September 19, 2011
Been listening to Tim and Sam on Castlemaine community radio. They have a delightful session of stories about melancholy and joy, called Junk City. Each fortnight a guest will come on and talk about their top 5 songs in each category, songs that moved you or touched you in some way. Helen’s an artist in Castlemaine, and i loved her choices of Cat Empire, Paul Kelly’s Billy Baxter and yes Tim Deee-lite Groove is in the Heart.
..and now they’ve asked me to join them. The show is coming up: 9:00-11:00 pm AEST Wednesday 21 September. [you can stream live at wmafm.com] The thing is to choose songs that have affected me deeply, songs that have a story. How will i choose? Here’s the long-list (below).
[Note, post-script: this long shortlist is out of date already. You'll see from my Last.fm profile what i've been listening to and loving in the last 24 hours - a better indication of what i'll be playing. And there's even a list of my most recently loved tracks, or sorted by all time.]
So i’m thinking: what would be my top 5 songs that spoke to my melancholy? Tough one to answer because i just wouldn’t listen to songs like that, i was so prone to depression.
- The Smiths: That song about the double decker bus. Of course. When we were 20 and all thought we’d be dead by the age of 37, i decided to have a mid-life crisis early, get it out of the way. I remember driving somewhere with Jude, singing this at the top of our voices. Probably through a tunnel on the way back to North Melbourne.
- Heaven knows i’m miserable now, girlfriend in a coma, how soon is now.. etc!!
- Lithium by Nirvana was one of the first songs i ever learned to play on guitar, the first time i actually felt i could play a musical instrument. And even though i have no idea what he’s singing about, even thought he starts off with “I’m so happy”.. it just isn’t happy.
- Culture Club, Victims. i had no idea what it was about, but it was dramatic and heartfelt, inviting much interpretive dance. My gender was up for grabs, and boy George spoke to many parts of me.
- Midnight Oil Short Memory. No wait, that’s not melancholy – it’s despair and fury.
- That song from the movie Once – Falling slowly. I remember Jon Murphy singing us this in the basement flat at James street the house on the hill. It was so beautiful i had to see the movie.
- “Rooms for the memory” from Dogs in Space, as well as Marie Hoy’s version of Shivers
- Mad World, the remake from Donnie Darko
- Don’t Dream it’s Over, Crowded House
- Quasimodo’s Dream by the Reels.
- Cold Chisel: Four Walls, Breakfast at Sweethearts, Cheap Wine, Flame Trees,
- Tainted Love
- Cyndi Lauper: Time After Time
- ABBA: SOS, Knowing me, Knowing you.
- split enz: i got you, one step ahead
- The Verve: the drugs don’t work
- Radiohead: creep, paranoid android
- Paul Kelly: to her door (is that the one i’m thinking of?).
- ..and the very magical Billie Holiday: God Bless the Child, Good Morning Heartache, I cried for you.
Here’s Jose Gonzalez with “Love will tear us apart”:
Songs that bring joy.
- Everything’s All Right from JC Superstar,
- Black: Wonderful Life: “Look at me standing here on my own again”
- Shona Laing: Glad i’m not a Kennedy, and You are the one,
- That song.. [from that movie], (by that guy).. hm. What was it?
- When Jimmy Somerville and Marc Almond sang I feel love mixed with Johnny Remember Me
- The Housemartins: Caravan of Love
- Lou Reed: Perfect Day of course – this one because it’s from a day i spent with my friend Annie. We walked around Albert Park Lake and laughed and talked for hours on end. As we drove back along the North South Highway of St Kilda Road, she played a version by the Frogs (or was it the Trogs?).
- Toyah Wilcox: i want to be free.
Yeh i was in bad shape, and needed plenty of holding on.
And now i’m looking back across my life, thinking of all the songs that have brought me so much joy and hope:
- Blondie: I’m on E, I didn’t have the nerve to say no, X offender, Kidnapper, Man Overboard, Love at the Pier. Blondie’s version of New York Post-Punk was really a bunch of pure and lovely pop, and their first couple of albums are full of songs that don’t really mean much but totally spoke to me at the time.
- Come on Eileen wasn’t on the tape, but i can think of many dancefloors where it’s got us all up dancing. Including the other night when DJ Sean M Whelan ripped up the Willow Bar for the High Noon festival.
- Eurythmics came out with song after song that were inspired and genius. There Must Be An Angel, Miracle Of Love, Here Comes The Rain Again, Love Is A Stranger, Who’s That Girl, Right By Your Side, It’s Alright (baby’s Coming Back), Thorn In My Side, Sweet Dreams (about half of these belong in the melancholy section don’t they)
- Golf Course by the Ears, the time when the band came back for their reunion gig at the Corner hotel.
- True love, the marching girls
There are a few albums that it’s really hard to pick any track from, because they form such a powerful and coherent whole.
- Koyaanisqatsi (oh all right, the opening track)
- Soundtrack from the film Diva, especially La Wally and Promenade Sentimentale
- Joni Mitchell: For the Roses is an album that speaks directly to my heart and always has. Recently Lou and i sat and listened to the whole thing together, which was such a special experience – delightful to have someone listen along with me, when it’s usually a solitary affair.
- Cocteau Twins: Treasure
- Not Drowning, Waving: the Cold and the Crackle
- Evolutionary Vibes vol1
- b(if)tek: 2020 (maybe Wired for Sound is the stand-out because of its cultural reference to the original.)
- Blondie: Plastic Letters is their best in my heart, an early one.
- Urban Brazil compilation (Future World Funk Presents Urban Brazil)
Joni Mitchell, “I am a woman of heart and mind”, from the heart-speaking album “For the Roses”:
- Chemical brothers: Brothers gon work it out, Block Rockin Beats
- Mr Fingers: Can you feel it? (the Martin Luther King remix especially)
- Underworld: Born Slippy
- War Pigs (version by cabaret band, what are they called, with that woman who tattoed her eyebrows back on.. come on help me out here
- Dos Gardenias from that movie, Buena Vista Social Club
So many songs bring me joy. How can you choose just five.
- Madame Zuzu singing “Besame mucho” at Open Studio.
- Flying Scribble playing “Anyway” or Animation in my head.
- Martin Martini “take your skin off and dance”.
- Half a lamington by Spoonbill, first heard at bar 303.
- Paul Kelly “Leaps and Bounds”.
- Sweet transvestite from Rocky Horror, Touch-a touch-a touch-a Touch me.
- Nick Cave: Wild Roses (no wait, that’s melancholy. Actually it’s melodrama, scratch that one).
Shona Laing was on my original anti-depression mixed tape back in the late eighties. This is such a classic – and totally dated song: Glad i’m not a Kennedy.
..and another joyous track. This one was playing a lot at the turn of the century. Emma threw an amazing and glamorous dinner party, where Annie and Bruno were on French television as the Antipodean midnight reporters. Hilarious. And we kept playing this track, Sun is shining – the remix. And dancing. “Makes you wanna move your dancing feet.”