13 March 2006


Regarding music, I have a love-hate relationship with it. In some ways, I guess I'm stuck in time as my choices may indicate but with teenage children in the house I have opened my ears to some "new" music. Once I was a semi-professional singer with an East Yorkshire band called Village - we got many gigs and for years I have picked up my guitar and made songs that are more precious to me than anybody else's songs. Here are my ten choices:-
"Girl of the North Country" by Bob Dylan with Johnny Cash ("Nashville Skyline").
Apparently Dylan wrote this in Rome during the sixties following an extended trip to England where he had heard "Scarborough Fair". I love the way these two giants of modern music bounce off each other and the plaintive nostalgic sense of something left behind that can never be retrieved.
"Song for Adam" by Jackson Browne ("Saturate Before Using") .
Since I first heard Jackson Browne long ago, I have loved his lyrical familiarity as he searches life's corridors for meanings or ways of of connecting with other people. To me he is a prince among songwriters and this song seems to have always been in my head about somebody who may have "jumped" to his death though perhaps he "fell". It's so human and so humane.
"All Along The Watchtower" performed by Jimi Hendrix/ written by Bob Dylan.
Hendrix was good at revisiting songs. He put his own special electric guitar mark on this rather enigmatic song. It shows how old I am when I say I was fortunate enough to see him perform this classic the month before he died - "There must be some way out of here..."
"Working Class Hero" by John Lennon.
Coming from England, I guess I had to include one song that connects with The Beatles even though I was never a great fan. Lennon provided the guts for the band and he never stayed still - he developed. He had a genuine social conscience though perhaps this song is tinged with unavoidable irony.
"So Long Marianne" by Leonard Cohen.
Often slated as a morbid songsmith, I always admired Cohen's assured poetry. Here language and music collide with meanings that caress or stab you. This is just a representative song about saying goodbye to an old lover and striking out anew.
"Memories of East Texas" by Michelle Shocked ("Short Sharp Shocked")
I love songs that capture a sense of a lost past - days of innocence - a bit like the poems of Seamus Heaney. And as an Americophile, I love the idea of taking a detour by the Lindsays pastures "when the water ran too deep" - so homely and yet this is also a song about breaking away from things that stifle you.
"Ballad of Geraldine" by Donovan Leitch.
Recently, my seventeen year old daughter could not contain her laughter when she saw Donovan singing "First There is A Mountain" on TV - like the archetypal crosslegged hippy. But I always liked the guy and this was a rather unusual song about an unwanted pregnancy in which a male songster puts himself tenderly in a woman's shoes.
"California - I'm Coming Home" by Joni Mitchell ("Blue").
Joni was always a great lyricist and in this song she's talking about travelling far away but having California always in her heart. She suffers trials and people who cheat on her but in California everything will be okay.
"Speed of Sound" by Coldplay ("X&Y")
I love the style of the band. It isn't just about Chris Martin. Everything hangs together - drum, bass, guitar, piano and the words strike a rich emotional chord without being overstated. I haven't heard this album as much as I might have done because my kids keep borrowing the CD from the car. "If you could see it then you'd understand..."
"Meet on The Ledge" by Fairport Convention.
I suppose it's a song about dying and meeting up again. The great Sandy Denny who died so young is there at the front with Ian Matthews. I loved the Fairports before they became so traditional. This is a celebration of life, of being here and of making connections with others. And will we meet up again, on the ledge? I doubt it but it's a nice thought to have.
No doubt now I have listed the soundtrack of my life, other songs will rise up from the swamp of memory and ask to be included but for now this list will do.


  1. You have a pretty cool list up there, Buddy. I like some of it.

    I have a love/love relationship with music, myself. If they still did "Name that Tune", but updated it to music from the late 70's to now, I'd win everytime. I listen to most anything, but particularly enjoy hard rock/heavy metal and some the new stuff that they're calling emo-metal or whatever it is. My kids and I listen to a LOT of the same music (from their generation and mine - they are very open-minded to music).

  2. I didn't realize Sandy Denny died so young. Her duet with Robert Plant on "Battle of Evermore" is one of my favorite (of many) songs. I'm glad to see Michelle Shocked and Leonard Cohen on the list, too.

  3. I need to take a look at the Dylan, Cash album. Somehow I've totally overlooked that one.

  4. Thanks for stopping by my blog, Yorkshire Pudding! Your good wishes are much appreciated, too. Funny you should mention knitting. I am currently knitting a "Very Hungry Caterpillar" sock puppet for Lucia's teacher. Bede has gone through 3 eggplant hats (each time, I said I wouldn't knit another), and now has a low-key brown hat to match his jacket.

  5. It was all going so well until you said Coldplay.

  6. Yea, Fairport Convention...

    Not met anyone else who like them too!


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