We bring you another installment of Life is Like a Box of Records and today is the turn of fellow blogger Neil Wilson of Scottish Fiction.
You can read his blog and find out more about his awesome radio show here: http://scottishfiction.blogspot.co.uk
Roberta Flack – ‘Killing Me Softly With His Song’
Oh God first song into this feature and already everyone’s pinned me as the geeky kid from About A Boy. So my life as a box of records has to start with my parents. Like it or not that’s where we draw our first musical identities from, whether it’s in agreement or in rebellion. My mum is what I would call an introspective music lover. Not overtly passionate, but she knows what she likes and takes the time to listen and enjoy. Along with The Mama’s & The Papa’s, ‘California Dreamin’, this is one of the songs my mum used to sing a lot when I was younger. I never appreciated it at the time, but as I’ve grown up I fully understand the influence my mum’s musical tastes have had in me, and it always makes me think of her. Oh by the way that geeky kid from About A Boy now dates Jennifer Lawrence. Word.
The Jam – ‘Down In The Tube Station At Midnight’
My dad was/still is a massive music fan. Punk and post-punk was his era (along with some dodgy prog-rock stuff he inexplicably likes) and The Jam are one of his favourites, ergo one of mine too. I’m not sure if he’d class this song as his favourite Jam record, but I can’t see past it. Weller’s lyrics are sheer poetry and a masterclass in story telling. Feeding in the train SFX’s, the feelings of inner city fear, and the mundane details of everyday life, it’s sublime. Storytelling is a real winner for me when it comes to music.
2Pac – ‘Brenda’s Got A Baby’
In retrospect when I think back to being 10 and 11 (1996/1997) and that time of stumbling upon hip-hop, it was the single biggest change in music that I have, and probably ever will, experienced. I mean going from chart pop that you saw on the TV, rock and punk from my Dad, and folk from my Mum, to music from Public Enemy, Notorious BIG, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, Dr Dre and 2Pac? Well that’s mindblowing. As much as it might betray my background and the comfort and ease of my childhood, hip-hop made me realise that not everything in this world is fair, or right, or equal. Since I got into 2Pac, hip-hop has been a massive part of my music listening. It was the first kind of music that was mine, that I discovered on my own, and that I could play in my bedroom and have my mum and dad tell me to turn off. There’s all sorts of analysis one could spin. As for this track, it’s one of 2Pac’s earliest and best, and hip-hop with a message has always enthralled me.
Oasis – ‘Wonderwall’
It’s easy, and often fashionable, 20 years on to be dismissive of Oasis. They were never that creative, they heavily borrowed without disguising it from numerous sources, they had an terrible attitude which often overshadowed their music, and they were nowhere near the best band that this period in time had to offer. However despite the doubters and despite the snobbery that sometimes gets thrown at them, they made some bloody good songs. The song I’ve chosen isn’t actually my favourite Oasis song musically, but it’s my favourite for explaining why I love Oasis, and why I’m not ashamed of that. I was 9 when the song was released, but like many songs from childhood do, it travelled with me and my group of friends through into our teenage years, and have spent many a night in the company of my good friends singing along to ‘Wonderwall’. Campfires, weddings, house parties, bus journeys, anywhere and everywhere, normally accompanied by copious amounts of alcohol. The memories that ‘Wonderwall’ invoke in me are of good times. Times with my friends, singing together, enjoying what ever night we happened to be on. Music is made to be communal, for sharing moments and memories. Despite all our different tastes, opinions, and journies in life, this track more than any will always remind me of that group of people I am lucky enough to call friends.
Idlewild – ‘In Remote Part/Scottish Ficton’
I’m really envious of those people who can remember with precise detail the first album they bought. I spent many a year ‘acquiring’ albums from my dad; Floyd, The Who, Bowie, but I can’t remember the first album I actually bought. It was probably something properly guff like Robbie Williams or J Lo, but then I always suspect that people who claim ‘Unknown Pleasures’ or something seminally cool are lying anyway. I do however recall, almost to the minute detail, buying Idlewild ‘The Remote Part’ in Our Price in the Paisley Centre, after seeing the video for ‘You Held The World In Your Arms’. The album is great, and arguably Idlewild, whilst successful, should have been bigger than they were. But the track which I really love is this one. (Who wudda guessed eh!) The reason is that it introduced me to the poetry of Edwin Morgan. But more than that it cemented this feeling of Scottish culture, identity, and creativity which still burns today.
Muse – ‘Hysteria’
Perhaps strangely for a Scottish music lover, my first music festival wasn’t T in the Park, but Glastonbury in 2004. I was 18, and so very very under prepared for what was about to happen. ‘Absolution’ by Muse had came out in 2003, and just blew my mind. It’s still one of my favourite albums of all time, and I consider Muse’s Glastonbury headlining set of 2004 the peak of this band’s existence. They opened with ‘Hysteria’ and my mate Marc and I were a bawhair away from the front barrier, crushed, sweating, drenched in rain and mud, and fucking love every minute of it. I don’t condone what Muse have become but when you need to rock out with your cock out, ‘Hysteria’ fits the bill perfectly.
We Are Scientists – ‘The Great Escape’
Just a really fun, post-punk/indie track that soundtracked a load of my nights out in my university years (2004-2008). It’s a track that makes me want to dance. I’m a terrible dancer by the way, but give me some shots and indie music and I’m gone. We Are Scientists were one of my favourite bands from the whole ‘post-punk revival’ period, and I must have seen them live about 6 times between 2004-2006. They always seemed like they were really enjoying themselves, and their music was playful and infectious. Plus I love shouting “well fuck that!” when singing along.
Guillemots – ‘Made Up Love Song #43’
From the moment those first two notes hit my eardrum, there’s an image. An image so clear and crystalline it has become forever intertwined with this song. That image is the face of my wife Heather. I’m not quite sure how the association began, but through mutual love of this song we chose it as our first dance at our wedding. But more than it being our first dance, it has snuck it’s way into the classic title of ‘our song’. You know that feeling when you’re in love, that makes everything seem like it’s from a cheesy 1950’s cartoon? That’s what this song captures for me. The lyric, “I love you through sparks and shining dragons I do”, to me is about the beauty of not being able to find the words to describe the how you feel about someone. My favourite lyric however is in the second chorus, “You got me off the sofa, just sprang out of the air // The best things come from nowhere, I can’t believe you care”. This to me sums up how our relationship began, and the sheer disbelief I still harbour that such a wonderful person would want to spend their life with me.
Best Coast – ‘Crazy For You’
I imagine that musicians might often reminisce about the first song they learned to play, or the first song they played onstage. For me, there’s the same kid of affectionate bond with the first track I played on the radio. This was that track, the very first song I played on Pulse Community Radio back in February 2011. I hadn’t yet decided that radio was the path I wanted to follow at this point but I was still nervous; recording and re-recording my opening intro over and over. In the end it was pretty unspectacular, “I’m Neil Wilson and this is Best Coast”, but over three years later, with on average at least one show a week, it all started with that track.
Lovers Turn To Monsters – ‘Skeletor’
I left my last song to try and represent the future. Because as much as life is a box of records, it’s also important to have space in that box for new stuff. And that is what Scottish Fiction is about really. About new music, and the unsigned and unchampioned. So I wanted to choose a song that, maybe isn’t a concrete staple of my musical journey just yet, but if I were asked to do this in 10/20 years time, would be. And that, my friends, was harder than picking the previous 9 tracks. As you’ll know, because you’re reading Podcart who champion new music better than anyone, there’s a plethora of talented people and great music out there right now. But I’ve plumped for this track, a lo-fi, DIY, in the grand scheme of things not that big a single, from a young gentleman called Kyle Wood. Lovers Turn To Monsters will never be headlining massive festivals, or releasing number one albums, or selling out arenas across the world (sorry Kyle!), but the honesty, craftsmanship and integrity with which he makes music is what will, in 10/20 years time from now, make me have been glad to have been a part of. ‘Skeletor’ is as good a love song as you’ll find, and speaks volumes to this failed romantic.