Thankyou for the music...

Another long silence. I probably need to do better at keeping up with this blogging thing, I guess. So, to get the ball rolling again I thought I'd write about music and people.

While I was listening to CDs in my car the other week (how old fashioned!), I was thinking back about all the music that I love, and reflecting on how much of it I have learned of from other people.

I have a sort of inbuilt conservatism about music. I start off by not being that interested in any particular artist or genre, and then get gradually converted when people manage to persuade me to listen some more. I thought it would be a nice idea to go through some of the music I love the most, and mention the people who introduced me to it by way of thanks.

Some of it seems really obvious now, but I suppose that for almost everything we know, there was a time when we didn't know it. This is far from being a list of all the music that I listen to and enjoy today, but all this music is important to me and I still listen to all of it regularly.

So, in vaguely chronological order...

Paul Simon

It was Alasdair Coles, a school friend and now an Anglican priest, who played me Graceland back in 1986 when it came out. I loved it, and bought my own copy, and played it many many times both back then at the time, and since. It has been part of me for over 20 years now, and I still listen to it regularly.

It was only some time later that I found out that Paul Simon was the guy from Simon & Garfunkel. I had a sheltered upbringing!

Marillion, Jethro Tull, Fairport Convention

Steve Rose and I spent huge amounts of time together from about 1985 through to the 1990s when he moved far away to Aberystwyth in west Wales, where he still lives. That time generated a bond that survives very well today, and while we are both terrible at maintaining the relationship, when we communicate or meet up, the reconnection is pretty much smooth and instant.

So very much of my musical taste was formed alongside him - we listened to Script for a Jester's Tear and Fugazi by Marillion; and The Broadsword and the Beast and Stormwatch by Jethro Tull. From there, we went to Gladys Leap by Fairport Convention via the bass player they had in common - Dave Pegg.

We often went to the Torrington in North Finchley to see pub bands and subsequently attended Cropredy Festival together for many years, surrounded by an ever increasing crowd of friends. It's impossible to figure out the value of all this to me - suffice to say all this stuff is deep in my musical DNA.

Pink Floyd

When Another Brick in the Wall was in the singles charts, I remember finding it a bit scary and sinister. The backing vocals were sung by a lot of kids who all sounded very like the kids who had oppressed me at school, and it just wasn't something I really sought out. The aforementioned Alasdair Coles also played me bits of The Final Cut, back in 1984 or so, but I didn't really take it in.

However, when I first went to Leeds in 1987 or 1988 to visit Michael Lawrie, he played me The Wall, and I was completely blown away by it. I remember being particularly impressed by Mother and Comfortably Numb. Michael was, and still is I think, a charismatic individual who had a lot of influence on me at that time. The love of Pink Floyd that I have to this day is probably one of his lasting marks on me.

Sisters of Mercy

I still remember going to visit Tim Barnett in Bath, in around 1989, and hearing This Corrosion for the first time. Tim was the most convincing Goth I'd ever met, and a truly nice guy. I first met him online on the JANET academic network - he killed me a lot in MIST, often with a chainsaw.

I went on a Sisters of Mercy album buying spree, starting with Floodland and then moving backwards to First and Last and Always, finally buying Vision Thing when it came out in 1990. Despite considerable fondness for such tracks as Marian, and Some Kind of Stranger I have to say that This Corrosion was always my first love. Thanks for that, Tim!


I remember living in a shared house in 1990, and hearing one of my house-mates, Matthew Farwell, playing Enigma's first album, MCMXC a.d. I wasn't initially keen, not having at that time a great fondness for electronica in general. In the house, the music started being called, for complicated reasons, "Dylan's pervy boogie". However, it grew on me, and I bought the album myself and subsequently quite a lot of their later stuff. I often think of Matthew when I listen to it.

Steeleye Span, Tori Amos

Suffice it to say that I was married to Jen - we were together for most of the 1990s. The circumstances of our parting were difficult, with the usual faults on both sides - mostly mine I suspect. However, all that aside, she is one of the most musically talented people that I have ever met. She could sing and play stuff off the top of her head. She it was who introduced me to Tori Amos, by the simple expedient of playing and singing Winter to me. I've been a fan of Tori ever since but Winter is still my favourite of her songs.

Jen loved folk music, and she significantly broadened my taste in that too - although I didn't always like some of the more acoustic stuff that she loved. However, Steeleye Span really hit the spot and I still love their stuff. Particularly memorable is a canal boat holiday that played out to the sound of their album Time. Wonderful stuff. I definitely owe her for both of these and more, but I hope I paid her back a little with Emmylou Harris, who I discovered all on my own!

The Divine Comedy

It was my brother Dan who first played me a track by Neil Hannon's band The Divine Comedy - it was called Songs of Love. The song shared a tune with the theme music for the sitcom Father Ted that I loved hugely. Dan wanted to see whether I'd recognise the tune in the different context of the song. I didn't, embarrassingly.

However, it is Alec Muffett who has to get the credit for introducing me to TDC properly, and I'd have to say that this is currently my favourite music of all. I remember visiting him and being made to listen to it, almost but not quite against my will. Like I said, I am sometimes resistant to good things. In my view the pinnacle of TDC's output is the song Our Mutual Friend, although he's made huge amounts of other hugely wonderful music. Thanks for that one, Alec.

..and so

Well, that's it - for the time being anyway. A bit of a departure from writing about the fun of movie editing on Macintoshes, I know, but this blog was never supposed to be tied purely to one topic. Normal service is being resumed as soon as possible