Wednesday, 7 April 2021

More fun, more love

This weekend sees the online exhibition for Fun A Day Dundee 2021. Of course it’s online, everything’s still online, but the only upside to this is you can see it from wherever you are in the world (programme of activities above). From this Friday evening at their site (Scottish time) you can see work (and links to more work) from all the participants who took part in January of this year and as usual there is a huge range of work (arts, crafts, carts, rafts…). Any time from Friday please head over and explore – but maybe on a screen bigger than a phone (unless your phone is gigantic) as there will be a lot of work to see.

I took part in the project this January and was asked to write a reflective piece about my contribution (‘31 Postcodes’) for the exhibition blog this weekend (and as you can see on the programme that piece will be live on their site from this Sunday afternoon - it's up now so here is the link). There’s plenty to read in that piece so I won’t repeat it all here. Instead let me just remind you that all the poems and posts from January are still on this blog (or Instagram) to look at/listen to (starting on 1st January 2021). Also I have put together a YouTube playlist to accompany the project called 31 Postcodes. It has a track for every home/place I’ve lived – not always the favourite piece of music that I listened to there but the one that most comes to mind when I think of that particular place and time. For some of the places it was pretty tough to pick (because I lived there for a very short or very long time or because I listened to so much different music there) so I didn’t soul search about it too much and just plumped for something that seemed right. It’s seems almost criminal to have a list without Stevie Wonder or Nina Simone and so many, many others but it’s only 31 entries so I did what I could. Here's some background to each choice.

For postcode/poem 1 (1967-73) - The Beatles Penny Lane

In this house I often played with a pile of old 45s that my half-sisters had left behind when they moved away. There were a few Beatles records in there and this was certainly one of my favourites. There was also some Cliff Richard…

For postcode/poem 2 (1973-4) - Mud Tiger Feet

I have strong memories of a ‘twist’ competition at my 7th birthday party to this record. I think I tried so hard to win I gave myself several stitches. Please howl with laughter at the TOTP video on the playlist…

For postcode/poem 3 (1974-6/7) - Rock Follies Sugar Mountain

I watched this TV series with my Mum. I was probably far too young but I really enjoyed it and she loved it (Julie Covington was a big fave of hers so we only ever listened to her Evita, no Elaine Paige in our house – sorry EP).

For postcode/poem 4 (1977-8) - Earth, Wind & Fire September

I had the vinyl album of The Best of Earth, Wind & Fire Vol 1 and I loved it.

For postcode/poem 5 (1978-83) - Chic Le Freak

A school disco favourite. You'll have to read the posts to understand why the dates overlap at times...

For postcode/poem 6 (1979-83) - Neil Young Old Man

As a teenager I found this song fascinating and listened to it over and over (and the rest of Harvest, an album that was at that point about 10 years old). I don’t remember borrowing this from a sibling nor do I remember choosing it for myself so it’s as if it just magically appeared in my room. I also listened regularly to local radio, Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall, Spandau Ballet’s True, and far too much Black Sabbath and ACDC (in the smoking room) but somehow it’s Neil who’s made the list for this address. 

For postcode/poem 7 (1983-4) - Shalamar A Night To Remember

I saw this band ‘live’ at the Capital Radio ‘Best Disco in Town’ on the Strand (though it was more PA than full band I think…). At the time it seemed very sophisticated – I was new in London, remember and I bet they wouldn’t have come to Middlesbrough in 1983! Looking at the Youtube video I realise why I bought a pair of black and white stripey trousers around this time…

For postcode/poem 8 (1984-5) - David Bowie Oh! You Pretty Things

I’m sure many of us have Bowie tracks that come in and out of our lives. There are lots that I like but I had quite a Bowie phase in late teens and I loved this track back then (that and Wild is the Wind). 

For postcode/poem 9 (1985) - Madonna Into the Groove

Around this time I saw Desperately Seeking Susan in Madrid (dubbed into Spanish as it was mainstream and not an artfilm). I was 18. I loved it and somehow particularly because it was in Spanish (the name Susan sounds totally different for a start).

For postcode/poem 10 (1985) - Joaquin Sabina y Viceversa Incompatibilidad de Caracteres

Lots of Spanish and Latin American music was played in this house but I thought I should pick a Spanish one for Madrid so here is one from that era. To be honest the song I most associate with this house is Dire Straits’ Money for Nothing as my Basque flatmate had a cousin conscripted in the army who used to visit us when on leave and play that track over and over (very loud). That is a song I would happily never hear again.

For postcode/poem 11 (1986) - Silvio Rodriguez Vamos a Andar

This Cuban singer/songwriter was much beloved by almost everyone I knew in Madrid. I even saw him live there but the memory is a bit vague… I think it was some sort of arena and not really the environment for his very gentle voice.

For postcode/poem 12 (1986-7) - Billy Bragg A New England

Not such a gentle voice this time. One of my best uni friends had stacks of homemade cassettes in her room in the first year (Cocteau Twins, Everything But the Girl, Elvis Costello, lots of bands I’d never heard of like The Woodentops and The Three Johns – I’ve still never listened to either of those) and she also introduced me to Billy Bragg (the sound, not the man). We saw him live at the Cambridge Corn Exchange (where we also saw, I think, Hugh Masekela and Ben Elton, but not on the same bill). Another uni friend played me the Tom Waits album Heart of Saturday Night for the first time and that is still a firm favourite in whichever house I’m in (and definitely my favourite of his albums).

For postcode/poem 13 (1987-8) - George Michael Faith

As mentioned in the blog post for this one, this was one of the sounds of my 21st birthday in our student house. 

For postcode/poem 14 (1988) - Mel & Kim Showing Out

Stock Aitken Waterman were evil but their music was almost inescapable around this time. I did have a weakness for Mel & Kim and I did watch quite a bit of Hitman and Her (it was terrible but remember, kids, we had less choice at 3am in those days).

For postcode/poem 15 (1988-9) - Diana Ross & The Supremes Ain’t No Mountain High Enough

I’ve often hidden in the 1960s or '70s and my last year at college (1988-89) was one such year (it felt nicer there, I didn’t have to think about the future). The video on the playlist is just Diana because all the Supremes ones I could see weren’t live.

For postcode/poem 16 (1989) - The Stone Roses Fools Gold

My brother had a party in this house of my Mum’s when she was away once and some friends and I (foolishly) took LSD and listened/danced to the first Stone Roses album on repeat literally all night long. My brother’s friends found us very confusing (they were more drinkers). Why were we so thin? Why did we only want to listen to one album? What were we laughing at?

For postcode/poem 17 (1989-90) - Omar There’s Nothing Like This

Although I was mainly raving around this time I liked to listen to the Leeds pirate radio station WYBC and it had a soul show that I loved on Saturday afternoons (i.e. my weekend breakfast show, nice and soothing and calming after a night of acid house). The DJ was called Soulmaster Hazzy and he played this track a lot in 1989 – sometimes 3 times in a row (you can do that on pirate radio).

For postcode/poem 18 (1990) - Happy Mondays Step On

Again I was listening/dancing to a lot of dance/house music at this point but that is a little blurred timewise (which tracks were out when, what was part of the mix…). I do remember dancing to this though when friend and I used to go to cheap student nights mid-week (we weren’t students, just dedicated followers of sound and syrup). We didn’t know a lot of student music but we knew this one.

For postcode/poem 19 (1990-91) - Diana Brown and Barry K Sharpe The Masterplan

Again there was much house/rave music in the air but friends and I listened to this track a lot (home and away) and I also remember hearing/seeing Sharpe at a sound system at Notting Hill Carnival at around this time (well, I think it was him - it could have been anyone, it was very busy). 

For postcode/poem 20 (1991) - Gil Scott-Heron Three Miles Down

I listened to a lot of GSH driving once I had a car with a decent sound system in it (it was a cassette player). I had the live double cassette Tales of Gil Scott-Heron by Gil Scott-Heron and his Amnesia Express and I would really recommend it. It really gives the feeling of his live shows (I saw him at the Leeds Irish Centre, the internet suggests this was 1992 and that sounds about right). 

For postcode/poem 21 (1991) - Fresh Four Wishing on a Star

Slow dancing at the end of a very long all-night house party… I think that’s what this was about.

For postcode/poem 22 (1991-2) - Sabrina Johnston Peace (Brothers in Rhythm Mix)

This one is mentioned in the poem – I didn’t love it especially but my flatmate played it very loud and very often. She was new to rave/house music - this was her first love, in that sense.

For postcode/poem 23 (1992-3) - K & M Funk and Drive 

You’ll not find this on Spotify. It’s a funky house record that was rereleased under the name Elevatorman (also not on Spotify). The boyf of the time played it a lot.

For postcode/poem 24 (1993-5) - Tricky Hell is Round the Corner

DJ Daisy and I both loved the Maxinquaye album by Tricky. Full of great tracks.

For postcode/poem 25 (1995-6) - Underworld Rez/Cowgirl

I could pick a millions tracks for this one but I went with one that we danced to rather than played ourselves (as DJs). Happy memories of bouncing around a dancefloor somewhere in London at 4am when we’d finished our own set.

For postcode/poem 26 (1996-98) - Joan Osborne Crazy Baby

A suitable come-down track for so many reasons. From the great album Relish.

For postcode/poem 27 (1998-2002) - World Party She’s the One

When I was pregnant I was pretty sure we were expecting a girl (all my sisters had had girls) and I often found myself singing this song (I listened to quite a bit of Radio 2 around this point – I didn’t like a lot of it but 6 Music was still playing far too much punk for my taste in 2000 so it was a compromise). Obviously the better known version of this track is by Robbie Williams but I am medically allergic to anything to do with Take That so I can’t recommend you listen to that. This is the original and it’s very similar, Robbie didn’t do anything different with it.

For postcode/poem 28 (2002-4) - The White Stripes Black Math

When our lives were full of pre-school sounds The White Stripes made a nice alternative to Part of Your World and Bibbidy Bobbidy Boo every now and then. We all used to bounce around the house to this track (including daughter and any other kids present).

For postcode/poem 29 (2004) - Buena Vista Social Club Candela

This period was a couple of months in a small house with my Mum so we kept our noisier music at bay and chose music she couldn’t complain about (she once asked if the washing machine was on – it was Radiohead… it was years later I realised she was probably being funny on purpose).

For postcode/poem 30 (2004-18) - Ana Laan Happiness is a Long Discipline

We were 14 years at this address and a lot of music under the bridge. I picked this one because it’s a good approach to life and the singer/songwriter is an old friend who should be better known in the UK (she lives in Spain). She is brilliant, sings in Spanish, English and other languages. This song is from her 2007 album Chocolate and Roses.

For postcode/poem 31 (2018-now) - Michael Marra All will be well

Marra gets a mention in the Dundee poem, as of course he should. This isn’t the song of his I know best or listen to most but it seemed a good note to end on, especially now. Marra was good at writing about all of life – the good, the bad and the ugly – and giving it a touch of something like magic as he went. He is in my Premier League of singer/songwriters (which is an extensive and brilliant team but I’m not going to start listing all those on the team who didn’t make it onto this particular list of 31 tracks or we will be here all weekend and then you won’t have time to go and check out all the Fun A Day exhibition!). 

Thanks for reading and by the way the 'more love' in the post title is a reference to a song by Tim O'Brien. I first heard it at Montrose Folk Club (performed by the band Real Time, sung by the lovely Judy Dinning, sadly no longer with us). The Chicks (formerly the Dixie Chicks) cover it too.