My dad is a king of mix-tapes. His great works have included “original versions of songs which are better known for a cover”, the Ian-Dury heavy “list songs” and the great, unending project to get every track in Dave Marsh’s Heart Of Rock And Soul: The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made onto cassette. And he made one for me this weekend, so I’ve been piecing together a reciprocal playlist. Jiggling stuff about on iPlayer isn’t quite as fun as working with a C90 – when you’ve finessed the track listing to the exact distance the tape has to unspool, everything has a feeling of rightness that can’t be found by any amount of matching up outros and intros. After the jump: the first seven tracks of my dadmix, seven songs I love because they come from the music my dad has always played me (and as Fleshisgrass asked me ages ago to name my seven songs of the spring – here they are).
Love is for people in libraries who wear cardigans and stiff knee-length skirts. Love songs are for sweetly unaffected vocals and twirling Motown strings. And looking seriously into a camera and banging a tambourine is about the loveliest thing a person can do. I want that swan brooch, too.
It’s not all old Britpop and dismantling ancient Observer columns (hello, Aaro-watchers!) round the Paperhouse way. Sometimes it’s recent electropop on repeat while I do the washing up, and wondering how dance songs about romantic self-destruction fit into the busy life of an unemployed writer and domestic slattern. My new favourite song by Cut Copy has yearning ah-ah-ahs and aching oooh-ooooohs, a naggingly plinky synth riff and a deeply insistent bassline, and a lyric which covers both “burning” and “crashing down”, which are probably in the top ten things for a pop song to be about. If someone had been out to reverse-engineer a song for me to fall in love with, it would have sounded a lot like this.
Today is a bright, clean, post-pub sort of day – exactly the sort of morning which is improved by a driving, yearning, glossy pop song. Valentine starts with a rush and doesn’t let up. All the way to the middle eight, it feels like nothing but chorus, pursuing its ‘love-as-natural-disaster’ metaphor irresistibly: “Tell me, when did the water surround me?” coos the singer, like someone who doesn’t mind drowning at all. And then it all holds back for a moment before the song resurges in a cascade of sweet falsetto moans and the muscular Trevor Horn production propels it all home. Delays should be absolutely enormous and the failure of the pop-buying world to make them so is basically a massive stain on humanity.
And speaking of how amazing Trevor Horn is, Joe’s 80s song wars entry is a bit perfect.