I was at a meeting this afternoon chaired by Kirsty Young of Desert Island Discs which set me thinking about the various times I’ve had a stab at my 8 discs, as well as playing the game with the Enfants Terribles. It’s interesting to have musical yardsticks over time to see how consistent or otherwise you are.
Here’s the first one I can find online from October 2006 when Kirsty had just started on DID:
1* Miles Davis – Flamenco Sketches
2 John Coltrane – A Love Supreme part 1 (Acknowledgement)
3 Marvin Gaye – Mercy Mercy Me (?)
4 Curtis Mayfield – Move On Up
5 The Clash – White Man in Hammersmith Palais
6 Bill Evans – Love theme from Spartacus
7 Bjork – Hyperballad
8 The Doors – The End
Book: Ulysses – James Joyce
Luxury: Mouth organ (with teach-yourself disc and book)
Here’s another go from later the same day, indicative of how impossible the challenge is for anyone who loves music:
1* Miles Davis – Flamenco Sketches
2 John Coltrane – A Love Supreme part 1
3 Marvin Gaye – Mercy Mercy Me
4 Eric Satie – Gymnopedie
5 Bruce Springsteen – Into the Fire
6 Siouxsie & the Banshees – Icon
7 Sinead O’Connor – On Raglan Road
8 Frank Sinatra – One for my Baby
I recently [17th Jan] redid my list (without reference to past efforts of course) on a trip to Berlin with Enfant Terrible No.1 (his choice is further below):
1 Curtis Mayfield – move on up
2 John Martyn – small hours [new entry]
3 Miles Davis – flamenco sketches
4 John Coltrane – a love supreme, part 1
5 Van – in the afternoon [new entry]
6 The Clash – white man
7 Marvin Gaye – what’s going on [change of track]
8 Frank Sinatra – one for my baby
Book: Ulysses – james joyce
Luxury: pencil & notebooks [change]
Given that’s a 9 year gap, remarkably consistent I’d say, with a healthy bit of change. The appearance of John Martyn reflects my gradual realisation (particularly in the wake of his elevation to The Great Gig in the Sky 7 years ago) that he is the best of the best of singers, a Big Soul. Van’s entry simply corrects a big oversight in the 2006 vintage. I probably haven’t nailed the right track yet. The change of Marvin song just indicates I can’t make up my mind which track from What’s Going On to pick out from a perfect LP which doesn’t really compute as individual tracks in isolation.
Tangentially, here’s another variation – Inheritance Tracks – from November of 2007, broadly aligned with my Desert Island choices:
- Inherited Track: ‘Everything’s Alright’ from ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ OR ‘Soolaimon’ by Neil Diamond
- Bequest Track: Miles Davis’ ‘Flamenco Sketches’ from ‘Kind of Blue’
Moving on to the next generation, here’s Enfant Terrible No. 2’s first ever go, aged 6:
1 Madness – Embarrassment
2 Bruce Spingsteen – Atlantic City
3 The Cranberries – Ode to my Family
4 Cornershop – Brimful of asha
5 Max Romeo – I Chase the Devil
6 Trumpton – Windy Miller song
7 The Jam – Batman theme
8 AC/DC – It’s a long way to the top
Book: Claris Bean/My Uncle is a Hunkle
Luxury: My house
That’s some list for a 6 year old – clearly getting a proper musical education! I’ll quiz him in the next couple of days and see how radically his list has changed as a 16 year old. [I’ll insert his 2016 list here:]
To see the significant change of teenagehood, here’s Enfant Terrible No. 1’s first ever go from late 2006, aged 11. He wrote it out in long hand in a notebook, taking several months to pin his choice down (typical of him in its careful consideration):
1 U2 – Vertigo
2 Unite Tribe – Life and Death
3 Oxmo Puccino and the Jazzbastards – Perdre et Gagner
4 The Cure – Love Cats
5 * Michael Franti & Spearhead – Sometimes
6 MC Solaar – Solaar Pleure
7 The Raconteurs – Steady as she goes
8 Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit
I pushed him for a swifter, more spontaneous choice this time:
1 James Taylor – fire & rain
2 The Beatles – lucy in the sky with diamonds
3 Carol King – it’s too late
4 Curtis Mayfield – move on up [paternal influence at work]
5 Bob Dylan – hurricane
6 Nirvana – teen spirit
7 The Doors – riders on the storm
8 Led Zep – stairway to heaven
Book: the odyssey – homer
Luxury: my pillow
So only one track persists over the decade – Smells Like Teen Spirit. That’s the spirit of teen for you. BTW I could happily add Kurt singing Where Did You Sleep Last Night? to my grateful eight:
I had a great London wander today – theme: Brutalist Architecture. First outing for my Brutalist London Map which I got from the Twentieth Century Society via Blue Crow Media (beautifully designed, for a mere 8 quid).
I had a pre-outing last weekend to Trellick Tower on Golborne Road. The architect Erno Goldfinger shares a birthday with me (and John Martyn) so I have a bit of a soft spot for him. My niece lives there so I got to capture some of the interiors…
I headed East this morning to Blackwall on the Docklands Light Railway. First stop Robin Hood Gardens in E14. Although the 20th Century Society is fighting to get it listed and indeed saved, personally I found it terrible architecture and even worse housing. As I walked around the estate two separate people asked me whether I was there for the consultation – the second was an architect type. He told me there was a big session taking place today regarding the redevelopment of the whole area so it looks like it’s a gonner (no tears).
Fortunately within 5 minutes walk is Balfron Tower, the 1967 precursor by Goldfinger to Trellick Tower (1972).
Trellick was definitely an improvement, partly because it has a far better site. The nautical touch of Trellick’s tower is evident in a smaller block adjacent to Balfron called Glenkerry House.
I sailed off North West from there across E14 and E3 to E2 where two further Brutalist sites beckoned. Leaving views of Canary Wharf Tower and the Docklands behind me, under blue skies in bright winter sun I walked along canals (Limehouse Cut and the Regent’s Canal at Mile End), through back streets, past Victorian churches and factories, until I got to the estates behind Roman Road. And there waited two beauties by Denys Lasdun, architect of the National Theatre, one of the most well known Brutalist buildings in the city.
First the exquisite Trevelyan House, gleaming white against the azure sky.
It is characterised by the central staircase/lift shaft connecting its two halves. A couple of roads away is a sister block, Sulkin House.
So that’s the first flânage from my Brutalist London Map. I bought a pear from the fruit stall behind Sulkin exchanging badinage with the West Ham supporting stall holder and his dad, thanks to my Spurs scarf (from Savile Rogue). Then an Italian coffee from two lovely Italian girls on the Roman Road. Lunch at Pellicci’s on Bethnal Green Road, Est. 1900, served by the grandson of the founder, proper Cockney, all the staff super-welcoming, sat with a chatty second-generation Irish couple from Walthamstow. Final stop – Flashback Records down the street where I picked up a copy of Lola by The Kinks, boys from my manor.
Headed back to my manor after 5 hours walking with a spring in my step as the sun set on a brutally beautiful day.
The photos are all here.
A few days ago when I was in Berlin I wrote this (in a post called Where Are We Now? about David Bowie):
There are a few panels of the Berlin Wall on display on the north side of the place and then a significant stretch of the banal concrete sections in Niederkirchnerstrasse (on the corner of which was the Blackstar poster above). The bands graffitied on that section indicate how frozen in time it is: Blondie, Madness, Lee Perry all get a painted name check. A few more individual sections stand in the grounds of the apartment blocks adjacent to the Hansa Studio in Köthener Strasse. It all helps get you in the ‘Heroes’ frame of mind. I tried to figure out where Bowie might have seen Visconti and his lover from the studio windows but it’s hard to figure as two walls are blank and there’s no obvious spot where the Wall would have been in sight from the front or back of the Hansa building so the lovers’ kiss remains in the imagination (which is probably where it actually was anyway).
Well I was wrong – the spot where the lovers (Visconti and a backing singer) kissed by the Wall was behind the building. I actually snuck through an archway to investigate that Sunday afternoon. A security guard came out of a concealed door as I got to the end of the short tunnel but he must have thought it was not worth the bother and let it go. I walked around a bit in the back garden and car park in search of the spot so I reckon I must have been pretty much bang on at one point.
The mystery is solved in this fascinating video clip (20 mins) from BBC4 in which Visconti recalls the event (about 11 mins in).
While I’m still under the influence of the Macallan’s I thought it best to capture the best of Scotland – I was daydreaming for just a moment at the Burns Night gathering we’ve just been to at Cha Cha Cha in the shadowy alleyways of Muswell Hill, transfixed by a pile of Tunnock’s tea cakes, wondering what else as magnificent as a Tunnock’s Caramel has emerged from north of the border…
1. Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer
5 layers of wafer, 4 layers of caramel, fully coated in real milk chocolate. The dog’s cahones.
2. Mike Scott of The Waterboys
5 layers of Yeats, 4 layers of Dylan, fully coated in real wild Ireland.
3. John Buchan’s stories
5 layers of outdoors, 4 layers of clubland, fully coated in real imperial conservatism.
4. Bobby Wellins’ sax on Starless & Bible Black
5 layers of melancholy, 4 layers of beauty, fully coated in real jazz delicacy.
Or perhaps you know better…?
What song or piece of music means the most to you?
Ciara Linder is a teacher – born in London, grew up in Northern Ireland, now living back in London. Her choice reflects this axis in her life.
The Song: Half the World Away – Aurora
Here is her older brother’s Songlines – a very different take on the London Irish experience.
The previous Songlines:
As promised in my Where Are We Now? post just below here is a list of David Bowie related locations in Berlin which can easily be visited on foot or by foot and public transport:
- David Bowie’s 1st floor apartment (shared with Iggy Pop). Bowie lived in Berlin from late 1976 to 1979. – Hauptstrasse 155, Schöneberg [U-bahn: Kleistpark]
- David & Iggy’s local (gay) bar, now called Neues Ufer, back then called Anderes Ufer – Hauptstrasse 157, Schöneberg
- Hansa Tonstudio, recording studios where Low and ‘Heroes’ were recorded (in oak-panelled Tonstudio 2) and produced The Idiot for Iggy Pop – Köthener Strasse 38 [near Potsdamer Platz (which gets a mention in Where Are We Now?) – you can only enter with an official tour like the ones lead by Thilo Schmied]. The ‘Heroes’ spot (where “Standing, by the wall … we kissed, as though nothing could fall”) is just behind the studio building, accessible through an arch albeit on private property. The position of the Wall is marked by a double line of cobblestones.
- The site of the Dschungel night club (as mentioned in Where Are We Now?) where Bowie, Iggy and Lou Reed shook a leg – Nürnberger Strasse 53 = Ellington Hotel
- KaDeWe department store (also as mentioned in Where Are We Now?) is round the corner at Tauentzienstraße 21-24
- Paris Bar arty restaurant in Charlottenburg where Bowie & Iggy went for special occasions to hang out with artist types – Kantstrasse 152 [U & S Zoologischer Garten]
- Brücke Museum where Bowie went to be inspired by German Expressionist art such as that of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Erich Heckel. Otto Müller’s Lovers Between Garden Waals may be a source for the song ‘Heroes’ – Bussardsteig 9 [bus line 115, Pücklerstraße stop]
- In front of the Reichstag where Bowie performed to 70,000 Germans in 1987, audible to more over the Wall in the East (two years before the Berliner Mauer fell).
To be added:
- Filming locations for ‘Just a Gigolo’, the movie Bowie starred in in 1978 (directed by David Hemmings).
- S036 – music venue in Kreuzberg where Bowie & Iggy hung out
- Bösebrücke – the only other location mentioned in Where Are We Now? (a bit out of the city centre) where the first wave of 20,000 East Germans crossed over in 1989.
- Joe’s Beer House – a drinking haunt of Bowie & Iggy
- Unlimited – another of their nightclub hang-outs
- Lützower Lampe – where Bowie celebrated his 31st birthday with Iggy and Eno and a bunch of trannies.
(I’ll add some of my pictures to this in the next few days)
What piece of music means the most to you?
Farrah Jarral, dedicated GP and star of Osama Loves on Channel 4, comes up with a left-field choice (similar in some ways to Songlines #2) – a religious song chosen by a not particularly religious person.
The Song: the Muslim call to prayer, the Adhan
And here’s the song in question:
I’m just about to go to Farringdon for a meeting at Maker Studios and noticed while preparing that there isn’t much clear blue water between the logo of Disney-owned Maker and the new BBC3 logo announced earlier this month. What makes the similarity particularly striking is that in many ways the two organisations are now direct competitors with both’s emphasis on online video.
Something happened on the day he died
Karma is keeping quiet for now
Beloved by luscious
Then I’m useless in the evening
Night owls might be more creative
Spiders May Live in Every Room of Your House
Three Scottish boys discovered a strange cache
A Blast from the Past
And Air & Space
Show off your genius
Because I can
When I Come Around
Millions of songs
We rise and shine driven
After mourning the passing
Black on white
With teachers at all levels
For the twenty-first century
Cushioned within the box
We are losing all our heroes
People that simply do not exist anymore
The dance sequence is my favourite part
Das war noch Musik
Where they trashtalk each other
Fame and offending people
And it was impossible to find
Compulsive ice cream consumption
You just broke the internet
And a bunch of Silicon Valley dudes
Either help them or get out of their way
A “blessing to one another” he noted, chomping at the bit
And an environment teeming with wildlife
That will help shape the island’s future
The worldwide association
And improve trajectories.
[This was written by taking a phrase from each web page (starting with the lyrics of Blackstar) and then clicking through to an adjoining page and taking something that caught my eye from that and so on… – the pages ranged from an advert for a job on the Falkland Islands to scientific analysis of the benefits of early rising.]
My Low badge, in my life since 1978, decided to jump ship off my lapel – it’s somewhere in Berlin which seems just about right. From Carnaby Street to Kurfürstendamm or wherever on earth it landed – a journey as tidy as the Big Man’s. He had his Mod phase (as in Baby Loves That Way – Davy Jones & The Lower Third) so no doubt made the odd sortie into Carnaby Street and environs in his time.
So headed off badgeless for an early start, a wander along the Spree across a tranquil corner of Museum Island, ice floating in the dark green waters, bright sunshine through sub-zero temperatures. Went as far as the subterranean monument to the burning of books by the Nazis, a ghostly room of empty shelves glimpsed through a small window set in a cobbled courtyard in front of the Law faculty of Humboldt University. Bowie had a weird brush with fascism and Nietzsche in the 70s which it took him a while to extricate himself from, probably coke fuelled. He also had a terrible adolescent German moustache at one point – very rare fashion faux pas.
My main meeting of the day at Doc Campus was over a hill to the north of the hotel. At the brow of the hill on the way over I found a great little record shop and in the little window at feet level was a 7” picture disc of Young Americans which of course I was compelled to spunk my Euros on. Plus a copy of Kraftwerk’s Das Model (Deutsche version) as a nod to Bowie’s inspiration from them, Neu and other Teutonic electronica. And a copy of The Stars We Are LP (nice n cheap) by Marc Almond, a big Bowie infuencee. All zeroed in on in the space of a few minutes (from years of practice) , then on to the gathering…
We reviewed 76 documentary projects of which only one had a direct connection to Bowie – one centred on 60s singer P J Proby who Bowie emulated, probably in a tongue in cheek way, on certain Berlin trilogy tracks and earlier recordings.
Had a farewell currywurst before heading for home. On the plane back I read a telling note from the BBC Talent Selection Group in 1965 following an audition Bowie did for them: “A singer devoid of personality. Sings wrong notes and out of tune.” Just goes to show. How little people know. You need to trust your own instincts.
It’s now 23.59 on the first week anniversary of the Thin White Duke’s trip to the Station on the other side of the Border. Official end to BowieWeek of reflection, mourning and celebration. Concluding it in Berlin was a real privilege.