With this post I’m following in the footsteps of Michele (who did this back in June) and Sue (who did this recently and I’m looking forward to her part two). They answered the same questions that Richard Armitage answered in his NME interview in June about music accompanying life and I’m going to do that here as well. So, here goes…
The song I wish I’d written
Richard says: The Beatles – ‘Yesterday’. Pretty song, always reminds me of my older sister who sometimes used to sing the word “Yesterday” to me when calling me (my name Esther is hidden in that word). My own answer to this question is David Bowie’s Rock ‘n Roll Suicide.
I love the slow build up of the song and the weird ass lyrics. The song meant a lot to me at a certain time in my life (more about that below).
The first song I remember hearing
Richard says: Grease – ‘Summer Nights’. Yeah, no. I mean the song is fine but I never loved it, it was never really a part of my life either and I was never very fond of Grease when it later did reach my consciousness. For this one I think I’ll say Morning Has Broken by Cat Stevens (as he was called at the time). I remember my mom loving that song and that it was sung at the christening of my baby brother when I was around 4 (one of my earliest memories).
The first album I owned
Richard says: The Magic Roundabout – ‘Dougal and the Blue Cat’. This show wasn’t part of my youth at all, so I can’t really say anything about that. My first album that I adored was an album of English language nursery rhymes that I loved to listen to and I remembered it drove my family crazy when I wanted it to be played over and over again (we only had the one record player in the house). I just did a quick image search on google with the words: “nursery rhymes album panda” (I remembered a panda on the cover) and sure enough I found pictures!
I can distinctly remember the man on the record saying “Hello boys and girls” and then talking and singing those nursery rhymes. I think I may even still have the LP if I look through the records we still have tucked away in the attic.
The first album I think I ever purchased for myself was the album Felicita by the Italian duo Al Bano & Romina Power (on cassette!) when I was about 12 or 13. Even then it was not cool for youngsters to like them but I just loved Romina (who is the daughter of Hollywood actor Tryone Power) and I loved them in secret for quite a while. My taste developed into quite a different direction after that.
The first gig I went to
Richard says: Tina Turner in Vienna, 2009. Really? 2009? When he was 38 and based in London? I’m sure he must have been to other gigs as well before that. Now, I may be a late starter myself going to big concerts like that but never as late as that. I never had the funds as a teen to go to bigger concerts, so it wasn’t until I was 19 or 20 that I started going to a few concerts. I know I saw The Clash and Bruce Springsteen (my sister was a fan) around that time but the first one that really stuck with me was seeing David Bowie in the summer of 1990 in Nijmegen during his Sound and Vision tour. We weren’t too far from the stage and I was in heaven.
The song that reminds me of home
Richard says: ABBA – ‘Happy New Year’. Ah, ABBA – I think they were my first favourite band when I was around 10 years old (I used to tape their songs from the radio on my cassette recorder), so those songs can also take me back. What really reminds me of home, however, is every time I hear some well known Israeli song, like Hava Nagila or Hevenu Shalom Aleichem or Siman Tov! Mazel Tov! For my answer to this question I’ll pick the 1979 Israeli Eurovision winning song Hallelujah by Milk and Honey (lyrics and what they mean can be found here).
The song was huge in Israel and I remember singing an English version in school several times. This song can always bring me back to my childhood home and watching Eurovision together with my family.
The song I can no longer listen to
Richard says: Lonnie Donegan – ‘Nobody’s Child’. I didn’t know that song, so it’s new to me and I don’t really have an opinion on that one. For me the first song that comes to mind is I Gotta Feeling by the Black Eyed Peas. I adored that song when it came out in 2010, listened to it all the time, danced around the house to it (with the kids, who were about 9 and 6 at the time, and without the kids). I also loved the Oprah flash mob to that song and then at some point I just over-listened and suddenly completely had enough of it. Here’s the Oprah flash mob video that I just this evening watched again for the first time in eons. I still like the flash mob part but I think I’m still overdosed on the song…
The song that changed my life
Richard says: The Eurythmics – ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)’. I always liked that song but it didn’t have that great of an impact on me. For me, I’ll pick the same song I answered to the first question here, David Bowie’s Rock ‘n Roll Suicide. It really pulled me through some dark times when I had no clue what to do with my life when I was around 20 and Bowie yelling “Oh no love, you’re not alone!” really gave me hope and helped me reach out to others to find a way. When I saw a handwritten transcript of the lyrics of that song in the “David Bowie Is” exhibition back in 2016 (just 11 days before Bowie died!), I took a quick clandestine picture of it and actually wiped away a tear. This song just means a lot to me.
The song I want played at my funeral
Richard says: Kool & the Gang – ‘Celebration’. That feels like a bit of a cop-out answer to me somehow. I am all for celebrating life but I also think it’s important to allow contemplation and some pain in when you lose someone. (Modified to add that on re-reading this the term ‘cop-out’ may have been too strong a word and reaction to this song choice of Richard’s. It’s just that somehow this choice doesn’t seem as genuine to me as the other choices mentioned, but then that’s probably all in my head and has nothing to do with Richard.) For my own funeral, I really wouldn’t know which song I’d like! I was going to pick a poem instead by W.H. Auden, as so brilliantly performed in Four Weddings and a Funeral, but that’s a cop-out too. And then I remembered one of the very, very few Dutch songs that I like. This one was played quite a lot around the time my father was deteriorating and I have this image of me driving away from my dad’s nursing home in his final days while it played on the radio. It’s a very sweet song and I think I wouldn’t mind having that played at my funeral. It’s called Mag Ik Dan Bij Jou (literally translates to “Can I then with you”) by a Dutch singer and comedian called Claudia de Breij. It’s about finding shelter with a loved one and the song completely captures my heart…
The song I listen to before performing
Richard says: Imogen Heap – ‘Hide and Seek’. Yeah, not really my music. I’m not a performer, so not sure what would be a good one for me. But if it’s about getting keyed up, then maybe a Muse song? These lines from Knights of Cydonia (at around 4 minutes into the video below) feel very apt for the time we live in now.
“Come ride with me, Through the veins of history,
I’ll show you a God, Falls asleep on the job.
And how can we win, When fools can be kings?
Don’t waste your time, Or time will waste you.”
The song I do at karaoke
Richard says: Queen – ‘Radio Gaga’. Sounds fun enough. As for me, I don’t do karaoke. Ever. If I really had to, I could maybe do an ABBA song or something else really easy. The lower range of Chris de Burgh’s voice suits mine quite well, so I could maybe do Patricia The Stripper but then maybe some stripping action would be required with that as well, so better not. Somehow You Are My Sunshine springs to mind. Not that I particularly love it but it’s easy and nice enough. Here it is in the Johnny Cash version, his voice makes the song more interesting.
The song I discovered during lockdown
Richard says: Daði Freyr – ‘Think About Things’. That really is a fun one, especially that video! I haven’t really had any big music discoveries while in lockdown (I don’t think) until recently. The Lucifer tv show has some really great music that is completely new to me. I was looking for something different to listen to the other week, decided to search for some of those songs and I found a whole Lucifer themed playlist on Spotify. Some of these songs are a real revelation and I love that I am discovering a whole lot of great new music this way. Let me share a few of my discoveries…
I could go on but these are already five songs instead of one. So, here is the Spotify playlist I used, should anyone else be interested as well. I’ve only been listening to these for the past week or two, so I am still traveling on my road to discovery.
That’s it, my answers to the NME questions. Thanks for the inspiration NME, Richard, Michele and Sue. Anyone else interested in playing along?