I enjoy my own company for the most part but I’m not going to pretend that I don’t spend a lot of time pining in rather pathetic fashion. If I were really were to be stranded on a desert island, it would likely form the bulk of my activity and contribute to a wholly dysfunctional and ill-fated experience. And I would sing this song to myself.
Owen Pallett is the best. I mean, really, what an infuriatingly talented entity. There’s no one I want to see live more than Pallett, although I have been to a thing at the Barbican where a composition of his was performed but I don’t think that counts. In any case, he was thoroughly outshined by Nico Muhly. Though I did get to see him take part in a cover of Neil Young’s Only Love Can Break Your Heart(!!!) so there was that. I’d rather haul off his entire discography to a desert island but this is a fine rendition of one of my favourite songs by him. I’ll probably pick another one by the time I’m done.
To be perfectly honest, it was the song Optimistic by Radiohead that really sparked my taking a deeper interest in music. By ‘taking a deeper interest’ I mean, of course, voraciously listening to anything I could get my mitts on - especially Radiohead. I was the biggest fan for many, many years. After I finally saw them (Meadowbank Stadium, Edinburgh, 2006, supported by Beck and Deerhoof - best summer of my life probably) I could barely bring myself to listen to them from then on. I can’t say why, I mean I am certainly still fond of them. In any case, I always have time for anything and everything Jonny Greenwood has put out. He is the best Radiohead, ok? Works such as his soundtrack for There Will Be Blood demonstrate why. I bought this damn album as soon as it was possible. I bought a film soundtrack. This will likely never happen again. I probably could have picked any track but Oil seems appropriate for lengthy reflection, something that will no doubt constitute the bulk of my activity on a desert island. If I were the industrious type who would busy themself with chopping firewood and building shelters and a raft then I would have gone for Proven Lands but I’m quite lazy.
I will admit that I’ve left this Desert Island Discs thing for a while out of sheer laziness. I’ve also had things to do. Anyway, it’s been a good chance to really look at the things I like. I will refrain from lengthy waffle and simply say that De La Soul are splendid, and that this line from the song
Sex is a mere molecule/in this world of love that I have for you
#2 of 8 - Gross Chapel - British Grenadiers by The Fall
This is just a standout song for me, it’s creepy and exhilerating. I recently told someone that of all the material by The Fall I’ve listened to, they have, at best, perhaps one song that isn’t wholly incomprehensible. This isn’t it. The same person I mentioned told me they thought this song sounded like going round and round in a circle, and I’ve always thought something similar. Gross Chapel has always made me think of trying to find something and although it’s obvious and bright and right in front of you it is impossible to reach. (Funnily enough, I was listening to a Stewart Lee interview just last night and he mentioned how audiences typically expect a perfomer to give them everything, to make everything clear, and how he likes to play around with this by instead being demanding of his audience and forcing them to want his approval. He mentioned Mark E. Smith and his habit of doing shows with his back to the crowd, so if he ever turned round you felt as if you were lucky.)
As I’m sure is the case with most people, I started off listening to my parents’ music. I never used the record player so I was limited to a small collection of CDs and, as it happened, I mostly listened to one of two things: an ABBA compilation album and The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts ClubBand. I’d like to be very cool and pick A Day In The Life as my stand-out track but at the time I found When I’m Sixty-Four to be the most delightful. At the age of four I was evidently already looking forward to the end of life, something I find tickling. Presently, I look forward to being comfortable somewhere - whether I’m alone or otherwise.
I sort of want to do a Desert Island Discs series of posts because I am having a grand old time listening to the actual show (highlight: Nick Park, December 2010) and have always been interested in two particular things: 1) A very adolescent attraction to the idea of being lost at sea with only a few treasured possessions to get by on. I’m a bit less drawn to that now though, as I tend to imagine the impracticalities and discomforts of such a situation and see some sense. 2) The way that songs or bits of music can become inextricably attached to certain memories, often for no good reason at all. For example, many years ago I was taking a piss and could hear the song ‘Airbag’ by Radiohead so now whenever I hear or even think of that song I also think about peeing. That’s probably not an ideal example but I’d best save the good stuff for later.
I’d like to follow the radio format as close as possible despite my lack of interest in retaining a copy of the Bible and the entire works of Shakespeare. I feel I shouldn’t buck the trend, even if this is about as unofficial as it can get.