I started to write about the meltdown I had last weekend – when rank tiredness and the foolhardy cooking of an awful recipe (kale and mustard green gratin) combined to make me: spill half a pint of heavy cream on the kitchen floor; swear loudly and for a long time; throw several tea-towels in a fit of pique. (I need a vacation pretty badly.)
But my mood improved as the week went along. My weekend wobble didn’t last.
So, instead, I’ll treat us all to some mostly non-visual YouTube… Inspired, simply, by rediscovering my I-Tunes playlist “Kazaa Mix” four days ago. I can’t even really begin to describe how happy this playlist has made me since ‘finding’ it again. Forty random songs downloaded a long-arse time ago from Kazaa – remember it? – that I listened to over and over back in the day then forgot about completely. If downloading music has encouraged us all to prefer the song to the album, well, maybe sometimes that really ain’t so bad.
My Kazaa mix is a grab-bag of songs, plain and simple – and hearing them all again these last few days has put so many springs in my step I can scarcely even sit. Especially-
Clean Up Woman – Betty Wright
Pop music wound up being adorned a million different ways, but songs like this prove that it’s what’s underneath that really counts. Keep it simple, stupid. You could pay a producer with a silly name a silly fortune to add a bunch of bells and whistles – but Clean Up Woman wouldn’t come out the other end one iota better.
Band of Gold – Freda Payne
That guitar solo at 1:38. How many hipster white bands from Brooklyn to Glasgow have carved whole careers out of that sort of sound. Cool, angular and lean. Not a single ounce of fat. Nothing makes me want to dance so much as this song… even if, clearly, I absolutely can’t.
Apache – The Incredible Bongo Band
If you’re gonna call yourself The Incredible Bongo Band you better deliver on the promise! On Apache they really, really do, don’t they… File this one under “Redunculously Brilliant,” and then go bongo the shit out of something (for instance, the rest of the day… that thing that was bothering you… getting old and boring).
Diana – Paul Anka
Makes me wish we still lived in a world where music is mostly played on jukeboxes. Makes me want a malted shake. Also irrefutable proof that 95% of lyrics are godawful rubbish – and that countless times that couldn’t possibly matter any less. Also, also, makes me think of ancient Amiga computer game The New Zealand Story. No clue why, but somehow very pleasing.
Ghost Town – The Specials
Everyone says how rough Times Square, and New York generally, used to be in the 70s, don’t they? Full of crack dens, gangsters, bent cops, pimps, and other ne’re-do-wells. Ghost Town nails down the similar sort of grimness that apparently prevailed in early 80s England. Other bands should be scared witless by it, too. Because it’s probably miles better than them… (Quick aside: I basically hate myself for not buying the first Specials album about ten years sooner – was already 30 before I finally did myself the favor.)
This Land Is Your Land – Woody Guthrie
Thanks, Woody. Is a great song to hear a long way from home.