The first singles that I ever bought were ‘Hey Mickey’ by Tony Basil and ‘Come on Eileen’ by Dexys Midnight Runners. I feel proud that my first foray into music was with two such legendary songs. Today I have been thinking about other songs that have inspired me, moved me to a new way of thinking, with their melodies and lyrical poetry. Here are my first three.
Elbow was one of the bands that I found whilst listening to the radio. It was on XFM before it went too commercial and it played so many new and amazing tracks. I was sitting at work. At the time I was working as a research archivist at loss adjustors, which is basically the company that haggles for the insurance companies in event of a claim. I worked in the downstairs that was seldom used, so I was mostly by myself, surrounded by thousands upon thousands of case files. My job was to look after them (I didn’t read them any bedtime stories) and produce statistics. So, for the most part, I could listen to the radio. I was sitting mid-stack, siphoning off the files that were bound for destruction and I heard an ethereal voice issuing from my little box of noise. I remember stopping, inhaling this haunting melody deep into my being. The lyrics were in sharp contrast to this beautiful cadence. It was a song about love, about an all-consuming love that a person can surrender to in entirety. I became a quite a fan after that one song, although never saw them play. I think that would have been nice. Several years later they won some quite big awards and broke into the mainstream. But for me, that first song, and the first album that I heard will always make me pause, breathe deep and smile quietly inside.
‘Every Me, Every You’ Placebo
Placebo is a band that I have seen. Once at a festival where they were not very good and once at the Astoria, where they shone. It was a small intimate gig, and so much fun. It was also the night where someone from the mosh pit fell into my right shin, causing unspeakable agonies. On the train home with my friend Tina, I untied my high boot and discovered that it was bruised from knee to ankle. But it didn’t hurt, so I untied the other to discover that I was not in fact bruised, but with the dancing, the sweating, my legs were stained with dye. Not sure if the expected bruise ever materialised. But it was an epic evening. ‘Every Me, Every You’ was the first song that I ever heard from Placebo, only it wasn’t. It was the first song that I recognised as Placebo, but when I heard their other songs, I already knew them. Sometimes bands can go like that, blend in with the hub until one song makes them stand out. The song was later used in the film ‘Cruel Intentions’. There is so much energy to this song, I have never really pondered the lyrics too much (but I am word perfect!) they are dark, but hint, for me at least, towards ideas of authenticity. This is the biggest draw to me with their music.
‘Fire and Rain’ James Taylor
I can’t remember when I first heard this song, but know that it was in a film that I watched when I was around fifteen. I found so many songs this way. This was in the days pre-internet, so it took me a goodly time to track it down. I have never felt confined just to listen to what was current, there is always more that you can find looking back. Some songs when you hear them, take a little bit of residence inside your chest and stay there. Every time you hear them, the world seems brighter. I found out the meaning and correct lyrics to the song many years later, which made me love the song all over again. I love the honesty of committing those sorts of feelings into words and then elevating that further with harmony.
Map Point. What songs in my life have the most memories?