This was my holiday soundtrack while in Santorini this past May. (I went early in the year because I didn’t think we had summers in the UK anymore. How wrong was I?!) Anyway, I went nostalgic, I went current, I was swept away, in fact, by the whole caboodle. Music is the food of love. Read on and enjoy!
1. New Radicals – Get What You Give
I got to know Gregg Alexander through my friends Steve and Liza. When I first met him, he put his mobile phone to my ear and played me his answer phone message, which was ‘ring and a ring and a ring…’ from the chorus of ‘Love Plus One’. I know Susan too, who Gregg wrote the song about. But it just so happens to be one of my favourite songs when I want to feel inspired. I totally love it. It’s like Todd Rundgren on a quadruple espresso.
2. Shearwater – The Hunter’s Star
Shearwater are one of my girlfriend’s favourite bands. I initially thought they were quite noisy (not that she’s a noisy band lover), but then I began to listen to this one song over and over. I can play it five times in a row and it’s fresh as a daisy every time. It’s ethereal work – hooks me up like a vicar. I melt every time the double bass comes in and when the cellos come in, I evaporate. And rhyming robin’s breast with lioness fills my slippers with gladness.
3-4. Supertramp – Logical Song and Dreamer
The 1970s was a very special time for pop music, wasn’t it? Supertramp just came up with a bunch of beautiful juicy surprises. ‘There are times when all the world’s asleep’ – when this simple lyric collides with a simple melody over a subtle chord change – it can transform my whole world. The way these songs have been crafted and the musicianship is just so creative. It’s like musical storytelling at its best. How well do these guys play together too? That’s the magic of bands – people that spend time together making music is more potent than people forced together to play music for a living. I’ve often observed expert classical musicians at concerts playing the greatest music ever written with the passion of a delinquent teenager. It simply doesn’t compare to groups who regularly play together. Take a look at the film The Late Quartet for a prime example of this. Basically, if a band can put up with each other that’s when the magic happens. It’s all part of the creative process. Right, I’m off to read Rudyard Kipling’s “If” again.
5. Villagers – Set The Tigers Free
This song is like short holiday train journey. It starts off partly cloudy in the built up areas of the town, becomes brighter just after lunch and ends up by the sea in full sun. You grab your bucket and spade and make a sandcastle in anticipation of the tide coming in at the end of the day. This tune is a perfect clear landscape. I love how everything is simple and close by. It’s a nice tidy frame too – natural wood, painted white. Lovely.
6. Bill Evans & Jim Hall – Skating In Central Park
Ok, the sun’s going down. Your skin feels sunblessed, your heart is rested and your mind peaceful. It’s time to pop back into town for something to eat. You find the perfect place and to your utter amazement, Bill Evans is on the piano and Jim Hall is on the guitar. Maybe you’ve gone to jazz heaven. So, where’s my dad? He’s at the bar ordering a pint. This music is so organic, it’s like watching two whistling spiders weaving a web together. The thing is, it’s a more like a bouncy castle, more fun that getting stuck in a web. Actually, I just remembered I got stuck in a bouncy castle once. It was one of those big moving ball ones. I think they’re banned now. See where music can take you? Into a fight or flight memory. Music is healing. I will heal this now. Thanks guys. Cheers.
7. Gaz Coombes – One Of These Days
The first time I heard this song on 6music, I thought, ‘hmm I like that.’ The second time I heard it on 6music, I thought, ‘beautiful strange sketchy feel. I wonder who is making such lovely music.’ The third time, I nipped over to the radio quickly to see who it was and to my utter delight saw that it was Gaz Coombes. I’m a Supergrass fan and I hadn’t recognised who it was. The fourth time I heard it was when downloading it onto my phone to listen to it for a fifth time. On the sixth play, it’s a classic. It’s an absolutely lovely song. Love is strange. So here’s proof of the importance of a radio station that supports great artists such as Gaz Coombes. In a healthy music business, sad reflective songs like this would be sitting in the top 10 happy as Larry. I do believe a healthy music business is on its way back after a rough night out. But if it doesn’t make it, we’ve got 6music and we’ve all got our own charts.
8. Billy Joel – She’s Always a Woman
Only Billy Joel is able to capture the essence of such a female with this precision – glad he was the canary in the coal mine here. Had he not experienced it though, we would’ve never heard this song. And for that I tip my hat and respect to you, Billy. Not only as a supremely gifted composer, but also as a fellow human being. Your vocal delivery and piano performance is like that of Aramis, from The Three Musketeers – graceful and effortless. This recording captures an artist at the height of his abilities and here he is giving us a display of his swordsmanship. En garde!
9. Gabriel Fauré – Requiem Op. 48-7. In Paradisum
I’m writing this in an easyJet queue – apparently not considered to be a paradise situation. Maybe I should listen to it because it’s a fast track to paradise. Again when the deep double bass arrives I arrive into the sound of gold (quite close to easyJet’s orange, isn’t it?) Paradise? It’s always here, whether I’m connected to it or not. Taking a deep breath or two in a very stressful queue does work wonders though. Take that paradise situation and put it right! Actually, as I reach passport control it’s “The Last of the Melting Snow” by The Leisure Society that’s put a tranquil smile on things. What an amazing recording.
10. The Bee Gees – Stayin’ Alive
Right chaps, chocs away! Here I am in this metal tube with my fellow brothers and sisters ready to return home to the green and pleasant valleys of the English countryside. I haven’t listened to this song in ages, let alone on this holiday, but here it is, “Stayin’ Alive” by The Bee Gees. The metal tube now throbbing with love and we’re bouncing over clouds. Turbulence means nothing. Bring it on! We’re stayin’ alive. Wooooo! The weaving guitar, the frantic pace, the ace musicianship, the brass lines, the string lines, all perfectly placed to get the heart pounding. This aeroplane is alive with the sound of music! Why, if I had lederhosen on now, I would slap my bare knees and get everybody up boogying on down. It’s a nice windy day and quite a bumpy landing as it happens. Great to be back home.