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Mobile musical meme…

Music is that ephemeral, subjective, evocative and deeply emotional thing. Music can change a mood or mark a moment in your life. And right now, music is mobile. We can take our music with us and mark a moment through music wherever we choose to travel…

It was Ray Charles singing Eleanor Rigby by the Beatles. That moment seemed ominous somehow, given that I’d been tagged by Bob Kingsley to list the music that’s shaped my life.

And as is customary for me when I get meme’d, I have my own take on the theme, which is where I’ll attempt to pull in some musical accompaniment from my Last.fm profile to help me through.

Where do I begin?

I remember songs by ELO (Electric Light Orchestra) from when I was a kid, Mr Blue Sky in particular. More recently, Telephone Line, which I can really relate to.

ELO's Greatest HitsI had ELO’s Greatest Hits bought for me by a very much ex-girlfriend, but it’s a gift I will treasure for a long, long time.

Being able to pull back those songs that seem like a dream and know them almost off by heart is great, and I have a wonderful young woman to thank for that.

Billy Joel, We Didn't Start The FireBilly Joel’s We Didn’t Start the Fire is for me an amazing song. The pace, the lyrics and the thematic scope set this song among the modern classics. This too being a song that’s plucked from my past, and now firmly a part of my present musical tastes.

It’s also a song I try not listen to inadvertently, as I really must sing to it .. with lyrics close at hand, of course!

Hybrid, I Choose NoiseWith a distinctive sound almost entirely their own, Hybrid are a wonderment of electronic music. Their symphonic, cinematic sound is just breathtaking.

They seem to occupy a unique space, defining themselves with their very own genre. I’ve heard them described as Break Beat – whatever that’s supposed to mean – but I think it’s just unfair to put them into a neat box that way.

Hybrid, Morning Sci-FiAny song from the Morning Sci-Fi album pretty much encompasses the Hybrid sound, even though they’re nearly all different from each other.

And then there’s the monumentally symphonic, ‘anthemic’ I Choose Noise album, which sounds for all the world like a movie sound track.

In my youth, I was really into Heavy Metal, and Iron Maiden featured very heavily (pardon the pun, none intended) as did Ozzy Osbourne.

Iron Maiden, Somewhere In TimeTheir anti-establishment themes appealed to the youthful me. So albums like Powerslave, Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, Somewhere In Time, Bark at the Moon and No More Tears were exceptionally formative, arguably seminal musical accompaniments to my younger, former life.

Rather uniquely, almost all of the earlier Iron Maiden songs where based on books, poems, passages from the bible or films, which helped tether those songs and ground them in some sense.

They also provided inspiration for my illustrative work, which was to get me into college, all of which got me where I am now.

DJ Tiesto, In Search of SunriseMore recently, I’ve become very taken by the rich vocal and deeply ambient sounds of trance. I’m currently listening to my Anjunabeats collection, which consists of four albums of continuous mixes.

Similarly, I have DJ Tiesto’s In Search of Sunrise collection, which are invariably just spectacular. The sheer richness, the soothing female vocals, the tapestry of beats and the patterns of textured sounds, all of which are layered perfectly together.

I go up the wall when anyone interrupts me while I’m listening to these collections!

Somewhere in time

Robert Palmer, Sneakin' Sally Through the AlleyGoing backwards again, there’s the very mentionable trio of Robert Palmer, David Bowie and Beck. These three guys have been instrumental in pulling and tugging my musical tastes in so many different directions, it’s unreal.

I list the three of them in chronological order, where Robert Palmer came onto my musical radar first, and it was his hugely eclectic tastes made certain changes to my own.

Beck, Midnight VulturesAnd it was through Robert Palmer that David Bowie became an option, who then took me to the edges of the surreal, where upon I was then suitably acclimatized to the very surreal Beck and his particular sound.

These guys actively make you listen to sounds, beats and musical styles that really should not work, but they do. And that’s testimony enough to their daring, their fearless endeavor to step outside of fashion, and their imagination to conjure up the impossible.

Gentlemen, I salute you!

Ulrich Schnauss, A Strangely Isolated PlaceBy way of an unusual union between the surreal and ambient, Ulrich Shnauss similarly stands alone. With only a small collection of albums to his name, both Far Away Trains Passing By and A Strangely Isolated Place are emotionally very evocative and affecting songs.

By far his most evocative song, Monday – Paracetamol came to my attention while listening to one of the various Internet Radio stations in iTunes.

His style is a fragile and emotional ambient electronica, possessed of subtleties rarely heard elsewhere. Truly the kind of sound best listened to when alone, when having a Saturnine and reflective moment.

I’m pretty sure I used Shazam to tag the song, which then took me through to Amazon to buy the album, as it wasn’t then available on the iTunes Store.

This is the end

Trust me, there are so many other albums and songs, but most have a deeply personal connection, and being an Aquarian, I must preserve my shallow and childish sense of aloofness, if only to fool myself and no one else.

This mobile musical disco might just come to a juddering halt, unless you the reader decided to take it upon thyself to run with the meme.

And for those without a ‘blog of their own, what songs changed your life, and how? You know what to do…

By Wayne Smallman

Wayne is the man behind the Blah, Blah! Technology website, and the creator of the Under Cloud, a digital research assistant for journalists and academics.

8 replies on “Mobile musical meme…”

Hey, Wayne! Cool article! I’ve personally been a rock fan since the 80’s, such cool music from back then. Among my favourites I can mention Depeche Mode, U2, Journey…

Then in the 90’s I was immersed in the whole grunge thing and although I still loved the classics, I started listening to Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots and later on, Smashing Pumpkins, Live, Radiohead…

Now for the music of this century, I still enjoy rock though I’ve started listening to a bit more varied music like Björk and Placebo.

But being a latina girl, I thought I’d mention some of the spanish speaking bands that have forged rock music in Latinamerica. I urge people who are interested in listening to something new, to find some music of:

Aterciopelados (Colombia), Caifanes (Mexico), Fobia (Mexico), Hombres G (Spain), La Ley (Chile), La Lupita (Mexico), Enanitos Verdes (Argentina), Fabulosos Cadillacs (Argentina), Prisioneros (Chile), Miguel Mateos (Argentina), their highnesses Soda Stereo (Argentina) and though lighter and more commercialized, our very own Shakira (Colombia).

Visit my page in Last.fm at http://www.last.fm/user/mariapepa

Hi Carolina, I saw you popping in & out last night to see if I’d replied, but I was a little busy.

So here I am.

Thanks for the comments and for your time…

Everyone knows a Robert Palmer song, even if they don’t know it’s him.

Another example would be Queen, who’ve provided some serious Karaoke fodder over the years…

BTW, go and watch the video on DB’s ‘blog.

Highly amusing, in a chemistry nerd sort of way.

Not that I’m a chemist or owt, but still v.funny…

Some great choices there, Wayne. Your list made fascinating reading – and there are a few there I’m going to check out for myself when I’ve got the time!

I have the Power of Schmooze!

My mother always said I could talk a glass eye to sleep and make a vicar swear / curse…

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