I borrowed the idea from a friend to compile an annual mix CD this year. But in slight departure from the convention set by my friend, my “2009” mix fails to really include songs that are actually from 2009. And in a further, more enthusiastic, departure from her idea, I have gone ahead and given a long list of reasons for this (see ‘album notes’).
This CD actually exists in the world outside cyber space as a real, tangible object you can hold in your hands, so suspend disbelief, close your eyes, and try with all your mite to just picture what it could look like as you click on the link and enjoy the miracle of sound…
My 2009 in Song!
- Here comes the sun – The Beatles
- Next Lifetime – Erykah Badu
- Looking for the heart of Saturday – Tom Waits
- Lovely Day – Bill Withers
- If you don’t think – Tammy Mongomery
- Another Day – Jamie Lidell
- Heavy Cross – The Gossip
- Rumours – Capital Letters
- The sun goes down (Extended version) – Level 42
- Helicopter – M.Ward
- One of these days – Eilen Jewell
- Three is the magic number – Bob Dorough
‘My 2009 in song’ album notes – Yes, that’s right, album notes! On a personal, homemade, mix cd. Now you know how much I care…
1. This was one of the first songs I listened to on my newfound Ipod (a surreptitious gift from the universe, keenly spotted by The Yang one day in the park) and it made me gleefully happy. The sweet voice and feeling of the song create the exact same mood as the sun beginning to peek out after a grey rainy morning, or a long cold winter.
It is unsurprisingly then, to learn that this is exactly what inspired the song. It was written by George Harrison in response to English winters that feel never ending. Funnily enough, John Lennon is nowhere to be heard on this number.
2. Having owned this song for years, it wasn’t until one nondescript day in 2009 that I paid the lyrics any mind. They tell a slightly poignant story, beautifully. Making the childlike notion of ‘next lifetime’ sound so simplistic that it is altogether alluring.
The film clip, which whimsically depicts this notion of reincarnating lives and souls, was actually directed by Erykah Badu, the ‘first lady of Neo-Soul’.
3. On a cold winter’s night, huddled by the heater, warmed by red wine and conversation with The Yang, Tom Waits sang this one to me at his sing-song best, noticeable for its slight departure from his signature gravelly growl, hauntingly beautiful in its melody and melancholy.
Music critic Daniel Durchholz once described this trademark growl as sounding “like it was soaked in a vat of bourbon, left hanging in the smokehouse for a few months, and then taken outside and run over with a car.”
4. Another song that after being unassuming for years, decided to put its hand up and say ‘look at me, look at me’. And so I did, and it was beautiful and uplifting.
Earth, Wind and Fire producer, Skip Scarborough, wrote the music for this song. Bill Withers was so taken by Skip that he became the inspiration for the lyrics – “Skip was a very nice, gentle man. The way Skip was, every day was just a lovely day. If I had sat down with the same music and my collaborator had been somebody else with a different personality, it probably would have caused something else to cross my mind lyrically”.
5. I doubted over the inclusion of this one, but something about the rocky, punchy rhythm, and the attitude of expression – the backhanded way she tries to tell someone she loves them, just reminded me of how I communicate to The Yang.
This song was actually written by James Brown for Tammy Montgomery, who is better known for her duets such as ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’ with Marvin Gaye. In 1967 she collapsed on stage, falling into the arms of her rumoured lover, Marvin. She died shortly after from a brain tumor at the age of 24.
6. I consider this an all time favourite ‘happy song’. Perfectly composed with bumping brass and horns and gospel backing chorus to put a bounce in your feet and a smile on your face. It’s impossible to listen to it and not feel good.
Now that Jamie Lidell is a soul-pop sensation (he has had great commercial success with last two albums, and Elton John is said to be a fan) much is made of his glitchy, experimental, electronic underground past. But, Lidell says, “I made Muddlin Gear (his first album) for a friend and it was tailored to his tastes. The fact that it now represents me is funny, really, because at the same time I had a soul band called Balzac, very similar to my band now”.
7. I heard this song in a shopping centre and it just stuck in my head. I had no idea of the name of the song, or who was even singing it, but one night I got on the internet and did some searching around the one line and riff that had lodged in my brain, and I found it! I was so proud of myself for tracking it down, and I felt weirdly connected to the wider world because now I was into Top 40 music.
This album is produced by omnipresent, superstar producer Rick Rubin and is the long awaited follow up to Standing In The Way of Control, the title track of which made headlines when Ditto said it was written in response George Bush’s stance on same sex marriage – “I wrote the chorus to try and encourage people not to give up. It’s a scary time for civil rights, but I really believe the only way to survive is to stick together and keep fighting.”
8. This song literally does.not.stop. coming up on random on my Ipod. Insistent on talking to me, telling me its heartbreaking story, all the while sounding so sweet while it does it.
It’s by Capital Letters, who, back in 1979, were the first homegrown group to be released on the now legendary Greensleeves label, but sadly, and strangely, they fell off the rader after delivering this extremely successful album, which is called “Headline News”.
9. One day while listening to The Yang’s radio show, I learnt that this was one of his fav songs of the day. He said he kept finding himself playing it at sunset at his gigs down on the harbour, and that today, he would give us a treat and play the extended version. I fell in love with the song, and with The Yang all over again for loving this kooky disco tune with some geeky guy doing far out funky.
This would prove to be the first UK Top Ten hit for Level 42, who had a long, up-and-down career through the 80s and 90s. They gained a lot of their fame from Mark King’s (founding member, bass player and singer) “percussive slap-bass” guitar technique, that was the driving groove behind many of the band’s hits. King actually picked this style up from watching American funk players that came into the London music store in which he worked.
10. A stand out track on Transfiguration of Vincent, this has a really great foot-stomping tempo that makes it one of the only upbeat songs on the album.
The album itself was received with pretty muted reviews, with many believing his best work lays in his other releases. One blogger, although conceding that ‘Helicopter’ is a stand out track, went on to say that it was a straightforward song with a “melody line lifted straight out of Paul Simon’s Graceland”.
11. Eilen Jewel had to make an appearance here, for it was in 2009 in which revealed herself to me. She has a wonderfully rich sound, a unique ‘ye-olde’ treasure to find in these modern manic times.
This is from her third album that includes what was previously excluded on her other albums – the influence of the likes of Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, the Animals and the Kinks. These influences are lovingly blended into her roots, blues, country, folk sound.
12. “A man and a woman had a little baby / Yes, they did / They had three in the family, / That’s a magic number.” If this doesn’t perfectly, and beautifully, capture my life in 2009, I don’t know what does.
The creator of this tune is somewhat of a bebop, jazz legend, and was one of the few vocalists to record with Miles Davis. This track is the result of Bob and his pals whipping up a little counting and multiplication magic (as part of a now famed educational animation series from the 70s) and was actually sampled by De La Soul for their own ‘The Magic Number’ track.