So my task is firstly to compile a play list of the best song from every year from 1966, the year of my birth, to 2011. Then to make a cd of it and then have a party, inviting the man who suggested this task, and play the cd on a loop.
Compiling the list isn’t what worries me. I love lists. It’s having a party. People are divided into guests or hosts. This may surprise anyone who’s ever invited me to a party, where I’ve always got blind drunk, hovered up the contents of the fridge, never lifted a finger to help out, flirted with the only man in the room with a possessive girlfriend, and been the last to leave, by several days, but I’m actually a guest not a host. Even in my own flat. Alone. Holding a party sounds about as much fun as listening to improv jazz, while simultaneously discovering that despite your super-injunction, you are ‘trending’ on twitter. But first things first.
1966 God Only Knows by the Beach Boys
1967 I’m a Believer by the Monkees
1968 I say a little prayer by Aretha Franklin
1969 Are you Lonesome Tonight by Elvis (live version)
Recorded in Vegas, he changes the words, bursts into laughter, recovers, changes the words, and laughs his head off, and all the while the backing singers press on as if nothing’s wrong. It’s fantastic.
1970 Northern Sky by Nick Drake
Of course, I didn’t know this song when it was released – that would make me the coolest four year old in the world, evah. I was four, not only was I not cool, I wasn’t even uncool yet. Polyveldts and Purdy Haircuts weren’t even a distant dream. I discovered Northern Sky at University because a friend in a band played it on his guitar on a loop for three years. Even now, every time I hear it, I am lost in it’s beauty.
1971 For All We Know by Shirley Bassey
1972 I Just Can’t help believing by Elvis
1973 Stuck in the middle with you by Stealer’s Wheel
1974 Waterloo by ABBA.
I remember being allowed to stay up and watch the Eurovision song contest (this was before it was kitsch, or at least, before I knew what kitsch meant). ABBA appeared, all blue satin knickerbockers and skull caps, and cheery beardy boys. ‘My my’ they began. Mum said, ‘They’re going to win’. And they did. I thought ‘Mum knows everything’. I fell in love with ABBA right away. I knew all the words to all the songs, including the B-sides. I still do (test me on Tropical Loveland). I read their ‘real’ story in the tabloids. I cried when I saw the headline ‘Screaming cat fights behind the scenes’.
1975 Bye Bye Baby by the Bay City Rollers
1976 No Regrets by the Walker Brothers
1977 Love’s Unkind by Donna Summer
1978 Miss You by the Rolling Stones
1979 Union City Blues by Blondie
1980 Winner Takes It All by ABBA
I was far too young to understand this song when it was released. But I remember staying with a family friend in Bath for the weekend, and hearing Ian McCulloch from Echo and the Bunnymen (I know that you know that) saying that this was a brilliant song. I know he’s said it since. At the time it meant something to me that someone so cool loved ABBA; I realised that a good song is a good song, cool doesn’t come into it.
1981 Don’t You Want Me by Human League
Lakeside Golf Club. Home to almost weekly parties during school holidays with guaranteed dry ice, collapsed perms and occasional narrow neckties with piano keys up the side and a playlist that included Hi Ho Silver Lining, Ooops upside your head, Every Day Hurts, Going Underground, and Antmusic. Happy days. But Don’t You Want Me was my favourite, not least because I got off with EB for the first time during the song (and it wasn’t even a slow song).
1982 The bitterest Pill by the Jam
1983 Every Breath you Take by the Police
1984 Borderline by Madonna
Easily my favourite Madonna song, I never tire of it, and I love the video.
1985 A New England by Kirsty McColl
1986 Walk this Way by Aerosmith and Run DMC
1987 Just like Heaven by the Cure
1988 Sweet Child o Mine by Guns n Roses
1989 Something’s gotten hold of my heart by Marc Almond featuring Gene Pitney
1990 the Power by Snap!
1991 I can’t make you love me by Bonnie Raitt
1992 Alive by Pearl Jam
New York memories, again.
1993 Hey Jealousy by the Gin Blossoms
Reminds me of many many happy hours passed in Harry’s Hula Hut on Second Avenue at 76th Street, New York. Rickety pool table, hopelessly alcoholic bartender, beyond retro decor, the usual suspects and first-name-only friends, more fun than I had ever had.
1994 Streets of Philadelphia by Bruce Springsteen
1995 Wonderwall by Oasis
1996 You’re Gorgeous by Babybird
1997 Bitter Sweet Symphony by the Verve
1998 Music Sounds Better With You by Stardust
1999 Baby One More Time by Britney Spears
2000 Pure Shores by All Saints
2001 New York New York by Ryan Adams
Thrilling love song to down-at-heel, dirty-glamorous New York City.
2002 Lose Yourself by Eminem
Eminem’s a poet, a modern day kick-ass Keats. I chose Lose Yourself because I spent Christmas 2002 in New York. I arrived on Christmas Eve, went straight to a bar and when we came out, it was snowing. New York looked magical, breathtaking, thrilling. Christmas Day, we went to the movies and watched 8 Mile, from which this song comes, and then had a Chinese. Why can’t Christmas always be like that?
2003 Crazy in Love by Beyonce
I mean, of course.
2004 Run by Snow Patrol
Honestly, I prefer Dry Your Eyes by the Streets, but I’m sentimental and one of my first interviews was with Gary Lightbody, lead singer of Snow Patrol. It was for a radio documentary about Glasgow’s legendary King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, (where Oasis was discovered). Gary was lovely, and invited me to their Brixton Academy gig. After the gig, I chatted to Gary in the backstage bar. He was brushing imaginery dust off his chest with both hands the whole time. A few months later, I asked my friend Mark, a body language expert after attending half of a two week course, what it could mean. ‘Obviously’ he said, ‘He was trying to brush you off’. Gutted. Still like the song though.
2005 (I know I know, it’s the re-release date) Mr Brightside by the Killers
There are good dates. And there are super-dates. And there are dates to see U2 in Amsterdam, supported by the Killers. As we walked into the hot, dark, packed stadium, the floor was jumping, and the Killers struck up Mr Brightside. It was my new favourite band singing my new favourite song, and I was with my new favourite person. I thought, ‘This is perfect’.
2006 You Got The Love by the Source featuring Candi Staton
2007 Standing In The Way Of Control by Gossip
2008 Sex On Fire by Kings of Leon
2009 Empire State of Mind by Jay-Z featuring Alicia Keys
2010 All the Lovers by Kylie
2011 Someone like You by Adele
Gets me. Every time. Every single time.