Musical Chronology: The You Got Sars Challenge.

This post has been a long time coming. Sometimes when you write, whether it be a blog, or a magazine piece or poetry, it can be a sheer joy to put words to paper – some of my posts in the past have become real labours of love. And then at other times there is the unmatchable frustration of being unable to complete a piece of work, either because you have the dreaded writer’s block, or because some other factor is standing between you and that final word/draft. The latter applied in this case, even though at times I found this post really fun to research/plot out. It has proved to be equal parts ‘first bite into a crispy fresh apple’ and ‘finding half a maggot in your apple’ in getting this post onto the page, and now it’s done I’m still pondering over the end result. It all began in early December, when You Got Sars emailed me with a writing challenge. The premise was as follows…

I had to choose a song released in each year since I was born – so, one from 1976, one from 1977, and so on, until 2011, a total list of 35 songs. Each of those songs had to have some form of relevance to me – important memories, favourite bands, tunes that marked different periods of my life etc etc. And they did not have to have relevance in the year they were released either – at the age of one I had yet to develop much of a refined musical taste, beyond singing ‘Old MacDonald Had A Farm’ using only the sound ‘AAAAAAAHBURP!’. So I could choose a song released in 1976 that had relevance to me later in life, as long as there was just one tune from each year.

Fairly simple, right?? Wrong. So wrong it almost implodes upon itself and becomes right … or something. You see, although 35 years old, my musical tastes focus far more on older music than younger, which meant that straight away a great many songs or artists I would have put in the list without question were automatically excluded since they had not released anything since 1976. DOH!! Were it not for this awkward twist of fate, I probably could have knocked up a list in a couple of hours, and posted this mid-december at the start of my ‘posting drought’. Instead it took on a life of its own, leading me down a torturous maze of frantic Googling and hours spent cross-referencing my ridiculously huge music collection against record release dates. My ‘EVIL PLANS AND SCHEMES’ notebook has travelled to work with me, sat by my side in the evenings, and been subject to much of the crossing-out and the frantic scribbling. On the journey, forced to this path by this seemingly devious little rule, I actually rediscovered several gems that I forgot I had appreciated so much in times gone by, and enjoyed some reminiscing about both bittersweet and gloriously happy memories. Some of the songs that made the list are there for simple reasons, and some for deeply personal ones. Some are works of musical genius, some are … well, music is a personal thing, isn’t it?? Don’t judge me too harshly on what was a surprisingly difficult task to complete – if I had to start over tomorrow I have no doubt the list would end up different – instead, just sit back and read what I (finally) came up with. Sars, (deep breath), here we go…….

1976:  Tom Waits – I Wish I Was In New Orleans

This marks the year of my birth, but it was not until I was just turning twenty that the guy who taught me my first few guitar chords introduced me to the music of the legendary Tom Waits. If you don’t know much about him, stay tuned because I’ll be talking about him later in the year. For now suffice to say this was the first Waits tune I heard, and it blew me away. I can recall precise details of the room where I first spent several hours listening to this guy with the amazing voice like it had been gargling gravel and crushed glass for a bet, and lost. I was becoming pretty repetitious in my listening tastes, but over the course of one blistering hot summer, in a room dominated by a huge Marshall speaker stack and a pair of horrendous orange curtains, I found so much new music it blew my perceptions wide apart. This was the moment my love affair with music took flight, and to me the diverse and chaotic style of Tom Waits fits this moment perfectly – you were never sure what was about to happen, just that it would be awesome……

1977: Bob Marley – Exodus

Much has been written of Bob Marley’s abilities as a performer and social messenger, and of his unique talent for speaking simply through his music. Marley was often a very withdrawn and highly focused individual, and perhaps sometimes I identify with that. At other times, it can be the deeply meaningful lyrics of some of his tunes that strike me. I travelled with my beautiful wife to Jamaica for our honeymoon, and whilst there we made sure we took the time out to visit Bob’s old home in the village of Nine Miles. I’m not an overtly religious person, but certainly I can say that very few places have ever had a truly spiritual feel to them, but this was one of them. The amount of love and warmth toward the man even today is striking. And beyond my more philosophical interest in Bob Marley’s life, there is the simple fact that listening to his music almost always makes me happier than I just was – maybe not by much, but music has a great power to heal – and on those grounds, Bob makes the list 😉

1978: The Doors – Roadhouse Blues

In my early twenties I worked for a couple of years for a security firm that did contract work for large capacity events – football matches, concerts, festivals, county shows and so on – which involved an awful lot of travelling up and down the country from one job to another in a minibus with ten or more other large blokes. Personal space (and legroom) was non-existant, and we were frequently very tired and just off of a shift where we were frequently punched in the face, so in order to avoid tearing each others faces off, many of us retreated into MP3 players to find our own solace. The Doors were a frequent favourite of mine at the time, and since this song was featured in the movie Roadhouse (played by the incomparable Jeff Healey) the link to the job of doorman seemed apt. Listening to this almost instantly invokes memories of endless miles of motorway, observed through half-awake eyes, watching life slowly slide by me as we moved from town to town. Life on the road – note: may appear less glamourous than packaging indicates……….

1979: Pink Floyd – Comfortably Numb

It would be all to easy to choose any one of seventy-four million similar moments during my hipster teenage tears when Pink Floyd, like, totally blew my FREAKING MIND, MAN!!!! LIKE, TOTALLY!!!! But they make the list for another reason – listening to them reminds me of Keith. Keith, and his wife Barbara, were best friends to my Mum and Dad, and through middle school (9-13) their son Damian was my best friend. When my mother died when I was twelve, they were moral support not only to my grieving father but to my sister and I as well. Keith shared his love of music with my father, and he was a big fan of Pink Floyd. Sadly, Keith passed away last year, barely a week after wishing me well at my wedding. They played Floyd at his funeral, and I wept. But now, instead, every time I listen to Floyd fond memories of him fill me, and I smile thinking of him at The Great Gig In The Sky.

1980: Queen – Crazy Little Thing Called Love

I owe my love of Queen to my Dad. Their music frames in my memories the earlier recollections of my life, and many significant events since. They were hugely popular world-wide, but in Britain they were almost something of a national treasure, an icon of music that portrayed all the pomp and circumstance of performance that made them so representative of us as a nation. When Freddy Mercury died, people wept openly in the streets. The opening riff to this song was one of the first things I picked up on guitar. But most of all, Queen to me means time spent listening to music and chatting with my Dad. My Dad has been one of those stand up blokes who went above and beyond the call of duty when it came to taking care of his kids, and has bailed my sorry ass out more times than should have been expected , and he still loves me and I love him back. Don’t think I don’t realise just how lucky that makes me.

1981: The Rolling Stones – Start Me Up

Of all the early formative musical influences I was exposed to, none struck a resonance with me quite like the Rolling Stones did. There was something about their musical influences from roots in the early delta bluesmen, matched with their arrogance and swaggering attitudes, that drew me to them like a moth to a flame. I’d experienced appreciation of music before, but The Stones and Keith Richards in particular were one of the first moments when I felt ‘I want to be able to do THAT!!’. Throughout my teenage years as my peers fell sway to the trends of either electronic dance music or the emergence of grunge rock, you were more often than not to find me listening to the Stones as the everyday soundtrack to my life. The opening chord stabs of this track still send a little electric jolt up my spine!……..

1982: Dire Straits – Private Investigations

Ever have one of those moments where you got a band or artist totally wrong?? Thought you loved them only to find they failed to deliver in the end?? Or like me in this case, initially written them off only to discover how amazing they really were? Dire Straits is a reminder to me not to be too hasty in appreciating music. I saw ‘Money For Nothing’ in the early days of MTV, and was bored by the childish computer animation video that accompanied it, and just pretty much wrote them off as another generic sounding soft-rock band. Not until I was maybe 19 or so did I find an old copy of Love Over Gold (on cassette tape!!) kicking around and stick it on out of boredom. Boom. Fan ever since.

1983: Metallica – Seek and Destroy

This band have had their critics over the years, and quite rightly so at times. They have been guilty of selling out to a more mainstream audience, allowing politics to pollute their musical output, and producing a god-awful This is Spinal Tap-style movie about how hard it was to be a band – boo freaking hoo. But there have been times I have loved this band too, and no more so than in a now sadly-defunct drinking establishment I used to frequent, where it was an unwritten law that if this tune came on the jukebox, the whole pub would stop what it was doing and play air guitar. It was a completely amazing sight – few things beat watching a ninety-year old pensioner in an electric mobility cart pump the devil horns so hard he spills his pint of bitter in his lap. For glorious days of drunken teenage mayhem fondly remembered.

1984: Stevie Wonder – I Just Called To Say I Love You

I was eight years old when this was released, and I loved it. I remember singing it to myself repeatedly at the time, and to this day it remains on of those tunes that, whilst not compelling me to dance, will always find me tapping my foot whenever I hear it. Fantastic tune.

1985: Bruce Springsteen – Glory Days

I’ve always been a huge fan of storytelling, and the narrative style The Boss is famous for always spoke to me, evoking that strange, wide open landscape of America I knew so little about. But mainly he makes the list because whilst working security at one of his concerts here in the UK not only did I get to meet him briefly (lovely guy) but I inadvertantly appeared in one of his tour programmes when my ugly mug appeared in one of the photographs taken for it. It was nice to finally have some proof of what I did for a living that didn’t involve an accompanying medical bill!!

1986: Chris DeBurgh – Lady In Red

This was my Mum’s favourite. That’s a good enough reason for it to be on this list.

1987: Fleetwood Mac – Little Lies

This song has special memories for my wife and I relating to an incident early in our relationship. The exact details shall remain a secret between the two of us, which will doubtless send your sordid minds off on what is undoubtedly totally the wrong tangent, but it’s guaranteed to make us think of each other and smile every time we hear it. Music that conjures memories is a fantastic thing, second only to how fanatastic my wife is 😉

1988: Transvision Vamp – I Want Your Love

Pre-pubescent crushes are a thing often imprinted upon us far deeper than we realise. Ah…. Wendy James. That is all.

1989: Alice Cooper – Poison.

This song always makes me remember High School – in my first year at a new and exciting school this song was everywhere on the airwaves at the time, and the radio friendly chorus always produced the most amazing out-of-tune sing-along in the student common room. Happy, innocent, care-free times. It could also equally represent several poor choices I made in my girlfriends around the time, but that’s a blog all of its own….

1990: Aerosmith – Janie’s Got A Gun

The late eighties and early nineties saw me flirting with a fascination for all kinds of ‘big hair’ bands such as Poison, Bon Jovi and the like (hey, I asked you not to judge, remember!!) but by 1990 I was beginning to expand my horizons both musically and socially. The summer of ’90 was one of the first where I began to regain some of the confidence that I had been lacking and venture out more, and a new acquaintance who was much cooler than me played me the album ‘Pump’, saying he felt it was in line with the music I was coming from. Here began my love affair with Aerosmith, who combined all that was best about balls-out rock and roll with some of the theatre and showmanship I loved in British bands. This song was on almost constant repeat that summer, despite it’s dark subject matter about violent retaliation to abuse, and remains one of my favourite ‘Smith tracks to this day.

1991: Guns and Roses – Civil War

Sometimes the most magical moments in our interaction with music come when we find an artist who consistently turns out music that speaks to some primal part inside us, forming an imaginary kinship with the messages and style of the artist. A massive fan of G’n’R since ‘Appetite…’ was released, I eagerly awaited the ground-breaking double release of the ‘Use Your Illusion’ albums. Rushing home with them, I eagerly played them both back to back. I was already in a thrall over the new material when this track came on, and I suddenly had one of those moments of epiphany. To this day I cannot tell you what exactly it is about the playing of Slash that speaks to me so much, but by the third solo in this epic I knew that I would religiously follow this man’s guitar playing as long as he was releasing music. You must prepare yourself that should we ever meet, I will unceremoniously ‘Shh!’ you if this tune is played anywhere (at best), and at worst you will be hiding behind the shrubbery as I climb the nearest table to perform what can only be described as a ‘Bill and Ted’s Most Excellent Adventure’ level of air guitar playing. Oh Yes.

1992: Iron Maiden – Fear of the Dark

This track was one of the hardest calls for this list, since it meant I had to leave off ‘Lithium’ by Nirvana (even if I did just sneak a mention for it in there!). But there was no way this track could NOT make the list. Strangely, given his normal distaste for the heavier end of rock/metal, it was my Dad who got me into Maiden. On a long road trip he had purchased their landmark ‘Live after Death: World Slavery Tour’ double album on cassette to listen to in the car to keep him awake, and on his return handed it on to me as ‘not his cup of tea’. I went on to worship Iron Maiden, the group who pretty much spearheaded NWOBHM (the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal) in the nineties. Much beloved of metallers in their home country, Maiden were the British ambassadors of metal worldwide, and this epic track from the album of the same name is my favourite tune of theirs. The link I’ve included is from a homecoming gig they performed at Download Festival, Birmingham, UK – I’m there, two rows from the front, quite literally screaming myself hoarse to this tune along with the other 75,000 voices of the ‘East Midlands Choir’ that you’ll hear at the start of the song. Every time I hear this now, the little hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Amazing live music memory, and a band that have been a constant in my life for almost a quarter of a century.

1993: Pearl Jam – Daughter

In ’93 I was working part-time as barman at a local pool hall. One day the guy came to change the cd’s in the jukebox, and the test track he played was ‘Daughter’. I pleaded with him not to touch the machine until the last note faded. At that time getting into all kinds of old blues and jazz music, modern releases had lost interest for me for a while, and the album ‘Ten’ had all but passed under my radar. But by halfway through this track I was stood at the jukebox drinking in one of the most unique and innovative bands (and voices) that have come out of America for decades. As an angst-filled young adult, the pathos and disillusionment that had been hinted at by the grunge movement hit home with full force, and forever since cemented the role of Pearl Jam in my musical consciousness. This summer, they headline the world famous Isle of Wight music festival about seven miles from my front door – an event that is, quite frankly, on the level of the second coming of Christ to me.

1994: Jeff Buckley – Hallelujiah

Bluntly put, if I need to explain why this track is here then you need to go away and come back when you have developed some musical appreciation. Beyond that, this was the first time a piece of music with no other emotional attatchment or history brought me to tears with its beauty. Moments when music can speak to us so fluently and coherently that they invoke the strongest of emotions within us are scarce and unique, and I’ve learnt the value of recognising that and appreciating it to its fullest. Like so many enormously talented artists, Buckley was taken from us far too young, but one consolation is that he left this beautiful, emotive jewel of a tune behind for us to remember him by.

1995: Ash – Girl from Mars

1995 was the summer of busking. I’m not sure if this word is used worldwide or not – I’m referring to musicians placing a guitar case down and playing for spare change, then running like the zombie apocalypse finally arrived when the police spotted you performing without a licence. My friends and I spent the whole summer alternating between busking in town, and drinking beer bought with the proceeds on the beach in the sun. All over the airwaves in England that summer, Girl from Mars was an easy to play, power-pop guitar tune that not only had a strong summery feel to the lyrics, but usually netted a decent amount of cash once you had a crowd going. Now, it sums up perfectly probably the last summer I spent work and care free, just hanging  out in the sun at the beach feeling like it would all never end. If this tune was an item, it would be an old sepia photograph of a former lover, the feelings faded now but still fondly remembered with a smile on the face….

1996: The Prodigy – Firestarter

Two reasons for including what seems like an odd-one-out in terms of content on my list of songs: one, that like many of my age I experienced the phenomenal growth in popular culture of electronic dance music, and have spent my share of neon-lit clubbing nights shouting “I’m a firestarter, twisted firestarter!!!” into the faces of equally inebriated strangers – although never the biggest fan of dance music I always found the Prodigy more .. accessible. No surprise then that at this year’s Download Festival in the UK in June they are one of the headline acts at what is almost exclusively a rock and metal festival. And secondly, that as many of you will know I genuinely do firebreathe as a hobby in my spare time, and this tune makes me think of fun nights on the beach scaring the living bejeesus out of dog-walkers and lighting up the night sky with huge fireballs. (sigh) Boys and their toys…………….

1997: Bob Dylan – Make You Feel My Love

Sir Bobness of Dylanshire has been releasing music since he bought his first Stegosaurus, and at the age of 1032 (ok, he’s a mere 70) has long since been established as one of the premier exponents of the Americana tradition of folk storytelling and political observation. His unusual voice and wailing harmonica intrigued me as a small kid listening to my Dad listen to him, and then later as a teenager he appealed to the rebel in me – now I look back on his enormous back-catalogue as a unique testament to the feelings of a generation. I was fortunate enough to see Bob perform his only UK date in 2010, where he bopped around the stage like a dervish. The crowd sing-along on ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ was nothing short of epic, not the least because I was accompanied by my soon wife-to-be in the crowd. At our wedding in October of that year, a cover of this song (by Bryan Ferry of Roxy Music fame) was the tune for the Father/Bride dance, and so has special significance to the both of us.

THE LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: I’m cheating, Sars – live with it. The only way I could sneak the almighty Led Zeppelin onto this list was that they re-released Whole Lotta Love in this year. Whilst strictly speaking barred from inclusion since they didn’t release since 1976, to be honest any list of songs that have deep relevance to me is meaningless with Zeppelin on it. I could waffle on for hours (and will do, at the drop of a hat. Or even the suggestion a hat may be dropped soon…) about the hows and whys of Zeppelin’s influence on me, but since I’m cheating already I won’t allow them to steal the limelight. Instead, hear ye this…. there need be no reason for the inclusion of Led Zeppelin, other than that THEY ARE LED ZEPPELIN THE GREATEST EVER ROCK BAND TO WALK THE FACE OF THE PLANET AND ANY OTHER OPINION IS NULL AND VOID AND MIGHT GET YOU A SMACK. That is all.

1998: Jurassic 5 – Concrete Schoolyard

My tastes as I’m sure you’re realising are predominantly rock based, but I genuinely love music from all walks of life, and HipHop is no exception. There is no one tune that really has a strong emotive link for me, but in my research into this years releases I kept coming back to this one again and again. So it’s here for no other reason than it’s one of those tunes that if heard on the radio will immediately require an increase in volume and some dubious posturing from me. All together now, “Let’s take it back to the concrete streets, original beats from real live MC’s……”

1999: Green Day – Nice Guys Finish Last

I’ve gone right off Green Day recently. I don’t like the newer ‘manufactured’ sound they have or the pop-punk route they’ve chosen – though I doubt they’ll be calling me on their gold-plated sattelite phones from their yacht in the Azores to tell me how sorry they are. But in the earlier days they had a great wild abandon about them, and no more so than when playing to British crowds, who have a reputation for being more …. ‘physical’ about their enjoyment of a gig. I saw Green Day at the legendary Brixton Academy and enjoyed the most ridiculously childish party ever, crowd-surfing, pogo-ing and generally acting like a tit – until I was pulled from the crowd by paramedics and forced to rehydrate because I was drenched in sweat. Not the greatest gig I ever attended, but probably the most fun 🙂 . Oh, and did I mention I’d dyed my hair electric green?

2000: Alabama 3 – Cocaine (Killed My Community)

You may recognise the name of this band – although they’re not from Alabama. London-based Alabama 3 have a wonderful odd style that they refer to as ‘country acid-house jazz’! Their most famous (and more main-stream sounding) song is ‘Woke Up This Morning’, used as the theme music for hit Mafia TV series The Sopranos. I really love this band, but I include them here because they remind me of  my best friend, Kirk. He introduced me to the band’s music, and hearing it conjures up many cold British winter nights sat at his place hanging out with him and his wife, warm lights and cold beers, hot gossip and cool music, and the feeling of being happy to be around good friends. Plus one of the ‘characters’ in the band plays a drunken demented evangelical-style preacher, which might as well be Kirk’s job description on his passport. I love him, but he’s a freak.

Step right up. Only a dollar.

2001: Ryan Adams – Rescue Blues.

This one is a work related one. One of my former jobs was as Head Chef of a private brand new cricket ground, with a beautiful black and white restaurant attatched. At first whilst we established our trade I worked alone, which was a bit solitary but had the advantage of giving me full control of the kitchen stereo. It is officially a fact that it is easier to whisk fresh hollandaise sauce if you are also boogying to Creedence Clearwater Revival. But this Ryan Adams tune was one I listened to one perfect golden summer evening in the bar after work as I looked out at the ridiculously cliched picture-postcard view of England; a sedate game of cricket, ladies with parasols and gentlemen with white sweaters sat on the pavilion eating strawberries and cream with shortbread and drinking pots of tea, or pints of strong dark ale…….. and a bunch of pissed locals shouting, ignoring the cricket, and playing football on the sidelines  using jumpers for goalposts. I will always remember looking at all that and laughing so hard it hurt. Oh, and the tunes pretty good too.

2002: Johnny Cash – The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

At the end of his life, Johnny Cash recorded the now legendary American Recordings series, including everything from old gospel and folk tunes to reworkings of his own works and even covers of modern music he admired – everyone from The Eagles to Nine Inch Nails. Amongst those tunes is this, a wonderful and touching song of love. It’s a little slow and sombre for some, but its the words that make this song our favourite. I say our, because this was our ‘First Dance’ music at our wedding. I loved the tune before, but now as well as being a great song it reminds me of the fact that against all odds and in the face of logic, I have managed to meet and marry someone who is not just an amazing wife, but a great friend. We’ve been together for nearly ten years, and I still smile when I wake up next to her. She always reads my blogs and so: I love you Emily xx.

(ahem. sorry. slushiness mode disengaged.)

2003: Shinedown – .45

Headphones are, in my opinion, the greatest single invention modern man has created, with the possible exception of Jaegermeister. To any afficionado of music there is no greater joy than picking some great music, and CRANKING THE MUSIC UP REALLY GODDAMN LOUD!!! A friend of mine made me a mix of random tunes by bands he thought I might like. When I heard this tune at high volume I had an eargasm. This guy’s voice is amazing, and the guitar part is simple but well executed – it’s just a great little bit of songwriting. There’s no real reason for including this song, no great memory, just the hope that someone might not have heard it, and enjoys it.

2004: Jay-Z/Linkin Park – Points of Authority/99 Problems/One Step Closer

I like musical collaborations, cover versions, solo projects, side projects, superbands, basically I’m interested by musical artists finding new ways to express what they do. Sometimes they fail badly, but in this case I was surprised by how seamless they made this short six-track collaboration album work. This one is particularly good working out music, but your neighbour’s enjoyment of it is diminished if you share it through a wall at 3am. Just saying. So, er, you know and that………

2005: The Killers – Mr. Brightside

The kitchen anthem at one point in my favourite job ever, this upbeat little number reminds me of busy mise en place sessions and frantic services, long hours working as part of an incredibly sharp team, and of Neil. Neil was my co-worker on my section, and was quite small in height compared to me (as many people are) and we developed what we referred to as ‘chef ballet’, the process where we would dance around each other in our tightly packed kitchen, Neil spinning under me with pans of sauce as I lifted trays over his head. Our service pass had two shelves, and Neil would plate up along the bottom shelf as I plated up the top shelf at the same time. It all flowed so perfectly. Then the bastard left me and then later on became my boss – and now works for Jamie Oliver. Envy – moi?? But seriously, Neil is a fantastic guy, and this was one of his favourite tunes so it reminds me of him and a fantastic time spent making brilliant food with a brilliant guy.

2006: Black Stone Cherry – Hell and High Water

I’m a touch partial to some Southern Rock. Whilst by no means the finest exponents of the genre, Black Stone Cherry are on the list because of a silly tradition that makes me smile. It involves Daffy Duck. No, no, stay with me here. Again my father is to blame for handing on this slightly odd family tradition. We as a family own a large number of Daffy Duck toys that are dressed in different costumes, but otherwise indentical. When we go away on holidays or trips, we take a Daffy. The idea is to get photos of Daffy in unlikely situations. We’ve hidden him in luggage and taken sneak pics of him on holidays, only to amaze the kids when they look at the photos and see Daffy snuck away on holiday with us 😉 I won’t post the one of Daffy rocking out to Black Stone Cherry live at Download festival, since I look hideous in it, but here’s us later in the day getting some downtime before the headliners and reading Slash’s autobiography.

Every Assassin needs a duck. Fact.

2007: Chris Cornell – Billie Jean

Remember what I said about loving cover versions?? Well they don’t come much better than this. A fan of Soundgarden in the nineties and Audioslave since then, I was no stranger to the power of reclusive frontman Chris Cornell’s huge voice. But his amazing reworking of this Michael Jackson classic is just immense. Seeing him sing live was a revelation, such an epic voice coming from inside such a tiny frame. Plus I couldn’t get Soundgarden or Audioslave in anywhere else, but now I’ve mentioned Soundgarden and Audioslave three times already. No rules broken here. Bent to the point of shattering, but not broken. No sir.

2008: Rodrigo y Gabriela – Tamacun

This amazing example of twin guitar playing is my way of acknowledging the importance to me, musically, of the TV programme Later with Jools Holland. A long running mainstay of British television, this programme has introduced me to so many new acts its ridiculous, featuring an eclectic yet high calibre set of artists every week. I was watching one night when I saw this performed live and – well, wow. It’s great. Like many other bands Jools has turned me on to, I now own several Rodrigo y Gabriela albums, full of brilliant music. So thanks Jools, I owe you one.

2009: AC/DC – Anything Goes

The opening track to their triumphant return album, ‘Black Ice’, the title pretty much sums up their approach to life as well. I’ve listened to AC/DC in a hundred different places on a thousand different occasions. There’s no real one occasion that leaps out at me on this one, but they’re definitely at the forefront of the bands who have been with me for years and years … and still sound great now. Actually I do remember waking up in a tent with a man I’d just met after falling asleep drunk from the night before, sharing scotch and AC/DC tunes with him at a metal festival, but that’s definately not my best memory. It is, however, sadly still a memory.

2010: Slash feat. Myles Kennedy – Starlight

A couple of nights after our wedding, we were in a little lakeside chalet our friends had arranged for us (we didn’t honeymoon for three months) and my new wife had gone to bed. For the first time since I’d said ‘I do.’, I decided to listen to some music. I stuck mu mp3 player on shuffle and this was the first song that came on. At the time I was sat outside (mumble mumble non-smoking chalet mumble mumble mumble fascist bastards) and was looking up at the stars in the sky. I was struck by how ironically appropriate the song was – like my life right there, right then, it felt as though everything was just…meant to be. A lovely blissed out tune that reminds me of that elusive feeling we all strive after every day – the feeling that absolutely nothing is wrong.

2011: Joe Bonamassa featuring Glenn Hughes – Heartbreaker

The epic guitar virtuosity of Joe Bonamassa is a truly fearsome thing. He’s one of those awe-inspiring guitarists who just seems to have three arms, one of which is an electric guitar. Accompanied here by Glenn Hughes, formerly of Deep Purple fame, and now Bonamassa’s band mate in Black Country Communion, the rapidly becoming legendary bluesman covers the epic ‘Heartbreaker’ by Free. It encapsulates the kind of thing you’d find me listening to on an average day sat in front of the keyboard laboriously typing out a huge blog for a challenge. And also everything that is beautiful and emotive about blues music. From now on, it will forever be added to my library of musical memories as the tune that reminds me that sometimes, when forced to think outside the box about what our ‘favourite’ music is, the tunes that come up are quite surprising.


There, the challenge is done. I’m still ambiguous about how I feel over my selections – whilst they’re valid choices, there are a lot of tunes that are more important to me or contain better back stories, but I stuck to the rules (mostly). It proved, as I said earlier, to be much more difficult than I’d anticipated initially, but in the end it was kind of fun to do, and turned up a few old gems along the way that didn’t deserve to make the list for one reason or another, but were still gratefully rediscovered and dusted off by me. So my thanks to You Got Sars for the challenge, for prompting my trip down memory lane, and for being patient with me whilst I struggled with this – I told you I was getting there!! And if any other readers have writing challenges or input don’t forget you can email me at or through my Facebook page. Thanks for joining me on this long-winded trip down the highways of my mind – please form an orderly queue for the toilets on the way out, the bus will leave in five minutes, please don’t drink the water.

The Assassin.

PS: Sars, I owe you one compilation album. Drop me an email with an address where I can send it. But be warned – if it took me this long to compile the list, making the album could be the work of a lifetime….. 🙂


17 comments on “Musical Chronology: The You Got Sars Challenge.

  1. Remembering “Hallelujah” made me instantly youtube it. Aaaaaaand, now I’m at work, crying in my cubicle like a little bitch. That song fucking kills me every time.


  2. Love you too baby, even if you did make me cry! (In a happy way!) Here’s to the next ten years, and another trip to see Bob xxx


  3. Wow. Seeing as we are practically the same age, many of those songs also resonated strongly with me as well. Mostly for different reasons, but still around the same time period. And seriously, if Zep, Floyd and PJ weren’t on this list, I woulda had to fly on over to your little island and kick your arse. Wait, when did you say PJ would be 7 miles from your house? Yeah, maybe I’ll have to come on over around then. Coincidentally and all.

    It would take me forever to do this, but I’m thinking I might just for fun. Everyone needs something to work on that is just “fun” and such, right?


    • Well it was equal parts fun and pullng my hair out with frustration. But it was interesting and I learnt from it and listened to some good music, so it was a good experience. I advise not doing it under the constraints of a schedule though, as its definately one you’d want to take your time over!!


  4. First… (I may have said this before, I think) You fucking rule!! Of the three I issued the challenge, you are the only one to pull through. And what style! no wonder it took so long! A video to accompany every one? I am feeling quite special. There are quite a few songs on here I love. And since we are the same age (okay I’m a year older but whatever) We grew up in the same time frame, but with completely different experiences. I did this a long, long time ago, so its time to refresh without a glance back. I’m on it.

    Thank you for taking me up on the challenge. I knew you would provide a collection of music unlike anyone else I know. On top of the fact that you have an in depth explanation, for all of them. Enough so that I have no idea what cheating you are talking about. ; ) But damnit if I didn’t forget my headphones this morning. It’s alright though… something to look forward to.

    I guess I’m gonna have to step up now…


    • Your challenge was a beast, but it was a great ride on the way. I’d be interested to see what your list was and how it would compare with a re-do now. One of the wonderful things about music is that no matter how your tastes may change there is always something new out there to discover – although you helped me remember that sometimes rediscovering an old friend is better than making a new one. In this instance, however, it is a new friend (your good self) who has given me a great blog about old music. Thank you for that, and for your kind words. If you ever get that list re-written, let me know!!!!


  5. Impressive list here, Kev. I’m going to bookmark this particular post to make sure I get through all the songs you posted. I’d love to be in the audience at the club where Jay Z and Linkin Park were playing. Hell yeah.


    • That Linkin Park/Jay-Z crossover EP Collision Course was a scarce example of genre-blending that actually worked well on all levels!! I loved (and hated in equal measure) doing this challenge Roy – perhaps as a man with some admirable musical tastes (as well as a mean rapping style) you can think of a similar challenge for me?? I could write about music all day long!!! Let me know if this list uncovers any gems/atrocities for you!!


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