#musicdiaryproject – Friday


Jo was on Marge duty this morning, so just Head Music for me until lunchtime.

I had ‘Send in the Clowns’ for a few minutes. No idea why, but it brought a brief gust of Friday ennui.

Then came one of those lovely moments of connection between people and eras that music can conjure in a flash. Walking down the corridor I passed our Press Office where I heard a very old favourite song being played, presumably via YouTube. Dan, Press Officer, was clearly struggling to convince his colleagues that this was a song they certainly must be familiar with. They were laughing at him and he was having difficulty defending his position. I took this in as I walked by, but after going past it struck me that I really ought to step in and help out. I took a couple of backwards strides, popped my head around the door and asked “‘Camouflage’? by Stan Ridgway?” I think I made Dan’s day, to the hysterical dismay of the others. We were able to exchange quips about him being an “awfully big marine” before he revealed that the reason this has come up in the first place was that he had snuck some of the lyrics, a brief snatch of the tale of that heroic soldier, into a newly published press release. Excellent work.

Yuck – ‘Holing Out’

I read a tweet from Pete Paphides a couple of weeks ago raving about Yuck, then a less than convincing review from Pitchfork. Spotted a link on that site today which led me to this song via Soundcloud. Thought it sounded okay, and pretty much as all the references to early 90s Pavement etc had given me to expect.


I try to join the Friday Mix whenever I can, even if I can’t listen in. Every Friday at 12.30pm, the Friday Mix overlord creates a new Spotify playlist based on a theme which has been voted for by the waiting participants, who then get to add two songs of their choosing to the playlist. The tracks are sorted and ordered by whoever wants to drag them around then at 2pm the playlist is locked, everyone presses ‘Play’ at the same time, and several dozen people, dotted who knows where, all listen along to the same songs, alone but together.

It’s an interesting way to collaborate, challenge and mingle with other music listeners, and one which just wouldn’t have been possible even two years ago. Today’s theme was ‘sunshine’ and I added ‘Sunrise’ by Lambchop and ‘I Am The Sun’ by Swans. Most weeks most participants seem to want to add in happy songs, so I do take a certain childish pleasure in choosing something more bruising whenever I can. It’s often Swans, to be honest.

I thought ‘Sunrise’ would be a good opener and tried to boost it to the top, but Eric and Ernie kept being bumped even higher until the last moment when, inexplicably, Finley Quaye appeared in the number 1 spot.

As the playlist ticks through there’s a parallel discussion on twitter, using the #fridaymix hashtag. Unfortunately this is usually pretty perfunctory and polite. It’s rare to see frank opinions exchanged, even though part of the pleasure is both cooing and sniffing and other people’s choices.

You can see today’s playlist above. After the Bob Marley track, my office-mate came back from a meeting, so I muted my PC. According to the Twitter feed, Swans drifted by without a mention once more.

PJ Harvey – ‘Let England Shake’

Whilst writing this, I sat upstairs and listened to the second side of ‘Let England Shake’. Not really concentrating.

Pavement – ‘Perfect Sound Forever’

Haven’t listened to this for 15 years or so. Sounded great. 10″ vinyl is still weirdly cool.

Swell – ‘Swell’

Picked off the shelf after 5 minutes of aimless gawping. I don’t know anything about them. My friend Ben and I used to like them in the days before you could find out everything about a band in 10 seconds. I remember it was their second album we really liked. One of the first I remember having that slightly broken down country sound that would come to inflect so much of the alternative music I liked from the US. It has something intruguing and seductive about the sound of it, rather than the songs of it. This is their first album. I think Ben had the second. I might go and google them now…



#musicdiaryproject – Monday


It’s the first day of Nick‘s Music Diary Project. Since he first suggested the idea, i’ve been concerned as to my ability to listen honestly. How could my choices fail to be influenced by the sure knowledge that I would be sharing them. We’re all swayed by the need to gain acceptance and admiration. Even those hipsters apparently so relaxed about their lack of concern for other’s views that they will happily document and publish their time spent boogying to Bieber or apathetically accepting Adele are just finding another way to say ‘look at me! i’m cooler than you cos i’m crap and I don’t fucking care!’

I think I can safely say that at least on Day One of the project, I have resisted the temptation to force through my ears the most geek-pleasing sounds I can squeeze into them. Today I have listened to 1.5 seconds of music.

I’ll get to that shortly.

Firstly, one of the things I did instead of listening to music. At 6.30am I walked Marge, our dog, for half an hour. Instead of listening to music, I took in last week’s ‘Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo’s Film Reviews’ podcast from BBC Five Live, on my iPhone.

It’s counter-intuitive, perhaps, but often I feel like I can’t handle listening to music, so I drift through a podcast instead. Odd, as sense would dictate that listening to a lively discussion about the week’s new cinema releases, including an unexpectedly amusing interview with Werner Herzog, would require greater concentration than simply allowing a few songs to drift through my lug-holes. I never feel this way.¬†When I got back home, I switched the radio on to Five Live Breakfast, which wafted around the house from 7.00-7.50am.

Then I got into the car, turned the key in the ignition, and before I reached to hit the AM/FM button and cue the Today programme on Radio 4, the CD player kicked in with approximately a second and a half of ‘The Birds’, the opening track from the new Elbow album.

And so my listening was done.

To be fair, it was a good bit. The part just after the squeeky arpeggios kick in, reminiscent of The Knife’s ‘Silent Shout’ played through a herniated pipe organ.

No music at work. No music on the way home. The rest of the Kermode podcast as I made dinner, this time on my laptop. I’ve waited until almost 10.00pm, and still nothing. Oh well, at least i’m not forcing it.

To fill the void, i’ll tell you about two other types of music I did hear today.

1. Head music.

Single phrases from several songs have been echoing around my head all day, as they do every day. If you ever meet me you are most welcome to ask what’s playing on my cranial radio station, and i’ll always have an answer for you. It’s a blessing and a curse. Right now it’s ‘Motor Away’ by Guided By Voices. Earlier on it was ‘Bengali in Platforms’ by Morrissey. I’m more than slightly ashamed to admit that this was brought on, as it has reliably been for about three weeks now, by a news report mentioning the Libyan rebel stronghold of Benghazi. For much of the morning I had ‘Dance Music’ by the Mountain Goats on rotation.

Later on, when considering what I might listen to if I walked the dog again this evening, I alighted upon ’03/07-09/07′ by High Places. For a while around 6.00pm I had “Banana banana banana slugs” squirming around in my head, but this soon morphed into ‘I Know What Boys Want’ by The Waitresses, essentially because the two bands have soundalike vocals. Which brings me to:

2. Incidental music

Glee was on in the next room as I was unpacking my bags from last week’s holiday. At approximately 9.30pm some kid ended up singing ‘I Know What Boys Want’ by The Waitresses, which struck me as a coincidence.

And that’s it. Roll on the rest of the week. Monday has been too quiet.