Monday, June 18, 2007

Now that's what I call breast cancer!

I have a friend. A great friend.

(Actually, what this whole cancer thing has taught me is that I have many great friends so it feels unfair to single one out. But he'd just done the most marvellous thing, so he deserves it and the others will get their turn, I'm sure.)

He's never been one for simple gifts. Not for him the easy gift token, or a classy but inoffensive silver picture frame.

No, when I turned 21 he gave me a mirror and told me I should take a picture of myself in it on every birthday and then it would chart my growth into maturity and old age, a la Dorian Gray.

I wish I'd kept this up as it's a really good idea. But of course I didn't. Life just got in the way.

And he's really come up with a good one now.

He's compiling his favourite 100 music tracks for me. In 20 track installments. And calling it 'The music to beat cancer with!' in that exclamation-riddled way miscellaneous CD compilations are now titled.

Quite apart from the physical feat of compiling your 100 favourite tracks, I am also blown over by the weight of the intrigue that lies in finding out what makes one of my best friend's tick, musically-speaking. I'm not sure where I would start if it were me - I realise there is so much missing from my music collection - and the temptation to edit it to make yourself look cooler than you really are would be huge.

Of course, there are some friends whose 'Top 100' I would fear. Some people I know have terrible taste. They think James Blunt is one of today's most eminent singer-songwriters. But this guy I can trust. If anything, I know he'll do my musical education some good. My early years were very juvenile and mainstream pop based. But I have grown into a harder-edged indie girl and I'm hoping that James's efforts will uncover a few areas I left unturned along the way.

So here's his first 20 in no particular order - "For when we were very young" - with excerpts from sleeve notes by my good friend McKean.

1. Immigrant Song - Led Zeppelin

"If your musical history does not start with either the Beatles or Led Zeppelin then 'what's fuckin wrong wi ye?'"

2. Israel - Siouxsie and the Banshees

"Inspired a life-long love affair with flawed voiced weird sounding female vocalists..." [Why do all the men I know love flawed sounding women? As opposed to flawed women, which would mean they'd all be into Britney...]

3. & 4. Homosapien and What do I get? - By Pete Shelley and Buzzcocks respectively

"To show that punk and post-punk need not be nihilistic but can have a progression if done well"

[Here, I would just like to point out, I would clarify that during the very early 80s I was attending a dutch primary school in Germany and the most musically aware I was was when the Kids from Fame show used to come on the German tv. I think I was also vaguely aware of Europop, hence Eurovision, hence (ahem) Bucks Fizz. I maintain that my poor earlier musical tastes stem entirely from a difference in years - James has the edge by a few - and a difference in surroundings. I mean, as an adult, I have explored the Buzzcocks' oeuvre, but I still had to google Pete Shelley only to find he was indeed, lead vocalist with the Buzzcocks and I saw him on stage last year...]

5. Floorshow - Sisters of Mercy

"First thing I ever heard in a club" [I don't remember the first thing I ever heard in a club. I remember the first drink tho because I was 14, very underage and wasn't sure what I should be ordering to sound appropriately mature but also have it be drinkable. Sadly, a half of lager and lime was what I chose in the end. Why oh why?]

6. First we take Manhattan, then we take New York - Leonard Cohen

"I had previously thought that Monsieur Cohen was a depressing joke. This song made me rethink this." [Sadly, I never 'got' the joke and took to Cohen in an angsty, posturing sort of way when I heard 'Everybody knows' in my early University years... now I can nod wisely and pretend i was in on the joke all along...]

7. Bring on the dancing horses - Echo and the Bunnymen

"...for you my friend, it has horses in the title" [this a reference to the fact that James discovered early on that my childhood was full of ponies, so would take to buying me kitsch birthday cards featuring mares and their foals, "Look, Anne-Marie, it's got horses!". As an aside, I love this track... regardless of the horses reference]

8. Love like Blood - Killing Joke

"The most romantic song I ever heard"

9. Pinhead - The Ramones

"First time I ever drank rum I listened to the Ramones 'It's Alive' double album and it was the first time I'd come across the practice of crushing and throwing out the bottle top when you open a bottle of spirits, which means you're in for the long-haul" [By God, James is so much more rock n roll than me. I've never crushed the top of a bottle of spirits and I consider myself to have sunk a few in my time. I remain a rank amateur...]

10. Highwire Days - The Psychedelic Furs

"They are hangover Saturday 2pm. They simultaneously make you reflect on your Friday and inspire you to do better with your Saturday." [They also make me squirm with delight - I love the lead singer's cracked raspy old voice]

11. Venus in Furs - Velvet Underground

"Just ideal for recovery on Sunday afternoons"

12. Upside Down - Jesus and Mary Chain

"I used to carry this single from club to club."

13. I don't want to (go to Chelsea) - Elvis Costello

"How underrated a songwriter is Elvis Costello?"

14. Like a rolling stone - Bob Dylan

"It was the first song I heard being played at a party in Glasgow where everyone was drunk and everyone sang along with a far away look like it meant something different to everyone"

15. Highway to Hell - ACDC

"The most unifying number ever"

16. Rock the Kasbah - The Clash

"Reminds me of the Kasbar in Edinburgh where they never had the floor washed from week to week, which redefined tacky. They always played this song when we arrived for the 1 til 4 shift."

17. Terror Couple Killed Colonel - Bauhaus

"The political association. I love music that leads to research."

18. Undertow - The March Violets

"First ever love of my life used to listen to the March Violets and I used to fancy the female singer. I bumped into Tom Ashton (the male singer) 10 years ago. It was like meeting John Lennon. I asked him whatever happened to the female singer. Ashton married her, c'est la vie. We still got hammered and sang some of The Undertow on the way from the Hog's Head to The Bistro."

[That's what I love about the way James used to drink. It always led to monumental nights out. Things happened. Nowadays if you fancy a drink you don't fancy doing it in the company of the general public, so you get drunk with friends at houses and in living rooms. It takes all the seedy glamour out of it...]

19. Success - Iggy Pop

"Like a waking dream"

20. Interzone - Joy Division (when known as Warsaw)

"All that and Ian Curtis dance moves. Interestingly, I think if older people danced like Curtis they would embarrass their children less."

Wow. And all this from the man who introduced me to a band called Revolting Cocks, or Revco for the slightly less potty-mouthed among us.


dk said...

i always knew that man had terrible taste ;p

hahaha - but such a sweet thing to do - and interesting

but what's wrong with James Blunt eh? I saw him live in a tiny room before he was famous - he was amazing

Steve said...

Oh I like this game.

Here are some from me

1. Don't you ever get tired (of hurting me)? - Bettye Swann.

2. In the Ghetto - Candi Staton

3. Heaven help us all - Gladys Knight

4. Every little bit hurts - Brenda Holloway

5. I'd rather go blind - Etta James

6. I had a talk with my man last night - Mitty Collier

7. I've come a long way (live) - Wilson Pickett

8. Honest to goodness - diplomats

9. Drown in my own tears - Ray Charles

10. Like a bridge over troubled water (live at Filmore) 0 Aretha Franklyn

11. Ain't no sunshine - Bill Withers

12. A song for you - Donny Hathaway

13. What's going on - Marvin Gaye

14. How come you don't call me anymore - Prince

15. Whiter shade of pale - RB Graves

16. Family Affair - Sly and the family stone

17. Am I black enough for you - Billy Paul

18. Your cheatin' heart - James Brown

19. Yesterday - Marvin Gaye

20. Feeling Alright - Gladys Knight

Anne-Marie Weeden said...

Heaven help you Mr DK.

Steve - I thank you for your suggestions. It seems you got soul boy. I'm still mulling over what would make up mine...

Anonymous said...

What a sweetheart - I remember when I had glandular fever at uni, and couldn't get out of bed, he'd come over and read dark fairie stories to me, then make me get up to make him a cup of tea.

Anne-Marie Weeden said...

Aye fond memories.

I recall how he would come and 'knock us up' at 5am, thinking a 2 mile back to the University halls 2 miles too far. We'd let him in cursing and he'd sit at the foot of our beds. He'd pester us repeatedly to make him peanut butter on toast. We'd eventually cave and either Liz or I would come back bearing toast to find him fast asleep, snoring, in our bed! It was like some warped version of Goldilocks.

But somehow Mckean got away with it every time and one of us would end up on the sofa... That man is loved!