Music You may have noticed in the past couple of days our tribe has been posting selfies of how we look now along with a photo of our faces from ten years ago. Because I don't have any photographs of myself from back then to hand and the weight loss is so extreme you'd think it was two different people anyway, here's something else which is completely different.
In 2006, each of my Christmas cards, back when I could afford to post them to dozens of people across the world, included a mix cd of music I'd enjoyed that year along with festive favourites. The equivalent of that now would be to email a Spotify playlist to some people. Or the following. Ten years on, I've decided to recreate the playlist on this blog for you all to enjoy.
This first track, to herald the start of Christmas, is the majestic Oer Yw'r Gwr (Deck The Halls) by the Treorchy, Morriston, Orpheus & Pontarddulais Male Choirs With The Band Of The Welsh Guards. If you'd like something a bit more eclectic, here's an acoustic re-interpretation.
Natalie Imbruglia's That Day is here because it's still in my top ten favourite songs of all time, ever, like in the entire, like, multiverse. Here's an essay which expresses the esteem with which I hold the song. The unreleased video is a bit of an energetic shambles which removes some of its empowerment by making it directly about becoming frustrated about a man. So here's the official release with its still simplicity and symbolic brilliance:
The Mitch Benn track is from his album Radio Face which also features many of his classics including Macbeth and Dr Who Girl, both of which I heard when he played live on a boat moored at the Albert Dock in Liverpool (one of those occasions when I think he remembered we went to school together).
There was a moment when I didn't really understand The Spice Girls. Fortunately wisdom came quickly enough that I could enjoy them when they were still in the ascendancy. Sleigh Ride was the b-side on 2 Become 1 but I picked found it on The Best Christmas Album in the World ... Ever!
The video for Roger Sanchez's Another Chance is still breathtakingly poignant and an example of a promo which bridges the gap with video art. On this cd, I think it was supposed to represent a Christmas night out.
The Runaway Bride was broadcast in 2006. Yes, it's that long ago. At the time many Who fans were intensely irritated by Catherine Tate's performance as Donna. Then she went on to destroy us all in her subsequent season. Which just goes to show what we know. Here's a funny montage to accompany I'm Gonna Spend My Christmas With a Dalek:
Here's Tom Lehrer's A Christmas Carol from his live vinyl An Evening Wasted ..., my favourite album at about the age of 12 which probably did more than anything else to define my sense of humour.
Explanation from a Twin Peaks fan site: "Kevin and Bean from the Los Angeles modern rock radio station KROQ-FM (kay-rock) got a bunch of Twin Peaks cast members in their studio to record a parody of the classic Christmas carol. You’ll recognize the voices of Jack Nance, Dana Ashbrook, Kyle MacLachlan, Kimmy Robertson and —at the moments the song gets truly terrifying— Frank Silva."
Since appearing in Lethal Weapon, Jingle Bell Rock's turned up in numerous other films and television episodes but never quite with the same tonal power. My guess is if this hadn't been on the credits, it wouldn't have been as much of a hit. People almost always remember how a film ended and how they felt.
The next track is Matapat by Matapat from The Rough Guide to the Music of Canada for which I can't find an embedable copy. You'll just have to imagine something percussive, rhythmic and woodsy. The sort of thing Chris "in the Morning" Stevens might play on KBer.
Despite my usual dislike of male guitar bands, there's something nostalgically Dawson's Creek about this Keane track, what with the piano undercurrent and kick into another gear towards the end when Pacey runs to meet Joey in the middle of a football field amid the sprinkler at midnight while Dawson sobs quietly hidden in the shadow of a tree, while Jen sleeps in his car or some such. Here's the low-key acoustic version which would probably play into the credits.
There was a moment in the mid-90s when US indie cinema was at its most exciting. Tarantino, Smith, Linklater and the rest were at their imperious best and experimentation seemed entirely possible. Wayne Wang's Smoke, a collaboration with novelist Paul Auster is set in and around a cigar shop in New York and they had so much fun making it but finished early and had a run under so created Blue In The Face, an improvisational piece using the same sets and locale with a host of cameos focusing on the minor characters from the earlier film. Rachel Portman's soundtrack befits the earlier warm if sombre, more contemplative film.
The next track is Marie Sharp's Fine Upstanding Citizen from the album Fine Upstanding Citizen, which is missing from YouTube but preserved on Spotify and is meant to offer a contrast between the goodwill to all persons element of Christmas. Plus it's a complete contrast to most of the rest of Sharp's album which which is generic country. You get the feeling she was allowed to be herself in this one track so long as she produced a bunch of radio friendly nonsense the rest of the time:
The next track is Silent Night by Das Merman, which yields no google results and is on neither YouTube or Spotify. Imagine someone playing a twangly piano version over something created in the BBC Radiophonic Workshop during a particularly ravaging Christmas party. As a substitute, here's the equally weird Simon and Garfunkel version:
One of my punts from Vinyl Exchange last decade was Songs from the Underground: the Buskers, a compilation of covers recorded by actual buskers apparently from the London underground. The quality is variable, but this is a highlight, predicting exactly the kind of acoustic rerecord which would be the mainstay of Christmas adverts this decade. Another Spotify rescue although curiously from a different compilation.
The Story of 1900's a bit unsung. Tim Roth plays a pianist who spends his whole life aboard a ship. It's beautiful and sad and has this elegiac Morricone score.
"Hello to members of Pentangle..."
One of the ideas of the album is that it should have the personality of a busy evening, starting relatively poppy then slowly winding down towards bedtime. Stina's track is like a lullaby initially, but then becomes that moment when you think you still have the energy to continue with the excitement before slowing down again.
Now a confession. When deciding to reconstruct this compilation, I realised I didn't have a copy of the track listing and couldn't remember everything. But a friend came through, although she also didn't have the track listing, just the music so ran the whole thing through Shazam in order to find what everything was. Thanks Suw and Kevin (who had the Shazam suggestion). Unfortunately Shazam couldn't recognised the next track but after hearing it again, I was able to determine that it's Candlelight Carol. Here's Exultate Chamber Choir & Orchestra, Thomas Rossin, conductor with their version:
Travelling between Liverpool and Manchester to university for most of 2006, I had the Lost in Translation soundtrack on heavy repeat with its transportative ability. I'd simply sit with my forehead on the window, looking out into the wilderness between Warrington and Birchwood with Air wafting through in the background. That'll be why it's here.
Inevitably. As close as Sugababes came to recording a Christmas track (well, it mentions Christmas) representing the end of the festive period.
Finally, here's the whole lot as a Spotify playlist, with apologies for the substitutions. I've tried to keep the same mood at least. Or not. You'll see.