Anybody who knows me will be well aware of the fact that I am and always have been a touch obsessed with music. It’s every bit as important to the person I am as my writing.
I think the way each and every one of us listens to music is different. Some just like a bit of background noise; some like the technical side, such as how well instruments are played; some listen out for little nuances that make a track unique; some like an amazing vocalist. The list could go on all day long.
I find it difficult to describe what I like in a piece of music. You hear people say their musical tastes are varied all the time, but mine truly are. I could be listening to Richard Strauss’ ‘Also sprach Zarathustra’ one minute and then Ray Keith’s ‘Special Technique’ the next (if you click the link for the latter, I advise cranking up the bass) and enjoying both just as much as the other. I really am prepared to listen to absolutely anything.
At some point I’ll get around to listing my five favourite bands, but my musical love runs so much deeper than having favourite bands. I have favourite DJ’s, producers and solo artists as well. For example, what would you class Salsoul Orchestra as? A band or an artist? The orchestra was ever changing, but the conductor was always Vincent Montana Jr.
There is so much important music in my life and to list five tracks in particular is very, very difficult. What I’ll say about this list is that they won’t necessarily be favourite tracks of mine. They’ll be tracks that hold certain important, significant memories. I don’t think I could compile a list of favourites. A top five would be quite literally impossible; even a top twenty!
I hope you enjoy the list and the tracks on it. It’ll certainly be a trip down memory lane for me.
Supertramp – Just Another Nervous Wreck – This was the first track I properly loved by Supertramp when I was a kid. I can’t recall another track before this one being my favourite. As I’ve grown up I’ve come to like others by Supertramp more. Many more in fact, even on the same album it’s from. But this one will always be special to me because of that link to my extreme youth. That’s why Supertramp will always be a special band to me too. The first group I ever loved. It guts me that I’ll never hear them live with both Rick Davies and Roger Hodgson leading the way. Hodgson split from the band before I was born I think and since then, Supertramp haven’t been allowed to perform any songs he wrote and he hasn’t been able to perform any songs Rick Davies wrote. I think they need to sit down and sort their shit out (I’d have preferred to post the album version of this, but could only find this live performance on YouTube).
Fleetwood Mac – Gypsy – Again, this isn’t my favourite song by this particular band. It’s definitely up there, but not my favourite. The reason this song is so important is because of my mum. I can’t recall exactly when she told me; it was quite a while ago; but I have never forgotten her saying that she wants this song to be played at her funeral. I don’t even want to contemplate that scenario. The prospect of her death scares me more than my own! I totally understand her reasons why she wants this song though. The imagery it conjures up is just totally the sort of person I picture my mum is on the inside. This song totally speaks to that fantasy version she has of herself. She’s a free spirit; a gypsy. She was never an actual gypsy, but she is inside. I think we all possess two versions of ourselves (some people more than two); the physical version of who we are and the fantasy version. The fantasy version will always be free in the way the physical version isn’t. Maybe we all have songs that represent either version. This song definitely represents my mum’s fantasy version of herself and is special to me for that reason.
Jamiroquai – Space Cowboy (David Morales Classic Club Mix) – Dance music has been a massive part of my life since I was thirteen years old. I am a proper clubber at heart and I look at my favourite DJ’s in the same way a lot of people look at their favourite bands or artists. There’s always one particular track that pulls you towards a genre of music. I love metalcore because of CM Punk’s old entrance music in WWE (Killswitch Engage’s ‘This Fire Burns’). The track that began the dance music revolution for me was this one. It also kick-started my adulation of Jamiroquai. This track is an absolute classic! It’s been a popular house track for over twenty years and sounds as good today as it did back then. The original is brilliant, but the David Morales mix is astoundingly more so. David Morales is an epic DJ and producer. If you don’t believe me, listen to other samples of his productions and remixes. He’s an immortal in the genre of house music. Little wonder that this track began the journey that has never ended. It was the gateway to all other dance music genres I’ve gotten into since. Every dance track I am currently into I owe to this one song.
Stardust – Music Sounds Better With You/Spacedust – Music Feels Good With You – Ibiza 1998 is why these songs will forever stick in my memory. I’ll explain why I’ve rolled both tracks into one. The DJ at the hotel we stayed (Hotel Tanit) had a recording with Stardust that suddenly became Spacedust half way through and I asked him if he could record it for me. This was before both tracks were commercially popular and Stardust in particular was the big track in Ibiza that summer. It was so different to anything else doing the rounds at the time and I loved it immediately. Every time I hear either version I’m immediately reminded of that holiday; of all the people I met there. God, I met so many people! Some turned out to be quite horrible as I recall, but most were great. I went on loads of holidays when I was young and this one probably wasn’t the best of them, but it’s certainly the most memorable. These tracks sum up the holiday for me. I remember being in the airport waiting to go home and listening to the recording of them from the hotel DJ and crying like a baby. The Stardust version’s commercial success since hasn’t sullied it, which I’m grateful for.
Raheem DeVaughn – The Love Experience – I bought Raheem DeVaughn’s The Love Experience album on a whim because I loved his track ‘You’ and fell in love with the whole album. It’s so good! This track opened up the album and the words within are so powerful. I remember being in a really awful mood one night shift when I was still at Manchester Airport (*shudders*) and I was really down about something. For whatever reason, this song helped me massively that night. It’s a song that talks about how lucky we should feel to have experienced love regardless of how we’ve felt it or whether we’ve lost it. Not just in terms of relationships, but in terms of family and friends too. It’s a song that remains special to me and is one of the reasons Raheem DeVaughn has become one of my favourite artists since. I think of that cold night shifting customer cars and feeling so low. I think of how this song suddenly played on my iPod as I did so. I think of how it gave me an immediate lift and reminded me that things could be much worse because at least I’ve experienced the love experience.
I could talk about so many other tracks that are special to me for various reasons aside from these too. ‘The Drugs Don’t Work’ by The Verve will always make me think of my cousin as it was played at his funeral in 1998 and caused me to cry my eyes out. ‘Rise’ by Eddie Amador and ‘Do It To Me Again’ by Soulsearcher were the first tracks I ever bought on vinyl after acquiring turntables in 2000 for my sixteenth birthday. The first track I ever heard when tuning into a Stu Allan radio show was ‘Dansatak’ by Massive. ‘Changes’ by Sandy Rivera made me feel better about my decision to bring an end to a four year relationship in 2012. I’m transported back to Mallorca in 1993 when I hear ‘Sweat’ by Inner Circle.
So many songs; so many memories. I could talk all day about it, but I won’t because I don’t think my little boy would appreciate it. Music is so important to so many of us. It’ll always incite some kind of emotional response or memory more so than anything else in my opinion. I wonder what songs I’ll link to memories I create in the future…
What songs bring a faraway look to your face? Do you have any memories that you immediately link to any song or piece of music? Are you the kind of person who doesn’t associate music with anything at all? I’d like to hear your thoughts on the matter and please feel free to share with me your songs and memories.