30 Day Song Challenge, Day 30: A song I discovered during the Challenge

Thanks to Mike, I discovered the completely gorgeous ‘Twelve Fold Chain’ by The Books. I can go either way with that moody, whispery indie style — sometimes it’s too faint, or fragile, or just…nice, for me — but this one has plenty of depth. I also love its production; for some reason, all its shuffles and clicks give it an edge that I like, and creates a lovely dual sense of place — while the song itself feels quite metaphysical, it also sounds like it’s happening in someone’s bedroom. I’ll definitely be seeking more from The Books.

And that’s a wrap! Thanks for reading; it’s been fun.

30 Day Song Challenge, Day 29: A song I want played at my funeral

I’m not going to really care what gets played at my funeral. Not at the time, anyway. When I think about it now though, the most important thing for me would be to have whatever is of most comfort to those who are grieving for me.

‘She Goes On’ by Crowded House is gentle and soothing, with a peaceful message — whether you take it as a reference to an afterlife or the fact that the atoms that make up my body will continue and eventually be part of who knows what else in the universe (this is why I want to be cremated and scattered, not kept in a box somewhere).

Now I’m feeling maudlin; thanks a lot, 30 Day Song Challenge.

30 Day Song Challenge, Day 28: A song from my childhood

‘Come on Eileen’ by Dexy’s Midnight Runners is the first song I remember falling deliriously in love with, and I still love it. I think it was the first time I discovered that music could make me have Big Feelings, in this case, joy.

[NB. The video, with its haha-so-charming street harrassment, is a bit icky these days. THANKS FOR RUINING EVERYTHING, FEMINISM.]

[NB. I’m joking, I still love you, feminism.]

30 Day Song Challenge, Day 27: A song I wish I could play/sing

This one has too much overlap with Day 22 for me; it’s songwriting that impresses me far more than displays of instrumental skill or vocal range/agility. Still, there are artists whose presence, originality and/or chutzpah is utterly inimitable, and it’s not so much that I wish I could play their songs as I wish I was them, playing their songs.

PJ Harvey has all of the above — she’s just so interesting as an artist it’s hard to believe she’s a real person. I love that she can rock out all hardcore and aggressive but that she can also achieve the sinister drama of her almost-whisper in ‘Catherine’.

30 Day Song Challenge, Day 26: An earworm

Like most parents in the last couple of years, I have been through my ‘Let it Go’ earworm phase, but in my household the one that’s really stood the test of time is ‘Everything is Awesome’ from The Lego Movie.

My kids LOVE this song, and I love the way, though the song is wall-to-wall irony, they enjoy it at face value; they don’t even understand what irony is. I envy them, and am happy for them, and am sad for them, that for now, they really can believe that everything is awesome.

Sadly though, that is all I love about this song, which is a shame for something that is so often filling my brainspace.

30 Day Song Challenge, Day 25: A song with utterly mysterious lyrics

I couldn’t think of a song with utterly mysterious lyrics, so I’ve chosen a song about a song with utterly mysterious lyrics.

Bill Callahan has such a deadpan manner, I often wonder whether he is actually mocking us all. Sometimes, I think he is, and others, I’m blindsided by raw emotion, like an unexpected punch in the guts.

‘Eid Ma Clack Shaw’ trips along jauntily to its chorus of nonsense words; on a casual listen, you might think it was a bit of a throwaway. In fact, it’s the story of a man struggling to cope with grief. He dreams the words to a song which ‘held all the answers, like hands laid on’, and writes them down, only to discover in the morning that this wonderful deliverance is, in fact, gibberish. It’s a sideways approach to describing the inescapability of the pain he’s in and the understatement amps up the power of it.

It wasn’t until this album, Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle, that I gave Callahan the full credit he’s due for the artfulness and elegance of his songwriting, delivered by stealth under cover of his casual, conversational-seeming delivery.

30 Day Song Challenge, Day 24: My favourite song this time last year

This time last year I discovered that my beloved Damien Jurado had a new album out, Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son. ‘Return to Maraqopa’ is my favourite track from it.

Damien Jurado has been around for eighteen years and has released thirteen albums, yet bizarrely, I had never heard of him until a couple of years ago, and only one other person I know seems to have clocked his existence. This is a great, great shame. He’s about the best America has to offer in indie singer-songwriters. Think Will Oldham but more melodic and meaningful, and less inbred-seeming. His music is mature and developed but there remains something about him that seems utterly vulnerable, like an exposed nerve. I’m still heartbroken that he cancelled his tour to Australia last year due to injury. Come back Damien, please!