Saturday, April 04, 2009


This, then, is the 25,000th No Rock And Roll Fun post. Which, first, gives me a pause in the general flow of things to thank everyone who reads, and special thanks to commenters and those of you who send me tips and hints about stories you think I'll be interested in.

And, to celebrate this landmark, what better than some music, and a more-personal-than-usual post? Here are five musical landmarks from my life (and, if you're keen, feel free to share your landmarks through the comments section).

The first song I remember
I've got several really strong memories of songs from when I was not that much smaller but a whole heap blonder: Standing on the pouffe, singing along with The Carpenter's Yesterday Once More, creating a moment for future nostalgia out of a song that was, in itself, about nostalgia. Pilot's January, which made a massive connection in my head when I heard it while looking at a calendar displaying a January page. But, really, the first soundtracked memory I have, has this tune on it. Ringo Bloody Starr, and his you-wouldn't-get-away-with-that-now classic, You're 16, You're Beautiful, And You're Mine:

The memory itself is as underwhelming as the song, to be honest: getting up, on a dark winter's morning, to the sound of Ringo downstairs. He was on the radio. He wasn't a friend of the family.

The 'more than wallpaper' song
On Peeling Back The Years, Radio One's indulgent four-parter where John Walters explored John Peel's musical life, he posed a question "when was the first time you heard a song and thought 'this is more than wallpaper, this means something to me'?" Which is a tricky question to answer - I was already a smitten pop fan before hearing the next song, but it did something alchemical to me. This was the record where I realised that this was it; that the rest of my life would be spent trying to find records which gave me this sort of feeling of plunging deep into the heart of the sound; of that moment when the music and the lyrics and the performance resonates.

It was Blasphemous Rumours. Oh, yes, for a time, Depeche Mode were the group that defined me:

The song that changed my life
They defined me, but didn't reshape me in the way that Ride did. This came on Snub TV when I was at university, and I mentioned in a letter to a penfriend (a thing we did before the internet, young people) that I'd found my first great new band of the year. "They're playing here in Oxford next weekend, come down" she replied. So I did, kick-starting a couple of years of following bands, meeting people, growing up, sleeping in the open, falling to pieces and pulling back together. This isn't the first time Chelsea Girl has been posted on No Rock, but it can never be heard enough:

The song that sings of love
The first dance at my wedding. We're still dancing. I wouldn't be without her.

Mazzy Star's Fade Into You. If you have to have a Starr, then you need a Star to balance them out.

The greatest new song I've heard today
I hadn't heard much of the new PJ Harvey - John Parrish stuff before today, when I caught up with their live session on George Lamb's programme from earlier in the week. Sublime, as ever, making the switch from the music to the honking, the canned applause, and the provincial cabaret patter even more galling. Here's Black Hearted Love the way it's intended to be:

Music. It's bloody brilliant, isn't it?

Now, then, back to the cynical poking of people who try and ruin it...


PeterD said...

Thanks for the 25,000 Simon.

Anonymous said...

You see, that's how I find new music to get into. Someone says, "Here, check this out on youtube." Sometimes it's still, "Here's a mixed CD I burned for you", but that's more rare now. Then, if I like what I'm hearing, I'll skip lunch 10 days in a row to go to a concert, buy the next CD, buy the t-shirt... A few years ago, a friend and I signed up for the same classes and shared books, so we could both afford to go see some bands. It's a shame that some of the videos you got up there are already blocked. I might have liked them.

Anyway, thanks for this blog. You steered me and my friends towards a lot of good stuff.

Anonymous said...

congrats on the milestone norock, heres to many more.

also... u listen to George Lamb?!?

simon h b said...

Oh, Lord, no - wait until it's on listen again, and then fast forward through to the live session. Usually 11.45ish.

James said...

Congratulations! Thanks for the most compelling blog there is, for some aces new tunes, and for reading the tabloids so I don’t have to. Thanks also for including my occasional tips - Seeing a suggested story appear here makes up for all those pasta-and-glue creations laying in the skip outside the Take Hart studio.

The musical milestones got me thinking about my own. And, since you asked, I might as well share. The first song I remember would probably be Tracy Ullman's 'They Don't Know' I remember it being on the radio all the time as a child, hearing it playing in the kitchen and for some reason finding it hilarious when she hollered 'BAAAAY-BEEEEY'. I think hearing that version so early on made Kirsty MacColl's original sound even better when I discovered it years later.

The 'more than wallpaper' song would be Saint Etienne's 'You're in a Bad Way'. I remember liking some terrible music when I was young. Then, one warm Spring morning whilst revising for mocks, this song came on the radio ('The Hot FM', years before local stations went wrong). I was struck by how it was obviously a pop song, but with something special about it that set it apart, like spending years surrounded by the beige paintings they sell in Morrison's homeware section, and then one day visiting the Tate Modern. It sounded as if the creators had made it because they loved pop music, rather than because they were being paid to do it.

I think the song that changed my life would be Lazy Line Painter Jane. It reminds me of evenings listening to Mark Radcliffe on Radio 1's Graveyard Shift, the programme that got me into radio and hundreds of bands that I still love today. Belle and Sebastian were the first band that made me want to be part of a whole different world, one of rummaging through boxes of obscure singles, making compilations and feeling a bit shy in front of the girl who worked in the record shop.

You’re right, you know. It’s not bad, this music caper. Could catch on.

mkb said...

Seems rude to read this post and not take a few seconds to post my thanks for this blog No Rock - great reading.

selena gomez said...

Thank you, your article is very good

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