I’ve always loved all kinds of music and, since the days of listening to Desert Island Discs on Radio 4 when growing up (that programme, together with the shipping forecast, transports me right back to childhood), I’ve pondered what would go on my list.
Invariably I’ve dismissed it as too difficult a task. What on earth would you leave out? Which, of course, is the whole point.
When I was little I used to write out the Top 40 singles chart in an exercise book when it was played on Radio 1 each Sunday evening. Wonder where those old books are now? This must have been about 1980 ish because I remember Rainbow’s I Surrender being number 3 and really wishing it would get to number 1. But John Lennon put paid to that.
We used to sit and watch Sunday evening TV eating egg and cress sandwiches for tea. I listened to the Top 40 on the headphones while everyone else watched the Antiques Roadshow or The Professionals.
What was the first song you ever bought?
This was Abba’s One of Us which I bought in Boots in Warrington with a gift voucher that I must have got for Christmas. But I really wanted to buy Adam and the Ants’ Antrap which had just been released. Says a lot about my middle-child, 11 year old self that I plumped for the safe option.
What song always gets you dancing?
A very hard question, as it invariably depends on my mood, who I’m with and how many glasses of wine I’ve had. However, a safe bet would be Stevie Wonder’s Masterblaster which I remember hearing for the first time after swimming at Stockton Heath pool while waiting to be picked up. Either that or Superstition.
What song always takes you back to your childhood?
I remember being dropped off to school while Video Killed the Radio Star by Buggles was playing and my dad saying they were right.
I also clearly remember going to WH Smiths in Warrington with my very excited Mum to buy Led Zeppelin’s In Through The Out Door on its release date in summer of 1979. It came in a special brown paper envelope.
But the most memorable song is In The Evening, again by Led Zeppelin. This was the first song played at the Knebworth gig that we all went to as a family, en route to camping in Cornwall. We kids stayed outside in the tent as Mum and Dad went into the arena and, whenever I hear the eery, wailing first few bars of the song, I’m transported back to that time, expecting to hear the massive roar of the crowd when they realised it was show time.
What is your perfect love song?
What song would you want played at your funeral?
One last song that makes you, you.
This is the hardest one of all. Being a Gemini, can I have two? Ok, then I would probably plump for Over the Hills and Far Away, my all time favourite Led Zeppelin song.
And here are my songs for Janet Davis’ additional 8 questions:
What song do you remember best from college/university?
To get everyone on the dance floor the DJ used to play a trilogy of Primal Scream’s Loaded, Stone Roses’ I am the Resurrection and Rolling Stones’ Sympathy for the Devil. We used to go to Spiders in Hull and I even remember some of the nights we had there.
What song brings back memories of homework?
I should have been doing my homework but I remember listening to Duran Duran’s The Reflex (and thinking it was rubbish) when I was taking in a pair of new jeans that just weren’t tight enough. I must have been about 14.
What song best evokes your experience of a study or work trip?
In the 4th year at secondary school our whole year, it seems, had a thing for the soft rock album, American Heartbeat, long since unavailable. It used to get played to death and sung loudly on the back of the bus going home each day. I still know all the words to each song. Wang Chung, anyone?
Later on we went on a college trip to London one time and ended up at the Astoria to see Sisters of Mercy, I remember them playing This Corrosion, fantastic. And then the same gang used to go to the Sugarhouse in Lancaster where we saw The Men They Couldn’t Hang – that was a mad gig.
Which song is most likely to bring a tear to your eye (or to make you weep copiously)?
What is the best song to kickstart your most creative thinking?
I don’t use music to get creative. Fresh air and a brisk walk along the beach, listening to an old disco song to get the strides going would do it, mind you. A bit of Edwin Starr, Sly or early Jackson Five.
Which song helps you work when you really need to concentrate?
Anything Led Zeppelin. Every lyric, chord and note of all the songs they ever officially recorded are so familiar to me that, if turned to the right volume, I can just zone out whilst feeling secure and in a good place. But then there are times when that familiarity is also a bit annoying too.
When you’re angry, on which song do you want to turn up the volume?
Some hairy arsed rock like Motorhead or Deep Purple.
Which song sums up the person you would like to be?
I’m happy as I am but often wished I could sing, really belt it out, like Dusty Springfield on Son of a Preacher Man or the Dixie Chicks on Sin Wagon. It’s such a gift to be able to captivate a room by opening your mouth, taking a deep breath and singing to the rafters.
- Abba – One of Us
- Toots and the Maytals – Pressure Drop
- Buggles – Video Killed the Radio Star
- Elvis – Wonder of You
- Fleetwood Mac – Albatross
- Led Zeppelin – Over the Hills and Far Away
- Stone Roses – I am the Resurrection
- REO Speedwagon – Keep on Loving You
- Duran Duran – The Reflex
- Fleetwood Mac – Man of the World
- Edwin Starr – 25 miles
- Led Zeppelin – Achilles Last Stand
- Deep Purple – Ted the Mechanic
- Dusty Springfield – Son of a Preacher Man