30-day Song Challenge – Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of this 30-day song challenge, which will cover days 11-20. As mentioned in part 1, I’ve started this personal challenge as a way to document my taste in music so that if my kids are ever interested they can see the sort of stuff their dad was into.

Day 11: A song you never get tired of

My favourite song from my favourite album from my favourite band. You barely ever hear them played on the radio and they’re never on any ‘best of’ compilations, but modern rock simply would not be the same without The Pixies.

NJ doesn’t like them because he says they sound like a girl’s band (insert huge eye roll here) and there are too many references to whores in this particular song for me to play it to the whole family. But I could listen to the melodic bass, the wailing guitar and Black Francis/Kim Deal singing together forever.

‘Hey’ by The Pixies

Day 12: A song from your preteen years

For my preteen years, we’ll have to go a long way back but I’ve chosen a song which pinpoints the moment my musical taste switched from novelty children’s songs (‘Do the Bartman’ or ‘Turtle Power’) to REAL and GROWNUP music.

I’ve already mentioned it a previous post where I list NJ’s top five favourite songs, but this song simply blew me away when I first saw the video on TV.

I was 11 at the time and it was like nothing I had seen or heard before.

The video had everything: robots, angry looking men, Arnie (I knew he was a big deal, I don’t know how), guns, explosions and motorbikes, but it was the sound of those drums, the sense of danger and drama, THAT guitar sound and the screeching vocals that had me hooked.

‘You Could Be Mine’ by Guns N Roses

Day 13: A song you like from the 70s

Despite apparently being about founder-member Brian Jones’ drug addiction and death, this is soulful and strangely uplighting – one of my favourite songs ever, let alone the 1970s.

‘Shine a Light’ by Rolling Stones

Day 14: A song you’d love to be played at your wedding

Dear wifey, I know you’re reading this even though you pretend you don’t. It’s a bit difficult to pick a song because we’re obviously already married. We didn’t have a wedding song and I don’t think there is one we can definitively call ‘our song’.

So, I’ve picked this one. Because it’s AWESOME (like you).

‘Sea of Love’ by Cat Power

Day 15: A song you like that’s a cover by another artist

There’s rarely anything to be gained by releasing a cover version. Sure, it may be a bit of fun hearing a well known classic played in a different way, but these are few and far between and most of the time it is doomed to failure. There are probably only a handful of covers I can think of off the top of my head that are worth any attention – these are ones that are so far removed from the original and unique that they may as well be an entirely different song.

As someone living in Manchester, I feel a bit controversial choosing this song but I much prefer it to the over-played original. For me it simply feels more heartfelt and honest.

‘Wonderwall’ by Ryan Adams

And as if you really need to know: the original is by Oasis.

Day 16: A song that’s a classic favourite

Another tough one. My knowledge of classical is patchy, mainly based on the obvious Beethoven, Bach and Mozart, or… *whispering* the Star Wars and Jurassic Park soundtracks.

So rather than choose a song that doesn’t really mean that much to me, I looked at my own music in a different way: at what similarities there are to classical music or what instrumental songs my favourite bands have made. After a few days struggling to find the right one, I fell upon Yann Tiersen. I liked his ‘Infinity’ album but it reminded me he wrote the soundtrack to one of my favourite ever films: ‘Amelie’.

Once I remembered this, the choice of song was easy. Unfortunately finding a video wasn’t so easy – they all seem to be blocked in the UK, so here is a Spotify link instead.

‘La Valse d’Amelie’ by Yann Tiersen.

Day 17: A song you’d sing a duet with someone on karaoke

Like dancing, I don’t do singing.

But if the opportunity ever arises, and maybe if someone’s life depended on it, I would absolutely consider thinking about singing this one with one particular fellow lover of Flight of the Conchords that I happen to know.

‘Ladies of the World’ by Flight of the Conchords.

Day 18: A song from the year you were born

It turns out that there are not many songs I like from 1980. Early to mid-70s = great stuff. The late 80s = perfect. The year of my birth falls somewhere in between and is dominated by rock and metal – Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Van Halen, Judas Priest, Motorhead. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with loud riffs and big hairy men but I have never really warmed to any of them.

Elsewhere in 1980 there were three huge songs: Joy Divison’s ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’, The Jam’s ‘Going Underground’ and Bowie’s ‘Ashes to Ashes’. I could have picked any of these but instead I went for a little bit of a random choice, by my standards so far. And you may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?

‘Once in a Lifetime’ by Talking Heads

Day 19: A song that makes you think about life

Yes, for a song that makes me think about life, I have chosen a song that is about death. Or dying. I hear this song as about a man on his deathbed – the loud drum sounds about two thirds in are supposed to be a death rattle and everything afterwards is the afterlife (confirmed by the man himself on Facebook). At over 9 minutes long, I can put this on when on the train and will often drift off into my own world, contemplating everything that leads us all to The End. This song has always stayed with me.

‘Blood on the Motorway’ by DJ Shadow

Day 20: A song that has many meanings to you

Back in 2005, I wasn’t long out of University. My career aspirations were not going as well as I hoped and we (me and Mrs, pre-kids and pets) were struggling to decide where we wanted to settle. It was an uncertain time. The Iraq War was well underway and both George W Bush and Tony Blair had been re-elected, the London bombings happened and Hurricane Katrina followed. It felt like the world was spinning out of control.

That year I also listened to a relatively low-key album called ‘I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning’ by Bright Eyes which I fell in love with and has remained in my top 10 favourites since. For day 20 I have chosen a song from this album that means something different every time I hear it.

Sometimes I think it is about the frustration of being stuck in a life you don’t know how to chance for the better. Other times I think it is about being trapped in a war and yearning for a simpler time of ‘kids playing guns in the street’. Sometimes I hear a song about optimism and a call to action for something better. Other times I just hear abject resignation that nothing will change.

13 years later I still pick up on different words and it means something different. I guess that is what great music is: something that you meet at a certain time and place in your life and grows with you.

‘Land Locked Blues’ by Bright Eyes

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