Some time ago I was sitting on a bus with a token playlist of songs that had influenced my life in some way or another. Being somewhat refreshed, I started thinking of all the times that these songs had become significant and thought, wouldn’t it be an excellent idea to delve into other people’s ‘Life Record Boxes’. Luckily people have been wonderful and we have an incredible series continuing.
Today is the turn of Craig B of The Unwinding Hours and formerly Aereogramme. You can find out more about their music here: http://theunwindinghours.tumblr.com
Michael Jackson- ‘Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’’
In 1982 my dad came home with the gatefold vinyl of Thriller under his arm and we sat down and listened to the whole thing from start to finish. I think it was the start of my very long love affair with pop music. I still can’t deny a decent pop tune because the best ones are incredibly well written, usually backed by phenomenal production and don’t dick around with the melody which is exactly what is needed sometimes.
Metallica – ‘Dyres Eve’
I was a teenage metal head with a ginger mullet. Sorry if that image suddenly popped into your head, but I genuinely loved my metal. This was the song that caught my attention the most though because it sounded so unusually personal for a metal band. Most metal songs around this time revolved around the usual clichés of Satan, anti religion, the apocalypse and other similar topics but here was a song where the singer James Hetfield ripped into his parents for his upbringing and then admitted that he still needed them. It was unique at the time and became their last great moment before disappearing up their own arses and releasing some of the worst, turd metal you could possibly ever hear.
Fugazi – ‘Blueprint’
Around the early 90’s I was incredibly bored with what I was listening to so a friend suggested I listen to Fugazi. I had no idea what to make of it. It didn’t really compute until I heard this song. It’s hard to explain how much of an impact it had. I was confused and excited because I didn’t realise music could be made like this. They were breaking so many rules and it felt incredible. Where was the verse and chorus? Why did the song take so long to start? How did they manage to make it so intense without it being heavy? My musical horizon was completely blown open by this one song.
American Music Club – ‘I’ve Been A Mess’
I ended up at Glasgow Uni in 1993 studying Divinity. My teenage years were heavily influenced by fundamentalist Christianity but by the time I got to uni it was all starting to unravel. This song utterly floored me when I first heard it. Mark Eitzel is one of my favourite songwriters and in this song he interprets the New Testament story of Lazarus being raised from the dead in a way I had never thought of before while using it as a metaphor for his lost love. It was heart breaking and enlightening all at the same time and defines a very distinct moment in my 20’s. It’s also a master class in song writing in my eyes.
Will Haven –‘ I’ve Seen My Fate’
I’ve had some pretty awful jobs in my time. HMV in Argyle Street was a particular ball ache which was only made bearable by the fantastic group of misfits that worked there at the time. After the daily grind of serving the public who were increasingly becoming more and more entitled and unpleasant while the constant playlist of MPeople, Texas and the god damn Lighthouse Family shat in my ears, Will Haven entered the scene and they were a huge welcome breath of fresh air. It was just four, average looking, hard-working guys making the most honest, angriest music I had heard in a long while and it was the perfect antidote to the onslaught of beige, aural wallpaper disguised as music hitting the charts around then.
Queen– ‘Somebody To Love’
Personally, 2007 was a particularly bad year. Many things came to end, fell apart or just reared up to bite me on the arse. There was a particular point though when I realised that a large part of my music collection wasn’t going to help. It became quite clear that if I had to choose one more record before I snuffed it, I wasn’t going to reach for that difficult third track off that rare Tortoise remix 12 inch. I was going to go for a balls out, celebratory classic and there is, sometimes, nothing more life affirming than a group of drunk friends screaming this song out at the top of their lungs.
Ane Brun – ‘Undertow’
After all these years of listening to music, I have turned into (more of) a jaded grumpy miserabalist. It takes something quite unique or special to grab my attention. While walking around Fopp on Byres Road, Ane Brun started playing on the stereo and she just has the most remarkable voice that grabbed my attention straight away. I had bought the album by the second track. I admire her songwriting so much as well but what was particularly important was that she reminded me that I still love new music and there is always something out there that can light that spark that continues to make music such an enduring part of my life.
Otis Reading – ‘I’ve Got Dreams’
John Peel was a huge influence on the way my musical taste developed. The fact that Peel’s show introduced me to Otis Reading highlights just how eclectic his playlist could be but also reminds me of how exciting it was to have an independent voice that might introduce you to something genuinely life changing each week. This is the song I taped on my wee crappy stereo one night, years ago. It still sends shivers down my spine when I hear Otis sing.
Abba – ‘Ring Ring’
If we were in the pub having a chat about music and half way through that conversation you said that there wasn’t a single Abba song that you liked, I would be instantly suspicious of your musical taste since it would seem so fundamentally flawed. Don’t get me wrong, I once thought of Abba as a joke. I wouldn’t go near them. That was the music my dad listened to or chubby, sweaty uncles made arses of themselves on the dance floor at boring weddings. But I remember when it dawned on me that the quality of a song has got nothing to do with being “cool” and Abba flipped that switch in my head. I started to fully appreciate the incredible musicianship. I realise it’s purely subjective but for me a song can simply come down to being either great or rubbish and once that became the simple criteria, “Ring Ring” and the vast majority of Abba songs fell into the “great” category.
Low – ‘When I Go Deaf’
The lyrics and vocals feel like they are drenched in resignation yet the band kicks off and the explosion of guitars seem to suggest the complete opposite. It’s something I relate to quite often these days and I’m sure many other people do as well. It manages to articulate a feeling that is incredible hard to explain and that is why it’s one of the greatest songs I’ve heard in recent years.