I love Spotify’s ‘Your Top Songs In 2017’ feature, which allows you to see what you’ve been listening to all year. Here’s mine.
A year ago, when David Bowie died, I sent the following email to my BFF, who somehow had managed to not be exposed to the wonder that was His Magnificent Starmanity before then.
It’s very much an intro to my own relationship with Bowie’s works, rather than a definitive guide, but I thought I’d republish it here on the anniversary of his death, in case you too are looking for somewhere to start with his extensive catalogue.
Spotify has the ability to create a playlist of stuff you’ve listened to the most over the past year. It’s interesting to look at what I’ve been listening to (and always amusing to see Cecilia Bartoli next to Necro…)
This is one of those posts I might not actually post. I’m paranoid that it’ll sound weird, or self-serving, or something. But I’m going to write it anyway, because writing is good.
It’s about singing.
These days I tend not to listen to many albums, at least not one track after another on repeat, the way I used to when I had cassette tapes and then CDs.
Now that Spotify is in my life, most of my music is organised into playlists with titles like “Fuck Yeah”, “Mother-Friendly Playlist”, “Leave Me Alone”, “Work Fucking Harder”, and so on.
But from time to time there’s still an album that captures me enough to make me want to listen to it all the way through, and then listen again, and then buy the CD to make sure I definitely have it forever.
Here are some of my favourite albums throughout my life.
A while ago, Vivatramp did a “time and place music tag” post, in which bloggers write about various songs or pieces of music that bring them back to a particular time and place in their lives.
It sounded fun, so I thought I’d give it a go.
A choir gathers to perform in a church as part of a local festival. I am a soprano, standing in the back of the choir, never having sung this song before. As our voices swell over the final chorus, the sun bursts through the stained glass window opposite us, in one of those moments that belong in storybooks but occasionally cross over into life.
Arriving home on Saturday night the week Bowie died, having just had two other pieces of cancer-related news about people much closer to me. Lying face-down on the bed with Blackstar turned up loud in the headphones, thinking over and over again, “Fuck cancer”.
Sitting in a cold draughty old house in Devon with my husband, singing together for the first time. Him playing guitar while I perched on the side of an armchair, neither of us wanting to stop and both of us dragging the song out as much as possible.
Many long nights in the clubhouse above the old office, karaokeing our lungs out to YouTube videos while downing whatever was around. Screaming this one at the top of my voice with Aroon, then collapsing onto the beanbags afterwards to toast the advancing weekend.
Standing in the Bush Hall at the first gig I ever went to, with Hippy Poppins. People everywhere, unusually not caring even though we were standing right down the front and being a bit jostled.
Looooooooong days and nights investigating. Trawling through the dark web, a pizza box open to my right and a pile of Red Bull cans littering the desk, big headphones covering my ears, bass turned up in a parody of Lisbeth Salander.
Seventeen years old, dressed in white lycra, contorting myself into odd positions and falling in slo-mo down a wooden staircase as part of a physical theatre production. The lights baking my make-up onto my face, the tiny space between stage blocks I had to squeeze myself into just before the final act beckoning me like the fun challenge it was.
Having just moved to England, standing in a bedroom that had no furniture, surrounded by peeled-off wallpaper and cans of paint, wanting to make something my own.
The pure exhaustion of living in a period of life when every word in this song was relevant. The grass looking unnaturally green, the daisies littering it looking somehow otherworldly, the concrete looking soft enough to sleep on, the temptation to do so barely resisted.
On my birthday last year, unexpectedly finding myself back in the Scottish town where I spent much of my childhood, sitting in a bar with two guys I’d just befriended in the way you only can when you’ve downed several whiskies each. A musician covering this song perfectly, the three of us linking arms over shoulders and singing along, then standing up to dance the rest of the night away.
The opening notes of this song blasting at 100% volume from my CD alarm clock in the morning before school, nearly falling to the floor as I hurled myself over the side of my cabin bed and down the ladder to try to turn it off before disturbing everyone else in the block.
Those are some of mine. Now tell me yours.
I love a good motivational playlist, don’t you? Especially when it’s Monday morning in the fourth week of January, and you’re trying to summon the commitment to keep up with your gym-related resolutions.
I have a whole playlist of songs I find motivational, but my favourite one of all is probably One More by Superchick.