Benedict, on his top ten musical choices - as spoken to Two Paddocks Team Tunes
This list changes depending on the weather, my tummy, the company I’m keeping, the time of day… But it has been a pleasure to do the soul searching and memory lane trips. So here goes the ten from Ben, an over privileged white kid!
Sweet Thing - Van Morrison, From the Astral Weeks album
Though Liam Neeson I agree anyone of the tracks of this album deserve inclusion, they all swing have soul and the poetics of the Jazztastic vocal stylings of the man when he could and can and did. But the landscape of sound and lyrics of Sweet Thing and the bitter sweet story of a man unable to give up his love of a woman…
It’s perfection. As a teenager discovering it I yearned for the life experiences that could inspire such music and as a thirty-something I have to hold back the tears as old wounds are made raw again. But what a self indulgent and heavily perfumed way to grieve. Beautiful. For all who have loved and lost.
Yes I know, but they stand side by side on the album and are inseparably brilliant. I went to Manchester university partly on an insane surge of nostalgia from when I discovered these mischievous mancs and their Madchester ways! God bless the Happy Mondays and Joy Divison and all the other Tony Wilson ‘Factory’ recorded bands.
You Can’t Always Get What You Want - Rolling Stones
First heard this in my over privileged youth at Harrow. And as posh boarding schools go you can pretty much do or get anything you want out of an experience like that. However adolescence and being without girls or the freedoms of living outside of your school meant that this inspiring hymn to patience didn’t fall on deaf ears. It’s just a stunning daring funky soulful uplifting one off from choral beginning to end. Anyway I don’t need to tell you any of this just that it inspired my brief filtration with being a front man.
Young Americans - David Bowie
How to choose one! Sorrow is my karaoke failsafe but the groove of this one and the dystopian patchwork of fractured images in the lyrics the sax solo, the drums it’s just brilliant.
Clair de Lune — Claude Debussey
James Rhodes’ version on the Bullets and Lullabies album is best, but not available on YouTube. This is the one piano piece I would dearly like to learn in this lifetime. But if it’s in the next I will be quite content to listen to my inspiring friend Mr James Rhodes playing it. PS—though nowadays a tea totaller he is pure rock and roll and you should have his playlist soon. He’s more than a little inspiring.
How to Disappear Completely - Radiohead
The only reason for honing onto this track as opposed to any other in a back catalogue whose range defies belief is a personal one. It signifies how the best of times and the worst of times really do sidle up to one another. I first met your dear proprietor when filming a mini-series called To the Ends of The Earth for dear old Auntie (BBC) in South Africa which and I’d had the most amazing time on the job and a weekend learning to scuba dive with two other cast members — the best of times. Then the front right tyre blew on our car, we pulled in and were surrounded by men who came out of the bush and we were carjacked — the worst of times. A long (2.5 hours of ordeal) story but the intrinsic part for the song choice is that it was playing just before the tyre blew when I had lit a spiff and was contemplating how ridiculously blissfully happy I was. The next time I heard it was bundled against the windscreen of the car on the front passengers’ knees with my back and head hitting the windscreen as we were driven off road. My bum hit the car stereo and for a few surreal minutes Tom Yorke was sound tracking me to my death. I turned round as we bounced over the sand track, the headlights showing the passing sugar cane and kept thinking of the shallow graves they dug for themselves in the movie Casino as the master of introspection and modern ennui Mr T Yorke sang ‘I’m not here… This isn’t happening’ … We all lived.
Prelude to Tristan and Isolde - Richard Wagner.
Yes, it’s widely acknowledged as one of the peaks of the operatic repertory, notable for Wagner’s advanced use of chromaticism, tonality, orchestral colour and harmonic suspension… But it just makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Reminds me of the best of Beethoven and Mozart and the best of what’s to come in Strauss and Rachmaninov. So a milestone as well as a gut wrencher. The recording of this one that I’m currently wearing out is the BBC orchestra’s.
Hyperballad - Bjork
But what about Mitchell, Joplin, Ella, Tina, Oh god I need another list. It’s all very white and male…. ! Damn.Beautiful song though. And a nod to a lot of dance music that hasn’t made it to this top ten.
Superstition - Stevie Wonder
For all those whose weddings I have danced at and have yet to dance at! What a great groove from a master at the height of his powers. Thanks to Martin Freeman for properly introducing me to the full brilliance of SW.
We Grew Up At Midnight - The Maccabees
A current album I’m giving a lot of play is The Maccabees Into the Wild. It’s hard to pick one but listening to We Grew Up At Midnight while typing and feeling pretty uplifted. And that’s what great music does beyond all other art forms isn’t it?
This has been a joy. Can I do it again tomorrow?