Sometimes, when I put the iPod on shuffle, I truly believe it has an inner sensibility. It seems to work like Last fm or Pandora, playing combinations of tracks that segue beautifully from one into the next, either musically or thematically.
And, as if by magic, as I was walking from my car to the office last Thursday morning I was treated to an eclectic collection of love songs. Now I love a good love song, mainly because I’m lucky enough to be happily married with gorgeous daughters, so I have something to relate it to, but also partly because of the almost infinite ways we human beings are able to express ourselves; as illustrated by the following five songs…
Starlight (Muse). Ok, so not the most obvious choice for a Love Song playlist, but it’s as close as Muse are going to get. This falls into my ‘sing-along-but-only-when-I’m-alone-in-the-car’ category: my falsetto isn’t quite what it used to be. I saw Muse live at the Isle of Wight Festival in 2007, and this song was a real ‘Radio Ga Ga’ moment, with the entire crowd clapping along.
Scorn not his Simplicity (Sinead O’Connor). This is a simply gorgeous song, from her Universal Mother album. My sister-in-law Clare is a musician who has played & toured with Sinead O’Connor over a long period, including on that album, which holds a place in our lives, as her recording of In This Heart is simply beautiful. Rachel and I adapted some of the lyrics and had it sung at our wedding. This is a live version she sang on Jools Holland’s TV show: Clare is the first singer to join in, standing at Sinead’s left shoulder…
You Give Me Something (James Morrison). What I love about this is the unabashed homage to groups like the Isley Brothers, with fantastic brass & string arrangements and wonderful production. And he can sing too.
I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight (Bob Dylan). I’m not the greatest Dylan fan, with a collection that doesn’t extend beyond a ‘Greatest Hits’ CD. However, for all that, he is a tremendous songwriter, and this is absolute proof that Bob Dylan can sing. Just listen to his control during the chorus – there’s no extra breathing at all. He sustains the phrase fantastically, which makes all the difference. And his harmonica playing is gorgeously restrained. Apart from the legendary Subterranean Homesick Blues, this is probably my favourite Dylan song.
Exit Music (for a film) – Radiohead. I love Radiohead’s music, from the grungy to the weird electronica. Like Muse, they don’t tend to write many love songs, and even when they do, it’s not exactly You are the sunshine of my life… This Youtube clip is really interesting to me, as the song was written for Baz Luhrmann’s updated / reimagined version of Romeo & Juliet, whereas the images here are from an earlier, more traditional film. The way the song changes tone around 3’00” is fantastic, and Thom Yorke’s singing is terrific.
So, that was my Thursday morning set of love songs, chosen apparently at random by my iPod. And as is always the way, just as I’m thinking that the iPod really is intelligent and can do that, it throws in something to break the mood. Thursday was no exception.
This came next. Pretty brilliant track, the barnstorming first song from a brilliant debut album. But definitely not a love song.