Most of us are locked in, all of us have lost the chance to socialise, to meet and drink and talk and eat and see music and work out and enjoy things outside the house. But music doesn’t have to stop and The Great Confinement has opened up a chance to explore at home, to dig up old favourites and find new pleasures.
In this series we ask: what music is making your life better? Today, broadcaster and pioneering sports journalist, Deb Spillane.
WHAT ALBUMS OR ARTISTS HAVE YOU BEEN PLAYING SINCE BEING CONFINED TO HOME?
As many as possible. But always with heaving helpings of my go-to guys Jason Isbell, Jackson Browne and maybe a touch of Sherbet!
I'm one of those evil types who makes Spotify playlists and puts them on shuffle. I blame radio for it. My love of music came from radio and for me nothing beats the feeling that you're not sure what song is on next followed by a little thrill when you realise it's a favourite.
So I program what I call DebFM. It's an ever-evolving playlist of around 300 songs. It's my favourites mixed in with artists I'm curious about, had almost forgotten about, ones who randomly pop up in conversation, and albums I've seen reviewed favourably by people like your good self. Right now DebFM is featuring everything from The Monkees and Middle Kids to Tool and Alison Moyet via Gillian Welch.
No radio station I worked for would ever let you do that, so that gives me a perverse pleasure! (Is that weird? I hope so.)
WHICH HAVE BEEN GETTING MULTIPLE SPINS?
The Barry Gibb Greenfields album has been hard to move off the playlist. It's survived multiple culls. I'm still absolutely soaking up Jason Isbell's latest album Reunions, and his Nashville Sound album is always a staple. I'm still getting to know the latest albums from Jackson Browne, David Crosby and Crowded House, so they'll be a fixture for a while.
HOW HAS LOCKDOWN CHANGED THE WAY YOU CONSUME MUSIC?
Lockdown hasn't changed what I'm listening to, but I'm at home listening to more of it. That means spending more time looking for new music, or music that's new to me, to add. Watching more TV means more music docos setting me off in different directions. Bill Withers, JJ Cale and The Byrds found their way back into my current listening orbit that way.
Spending too much time on Twitter also influences what I listen to. I'm finding it a great source for leads on what to check out. After discovering Jason Isbell via his stunning work on Twitter I'm open to following up on the music of people who seem interesting. After all, artists who've got something to say are the ones that I want to listen to. Even if one of my latest finds Frampton Forgets the Words seems to counter that idea, it being instrumentals and all, but I suddenly find myself far more interested in what Frampton's doing these days than say, Eric Clapton.
What has definitely changed is I'm not going to see live music which leaves such a hole in my musical diet. On the plus side I’m playing more guitar in lockdown and share a house with a bandmate so we’re entertaining ourselves finding new songs to expand the repertoire, which means a listening to lot of anything that suits two harmonies and acoustic guitar. At the moment The Jayhawks and the Ozark Mountain Daredevils are getting a working over.
WHAT ALBUM FROM YOUR PAST HAVE YOU REDISCOVERED? WHAT DO YOU STILL LOVE ABOUT IT?
Just started listening again to If I Were a Carpenter the tribute album of Carpenters covers that was released way back when I was on-air at triple j. Sheryl Crow's version of Solitaire somehow seemed a song for the current moment (great harmony song and acoustic guitar!), went hunting for it and ended up downloading the whole album again. I still love the sheer improbability of bands like Sonic Youth and Redd Kross being Carpenters fans and the various interpretations of their hits highlight how with the pretty, over-produced pop veneer scraped away, they are still great songs. And some of them surprisingly sad.
HAVE YOU FOUND NEW MUSIC – OR AN ARTIST OR GENRE - THAT WAS UNEXPECTED? WHAT’S EXCITED YOU ABOUT IT?
Been really getting into Brandy Clark. Her lyrics just slay me. Her songs Big Day In A Small Town and Who Broke Whose Heart are current favourites. It's unexpected in the sense I have no idea how I found her music and have often wondered if it was a well-placed Zuel word or two? Anyway, re-watching TV soap Nashville recently (another lockdown tactic) I was also excited to hear she gets some passing mentions in some early episodes. I would've had no idea who she was when I first watched the series several years back.
WHAT’S THE BEST MUSIC TO FLATTEN YOUR (ANXIETY) CURVE?
I have Jason Isbell's Tupelo permanently at the top of every DebFM playlist because it's my "put on repeat until symptoms subside" song and I don't want to have to go scrolling for it. For cheering up and brightening my mood some Fountains of Wayne lyrics and harmonies always put a smile on my face, like good pop should. And a burst of the old Sherbet Summer Love or Slipstream never goes astray.
As well as DebFM, Deb Spillane can be heard in venues on the NSW North Coast with her duo, Thoughts & Prayers.