Funny how a few days off makes you lose all momentum. So I'm perversely grateful for Mr Impostume’s invitation to tell the world (well, you know…) my favourite seven songs of the moment. A bit off piste for me so I’ll try not to get too NME circa 1988 about it and go on about crystalline guitars and stalactites of sound. I won't tag anyone because I have used up my tagging goodwill the last time. So...
Concerning the UFO sighting near Highland, Illinois – Sufjan Stevens.
Stevens can be a bit too close to Paul Simon for my comfort but this is altogether stranger and more alien, more like something from the darker side of the 1970’s, the accompaniment to a Richard Prince painting of mid-western farmers staring up at strange lights in the sky, or the existential angst of Richard Dreyfus in Close Encounters. It manages to sound both awe struck and painfully slight, like it might be blown away at any moment and it stops long before you expect it to, which is always good. I believe it’s probably about God but that’s ok with me.
Ghosts – Japan.
From a time when pop was obsessed with exotic otherness and gloriously unafraid to be pretentious this is a masterpiece of grandly arch songwriting. It’s also oddly heartbreaking, David Silvian’s voice cracking with a mixture of emotion and affectation. A perfect balancing act caught between debonair croon and genuine despair. Good xylophone too.
Landslide - Fleetwood Mac.
I have something of a soft spot for Fleetwood Mac especially Stevie Nicks era Fleetwood Mac (well only Stevie Nicks era Fleetwood Mac to be fair) and this is beautiful, a barefoot gypsy skirted lament for lost innocence and a dawning sense of her own mortality sung when she must have been about 24, which only makes it sadder.
Push The Button - Sugababes/Orson.
Slightly sacrilegious I know, but I'm plumping for Orson's cover version for sentimental reasons although its not strictly as blindin' as The Sugababes' stroppily libidinous original. Incidentally, in a rare brush with glamour for me I once sat at the same table for dinner as Heidi from the Sugababes. She was very short.
Don’t Talk to Strangers - Ariel Pink.
Sounds like the whole of the 1980’s being played out the window of a car passing you on the freeway while the tape recorder melts in the sunshine onto the seats like an ice cream. I can’t get enough of that sort of thing. It was the same with The Avalanches’ Everyday, which sounds like being trapped in the broom cupboard of a villa in the South of France whilst outside an incredibly glamorous party is taking place.
Millionaire - Queens of the Stone Age.
Has the best pause in any rock song ever, like the the moment of calm as someone catches their breath before throwing you headfirst out of a window. Brings an utterly propulsive thrill every time it happens.
Automatically Sunshine - Diana Ross.
Absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt, the best song to accompany one's wife walking up the aisle.