t exist today, it seems that devotionally inspired art, of any kind, no longer has a place in our time, but hearing this is a brief reminder of the beauty that someone’s belief give to their music.

7: Tino Rossi: Catari, Catari
In an attempt to escape living in Hull/East Yorkshire, I briefly moved to York for a year, where I held down a truly demeaning office job and lived in a depressing bedsit. During this rather regrettable chapter in my life, I had two things that kept me sane, the visits from my girlfriend (now my wife) and losing myself in books from the library and music. Listening to Tino Rossi would always transport me, from my dreary surroundings, to world of smoke filled cafes on winding Parisian streets and black and white movies from the 1930’s.

8: Nat King Cole: Nature Boy
I’m going to stick my neck out here and say that (for me) Nat King Cole is the greatest male vocalist who has ever lived and Nature Boy is the best thing he ever recorded. For as far back as I can remember, I’ve known and loved everything about this song, the arrangement is like something by Rachmaninoff, perfectly setting the mood for the haunting lyrics about an ageless child who personifies nature and wisdom. This piece of lucid and timeless music is a real oddity, especially when you consider that it was recorded in 1948, by someone whose music is now often thought of as easy listening.

9: Nina Simone: I Loves You Porgy
I have to thank my wife Claire for opening up my taste in music to now include ‘musicals’ (although technically, Porgy and Bess which this is taken from is an opera, not a musical, but that’s splitting hairs). When we first started living together, we went to London to see Porgy and Bess at the Savoy Theatre, needless to say we felt very posh and sophisticated, but my strongest memory of the night was of us both welling up with tears when this song was performed.

10: Arvo Part – Speigel Im Speigel
I started this list with an instrumental work, so it only seems fitting to end on one. Words genuinely fail me when it comes to Speigel Im Speigel, how a composition can be so utterly simple and yet so moving is beyond me. It seems to me that Arvo Part was put on earth, to make being alive more bearable for those who listen to his works.

Mike BellMichael Bell is a 30 year old artist, who lives with his wife Claire in Beverley. He exhibits his artwork under the utterly pretentious pseudonym of BAEL. His artistic output mainly consists of paintings that depict angry, naked people. His only claim to fame is that when he worked at GAP in York, Vic Reeves came in and asked him if they sold ‘Boys Pyjamas’? Sadly they didn’t. – His artwork can be found on his website: http://www.bael.co.uk

Ten Songs by Andrew Ware

Allow me to dispel a myth, when you hear people make statements like; ‘I heard Nirvana’s Nevermind when I was fourteen and it changed my life, man’ they are lying. Bold statements such as this are merely rhetoric, and I would wager that these moments of inspiration or epiphanies never genuinely take place. Something far more organic happens. We are born and at year dot we are exposed to music; be it on the radio, television or our parent’s record collections, and it bleeds into our psyche. At some stage very early in our lives we make the sub conscious decision that these strange and wonderful sounds are in some way important to us. So here are, in no particular order, ten songs that bled into my psyche and they are of extreme importance to me.

10. Steely Dan: Rikki Don’t Lose that Number
Pretzel Logic 1974
This was a favourite of my mother’s and was always on the record player on Sunday mornings. I didn’t realise how huge Pretzel Logic had been until I was much older and it’s easy to see why as this track is certainly accessible. Although Steely Dan probably fall into the genre AOR (Adult Orientated Rock) with the likes of Supertramp, The Blue Oyster Cult and Cheap Trick. Pretzel Logic, Countdown to Ecstasy and Aja have become favourites of mine. Driven by a sublimely smooth 4/4 bass line this track is perfect for when you’re tired of being confronted by your record collection.

9. Neil Young: A Man Needs a Maid
Harvest 1972
Neil Young is one of the few artists that have had a continued significance throughout my entire life. This track is the best song I’ve heard about male fragility. It begins with a rain drop piano intro and builds into a string driven masterpiece.

8. Van Morrison: Beside You

Astral Weeks 1968
People often compare song lyrics to poetry and of course this is nonsense. Lyrics are not poetry. They may at times be poetical but even the greats by such as Dylan and Morrissey are riddled with cheesy couplets and cannot be described as poetry. However, the lyrics on this truly sublime track are the perhaps the nearest song lyrics have ever been to poetry.

7. Field Music: You and I

Measure 2010
Field music are probably my favourite (relatively) contemporary act. This track is one of many I could have chosen from this record. For those aren’t familiar Field Music are like Maximo Park for adults.


6. Pulp: Your Sister’s Clothes

The Sisters EP 1993
My favourite Pulp song and a fine example of their fantastic brand of Sheffield disco pop. Pulp were a much weaker outfit after Russell Senior departed in 1996. The evidence for this is on this track as his beautifully sloppy violin accompanies a spine tingling chorus. The Sisters EP has long since been deleted but you can get this track if you buy the deluxe version of His ‘N Hers

5. Band of Horses: No One’s Gonna Love You (More than I do)

Cease To Begin 2008
This is a beautiful song. One of the more contemporary of my Ten Songs it has been catapulted into great personal importance as it was the track that my wife and I chose for our first dance when we were married in September. It was a perfect day and this is a perfect song.

4. The Dears: Ticket to Immortality
Gang of Losers 2007
Emerging around the same time as Arcade Fire, The Dears were perhaps my favourite band of this period. This is a plucky and melodic song and Murray Lightburn’s velvety vocal is, well velvety.

3. John Cale: Dying on the Vine
Artificial Intelligence 1985
This is a truly haunting song but hauntingly beautiful. John Cale speaks of being in Acapulco and trading clothing for wine and thinking about his mother. John Cale is an artist I know very little about other than that he was in The Velvet Underground and I happened upon this track by accident some years ago. When my bio pic is eventually made this track will certainly feature somewhere on the soundtrack.

2. Roy Harper: I Hate The White Man

Live at Les Cousins 1970
Harper’s Live at Les Cousins is the best live album of all time. Recorded at the intimate London venue Harper insisted that the gig was recorded in its entirety which is to the listener’s benefits as all Harper’s between song ramblings are included. Turn down the lights and it’s just like you’re there too drinking real ale in the thick clouds of blue smoke. I Hate the White Man is the stand out track from the performance and if you prefer studio recordings it’s also available on Harper’s 1970 album Flat Baroque and Berserk.

1. The Blue Nile: Let’s Go Out Tonight
Hats 1989
Hats is one of the many records I have to thank Allen Miles for recommending to me. This track is one of those songs that takes you back to a time and place in your life. For me this one is falling asleep against the window of a bus whilst travelling home from 12 hour shift on a Saturday evening in the winter of 2007. I would play this track on my ipod as I drove through the dark city streets debating with myself whether or not I should go out that night. This song oozes atmosphere and Paul Buchanan is quite possibly my all time favourite male vocalist.

 

wurr b wAndrew Ware is 32 years-old and has a small dog called Oliver. He is a paid-up member of the Labour Party and used to play bass in semi-legendary Hull band Sal Paradise. In his spare time he makes his own wine and watches rugby league. He once claimed his favourite album was Electric Warrior by T.Rex, which was a complete lie. He holds a degree in Philosophy, but you’d already guessed that. You can find him at http://www.twitter.com/XavierDwyer1

Ten Songs by Aidan Thorn

1. Paradise City – Guns N’ Roses
I’d like to pretend that my passion for loud music was awakened in some exciting way. To be honest nothing could be further from the truth… It was the late 1980s, I was on a family holiday at a caravan park in Dorset, there was a clubhouse on site and karaoke was at the height of its inexplicable popularity. Maybe it was the fact that I’d sat through endless attempts to make already terrible songs by the likes of ABBA and Cliff Richard sound worse than they already did, but when the post intro part to Paradise City roared from the speakers I suddenly stopped staring at the walls and paid attention. It helped that the fella doing the karaoke version was a better singer than what had gone before (not a glowing recommendation I agree) but what really struck me was the music. That Christmas I asked for Appetite for Destruction, and thankfully my parents ignored the parental advisory sticker, and the concern of my older cousin (‘Are you sure?’) and got it for me. I played that album until the tape reeled itself around my cassette deck in a tangled mess. It opened my eyes to so much music that I love today and it’s still an album that I go back to from time to time and enjoy as much as I did as a wide-eyed 10-year-old.

2. Lithium – Nirvana
Whilst the rest of the world was falling over themselves to tell us that ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ was the best song in the world ever I was a bit ‘meh’ about it. It was probably because people were suggesting that this was the end for the likes of GN’R, Metallica, Maiden and I wasn’t ready for that – In fact the idea of that made me want to collapse in a crumpled mess and cry until my eyes bled. Still, once Lithium hit my ears I could no longer resist, I wouldn’t say I was converted, I was never going to turn my back on the more ‘traditional’ rock sounds that I was so fond of, but I’d certainly found a new one to add to them, my ears were open to the ‘grunge’ sound.

3. Fade to Black – Metallica

I could not believe what I was hearing – there was that almost medieval haunting rhythm guitar part with the howling lonely lead part in the introduction. Then Hetfield sings. And then, crunching heavy metal… This song is a lesson in heavy metal song writing at its very best. I picked up a guitar purely with the aim of learning this song. I was rubbish at the guitar, this is a difficult song, and it’s the only song I persevered with enough that I could do a competent job of most of it. Even today when I hear this song the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end and I’m transported to a distant place – I’m not sure where it is but it’s magical.

4. Supersonic – Oasis
All change – up to this point I was all black t-shirts, black jeans and Doc Martins. I even went through a bandana phase – honestly it was a mess! And then along came two brothers from Manchester with more self-belief than the collective casts of The Apprentice and changed my life. It was still guitar music, but it had a swagger about it that I hadn’t heard before. It was simple and catchy – it almost said, anyone could do this stuff. I dispensed with the Halloween costumes, pulled on a pair of blue 501s and a pale blue tee with stripes down the sleeves and lightened up a bit.

5. She Don’t Use Jelly – The Flaming Lips
I went through a phase of liking those kooky songs by the likes of Presidents of the USA, Green Jelly, Primus – I think I discovered this song during that phase. Thankfully, The Flaming Lips were never a phase I got over. This song opened my eyes to one of the best bands on the planet with a huge and diverse catalogue of music. They’re still my go to band if nothing else is inspiring me. I’ve only managed to catch them live twice and both occasions have to go down in my top five gigs of all time, great music and great shows – those great experiences are thanks to this song.

6. Soul to Squeeze – Red Hot Chili Peppers
The Red Hot Chili Peppers are an important band for me. They’re not my favourite band, they’ve probably never even been in my top 10 bands but they’ve made some incredible pieces of music (they’ve also made some absolute dross) that cross genres and have led me to explore music more. Their blend of rock, funk, soul, hip-hop gave me cause to listen to the likes of Curtis Mayfield, Isaac Hayes, Parliament etc… For me there’s no better example of their fusion of styles than this song that never made it onto any of their studio albums. Also, as a bass player you have to take your hat off to Flea!

7. Move On Up – Curtis Mayfield
Does music come any cooler than this? Possibly, but I don’t think so. I’ve picked this one song to represent all of Curtis Mayfield’s music, perhaps the obvious choice but to me it epitomizes what the guy was all about. The sort of music that played over the titles or the credits of shady movies that I used to watch in bed when I couldn’t sleep, poorly acted but compulsive viewing due to the cool characters and the funky soundtracks. Whenever I have the iPod on and Curtis shuffles into the ear I feel like my life is being sound-tracked and I walk with a little more bounce – I probably look ridiculous!

8. Hey Man (Now You’re Really Living) – Eels
There are some songs that just lift you up and if this one doesn’t do that to you, I think you’re probably dead. I love Eels, people say they’re melancholy and depressing, yep at times that’s right, but at times they’re bouncy and uplifting – like here. I like melancholy and depressing, a lot of the best songs are written by miserable people. I read ‘Things the Grandchildren Should Know’ – the autobiography of Mark Oliver Everett (E of Eels), believe me he’s got more reason to be melancholy than most – and having read that book I have even more love for ‘Hey Man’, it seems to mean more having read through Everett’s life with him. I mean, the fact that the same man that wrote ‘It’s a Motherfucker’ and ‘Cancer for the Cure’ penned such a happy, bouncy song – there’s something quite special about that.

9. That’s Alright Mama (live version 1968) – Elvis Presley

There’s a video of Elvis from 1968 when he did an hour-long show for NBC in America. He’s just sat around with his band, leather jacket, guitar, microphone – cool… There’s not a white jumpsuit in sight. This is Elvis Presley clearly enjoying the simplicity of what he does, he’s laughing and joking with his band, he’s smiling and playing to the audience. There’s no escaping the fact that Elvis was a beautiful man, with a velvet voice, I could have picked any number of songs from this session but ‘That’s Alright Mama’ seems to be the one that captures what he was and his enjoyment of that session the most – I implore you, if you haven’t seen it head straight over to Youtube after this.

10. Toxicity – System Of A Down

As diverse as my musical tastes have become over the years the heavier side of music will always be my first love. There was a period when I probably didn’t listen to anything new and heavy for about five years… That changed on the day I heard ‘Toxicity’ by System Of A Down. After grunge I thought ‘heavy’ appeared to be going down a route that I wasn’t all that impressed with (Papa Roach, Limp Bizkit I’m looking at you!). System Of A Down made me realize that there were still great bands out there doing ‘metal’ well – God bless ‘em.

Aidan Thorn is a 33-year-old writer from Southampton, England, home of the Spitfire and Matthew Le Tissier but sadly more famous for Craig David and being the place the Titanic sailed from before sinking. Aidan would like to put Southampton on the map for something more than sinking ships and terrible R’N’B music. His first short story collection ‘Criminal Thoughts’ will be available on Kindle very soon and more about his writing can be found here http://aidanthornwriter.weebly.com/