Ten Songs by Paul Featherstone

Okay, so after far too much deliberation over this (I have over 400 CD’s to condense it down from) here are the ten songs that “blew my mind”. Now this list is not necessarily my favourite ten songs of all time, there are in fact many “standards” that have missed the list because they’ve always been around for me. Songs by The Beatles, The Jam, The Kinks, Michael Jackson, Elvis Costello etc that all get smashed up to 11 when they come on, but due to their all encompassing fame, I can’t remember first hearing them. No, these are 10 songs that are essentially heroin, hearing them again is simply “chasing the dragon” and often or not, the pursuit of new music is to attain the feeling that songs such as these bring about. As requested, I’ve put them in the order of when I first heard them. If it’s slightly out of sync, brain damage from heavy drinking is the explanation.

Hope you like them, and if not, who cares we are all probably dead in a horrific nuclear firestorm as the fallout from Syria begins soon.

1. Oasis, The Masterplan

The music of Noel Gallagher has been in my life for almost 20 years now, and as with many artists here, I could have slung a full list of ten in. I know Oasis have a poor reputation, but really when was the last time a band ruled the country so much that people knew the names of every member like they did in the nineties? This song stands out the most as it is the one where I really became obsessed and started just buying everything the band ever produced. The idea that a song of such a majestic scale could be tucked away as track fucking four of a single is amazing. It encapsulates everything both great and frustrating about Noel Gallagher as a songwriter. If he had held it back for album three, imagine how much it would have sold and yet if he had just shoved shit on the b-sides would anyone have cared as half as much about them as they do? This song just has it all- strings, an arms-round-your mate chorus, backwards guitar and it set my mind whirling to dig out music by the next band.

2. The Beatles, A Day In The Life

It’s naturally hard to escape the music of The Beatles, but it is only when you begin to get turned onto them as a band that you really start to appreciate what it must have been like to hear and experience their work for the first time. No-one had told me about this song. I had read about Sgt Pepper being such a huge milestone, but when this came on? Fuck me. It is pretty much the song that marks the end of Lennon-McCartney honeymoon- for The White Album after they essentially recorded apart but what a way to go out. Lennon’s LSD-ridden mind pontificating on “the news today, oh boy” as end-of-the-world strings swirl around the song. McCartney gives the song focus with his middle section followed by Lennon’s “aaaaahs”, giving way to the strings and brass that drop us back to Earth, probably my favourite moment in music. As a 16 year old, it brought me to my knees and I immediately bought everything they produced.

3. David Bowie, Life On Mars

Quite appropriately, I first got into Bowie off the back of Top Of The Pops. Okay, it was Top Of The Pops 2, but by then I was obsessed with the 60’s and 70’s and so Whigfield was a “no” for me on the parent show. My Dad had an extensive Bowie collection that I had been planning to raid on vinyl, as I had done with The Beatles. This song came on and I just stopped there and then and watched transfixed. It wasn’t so much the video (although Bowie does look a fucking geezer in it) but the songcraft coming out of my tiny TV’s speakers. The piano, my obsession with strings from The Beatles and Oasis and the crescendo to one of, if not the best. of Bowie choruses. If you watch the video, Bowie pretty much experiences the music like us- swinging his arms to the drums, playing air guitar and piano. It’s pop music at its finest and he leaves such a void by not recording an album every few years. I ran downstairs, pulled out Hunky Dory and Ziggy Stardust, and recorded them onto tape. It’s the reason I own CD’s and refuse to use Spotify etc, so that anyone can just dip in when they like. Cheers Dad. Oh, and Dave.

4. Spiritualized, Broken Heart

I’m not gonna lie, if you ain’t into strings you won’t be interested in the first stages of my musical forays. Anyway, on one of my regular jaunts to record stores to pick up bootlegs or rarities, I came across The Spiritualized album Ladies And Gentleman, We Are Floating In Space- which I had wanted since seeing them perform “Come Together” at Glastonbury on TV. When this track came on, it did what it does with every play- it just stopped me dead in my tracks. It’s a musical gut-punch that you can play when you have lost someone you care for in your life. Whether it be a death, or a parting of ways. It doesn’t go down the Adele-esque, “I will survive without you” route, it offers genuine solace. Then you hear it again at a normal time, and you feel the lump form in your throat. Quite how Jason Pierce wrote anything so sprawling and well-conceived given the wheelbarrows of drugs he consumes is beyond me, but his exhausted “..and I’m wasted all the time” can be identified by anyone that has ever had to drown said broken heart, only to have it all wash back when you’re sober again. Why anyone would chose “Angels” at a funeral rather than it, is beyond me. It has nine dislikes on YouTube, probably from Talk To Frank call workers.

5. The Who, Love Reign O’er Me

After catching Quadrophenia on ITV late one night, I ventured once more to the record shop to buy this album. As though Phil Daniels shouting “fuck off all you Mr Postmen” wasn’t majestic enough, the music intersecting between the scenes had to fit into my now vastly expanding collection. This song was the one I really wanted though, from the moment I heard it, and the way it is dick-teased on the album with its piano intro, before you finally get to hear it, just makes it even better. It has everything that makes me love The Who as a band, but especially the album. There isn’t a band ,in my opinion, that had it all like The Who, when it came to pure musicianship and the drumming from Moon throughout this song is just untouchable. It greatly distresses me that some people only know them as the “CSI theme song” band, when this exists on record.

6. Arctic Monkeys, Do Me A Favour

So, finally to some songs that I can talk about when I truly heard them first, as intended on release day. Arctic Monkeys are really the only guitar band of modern times I truly hanker for new material from, apart from Doves (who seem to have retired). I know lots of people lost their minds over “I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor”, but for me, this song heralds the arrival of Alex Turner as a truly great songwriter. The structure and tightness of the arrangement is years ahead of where he should have been at his age, and it’s arguably his greatest song. Like many bands, the song is elevated to greatness by the drumming and Matt Helders is just un-fucking-believable on here. Yet, there is so much more. The breakdown into an almost acapella middle is followed by the furious guitars and drums that somehow bring relief to the listener, as every argument you’ve ever had with a loved one is dredged back up and the anger is brought back to the surface- “hold onto your heart” indeed. The final line of “perhaps fuck off might be too kind?” is probably one of the best put downs in a song too. If anyone shouts to “play Mardy Bum” at their gigs rather than this, humanely suffocate them with a pillow.

7. Jarvis Cocker, Running The World

I’ve tried to have just one track from one artist, and despite long deliberations, I’ve knocked off “Common People” for this. Released on the same day as the Live Aid 2 concert, it was a bile filled song that, quite rightly, pointed out that standing in a field for one day as Johnny Borrell played a guitar topless was not going to change anything. It mixes that rare trick of being politically nailed on and having a great hook. Coming after a long period of absence from music, for one of my heroes to come back with something so gloriously sarcastic and that could resonate even to this day, just emphasised his qualities as one of our greatest ever songwriters. Every single line in the song rings with truth (unless you’re right wing) as he discusses obsolete working classes, unheard protests and the fact that despite it all, takings were up by a third. It pre-dated the stock market crash, and he had them all figured out whilst we smugly signed petitions to drop the debt as we racked up huge credit card bills. “Bluntly put, in the fewest of words- cunts are still running the world”. Indeed.

8. The Cribs, Be Safe

In many ways, this is the hardest one to pinpoint what I love the most. The Cribs certainly have superior songs, but this has that charm that it’s hard to explain to those who dislike the Jarman’s music. Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth sprouts prose over the band, until the song is stirred into life with the kind of crashing chorus that Alex from Franz Ferdinand had managed to coax out of them when he took over production duties. It sounds shit on paper, it shouldn’t work- but it does, and it’s fucking genius. To be honest, the majority of that is down to Ranaldo and the work he does over the music, but if the band behind him weren’t doing such a tight job it would be in vain. You just have to sit back and admire the words that accompany the sounds and it has probably one of my favourite ever lines in- “your smile so loud it still rings in my ears”. None of us are good enough to touch something like that, you just have to doff your cap at it. Think of it as you miss someone one time, try not to blub….and people actually LIKE music by Taylor Swift. “Mine were alright….but who cares?”…..”That’s the spirit!”

9. Kanye West, Lost In The World/Who Will Survive In America?

I’ve covered the genius of West in a previous article, so if you haven’t read it- tough shit! Anyway, this comes at the end of his My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy album. That album pushes just how good he is, I assure you it will grow in stature over the years. The fact that I’ve binned off “Runaway” for this, which I fucking adore, tells you how highly I rate it. I listened to it again the other day and I realised that Kanye actually steps back on this track and lets the music do the talking. Apart from a small rap, it is all about creating soundscapes and his ability as a producer. What that results in is stunning. Like many songs on the album, it starts pretty sparse and then builds into ideas smashing against each other- all tribal drums and electronic sounds. It then flows into an outro as Gil Scott Heron picks apart the American Dream over West’s beats. For anyone who says music should be just guitars and singing, strap them into a chair and play this Clockwork Orange style.

10. And I Will Kiss, Underworld

Released last year as part of the soundtrack for Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony soundtrack, it was again a struggle to put this in rather than “Born Slippy”, but the sheer boldness of what is going on here musically, secures it a place. The biggest compliment I can give it is that it is about 17 minutes long, but it doesn’t outstay it’s welcome. I first heard it at the opening ceremony rehearsal and was unaware it was by Underworld or specially commissioned, which I think added to it’s impact. The idea that these dance artists could build a piece of music as outstanding as any classical score, for such a major stage, literally blows my mind. Like every song on this list I can’t imagine how you would write it, and it says a lot that I would put it up there with the likes of The Beatles and Bowie for greatness. Everything works here, from the apocalyptic drums, to the tiny respite that pays respect to the dead of war, onto the growth and growth of the musical spectacle before we are brought full circle to that war dead moment, as choirs and strings top off the piece. That Britain could create something so astounding for the biggest stage on Earth is a testament to it’s musical heritage and it’s a fine place to end.

Paul FeatherstonePaul Featherstone is 31 years old and lives in Hull. Most people call him “Fev.” He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of football and music and uses the word “c*nt” far too much in everyday conversation. He spends a lot of his time blagging his way into celebrity parties. He is to be commended for once meeting Jo Whiley and refraining from beating her to death with a big stick. You can read more of his vitirolic comments on http://twitter.com/FevTheRevoff

Ten Songs by David Stothard

Dave – Boomtown Rats
Most people think Sir Bob, Simon Crowe, Gary Roberts, Pete Briquette, Johnnie Fingers, Gerry Cott where crap. My response is….. bollocks to you. They were the first band I really got into when I was about 13, and still just about one of my favourite bands. Looking after Number One, Mary of the Forth Form and She’s so Modern blew me away. If you get to see a list of all the songs they did its surprising how many top forty hits they had. Dave is one of those that have beautiful lyrics and is a gorgeous song. They played at the Isle of Wight festival this year but no one in my ever decreasing circle of friends wanted to go.

You Dumb F**K – Crackout
Have you ever followed a band from their beginnings’ that you thought were brilliant? I saw these at The Adelphi Club when they were supporting another band who were slightly better known at the time. Crackout had released the album This is really Neat, which was to become critically acclaimed and that fat obnoxious twat from Leeds, Chris Moyles gave their first single You ought to Know some airplay on Radio One. I think it charted at number 72 or something. They even supported Sum 41 on tour and a few others. I thought they would be superstars. I also saw them at Reading. They played in the Radio One / NME tent at about 12.30pm when most of the festival goers were usually either still staring into space or lying in their own filth in a collapsed flooded tent. The arena was packed even at that early time. I suppose some people did listen to Moyles. They lasted a couple of more years then split up. O
The only problem is for me is that no one has heard of them, no one remembers them. Just another band that could have and should have made it. Am I the only person with both their albums? But instead we have to watch the likes of people who look like they have come straight from the grave yard prancing about at places like Glastonbury performing the same songs that they have been singing for over 50 years. What a crap world. Please get a copy of their first album This is really Neat and listen to it. There are a few videos of them on U Tube. Take a bow Steven, Jack, Nicholas.
There was another band, this time from Hull that I thought were good and sometimes very good and could have done something and gone places. I went to quite a few of their gigs and was sometimes around 50% of the audience. Just shows how hard it is to succeed sometimes. Shame.

Poor Misguided Fool – Star Sailor

People slag me off for liking these but what a voice James Walsh has. Some people say its depressing music. So what! Nothing better than listening to this on your own with a bottle or three of wine feeling sorry for yourself when times are bad or sad. Yes we all do it. One of those bands that didn’t produce loads of albums but what they did do was quality.

Freedom – The Housemartins
Hull’s best ever band? Don’t really know. I don’t claim to be a musical encyclopaedia like some but they must be up there. I remember a review in the Sun newspaper on London 0 Hull 4 saying forget the Marxist Christian bullshit just listen the brilliant lyric’s. Probably the only worthwhile statement in that rag for the last 30 years. So this is freedom, they must be joking, they must be joking, they think it’s true. Says it all really.

Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground – The White Stripes

I dare anyone to disagree that Jack White is a musical genius. Listen to this song and the lyrics. I bet he could sing anything and it would end up covered in stardust. I could have chosen any song from White Blood Cells they are that good. I’ve seen them at the Reading Festival twice, once in the Radio One / NME tent, and once on the main stage. How can only two people hold 30,000 people in their grasp, spellbound for two hours? A genius, nothing less nothing more.

I Am The Mob – Catatonia
Apart from a superb song from a brilliant album there are two reasons for this. When people talk about who they would have for a dinner party if they could choose from anyone, I won’t be choosing from The Pope, Nelson Mandela, The Queen bullshit type of list. I’d have Cerys Matthews every time. What a night that would be. Only problem is would I remember any of it. She has one hell of a pair of lungs on her. A bit of a wasted talent to be honest. Good whilst it lasted. The other rather bizarre reason is that I love anything to do with the mobster / mafia genre. If we were doing a top ten films list they would all be gangster movies. If I could choose what I would come back as after reincarnation it would be a mobster boss. Ultimate power trip.

You’re Beautiful – James Blunt
Don’t laugh, the man is a war hero. Another song writer who has a few good songs but was / is soon forgotten but this is one of those songs that is full of lines that just resonate. Some songs are just simple and beautiful, the type that the music snobs like to have a go at. This song reminds me that the world is full of people who worship, fantasize or who simply stalk beautiful people that are out of their league. Sad but true. I never believed that there was something such as leagues when looking for a partner. And I don’t believe it now either. Some will understand.

Anarchy in the UK –The Sex Pistols
Love it. Stick two fingers up to the establishment every time. Parasites on society. The French had the right idea. But also they were a very good band too. They might now be either older or dead but the songs haven’t aged at all. Still classics. You wonder if today’s kids who follow their “stars” have ever listened to the raw power and feeling a punk rock song can portray.

The Beautiful People – Marilyn Manson

I resisted going to music festivals for years but finally started going to Reading in around 2004. People ask us why we went to Reading and not Leeds which was about 200 miles closer. Simple really, Leeds festival was usually full of northern scum fighting and thieving. Sunday night on the main stage Eminem was headlining and was preceded by Marilyn Manson. They hugged on stage between their sets, something to do with a gay slur. Eminem was crap, and still is, but Manson was simply outstanding. Brilliant, brilliant set. Stood with thousands of Goths in the dark is a scene never to be forgotten.

Territorial Pissings – Nirvana
One of the best song titles ever, closely followed by a song I have just found on my phone called Automatic lover by The Vibrators. God knows where that came from. Never knew it existed.
Of all the people who have died whilst I have graced the earth Kurt Cobain must be one of the most missed. What a genius. What a waste. What a legacy. What a band. He achieved more in his short time that most of us ever will if we live a long enough. Can’t think of a band that had a bigger effect on the way their fans were portrayed. Changed the way grunge was viewed. It wasn’t just a set of dirty misguided youths. This song is from one of the best albums of all time. No dispute possible.

Stothard pic“Who the fuck is David Stothard?” I hear you all asking. He is mister self-deprecation himself, West Hull’s answer to Jack Dee. 47 years old, single and gorgeous. Massive supporter (literally) of both Hull F.C. and Hull City and hater of all glory supporters even if their dads did made them go. Sees religion for what it really is and politicians for the self-publicising greedy bastards they really are. And contrary to popular belief, that film called “The 40 Year Old Virgin” wasn’t about him. Find him tweeting @davyhull22

Ten (ish) Songs by Allen Miles

A disclaimer: I’ve decided to compile this list without wittering on about The Smiths, The Manics, Joy Division, Tom Waits or Bob Dylan, because no-one needs to hear me bang on about them anymore than I do any night in the pub when I’ve had five or six pints. And I’m well aware that there are more than ten songs on this list, but it’s my site and I’ll do as I bloody well like. Yeah.

1. Oasis – Live Forever
I had no interest in music until I heard this song. I think I was about thirteen and it was used as the backdrop to a Sky Sports review of the 1994-95 Premiership season. My mate Astroman lent me his copy of Roll With It which had a live version of this on the B-Side and I must have listened to it fifteen times a day. Within weeks I’d bought Morning Glory, Definitely Maybe and all the singles for the B-Sides, and I count myself fortunate to have witnessed one of England’s greatest ever bands at their absolute peak. Like all of Noel Gallagher’s best songs, it makes you feel glad to be alive.

2. Placebo – Without You I’m Nothing

Placebo were a very important band for me for it was they, along with the Manics, who broke me free from the tracksuit bottoms and Adidas sweatshirt shackles of my high school years, and into the world of androgny and make-up. I loved this song, I originally heard it on a Q Magazine best of 1998 CD when I was at sixth form, and while everyone else was listening to shite like Embrace and Gomez, me and my mate Jamie were listening to this weird man/woman who looked like an eye-linered parakeet sneering this spidery song about drug addiciton. To this day, I get a nostalgic shiver down my vertebrae whenever it pops up on my i-pod.

3. Smashing Pumpkins – Tonight, Tonight
The summer of ’99. Ah, yes. This was the era of record-shopping. Myself and Mr Ware used to work split shifts on a Saturday; 10:30-1:30, then 4-6. This two hour thirty minute gap gave us time to get the bus into town and spend all our wages on CDs almost every weekend. During the weekday evenings I would sit in my bedroom compiling a database on my laughably outdated PC of the records I’d bought and I’d listen to them in full repeatedly as I typed. This song is as epic as four minutes of music can possibly get and will forever remind me of the romance and introspection of those balmy evenings down Bricknell Ave.

4. Mellow My Mind – Neil Young
Neil Young’s Tonight’s The Night album is the soundtrack to my realization that young romance is always doomed. I was living in a flat that was little more than a squat when I was eighteen, with my first girlfriend. I lost my job in late October and had nothing to do with my days except drink cheap plonk and watch the rain from the rotting window. One Sunday morning I woke up to the sound of her leaving to have Sunday lunch at her Mam’s, and I had a hangover so bad I could barely open my eyes. I propped myself up on my elbows in bed just in time to see a mouse casually stroll across the ledge that the stereo was on, while this song was being played by a band who were so pissed they were on the verge of passing out.

5. Plastic Palace People – Scott Walker
I first heard this song on an NME sampler CD sometime in late 2001, when I was living by myself in a flat down Hartoft Road. It is the closest I’ve ever been to hallucinating through music. To love the work of Scott Walker is to be given the key to a world of rooftops and bedsits and salty seadogs and European cinema and smiles through the smoke of cigarettes, all sung by an impossibly handsome man with one of the most spell-binding voices of all time. No other musician has ever embraced the idea of being an outsider like Scott Walker has, not Morrissey, not REM. He is the musical equivalent of Roald Dahl.

6. Atlantic City – Bruce Springsteen

In the summer of 2002, myself and Andrew were both reading On The Road, and listening to Nebraska. We had decided that we would conquer the world with our rock and roll band and every night we would walk in enormous circles around Hull each dangling a bottle of wine from our swinging arms as we plotted. One night we went to County Road park with a Discman and a couple of shitty Argos speakers and laid on a hill, as an electrical storm cloud loomed in the distance, and this song, the stand out track on The Boss’s stripped back collection of acoustic noir, was playing. So evocative.

7. Black – Pearl Jam
I’m a very stoic person by nature, and I don’t allow myself to get effected by other people foisting their feelings on me, but I find it very hard to hear this song without feeling a bit of tension in my jaw. It starts off as a pleasant enough mid-paced wistful ballad, before descending into a howling litany of bitterness, regret and anger, and those are my three favourite emotions, which is probably why I love this song so much. The final three lines are one of the saddest pay-offs in any song ever.

8. Concierto De Aranjuez – Miles Davis
I can’t imagine that many of our dear readers will have heard this song. It is as close as the Jazz genre ever got to classical music. It is fifteen minutes of astonishing musicianship, played by one of the greatest collectives of musicians ever assembled. It should be listened to in the summer, whilst sat in a garden with a big drink. I don’t like a huge amount of Jazz, but I’m a big Miles Davis fan, and for me Sketches Of Spain, the album that this is taken from, is actually better than Kind Of Blue, which is recognised by the critics as his best. It is a piece of music that you just have to sit and absorb, and each time you hear it you discover something new.

9. Blinded By The Lights – The Streets
This is a song that taught me that there were different ways to make music, at the time The Streets sounded like no other band on Earth, brilliant story-telling and completely relatable. On a personal level, it reminds of an occasion in eight or nine years ago when I was absolutely pissed out of my brains on a night out and somehow I’d managed to lose all my mates and there were no taxis to be had so I ended up walking all the way home by myself. It took me about two and a half hours, even though it was only three miles. This song perfectly captures the experience of rooms spinning, sounds all merging into one big din and simply not knowing what planet you’re on.

10. Hope There’s Someone – Antony and The Johnsons
I first heard of Antony Hegarty whilst reading a gushing article in Mojo magazine during a train journey to Blackpool. I listened to a sample on Amazon when I got home and went to buy the album straight away. He is one of the most original singers I’ve ever heard, haunted and keening. Again they made me realise that there is always music out there that you’ve never heard anything like before. This song is delicate and impossibly sad and at the end it all starts swirling and wailing and one man with his piano conjures up a raging snow storm. Bleakly beautiful.

11. Lorca’s Novena – The Pogues
For Christmas 2007, my missus bought me an iPod. I’d always been quite proud that I never had one, preferring to toddle around with an Aigo mp3 player that I bought from Argos, but as soon as I opened the box it became an absolute staple of my life. The first album I put on it was Hell’s Ditch by The Pogues, just because it was sat on the coffee table at the time. The standard Christmas Day routine for as long as I could remember was after having a drink with my dad in the pub we’d nip to see my Grandad and then go to my mam’s. Sadly my Grandad had died a few months previously so I decided to walk to my mam’s by myself with this menacing sea shanty about “Lorca the faggot poet,” on the iPod and it seemed like there was not a single other soul on the streets of HU5.

12. Afterglow – The Small Faces
This song reminds me of the day Gabbers was born. I’d been awake for about fifty hours and after she’d finally arrived and I had been told to go home I stood in my garden feeling at a bit of a loss cos I wasn’t quite sure what I was supposed to do and this song came on the Pod at random. It’s a very uplifting song and it has the 2nd best chorus of all time, containing the line “I’m happy just to be with you.” and I thought, maybe that’s what being a dad will be like. According to my play count, I’ve listened to it 84 times since that day.

13. Dwr Budr – Orbital
I find it difficult to deal with the dance genre as a whole, but I’ve always loved Orbital, and particularly their In Sides album. I was listening to this song on repeat when I was writing my first book; I wrote it in five days and practically didn’t sleep at all during that period, whilst doing ten hours a day at work and pumping myself full of caffeine every day. Dwr Budr has a swirling, incoherent feel to it, as well as wordless vocals from Alison Goldfrapp, and that pretty much encapsulated how it felt to be almost totally sleepless and spending six hours a night frantically typing out a really disturbing piece of work. I don’t actually think I’ve listened to it since.

profile b and wAllen Miles is 33 years old and lives in Hull. He is married and has a 3 year-old daughter who thinks she’s Elsa from Disney’s Frozen. He is a staunch supporter of Sheffield Wednesday FC and drinks far too much wine. He spends most of his spare time watching old football videos on youtube and watching 1940s film noir. He is the author of This Is How You Disappear, which is widely recognized to be the best book ever written. It is available here. http://tinyurl.com/disappear2014

Ten Songs by Gill Hoffs

Seven Seas of Rye, Queen – between the ages of about nine to fifteen, my home-life was fairly grim. One of the very few upsides to the horror was that the man I was forced to live with was a Queen fan. For the few minutes that the piano rang out and Freddie’s voice soared, my mind could follow the notes and flee. This was one of my favourites and I still love it but that love is tempered with memories of a shit who talked a bit like Billy Connelly. Worth it? Probably, yes.

The Only Living Boy in New York, Simon & Garfunkel – the first time I met my dad properly (post-babyhood) I was about 11, and he gave me a cassette of Bridge Over Troubled Water. This track made me cry. I have uncomfortably strong memories of hiding my face against the car window so nobody would notice the tears and snot dribbling down my face and ask what was up – if they asked, I couldn’t possibly explain. I still have the cassette (though nothing to play it on) and feel a bit funny when caught off guard by it on the radio.

Birdhouse in Your Soul, They Might Be Giants – this eccentric, chirpy little song was on a LOT one summer when I was a kid. The school holidays took forever and when I hear it I think of pink skies, still sea, and my eyes smarting from the sand and salt-air that came with living on the coast. I’d stay out all day with books in my pockets and wander the shore, picking out agates and pretty shells, and avoiding people if I could, though one day I went to the tough kid’s house and she had this song as a cassette single in a big plastic jar in her room. She stripped all her singles of their cases and dumped them in. It horrified me.

She Is Suffering, Manic Street Preachers – someone I admired at school (and had a bit of a crush on, to be honest) lent me their tape of The Holy Bible and that was it. I was hooked. Every song on it is perfection and works in solitude or with the other pieces as a coherent whole, but this is the track that most reminds me of hidden razorblades and an awful stash of suicide notes I built up. Most of the songs in this list are to do with bad times, but it’s like looking back at the shitty town at the foot of the mountain from the layby with a chip van near the top. Much improved with a different view.

Creep, Radiohead – this masterpiece summed up everything I felt (and still sometimes do, I think my mind stalled at 19 and refused to grow up any further). In Biology I would sit and write out the lyrics in black ink at the back of my folder. At home I would draw Thom Yorke with eye pencil. The words are simple and beautifully accurate, the vocals exquisitely painful, the guitar clear and elegant agony in music, the drums present but not intrusively so. I think this was the first song I heard that had the word ‘fucking’ in it, and I delighted in singing along LOUDLY.

Torn, Natalie Imbruglia – when I was 18 I met my best friend and future husband, and this track was on the radio ALL THE BLOODY TIME. It became a kind of joke between us, and when we hear it I get the giggles and remember the late 90s, staying up all night watching horror movies and being scared shitless by his cat (she’d jump on my leg during tense bits and I’d eeep with fright). It definitely helps that Natalie Imbruglia is a bit Audrey Hepburn in the video.

I Saw Her Again, Mamas & Papas – I was very ill with depression throughout my teens and early 20s, and ended up in hospital several times. Puking charcoal is NOT a pleasant memory, but I’m glad to be here to remember it. One stay was for a weekend, and my now-husband brought me a Walkman and Best Of… collection of Mamas & Papas songs. I listened to it until the batteries ran out. The melodies and cheeriness retuned my head to the point where I wasn’t gagging for paracetamol and a razor, and gave me enough breathing space to endure what was going on in my brain until the anti-depressants kicked in.

Alone Again, Naturally, Gilbert O’Sullivan – before having my son almost six years ago, I had four miscarriages. The first was undoubtedly the worst, both physically and emotionally. For a couple of weeks I lay on the sofa eating Viennese truffles from Thornton’s (I couldn’t stand anything else, and they were my favourites), watching Buffy and Star Trek TNG and Voyager repeats, and listening to this track over and over. The memories I have of this time are horribly vivid and colourful, but brief considering the weeks it took to get back to normal and lose the tissue designed to protect my baby from harm.

Dream a Little Dream, Mama Cass – when my son was born, these are the first lyrics I sang to him. It’s a song my husband and I both love, and I’ve always loved sycamore trees (especially climbing them) so it was the perfect fit. It’s still something we sing to him late at night or when he’s poorly and fretful or lying horribly still on the couch. I do wonder how it must feel to lose a parent but still be able to hear recordings of them singing (or talking or laughing), especially if your parent’s recordings are popular enough that you could be ambushed with your loved one’s voice at any moment.

The Boxer, Simon & Garfunkel – my son always has one of us at his side as he falls asleep, and when he was very little, I would sing to him to reassure him and keep him lying there. I have a shocking memory, and although I can sing along to quite a few tunes (especially from the 90s) on the radio I find it hard to recall full sets of lyrics especially when I’m trying not to fall asleep myself. The Boxer is one of the songs I particularly liked to sing along to on the cassette my dad gave me, and for some reason the lyrics stuck in my head enough for me to repeat them to my son over 15 years later. Instead of nursery rhymes, he tends to request “pocketful of mongrels”.

So there you go. A couple of wrist-slitters, some happy-smiley choons, and nostalgia. A fair mix, I reckon.

hoffsGill Hoffs lives with her family and Coraline Cat in a horribly messy house in Warrington. Find her on facebook or as @gillhoffs on twitter, email her a dirty joke at gillhoffs@hotmail.co.uk, or leave a clean comment at http://gillhoffs.wordpress.com/ ‘Wild: a collection’, her word-mixture of sea creatures, regret, and murder, is out now from Pure Slush. Get it here.
Gill’s often-sad sometimes-grisly nonfiction book about the Victorian Titanic will be published in January 2014 by Pen & Sword. Feel free to send her chocolate.