Few songs are truly epic. On a day like this by Elbow isn’t epic, but Davyan Cowboy is. BoC write music for the films that were never made – most of their songs have an air of foreboding, like the soundtrack to a Hopper painting, but Dayvan Cowboy is one of the few that are uplifting. I like to think that it was the music going through Felix Baumgartner’s head when he made his jump from space.
2. Waterloo Sunset – The Kinks
Reminds me of my parents, who met in London in the late 1960s. I hope that they met at Waterloo station on at least one occasion and I hope they walked across Waterloo bridge together, arm in arm, listening to the Kinks.
3. 3 Hours – Nick Drake
His only song with a personal friend named in the lyrics (Jeremy, who I think was a friend from Marlborough). Voice and guitar have been done to death but Nick Drake makes voice and guitar sound like this is how it should be done. You feel like you’ve already heard the songs, you feel like you know where they are going and you get a strong sense of the kind of person he was – quiet, introverted and sad. A man not for this world.
4. Clash – Caravan Palace
If you could be a member of any band in the world, wouldn’t it be this one? The nearest thing any of us will get to the soundtrack of the hedonistic 20s. I like the fact that Baz Luhrmann went for the obvious choice of Jay-Z for his overblown Gatsby re-make. Caravan Palace have a bit too much class for that.
5. The Age of the Understatement – The Last Shadow Puppets
Arctic Monkeys meets David Bowie, and what’s not to like about that? It’s the music I think Alex Turner would produce more of were he a solo artist, it’s got a touch of the epic about it, a very silly cold war video and one the best titles. We live in an age of perpetual over-statement, at least where social media is concerned, and I think I wish that the title were an adequate description of Britain today.
6. Requium – Mozart
Ok, it’s a bit like choosing ‘Catcher in the Rye’ as your favourite book, and it looks like it’s making a rather obvious nod to all things classical, but try watching Amadeus as a ten-year old and not being taken with the Confutatis Maledictis. It’s even better than Falco.
7. King of Carrot Flowers – Neutral Milk Hotel
Reminds me of my favourite person – musically spare, mostly lyrical nonsense but these two things some together to make something that is beautiful, and seems profound, even though it’s probably not.
8. Entertainment – Phoenix
A band that makes you feel like you know them. They don’t try too hard to make perfect pop music and their ‘Take Away’ set of videos for La Blogoteque is the best thing you’ll see on youtube.
9. Sugar Kane – Sonic Youth
A song that you notice more things about the more you listen, musical arrangement-wise. It’s about Marilyn Monroe’s character in Some Like it Hot and I think she’d have liked the overall feel.
10. A day in the Life – The Beatles
Ahead of its time. Lennon’s finest hour. Meaningless and sad.