The brief was 50 songs from the past 50 years – easy, right? The truth was pain, existential angst, dark nights of the soul and the boredom of anyone who asked what I was doing and got the very full answer, complete with lines like “but my favourite jazz albums are pretty much pre-65 and those after run into Beatles etc and then what could I do?”

Did I say boredom? I meant shrieks of agony, a lot of tearful begging and “please Hammer, don’t hurt them”.

(I can give you an early hint, there is no MC Hammer in the 50, or 100, or 500 – but don’t let me stop you with your own party plans. Here’s something to tide you over til then.)

There were a few official rules: only one song per artist; the song had to have been released that year; each song had to mean something to, or represent something about, me and my life; and no, I couldn’t do a double disc with a second track from each year, no matter how much I cried and pleaded.

There were a few unofficial rules: some key people were going to be on that list no matter what, it was just a matter of which year would fit as I balanced them year to year; cool couldn’t be a consideration – claiming it or hiding the lack of it; variety of styles/genres reflecting my interests was a factor but couldn’t over-ride any official rules; and no, I couldn’t do a double disc with a second track from each year, no matter how much I cried and pleaded.

So I took the plunge.

(There was a fallback/consolation: what didn’t make the list could be used in the general music for the party. Which was partial comfort: hello Coltrane, Sinatra, Hancock and Vaughan.)

And as a reward for good behaviour earlier I was allowed a bonus track for a significant element. So, yes, there’s 51 – and if the box set ever emerges, you’ll get 101 before the demo and live versions are included, maybe even early mixes and the essay from a journo paid 20c per word to say how great I once was. Can’t promise vinyl though. And, sorry, no audio tape – that’s just hipster rubbish and you know it.

Here’s a hint of the bonus track

The full list will be displayed post-Jan 30 (the date of the cursed/blessed event that was the excuse for the exercise) but here are some stats from that list. Yes, I know, ridiculousness knows no bounds. Stats!?! Who cares?

But really, given we’re talking here about someone who used to keep just these kinds of figures with my little green and white books in which were written all the 7″ and 12″ I was buying, clearly I not only like this stupid shit but revel in the pain.

So no one can be surprised I kept some stats can they? Just as no one can be surprised that there really are some people who will care and then argue about my definitions even before they get to the actual choices.

The counting starts …….. now

Then, shalt thou count to three. No more. No less. Three shalt be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. That’s how it goes, right Tim?

American – 24

British – 19

Australian – 6

French – 1

Algerian – 1

Co-written by me – 1

Male (solo and as vocalist, irrespective of number of men/women in group) – 37

Female (solo and as vocalist, irrespective of number of men/women in group) – 14

Solo – 25

Group – 26

Pop – 17

Rock – 17

Electronic/dance/disco – 5

Soul/R&B/Hip Hop – 5

Roots/Country/Americana – 6

Non-western – 1

#KateBush #MCHammer

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