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 you happy. Today, journalist MICHAEL PASCOE.
WHAT ALBUMS OR ARTISTS HAVE YOU BEEN PLAYING SINCE BEING CONFINED TO HOME?
Is “lots” or “all sorts” an acceptable answer? Well, not opera, rap or classical.
I’ve been working from home (and airport lounges and hotel rooms) for many years, so there’s been little novelty value in this for me (other than finding I miss the aforementioned airport lounges and hotel rooms). For three years, I’ve been relying on shuffling my main Spotify list with its pile of classics and adding to that as I remember or encounter something I like. I also have a few sub-lists for specific moods and some artists e.g. blues, Sonny Criss et al, soft & slow, Eilen Jewell. The main list starts with American Breed, Bend Me, Shape Me, and Amy LaVere Dreamer, and runs through to The Zombies’ Summertime and (predictably) ZZ Top’s Legs. As I write, Van Morrison is doing what he does so very well.
WHICH HAVE BEEN GETTING MULTIPLE SPINS?
Skip ahead to the “new music” answer on that - Andrea Motis. More Springsteen than usual thanks to friend who is a huge Bruce fan and has been trying to educate me. Also Eilen Jewell – we had tickets for her “postponed” March 24 concert and this Bernard Zuel fella (who tipped me to her in the first place) reminds me when she’s doing a home concert. Her I Remember You is one of my favourite songs. (The Springsteen fan was extolling Born To Run – I told him I Remember You is Wendy’s reply four decades later.)
WHAT ALBUM FROM YOUR PAST HAVE YOU REDISCOVERED? WHAT DO YOU STILL LOVE ABOUT IT?
Not really rediscovered as I’ve never forgotten it, but Sonny Criss’ Crisscraft has been going around again. It was the first jazz record I ever bought – early 1976. The tracks All Night Long and Blues In My Heart in particular were/are a sound/sense/emotion that reached into me and never let go. I even tried to learn alto sax for a while because of it. My brother has been setting up a sound system and wanted a Criss list, so I’ve been adding to it with other music of that genre. I enjoy late night, I often write late, I enjoy feeling tired – and in that mood, the last glass of red or a wee Scotch and Criss’ mellow blues are sublime.
HAVE YOU FOUND NEW MUSIC? WHAT’S EXCITED YOU ABOUT IT?
Certainly have. Sometimes Mr Zuel has a suggestion that works for me (none as lasting as Ms Jewell yet), sometimes Spotify will toss up something that grabs after a song selection I’ve made. Andrea Motis with the Joan Chamorro Quintet is in the latter category and my find of the ‘Rona – a young Spanish jazz singer and musician. The Gershwins probably never meant their Summertime to be as sleepily relaxed, or have the second verse dropped, but the arrangement is seductive and her voice beguiling. Only 18 when she recorded it in 2013. And there’s a large range in repertoire.
WHAT’S THE BEST MUSIC TO FLATTEN YOUR (ANXIETY) CURVE?
I like to think I don’t let the curve get to me – it is what it is, we’re relatively very lucky - but you can’t beat the Gods to get moving – the Beatles, Motown, Van, Creedence, Muddy Waters, Cocker, Stones, Chisel, Cream – it’s a very long list. Simon & Garfunkel, Beach Boys, Donovan and Bonnie Raitt a little mellower. And I can enjoy being blue, enjoy being taken down low – Diana Krall’s Almost Blue, Nina Simone’s Since I Fell For You, Bonnie’s Standing In The Doorway, John Lee Hooker Don’t Look Back. And so many, many more. Even some classical and the odd aria – just not rap.
Michael Pascoe is a journalist who might well prefer to be skiing but can be read each week, on matters economic and political, in The New Daily.