30-day Song Challenge – Part 1

I know what you’re thinking: ‘You’re a parent Three Time Daddy! What’s a 30-day song challenge got to do with being a parent?! You’re a big fat fraud!’

Well, you’re kinda right. Kinda. Hear me out. Somewhere in the depths of this website I’ve said how much I love music, and how I want my kids to love it too, whether that means listening to it, playing an instrument or simply just humming along. Ok, from experience the kids humming songs can get very annoying very quickly, but it’s the sentiment that counts right?

Where am I going with this? Well, I’ve started to keep a record of how the music taste of NJ our eldest son’s have begun to develop, to my occasional despair, but I thought I’d turn the tables and write about my own taste in music. Therefore if my kids are ever interested they can see the sort of stuff their dad was into (and probably be horrified).

I’ve noticed a 30-day song challenge doing the rounds and thought I’d join in:

So, here we go…

Day 1: A song you like with a colour in the title

Well, my pick for day one has four – ‘The Red The White The Black The Blue’.

It was the first song I ever heard by indie-band Hope of The States, way back in 2004. Their ‘The Lost Riots’ album was released shortly after founding band member and guitarist Jimmi Lawrence committed suicide and his work touches every single song. Although none of them are actually specifically about him (‘Don’t Go To Pieces’ and ‘Sadness On My Back’ are two tracks that seem like they would be), they are all tinged with an undercurrent of sadness following his loss. The whole album was one of my favourites for a number of years back in the noughties and this is the most abrasive – a perfect opener for this challenge.

Day 2: A song you like with a number in the title

There are lots of songs with numbers in the title, right? This one jumped out at me straight away. When people think of Damien Rice they may think of ‘The Blower’s Daughter’ or ‘Cannonball’, but I love this one off his second album.

For me, it is about a relationship that has become stagnant, with neither fully committing and it potentially leading to an affair… well, that’s what I thought. It is a beautiful song (featuring Lisa Hannigan) even if I’ve made it sound depressing…

‘9 Crimes’ by Damien Rice.

Day 3: A song that reminds you of summertime

I found this one the hardest so far – most of my music taste isn’t particularly ‘summer friendly’ but I chose a song that I could picture myself listening to while walking down a sunny street with a smile on my face (you know, without kids obviously).

So for today, I chose ‘Everything Goes My Way’ by Metronomy.

Just ignore for a moment that the lyrics hint at an untold story about a dominating woman getting her own way (and being quite smug and vocal about getting her own way) while the bloke sulks about her getting her own way.

But maybe it’s just me imagining it and it’s actually a really happy song.

Day 4: A song that reminds you of someone you’d rather forget

Well, where to start with this one. I didn’t go for the obvious ex or former friend as the someone I’d rather forget. Instead I picked me, yes me, from circa 1995. I don’t particularly like who I was back then as an awkward teenager and I try my hardest not to think about him.

He was a big fan of The Wildhearts though, so would no doubt approve of this song choice. When I hear ‘Two Way Idiot Mirror’, particularly the chorus, it makes me think of those days:

I found a photograph of someone I knew
Someone like you, someone like me
I found a photograph of someone I knew, someone like you used to be

Also, it was a b-side on their Suckerpunch single, so extra points for it being a not-so-obvious-non-album track.

P.s. the song has a bit of swearing in it too, so putting it on a list for my kids  is probably not a good idea. But enjoy it anyway.

Day 5: A song that needs to be played loud

I’m going to keep this one short.

‘The Rat’ by The Walkmen.

Day 6: A song that makes you want to dance

First things first – I DON’T DO DANCING. Correction. I don’t do GOOD dancing.

Unless I am extremely drunk, nothing, and I mean NOTHING (except maybe The Wiggles) will get me to dance.

Now that is out of the way, I’ve chosen a song that reminds me of my Uni days, when dancing would have been much more likely than today, but still equally as despised.

‘Last Nite’ by The Strokes.

Day 7: A song to drive to

I never understand ‘driving’ music. Typically they seem to be rock ballads or ‘dad music’ – I’m thinking Roy Orbison, Meat Loaf or Deep Purple. I don’t like any of them, and I don’t particularly like driving, but I like this song and I’m sure most people do too.

I hadn’t actually seen this video before doing this either, so yeah, I’ve not completely wasted my time.

‘Mr Brightside’ by The Killers.

Day 8: A song about drugs or alcohol

This has been the hardest song to pick from the first eight days.

I hadn’t realised just how many of the songs I’ve grown up listening to are about drugs or alcohol. I considered picking songs by Guns N Roses, Nirvana, Alice in Chains, The Rollings Stones, The Velvet Underground – the list goes on and on.

But I settled on 8 minutes of perfection from Spiritualized’s masterpiece ‘Ladies & Gentlemen, We Are Floating in Space’ album.

I first discovered this album when at sixth-form in the late 90s and to be honest it didn’t really work for me. I was still in a post-grunge/rock phase and it didn’t have a simplistic and solid oomph that I was used to.

When revisiting it a few years later while at University, and on different terms, and I found that I was wrong. I was captivated by its mixture of psych-rock, gospel, orchestra and rock. References to drugs, love, heartbreak, pain and loneliness are plentiful, but the album lifts you out of the wreckage and takes you on a breathtaking voyage.

I’ve not heard anything like it since and it has remained one of my favourite ever albums.

Maybe it was an easy choice after all.

‘I Think I’m in Love’ by Spiritualized.

Day 9: A song that makes me happy

Another tough one, mainly because I wouldn’t consider my musical tastes ‘happy’ or likely to make other people ‘happy’. They make me happy, or at least move me in some other way, which is the main thing and why I find music so fascinating.

Today’s song is another one that reminds me of the late 90s and is as chirpy, happy and fun as I get. Even if it is about the downside of repeated recreational drug use…

‘Something 4 The Weekend’ by Super Furry Animals (I actually prefer the faster album version – this is a slightly more mellow reworking of the original and ended up on the American release of their ‘Fuzzy Logic’ album, apparently.)

Day 10: A song that makes you sad

Elliott Smith died in 2003. His final album ‘From a Basement on the Hill’ was released posthumously in 2004. A lot can be read into the lyrics, but many believe it is about a relationship where they both know he belongs to heroin (“but I’m already somebody’s baby”). The fact that it comes from someone who battled depression and drug addiction makes it one of the saddest songs I’ve heard.

‘Twilight’ by Elliott Smith

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