Song titles within a song – Discuss

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I’ve always loved the Arctic Monkeys from the first time I heard them.  Whatever you may think of Alex Turner’s morph into a parody of himself, there’s no denying his gift for lyrics.  To me his songs are like poetry that show me a glimpse of life as a teen in Sheffield or into the mind of a man making drunken lustful calls to a woman he’s obsessed with.  I find them constantly fascinating and appealing; it helps that I like the guitars and drums of their typical sound.  I listen to them less frequently now, but when I do, their tunes lighten my mood and lift my spirit.  There’s always something new to hear.  That’s where this post comes from.

I had their last album, AM, on in the background the other day and the song Knee Socks came on.  Another ditty about getting it on with someone you fancy.  Out of the blue I noticed a line which I’d clearly heard many times before but only just clocked – it’s near the back end of the song and finishes the chorus sections:

Like the beginning of Mean Streets
You could be my baby

As soon as I heard the line, the image of Harvey Keitel’s head hitting the pillow to The Ronette’s singing Be My Baby in the opening scene of that film flashed through my head.

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Lots of artists mention other musicians in their songs, but not many incorporate other song titles into their lyrics (Pavement don’t count – they only listed R.E.M song titles as an homage to Stipe et al).

Yet again ‘Spillers I come to you to discuss this issue.  What do you know about all of this?  Share your tracks where the band/musician has used a song title as part of their lyrics.

Songs for a Specific Purpose – Discuss

I’m sporty.  I’m not very good at any of it, but I’m happy to give it a go.   My current sport of choice is road cycling.  I say current, because I try new activities and they then become my new favourite thing.  I’ve only owned my road bike for just over a year.  I also have a mountain bike and take that out every now and again to give me an adrenaline rush.  I also run.  I also swim – summer lido life is my favourite time of the week.  I’ve given up netball – it’s too hard on my knees.  This summer I am spending 5 days learning how to surf.  You get the picture.  Sport keeps me fit, deals with any stress I’m feeling as I beast my body, it’s social and I get a sense of achievement when I do something I never thought I could manage.

When I run and in the winter when I use my bike on the turbo trainer, I have to listen to music.  It’s a way of distracting me from my ragged breathing and any pain I might be feeling, the beat also keeps me going.  Some of the music I use on my various running and turbo playlists is not at all what I would listen to on a day-to-day basis – it has a purpose; to motivate me.  I associate certain tracks with activity (I have a pavlov’s dog type reaction when I hear Pendulum – I just want to run!) and rarely listen to them when I’m not running or on the turbo trainer.  The music I use is varied, ranging from hard rock to dubstep to mainstream pop.  What the tracks have in common are high BPM or soaring melodies.

I mentioned Pendulum above;  I remember the first time I saw them perform.  I was blown away by the music and the light show.  Witchcraft, Watercolour and Propane Nightmares have all found their way onto my running playlist.  The way they all start quietly and lift to thrashing drums and synths helps me speed up and maintain a good fast pace, the gorse and heathers of my local common a blur in my peripheral vision as I concentrate on keeping up with the beat.

Then there’s Britney’s Toxic.  A good track for the front or back end of the running playlist.  Steady, pulsating beat for warming up or down.  The bass line played loud through headphones is awesome.  Crazy in Love by Beyonce is another good pop tune I’m very happy to plod to.  Rudimental’s Feel the Love is the sort of track you want to come on just as you are reaching the mid-point of that stubborn sandy hill that’s always such a bitch to get up.

Then there’s the heavier stuff; Clutch are a relatively recent addition to my running list.  Their track X-Ray Visions is a fabulously noisy tune to get my arse up most hills, as is Fuckshovel’s Long Time Dead, originally introduced to me by Darcey’s Dad on RR. Drowning Pool’s Bodies is one that is great when you are gritting your teeth to just get through.

In terms of turbo training on my bike, it’s dubstep all the way.  I love the undulating, off-kilter beats this sort of music offers.  It means I can pedal at high cadence and then just as the track kicks in, get out of the saddle and grind out and imaginary hill.  Skrillex and The Qemists both have great tracks for this sort of training.

I’ve put a little playlist together of some of these tunes for you to enjoy (?)

So, why am I telling you all of this?  These are pretty much all tracks I wouldn’t listen to at any other time other than to train.  I want to know your tracks you only listen to for a particular reason.

Yet again ‘Spillers I come to you to discuss this issue.  What do you know about all of this?  Do you have tracks that you train to, or that get your creative juices flowing?  Are there tunes you need to listen to at work to help you concentrate?  Do you have a favourite song that lulls you to sleep?  If you are a performer, is there something you need to listen to before heading on stage; a musical lucky charm?  What are your tracks you save for a particular purpose?

TV Theme Tunes – Discuss

I’m writing this whilst watching the TV.  I’ll be honest, I’m finding it difficult to come up with “discuss” topics.  But as I’ve been watching, I’ve thought of something.  It is likely to be lame so apologies up front.

I’m on my own this week.  I’m not good at being on my own and often do things I wouldn’t normally do to take my mind off the fact that I am on my own.  So I’m watching “Detectorists” on catch up; I have watched all 6 episodes of the first season back-to-back.  The BBC seem to be replaying it, probably in advance of a new season starting – I don’t keep up with these things, so I have no idea.  I never watched it first time round, but (and here’s the point), I have known the theme tune for a long time.  Ever since I was introduced to it as a nomination on RR shiny songs.  I don’t know who suggested it, but I listened to it and was instantly captivated, it has been a regular on my favourite playlist for some time now.  It’s a song as gentle as the programme itself.

Folk musician Johnny Flynn wrote the entire score and the theme tune.  He appears in episode 3 as a participant at an open mic night and sings it then.  It is a beautiful moment.  I loved this song before watching the programme.  Now I can associate the two together, I love it even more.  I know this won’t always be the case with theme songs.  I want to know what you guys think.

Yet again ‘Spillers I come to you to discuss this issue.  What do you know about all of this?  Have you been introduced to an awesome tune or song via a TV programme or film?  Has the use of a popular song as a theme tune spoilt its loveliness for you?

Btw – thanks for last week.  I feel much better for having got all that off my chest and for knowing I’m not alone.

Here’s the trailer for the programme in case you are interested.

Songs that are difficult to listen to – discuss

Almost 13 years ago I went through a traumatic event that ended with me in hospital undergoing a pretty grim surgical procedure.  My anxious and concerned husband and oblivious toddler collected me when I was discharged.  I couldn’t wait to get away from the hospital and back to everything familiar.  In the car on the way home a song came on the radio.  As it had just been released, I heard it almost constantly for weeks after.  It became inextricably linked to the trauma I had just experienced – it’s subject wasn’t a million miles from what I had gone through and it upset me every time I heard it.  It took me years to get over this event and every time I heard the song, it broke me again.  My husband was very good at anticipating the moments when I would disappear and he would then find me weeping in a quiet corner of the house.  Time has been a fantastic healer and I am reconciled to what happened to me; I know I did nothing to cause it and it was not my fault.  Because the song is now old and rarely played on the stations I listen to, I haven’t had a weepy meltdown for a very long time – I thought I was over that sort of thing too.  It seems not.  I heard this song on the radio today and instantly welled up, shedding big fat tears.  I hate that this song does this to me, I detest that it reminds me of things I want to forget.

There is another song I can’t hear without crying for very different reasons.  Tim Minchin’s song “When I Grow Up” from the musical Matilda gets me every time.  I insist, without observation to my demands, that my kids don’t sing this one around me.  They do, just to see me blub.  When my eldest child came to leave junior school, he and his school mates sang this as part of their leaver’s assembly.  There was not a dry eye in the audience.  Like the Athlete song, When I Grow Up is now linked in my subconscious to this passage from child to teen – it chokes me up.  My youngest child is about to go through this transition from junior to senior school.  I’ve been surreptitiously trying to find out what they are planning for their leaver’s assembly so I can stock up on tissues if necessary.  She knows my game.

Then there’s the song that makes me shed a wistful tear for my 18-year-old self.  I recall watching Jesus Jones in 1990 at Kilburn Ballroom (supported by Neds and Blur btw) and realising that I was very probably in love with the boy I’d gone there with.  It turned out I was right.  I know I shouldn’t hanker for my late teens, but I can’t help myself sometimes…

So, with a massive apology for the over-sharing confessional, yet again ‘Spillers I come to you to discuss this issue.  What do you know about all of this? Is there a track that gets you in the guts every time you hear it? Maybe you can’t bear to listen to it, maybe you put yourself through the mill of listening to it because it’s what you need….no need to go into detail if you’d rather not, I realise not everyone will want to share personal stuff.

Covers better than the original – Discuss

There are lots of posts on here about cover versions.  Whether you are of the “it’s just bastardising a perfectly good piece of music” school or persuaded by the “all art is derivative and is there for others to build and improve on” argument, there’s no avoiding them.  Musicians are positively encouraged to perform their own versions of other artists songs.

There are the covers that have become so embedded in the listener psyche it has almost been forgotten they are covers (think Sinead O’Connor’s version of Prince’s Nothing Compares 2 U), there are those you hear and wonder why the band or artist thought it was a good idea to cover that track, they bring nothing new to the table, in fact they spoil the original (my opinion, but think Metallica’s cover of Thin Lizzy’s Whiskey in the Jar – why???).

There are the covers that are clever and polar opposite to the original and offer an alternative sound (try Daughter’s cover of Daft Punk’s Get Luck or Lissie’s version of Kid Cuddy’s Pursuit of Happiness).  There are the covers that are different enough and executed brilliantly in their own right to stand up to the original and be just as good (Tricky’s cover of Public Enemy).  And then, dear reader, there are those covers that raise the song to another level becoming better than the original.  I’m thinking of the Johnny Cash cover of Hurt by Nine Inch Nails or Jimi Hendrix’ version of Dylan’s All Along the Watchtower.  I love these two songs much more than their originals – in fact I never even listen to the originals because both these artists made these songs their own.

The other day I was listening to Bowie’s Station to Station.  The last track is the much covered Johnny Mathis song Wild is the Wind.   In fact I actually thought this was a Nina Simone track because she did a couple of versions of it; I stand corrected by Wiki.  In a step that may well annoy some of you jazz lovers out there I will admit to disliking every version I’ve heard of this song but Bowie’s.  I love it.  I mean, really adore it.  I love the guitars, I love the slightly bossa-nova beat.  His voice is so heartfelt and aching.  There’s a real honesty and desperation about his delivery.  So much better than the original.  It’s not the only Bowie cover I think is better than the original either…I’ll let you try to guess the other.

But this got me thinking, like these things always do – which other covers are better than the original?  Obviously, as is the case with most stuff related to music, this is an opinion thing, but I’d like to know your thoughts.

Yet again ‘Spillers I come to you to fill in the gaps in my musical knowledge. What can you tell me about all this and who else should I be tracking down?

 

Eurovision (not what you think) – Discuss

I was out of the country for The Eurovision Song contest.  This annual musical fiesta used to be a staple of my childhood, but it’s been years since I watched it all the way through.  I don’t have the attention span or patience for a programme of that length often offering mostly dodgy tunes.  When I did used to watch it regulalry, I was fascinated by the difference in musical styles and fashions; what I thought was dreadful would be amazing to a Belgian.  I also used to love cackling along as Terry Wogan giggled his way through the presentation.   It’s not been the same for me since he stopped doing it.  Baa humbug – what a miserablist I can be!

While Eurovision was going on, I was in Mallorca.  The bars played a mixture of music I recognised from my daughter’s chart playlist and Europop my ears had never heard before and wasn’t at all offensive.  On the plane home I flicked through SleazyJet’s in-flight magazine and came across an article titled “How To Be Bigger Than Björk” I wasn’t about to let that one pass without reading it.  The article is an interview with Icelandic musician, Ásgeir and describes his sound as a mix between Ben Howard and James Blake – so far so good.  I had a listen once I was home and over my cycling fatigue.  It’s really quite lovely; the journalist’s description is pretty accurate, I would also add a hint of Mumford and Sons too.  I can’t say he’ll be a permanent feature of my playlists yet it was an interesting discovery.

It made me realise there must be hundreds of artists doing well in their own nations and territories of Europe that are relatively unknown to listeners outside their homeland.  Don’t get me wrong, I know and love plenty of European bands and musicians – because they are played on UK radio.  I tend not to seek out musical gems unless it’s made known to me first or recommended by a friend.  Call it ignorance or laziness – I also don’t have the time.  That’s where you come in!  I want you to tell me about European gems you’ve come across that deserve a wider audience outside their homeland.

Yet again ‘Spillers I come to you to fill in the gaps in my musical knowledge. What can you tell me about all this and who else should I be tracking down?

Balearic sound – Discuss

I’m away this weekend.  This post comes to you via the mystery that is “scheduled posting”.   As it goes live I should have a beer in my hand at the end of my first ride of the weekend on one of the Balearic islands.  I’m not on the club loving island, but I am sufficiently close to inspire this week’s topic.

The Balearic sound is difficult to pin down as Ibiza has a long history of drawing clubbing crowds.  Even before super-DJs like Carl Cox started endless residencies at the island’s bigger clubs, there were DJs laying the foundation for sounds that would morph into what we all think of as classic Balearic – lyrically emotional, blissed out, sunset, piano and strings.   These foundations came in the form of Carly Simon, Roxy Music and Fleetwood Mac – anything with a danceable beat and groove.  Just listen to Big Love enough and you can hear the basis of later club tracks; up-tempo beat, breathy loved-up noises and soaring vocals.

To me the Balearic sound is about blissful club classics and chill out tunes – but you don’t have to be heading to the club at 1am or coming down at 5am to enjoy these tunes; I love tracks like Sebastian Tellier’s La Ritournelle, I find it calming to have on when driving home after a difficult day at work.  That one is relatively recent.  Other favs are these:

Richie Havens – Going Back to My Roots.  An older funk track rediscovered by the Ibiza massive and played everywhere in clubs favouring the Balearic sound.  Oh those pianos!

I have Sweet Harmony somewhere (not to be confused with the great house track by Liquid), however The Sun is Rising is a lovely end of the night/start of the morning chill out track.

I rediscovered Antena’s Camino del Sol only the other week when I was listening to stuff out at around the same time as Young Marble Giants.  This is such a sweet track with a samba sound to it.  Lovely.

Then there’s the Andrew Weatherall mix of The Grid – Flotation.  Perfect mix of heady chill-out room vibe and club favourite.

I realise I’ve gone for the tamer end of the scale with my choices here.  With summer fast approaching I thought it would be a nice idea to find some new tunes and get a Balearic playlist together.  I’m looking for songs that defined the roots of Balearic Beat, classic Ibiza club tunes and Cafe del Mar style chill out tracks. I won’t be around to read your discussion or comment until Monday, but trust you to get the night going and the chill out room relaxed.

Yet again ‘Spillers I come to you to fill in the gaps in my musical knowledge. What can you tell me about all this and who else should I be tracking down?