Oh dear, over a year since my last blog. What can I say, I’m busy, and don’t get out much (highlights were Eureka Machines at Brudenell and Devin Townsend at Rock City. I say highlights, that might actually be it). Well, ANYWAY, it’s my birthday today, so you’ll just have to indulge me. Birthdays are weird, right? An entire day about YOU, except that it isn’t really because life just carries on anyway, plus millions of other people share the same day of birth. Birthdays for me are the quintessential example of the way my brain works…I feel like shouting QUICK EVERYONE I’M GETTING OLDER, LET’S CELEBRATE.* I do love them though. Birthdays. Mostly because they remind me that I’m not dead yet. Surviving another shitty year on this bizarre planet of ours – that by any standards is an achievement to be celebrated through the consuming of copious of sugar and alcohol, and the listening to of favourite songs. What’s not to love about that? So this year I’ve decided to start a new thing, to celebrate the thing that we do or do not speak of, depending on which way the wind is blowing. The birthday playlist**. Music I love to share with the folk that tolerate the way my awkward brain operates, who I have the absolute privilege of calling my friends . I hope you all find something that you like on here, that reminds you of some fun times, or something new that fills your day with some joy.
*but adding a sub-paragraph to say: do it in a way which doesn’t actually acknowledge that you’re looking at me or indeed acknowledging that I’m doing this birthday thing
**The one rule of birthday playlist is that it can only contain one song by each band on it. It might not be the best song by that band, nor indeed my favourite song by that band. But it has been deemed, by me, the best song for today.
Track 1. Roll to me – Del Amitri.
I have an AMAZING cover version of this song done by Chris Catalyst, which I had done as part of his last pledge campaign, to thank some friends of mine for being awesome. Most of them know who they are. I don’t have any way of sharing it on here but if you want a copy then send me a message through whichever your preferred method of messaging me is. This song – in both versions – is a reminder that there will always be folk there for you when you need them.
Track 2 – Ih Ah by Devin Townsend
In the last few years I’ve seen DT twice, once acoustic in a church in Leeds, and electric in Rock City earlier this year. Both times this was easily my track of the night. It’s just gorgeous. Close your eyes and let it float over you.
Track 3 – Love Yourself – Eureka Machines
This band has an extraordinary talent for making me cry with ostensibly cheerful pop tunes. To be fair listening to “We’re going to the future” at a gig felt pretty sad the day after the Tories won a majority in 2015, mind… this one is one of those songs that I never set out to listen to, and then it falls on to the stereo like a slap in the ears to remind me that it’s not always a bad thing to occasionally give yourself a break. It’s important to have songs like that in your life, I think.
Track 4 – What Goes Around – Willie Dowling and Givvi Flynn (released as Jackdaw 4)
I know, right? I’ve got the whole Dowling back catalogue in my head and I pick a rare happy one. When I’m in a good mood, this song always gets more than one play if it comes on. I can’t not sing along, in terrible harmony. And it’s a reminder that it feels good to love and be loved, especially, for me, by all those friends who’ll take the piss out of you if you ever get too big for your boots. Birthdays remind me that I’ve got an entire contingent of friends who now refer to me as “Dr Clever Pants”, and who take every opportunity, particularly when posting me cards, to use it. Friends who basically dragged me kicking and screaming through the last years of my PhD. Beaten down by three years of hearing the name, I’ve given in to acknowledge its use now. Because who doesn’t want that much love in their lives?
Track 5 – Rocky Road from Dublin – GMT
Oh come on. It’s my birthday, and it’s time to party. I LOVE GMT. Three of my favourite musicians made this song. Now I think of it, I spent a lot of time getting sweaty dancing to this song at gigs. Always makes me smile. And thirsty. There are grand tales to be told about times with these chaps, but all for another time I think.
Track 6 – I wanna be sedated – Ramones
The Ramones are basically responsible for most of my wardrobe and, due to an excessive amount of learning to drum to their tunes, my permanently knackered wrists and shoulders. I have no idea what life would have been like without the existence of this band..definitely a darker place without them in it. Hey ho.
Track 7 – Goin Where the Action Is – AntiProduct
I met pretty much everyone I know because of this band. Boyfriends, girlfriends, friends, people I’m less than fond of, peoples whose floors I’ve slept on, people whose cupboards I’ve stayed in, people whose houses I ended up living in. The friends I have now who weren’t met as a direct result of this band I probably know because of friends I DID know from that time. And I wrote my Masters thesis about this band, so actually they’re probably responsible for all the work colleagues I count as friends too. I sort of fell out of love with the band towards the end of their existence for lots of complicated reasons…but you know, time has passed, water is under bridges, and today is a day for good sounds. I still remember the goose pimples I got the first time I heard this song. It’s still one of the finest introductions ever written. And, as I found when dancing round the kitchen when putting this playlist together, I’m still pretty much word perfect. Sorry about the formatting gap here, I can’t work out how to make it better and I’m drinking beer, so I don’t really care.
Track 8 – Overpriced – Cuddly Shark
I once went to Glasgow for a conference, and found myself feeling massively out of sorts with the world. (I know right? What are the chances? I’m usually so jolly) So on the last night I picked a random venue, and went to a gig, where I discovered the wonderful world of Cuddly Shark. The only sad thing about the whole affair was being on my own and having noone else to share the moment with. Except I also liked being on my own, and didn’t actually want the company of anyone else. (There’s that stupid brain again). Anyway, I bought all their albums, and the timing of this song was just perfect…I’d just been offered an interview for a job I wasn’t sure I was worthy of. Sometimes it takes a random song to tell you – you’re worth more than you think you are. There are, just occasionally, times when I think it is right.
Track 9 – Never Giving Up – HoneyCrack
The sad demise of one of the greatest bands of the planet resulted in the release of an amazing album of songs which frankly deserved better than an “unreleased demos” CD. There are gems galore on this album, but this is the one in my head for today, and all those other days when a chivvying is needed.
(PS – This is totally not cheating. HoneyCrack were a different band to JD4. And I didn’t even pick the video with the dog, despite the fact it makes me cry with laughter, particularly when I’ve been drinking…) *whistles innocently*
Track 10 – Try Everything – Shakira
I know, I know, I know. It’s Disney. It’s from a film called Zootropolis, which is actually as wonderful as this song is. I dance like noone is watching around the lounge with my boy to this song every time we hear it. One day I’ll find someone that wants to make a punk cover of it. It’s got a pretty good message which, in my mind, runs to “hey you know what? Try everything. Everyone fucks things up from time to time”. I don’t mind that being something that kids get told. Maybe without the swearing.
So there we go, I hope you find something you like in there. If you’ll excuse me I have to go drink some more beer, and dance around the lounge with my boy. Have an amazing evening