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Posts Tagged ‘musical influences’

Ah, Thursday again. As I understand it, a very squelchy Thursday for much of the country, I hope wherever you are you are warm, dry and happy. FAWM is progressing slowly for me at this end, I have another demo up, of new song Leave a Light On – enjoy!

I had a very happy walk to work the other day, as I’d downloaded an album that I hadn’t listened to in ages – Erasure’s Wild. This album came out when I had just turned 14, and I remember buying one of the singles, “Star” on vinyl. So I lost myself in nostalgia as I wandered through York, and I pondered which other albums had had an influence on me during my formative years.

The first album I ever bought was The Stranger, by Billy Joel. I saved my allowance for this one, at 50 cents a week (I was in the US at the time). It came out in 1977, when I was two, and I doubt very much, given my young age, that I bought it at the time of it’s release. But I do remember, vividly, going into our local record store with my parents, and handing over a grubby pile of half dollars, and going home with the vinyl LP, which I loved, and played on repeat for many years after it’s acquisition. The net result of an early love of this album was an early love of the piano, and I was determined to learn to play. However, my parents could not afford a full size piano, and instead got me a small electronic keyboard. This was enough to start me on my long journey as a songwriter! (The other, more unfortunate side effect of this album was a determination to marry Billy Joel… in hindsight I’m rather glad I got over that one!)

Billy Joel – Scenes From An Italian Restaurant – Live at the Tokyo Dome 2006

Next up, although these aren’t in chronological order, Wild, by Erasure. I’d already heard and loved “The Innocents” , but “Wild” was the first Erasure album I bought, this time on cassette. At this time in my life, I was 14/15, and I was obsessed with this synth driven joy I was hearing. It’s hard not to feel happy when listening to Erasure, even with the occasional sadder song, and while the Pet Shop Boys had never quite managed to suck me in, Erasure managed to completely convert me to the cause of synthpop. My favourite song off the album is “Star”, although honourable mentions go also to “Blue Savannah” (that piano!) and “You Surround Me”. Several of Erasure’s B-sides are also superb from this album, “Dreamlike State” being the B-side for “Star”. I miss B-sides…

Erasure – Star

The next one isn’t an album, but it’s important for understanding my burgeoning synth obsession. Future Sound of London’s  Cascade, an EP, or mini-album. I was in 6th form when a school friend introduced me to this and I loved it. I’ve long since lost my cassette copy of it, and for a long time was unable to track down the whole thing. The power of the internet returned it to me recently however:

iTunes: “Would you like to download Cascade?”

Me: “Shut up and take my money, why isn’t it here already??!”

Here’s the first track, Cascade part 1.

A run down of albums that shaped me would not be complete without Tori Amos, and her fantastic album, Little Earthquakes.  I remember, one damp, long summer at my dad’s house in Lancashire, lying on the floor listening to “Crucify” and feeling like no-one could possibly understand how I felt, except maybe this woman, with her piano, her crazy lyrics and cracked, heartfelt vocals. She solidified my need to write, although it took another decade or two before I found the courage.

Tori Amos – Crucify (Live at Montreux, 1991)

Last but not least, the album that contains my favourite song of all time, Hounds of Love, by Kate Bush. My parents had this album in their music collection, and I remember hearing it repeatedly growing up. It wasn’t until I became an older teenager that I really rediscovered it, and learned to love it myself, I suspect I was a bit too young before. Something about the anthemic “Cloudbusting” always stayed with me, and it occupies the rare position of being my absolutely favourite song, it has never faded or become too familiar, and punches me in the gut every time I hear it. In a good way.

Kate Bush – Cloudbusting

That’s some of the music that has had an influence on me. It’s not exhaustive, but it’s a pretty good starting point. Thanks for reading/listening and I hope you enjoyed this journey through my past!

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