Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Memorable Musical Moments

Here goes with the memorable musical moments meme: (see Monday)

Think of eight memorable musical moments, not necessarily all time favourites, but those when, for example, you felt compelled to wait in the car when listening to this amazing song on the radio because you just had to know who it was by. Or the piece you heard on the tv in a drama that drove you straight onto iTunes to download... (remember once we spent the princely sum of 6s 8d on a vinyl single?!). Optional details for each song give where, why and Spotify or youtube links ...

Joe Walsh 'Life's been Good' remember hearing this on the transistor radio in our back room in Sheffield as a kid, and kept tuning in to see if they'd play it again. Silly lyrics, cracking guitar hook, somehow it stuck.

The Human League: 'Love Action' My brother, being an electronics whizz, built a radio, and I ended up with this bizarre hybrid thing on my bedside table. Most evenings would consist of me trying to listen to Radio Luxembourg or Radio Hallam (local commercial radio in Sheffield), and one night DJ Martin Kelner gave us an exclusive preview of the new Human League single. They were a Sheffield group, and that slightly alien-sounding intro was the start of chart dominance for a couple of years.

Black 'Wonderful Life' Brushfield St London. A beautifully bleak record, one of the last things I brought on vinyl. On my year out post-school, when I had the flat above Spitalfields market to myself this was one of my favourites. 'look at me standing here on my own again'. London is one of those places where being alone was somehow more significant for the fact you were surrounded by 7m people, none of whom knew you were there.

U2 Acrobat Somerset Levels. On the Clarks Shoes management training intake, me and Justin had a placement at Ilminster factory (long gone) during the winter. We were sharing digs at the time, and Justins car had a better sound system, and he'd just bought Achtung Baby. There's one particular stretch of road just outside Langport which, despite the land being completely flat, snakes around in a series of S-bends. They'd just lopped the trees back by the road, and with the mist rising off the levels, it all looked pretty spooky on a January morning. Through the mist soared Acrobat "I'd join the movement if there was a cause I could believe in/yeah I'd break bread and wine if there was a church I could recieve in/'cause I need it now..." Still makes my hair stand on end.

The Choir Consider live on stage at Greenbelt. First CD I ever bought was after hearing this on stage, and bidding for the Choir's Chase the Kangaroo in a tent somewhere near Corby. The Choir didn't do much on stage, but had an amazing atmospheric sound, and a guy playing a bizarre cross between a saxaphone and a portable keyboard. Sadly the Youtube clip linked doesn't do them justice, but there's some good stuff on Spotify.

The Smiths What Difference Does it Make? John Peel show some time in the early 80's. If there were too many ads on the commercial stations I'd occasionally venture over to John Peel, who seemed to play pretty much anything. Jonny Marr had already shown he could weave a web with the guitar on This Charming Man, but WDDIM is incredibly simple - just 3 notes repeated - and Morrisseys lyrics are brilliant, and spot on for any spotty youth who was fond of a girl but didn't know what to do about it.

Toy Dolls Fisticuffs in Frederick Street my brothers room, Sheffield. My brother's now a BBC radio sound engineer, and honed his skills by building a disco rig from scratch, and touring the local church halls for parties and Christmas. Fisticuffs was the B-Side to 'Nellie the Elephant', the Toy Dolls classic thrash nursery rhyme. It became the standard disco closer, after all the kids with nobody to smooch with had sat out the invetable Spandau Ballet snogathon. All that pent-up hormonal energy piled onto the dancefloor, and big bro would play 'Nellie' and then quickly flip the disc to finish on a riotous note. One evening he broke his ankle in the mosh pit to this song, but carried on regardless, loaded up the car with speaker bins and disco kit, and drove home. He only found out the next morning when mum sent him to hospital.

Evanescence Bring Me to Life Had heard there was some controversy about the group, a 'Christian' rock group who'd upset a few people by not fitting into the subculture. When our kids were very young, I didn't hear very much on the radio, so a couple of years of chart music passed me by completely. Eventually caught up Bring me to Life on Youtube (and the even more powerful Everybodys Fool, scream at the modelling industry). I think it was the first clip I ever watched on Youtube, in a the recently converted garage at the back of our vicarage in Darlington.
If people are slow out of bed at home this goes on and the volume cranks up 'WAKE ME UP!!!!' Love the energy. My kids know all the words to the chorus, even though they haven't got a clue what it's on about.

Oh yes, I'm supposed to tag people aren't I? Ok then, Clayboy, Mark Meynell (can he do it without mentioning U2?), The Vicars Wife, Gary Alderson, and Jon Birch - if he can do a cartoon of each one I'll be even more impressed than usual.


  1. Whoops. Too many memes spoil the blog! There must be some enterprising soul somewhere who can set up a clearing house for these things, which tells you what memes you've been tagged for and by whom.

  2. I've a horrible feeling I've tagged myself somewhere down the line. Is that a sin?


  3. I'm sure Morrissey would never say one way or the other, but I've always sort of thought that WDDIM is about someone unable to confess that they are gay. Not that it makes any difference. Brilliant song!

  4. ah - now that you've gone and ruled out U2, i'll have to get back to you. Nice to see Acrobat here tho...

  5. I started writing a blog post about this but have realised that I am just too uncool, wordy (not musicky) and too hopeless at remembering past events to be able to post even one song. I don't even use iTunes. I do listen to music, but I don't think I've ever sat in the car to listen to the end of a song. I did stay and listen to Christine Ohurugu win her 400m gold medal on Radio 4 long wave as the Vicar and the kids played on a beach in France, but I'm not sure that really counts. Thank you very much for tagging me though David. I feel like a proper blogger.