Life’s big moments all come with strings attached; tracks that beam you back in time whenever they’re replayed. We all have them. Even pop stars. This month : Tim Booth of James.
Nick Cave – The Boatman’s Call
I first heard this around the time of one relationship ending and it’s just one of those records that’s great for feeling sorry for yourself and maudlin. Then I fell in love with someone in LA and had a Trans-Atlantic relationship, with long periods of not being able to see each other, and it worked just as well then. I’ve recommended it to other brokenhearted people since and it seemed to work for them too. I used to feel Nick Cave very strongly. I used to have a lot of dreams about him. I wanted to know how to tap into that self-destructive aspect of performance, but without hurting myself. He hates James, at least he hated James ten years ago. He said he thought we were shit. But I’ve found his work to be magnificent.
Brian Eno – Music For Airports
Many orgasms have been had to that piece of music. I was about 21 when I discovered this – during University sex, when I was trying a lor of, erm, (laughs) different experiences. It has that oceanic feeling, of a much more … kind … of tantric sexuality. It wasn’t the usual boy method of Wham Bam thank you ma’am. Did it go down well? Unfallingly. Actually, Brian Eno is a very sexy man, I’ve yet to introduce him to a woman who hasn’t found him very beddable. He’s got the sexiest mind, very curious, playful. He’s also very sensual, very into dancing, movement and play. I went round with my partner a few weeks ago – we were all going out for dinner – and he put some music on and we were all just throwing ourselves round the room dancing. People don’t know that side of Brian.
Val Doonican – Paddy McGinty’s Goat
This was a song that I learned as a child. I remember my Mum making me perform it to my auntie and I was so shy I would hide behind the sofa and sing it from there. Do you know Paddy McGinty’s Goat? (sings) “Oh Patrick McGinty / An Irishman of note / Fell in for a fortune so he bought himself a goat / To be sure of goat’s milk I’m going to have my fill . But when he brought the nanny home he found it was a bill” Fantastic! Val Doonican’s a storyteller to rival Nick Cave. He just sings about goats instead of death.
Patti Smith – Birdland (from 1975 album Horses)
I cite this song as why I became a singer. When I was about 16 or 17 I was at boarding school and got a phone call from my Mum. She told me my Dad was going to hospital that night and may die, he was having some surgery and was in his 80s. I wanted to go home and she said, no I had to stay there and this place was like a prison camp. I went back to my room, but there was no way I was going to sleep cos I was pretty devastated. So I sneaked out down the corridor and made it to a study. I put on some headphones and there was a tape already in the tape recorder. I pressed play and it was just “His father died / Left him along on a New England farm” (opening lines of Birdland). Now I’d vaguely heard Patti Smith the week before and thought she was shit but this was completely different. Was it cathartic? It completely wiped me out.
Talking Heads – Psycho Killer (from 1977 album Talking Heads : 77)
We were hardly ever allowed to watch TV at school, we were supposed to be in our studies. I used to sneak the TV out. I’d watch (70’s rock show) Whistle Test and see The Pistols, The Clash, Talking Heads doing Psycho Killer. I arranged a school trip to see the (Clash’s) White Riot tour. It was at Wolverhampton Civic Hall. The bill was The Clash, Buzzcocks, Slits. We all had to go in uniform, but some punks wore that sort of sthing so we didn’t look complete dicks. All this became equated with rebellion and breaking the rules. So music became a very important thing to me, to do with individuality and independence.
Birthday Party – King Ink (from 1981 album Prayers On Fire)
This was from my student period. We were picking magic mushrooms, but we’d never tried them before. We were picking anything. There was this Jesus lookalike there so we asked him, Are these mushrooms? He threw them on the floor saying, Those’ll make you sick. So we said, How do you find them? And he said, Look and thou shalt see. And they were all around us. It was a real X-files moment. And then we went back and took the mushrooms and listened to King Ink by The Birthday Party. Which was a big mistake as it took us to a pretty dark place – and I would not advise anyone to copy us.