12 Essential New York Records.

8 02 2018

CBGB bowery OMFUG rock punk

 

I’m not someone who gets overly annoyed easily (but if you chew loudly or sniff constantly on public transport, I’ll probably want to smack you in the kisser.) However, after reading the apparent “essential” NYC records chosen by BBC 6Music, I got annoyed. In fact, it went beyond being annoyed. I am pissed off. A pissed off Punk who is absolutely infuriated by this list and I know that I am not alone in this.

If you want to share my rage, here is the list:

1. The Strokes – Is This It
2. Wu Tang Clan – Enter The 36 Chambers
3. Blondie – Parallel Lines
4. Talking Heads – 77
5. Nas – Illmatic
6. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Fever To Tell
7. Simon & Garfunkel – Bookends
8. Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend
9. Princess Nokia – 1992 Deluxe
10. The Rapture – Echoes
11. Interpol – Turn On The Bright Lights
12. LCD Soundsystem – Sound Of Silver

 

I am a massive fan of Nas, Wu Tang, Interpol, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Strokes. The Strokes first record was my crutch for a long time, and I do agree with it being there- but not at the top. There is so much missing from this list- how can you even condense it down to 12 anyway? Maybe 20 wouldn’t even be enough.

So with my burning rage, I have to come up with my own list. I don’t want to claim that my list is correct or anything like that- it’s just an opinion. I could be wrong, or someone may feel like they agree with me. The severe lack of Punk in the list just makes me sad. I do agree, as I said with some of the records being there, but some are wrongfully missed.

Also, it isn’t in any order- I don’t like order, it makes me nervous.

Ramones-Ramones.

It was either this or Leave Home. I think Leave Home is my favourite Ramones record, but their debut deserves to be there because of the huge impact it had. I remember hearing it for the first time when I was about 14/156. The age where everything and anything can influence you. I remember hearing it and feeling like I had been born in the wrong era. Every song gave me this incredible feeling, and every song just made me idolise them. I think it is obvious that I worship Joey Ramone. Oh man, Beat On The Brat is one of my favourite Ramones songs. I love the lyrics and I love the humour in their songs but there is a real sensitivity in Joey’s voice that is so unique and beautiful. It’’ just such an iconic record. It was made to influence and to be played loud.

Lou Reed-Transformer.

The most important NYC record of all time. ALL.TIME. Why the hell wasn’t it included?! It’s pretty insulting to Lou’s legacy that this record isn’t on there. It’s not only a great NYC record; it’s probably my favourite record of all time. As a gay person, this record gave me this sense of freedom that I hadn’t found in any other record when I first heard it. I didn’t come out until years after hearing this record, but it gave me this feeling of being alright with who I was. Besides, me being gay doesn’t define me. Never has, never will Transformer is just the coolest record ever made. I hate the word cool, we know that but fucking hell Lou Reed was THE coolest person to have ever lived and he just smacks it in our faces with this record. Sally Can’t Dance and Coney Island Baby are obviously worth mentioning. Pretty sure my list could just be Lou and Ramones records. Vicious and Andy’s Chest…man alive! “You hit me with a flower.” That’s GOT to move you in some way. I love the lyrics to Vicious, and I think this whole record shows Lou in a different way, you know? He just expressed himself in a way nobody else had dared to. I still don’t think anything can touch this record.

New York Dolls-New York Dolls.

The clue is in the bloody name really. Absolutely criminal and horrendous that this record isn’t on the list. My mum got me into the Dolls at a very young age. I don’t even think I was a teenager. I remember finding her copy of the record, and being in awe of the Dolls in drag. How beautiful they were! I was drawn of course, to Johnny Thunders (the greatest guitarist of all time.) Subway Train is such a beautiful song. Jet Boy has this incredible snarl to it. The whole record oozes attitude that is so unique to the Dolls. The lyrics to Trash and Personality Crisis are just great. This record is New York through and through. It’s got the charm and grit. It’s got the attitude and bite. It’s a record that I always find myself going to time and time again, and discovering more things to love about it. It’s just timeless.

Richard Hell + The Voidoids-Blank Generation.

Alright so Richard isn’t from New York- but this record was recorded at Electric Lady Studios so, it’s a NYC record. And he moved there pretty early on, so it’s fine. It’s acceptable.

I am a Richard Hell obsessive. I paid £30 once for a Richard Hell t-shirt from a shop on Brick Lane. Yeah it was too much money, but it’s Richard Hell.

Blank Generation would easily be in my list of best Punk records. It’s got this raw attitude to it, and I just love Richard’s voice. As a singer and as a writer, I just love him. His autobiography is one of the best of its kind I’ve read. He has most certainly lived a colourful life. Sure he’s done questionable things, the little bugger. But, he’s made some incredible music along the way.

Suicide-Suicide

Suicide are probably the best duo of all time. Frankie Teardrop is the best 10 minute song of all time. Dream Baby Dream is a masterpiece. The whole record is a work of art. If any record can capture the roughness of New York in the 70s, it’s this record. It is such a grand record and well ahead of its time. It still is. Nothing and no one has ever come close to this. For me, I think Suicide are massively underrated but they have influenced so many bands that I adore. It still hurts and it still sucks that Alan Vega is no longer here. I remember when he passed; I had the same reaction most had for Bowie. Suicide were never afraid to push their sound and to make music that was entirely different. It is a beautiful noise that brings such pleasure and joy to the ears. It is a gritty record from start to finish, and they keep that grittiness throughout every record they have ever made.

The Heartbreakers-L.A.M.F

I think this was recorded in London, but Johnny Thunders was a New Yorker, The Heartbreakers were a supergroup. I did want to pick a solo Johnny record, but I remembered how much I am obsessed with L.A.M.F (it stands for Like A Mother Fucker.) and how One Track Mind is such a great song. I can’t help but imagine what it would be like if Johnny was still here. Like I said earlier on, for me he’s the greatest guitarist of all time. His style was just impeccable and one of a kind. No one else could play like him. His style was way ahead of its time. He was ahead of his time.  He had this way of just magnetising you with every note. The record has been reissued so many times, but regardless of what version you have- it’s a genius record. It is proper Rock N Roll and has Punk foundations. Of all the records I own, I think this might be my most played. It’s one of those records I just really enjoy listening to over and over again.

Nas-Illmatic

Nas is one of the greatest rappers of all time, that’s obvious. There are so many Hip Hop records I could have chosen. I know that The Big Picture by Big L is one of the best. I bought it when it came out, and to this day it is still one of my favourite records. Like Nas, Big L was and still is above the rest. Illmatic portrays New York in a way that most don’t want to hear. Nas is not, and has never been afraid to show the harsher side of life. From losing friends to growing up in the projects in Queens- he really takes you there. He’s a poet, a storyteller. Halftime is one of the songs on Illmatic that really show this. He makes you see the world and his world the way he does with Illmatic. Is it his best record? For sure. It’s one of the best Hip Hop records of all time. Nas has constantly brought out remarkable records that have, and still do influence so many. It’s one of those records that you can’t imagine not ever happening. It is such an important record- irrespective of what kind of music you’re into; it is such a phenomenal record. What he did with this debut record most want from their whole career.

A Tribe Called Quest-People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm

Tribe have always made consistently great records that are so experimental and diverse. They fused together all styles of music. There are so many records by them I could have chosen, but it felt right to go with their debut. It came out in a time where you had groups like NWA with their aggressive songs. Sure their songs may have been, but it is important to remember that NWA were telling us about the things that were happening in Compton- it is just as important and to an extent maybe more so. But this about New York right now. What I love about the first Tribe record is that it frees your mind, it gives you something that you won’t find anywhere else. Q-Tip and Phife are two great rappers, and I don’t think they have ever got enough credit it. Tribe’s records each have distinctive sounds. Push It Along is nearly 8 minutes long, Bonita Applebum is genius, I Left My Wallet In El Segundo is timeless and Luck of Lucien is just amazing. The samples on this record used range from Grace Jones to The Beatles to Lou Reed. It’s a record that quite simply, you need to own.

 Sonic Youth-Confusion Is Sex

I could have happily listed every single record by Sonic Youth. I’d have no idea where to start- so I went to the start. It’s such a heavy record; it’s a record that has influenced so many. It is powerful, it is loud and it has Jim Sclavunos on drums. What more do you need? (She’s In A) Bad Mood is such a brilliant way to start the record. Jim’s drumming is so brutal; they all just move you in a way that you wouldn’t expect. There is nothing calming about the sound on this record- they just rile you up in a way that is mind-blowing.

I think it is possible the record that shows us all just how amazing Kim Gordon is. I mean, we know that anyway but Confusion Is Sex has some awesome moments that just leave you inspired by Kim. Shaking Hell is my favourite on this record; it’s so aggressive and really brutal. The louder you play this, the better. The way she yells “Shake off your flesh!” is so hypnotising.

The Velvet Underground-Loaded

Maybe I should have gone with their first record. Maybe. But, Loaded is my favourite and I remember buying my copy of this in Brussels and feeling like I had won the lottery. My copy doesn’t play as well as it should but that’s because I am always playing it. I love listening to it and allowing Velvet Underground to take me some place really magical. Rock & Roll is such a fantastic song, and you can’t help but think you’re the person Lou has written about. Lonesome Cowboy Bill is out of this world- it’s not like anything else.

Oh! Sweet Nuthin’ is up there as being one of the greatest songs of all time. It’s one of Lou’s best, easily. I’ve written about this record so many times, and I’m sure I have never done it justice.

Television-Marquee Moon

I cannot make this list without mentioning Television, and this record. Many have regarded it as one of the best records ever made, and they aren’t wrong. It is such a wonderfully created record. From the vocals to the production- it is so effortlessly great and really does have a slick sound that you know is from New York. Every song on Marquee Moon is so distinctive. You hear one note, and you immediately know that it is them. The intro to the title song is one of the most iconic ones of all time. It’s an intro that just stays with you. You immediately go back to the first time you heard it as soon as it comes on. It’s just a magnificent record that definitely does deserve its status as being one of the greatest records ever made.

The Strokes-Is This It

There are a number of records I could have picked. I could have gone with Foxy Brown, Mos Def, Interpol, Talking Heads, Big L- so many. Why did I stick with The Strokes when I could have picked someone else? Because this record holds a lot of importance to me. It’s got me through hell and back. It still does. I adore Julian. I love his words, his voice and just him. It’s a record I constantly go back to. I can play it and I immediately go back to my first time hearing it. I was 15 years old, being bullied at school. I’d play it every day. And every single day I would imagine I was hanging out with Julian in New York City eating pizza, going to record stores and going to shows. This record was my escape, and it still is. It captures New York and it captures what music means to me. So from a totally personal point of view, this record is New York. This record is important. Again, it is one that is still a massive influence to bands. They are all great musicians, and there will never be anything else quite like it- just like all the records I have mentioned.

 

Like I said, there are so many records that could have been named. This is just my personal take. Maybe it is wrong, maybe it is right. It’s just a point of view, like the 6Music one is. But I just find it hard to accept that so many great and influential records were missed off.





“I don’t have the time for a graveyard of the mind that they call shame.”

7 03 2014

 

 

“Sometimes I fantasise
When the streets are cold and lonely
And the cars they burn below me
Don’t these times fill your eyes
When the streets are cold and lonely
And the cars, they burn below me.”

 

People will always want to change you. They can be people who are insignificant to you (in the long run) or they can be people who claim to “know” you. They will want to change the way you cut your hair to the way you are. At what age does this stop? Does it ever stop?

Self-acceptance is hard for most people. We all have things we cannot stand about ourselves, and they are usually the things we cannot change. The things we can change, we put off because we know we can deal with it “later.” It is always later isn’t it. Not today, but tomorrow. I’m not criticising those who do this, I do it myself. I probably do it more times than I should. I should wear more colour, but I won’t. I should probably not just wear band t-shirts and jeans, but I know I always will. I’m comfortable in the clothes I wear. The person I am? That’s not for here. People can make you feel utterly terrible about yourself, and something happened a few weeks ago that, with me being too sensitive for my own good- I took it to heart.

I had a job interview a few weeks ago, it was my second one for the same job. I was good enough for a second interview. That’s a positive right? I take my piercings out (I took my lip piercing out for good a month ago so all I have is a nose piercing) and I cover up my tattoos. I wear smart (and clean) clothes to interviews. We live in a world where we pretend things are accepted, but they rarely are. A lot of people still do think those with tattoos and piercings are bad people. Hitler didn’t have his nose pierced. Myra Hindley didn’t have her lip pierced. They are bad people; without piercings. You see my point right?

So I went for my second interview. I thought it was going well, until  was asked a question that made me feel so uncomfortable and so small, I just wanted to go home. I was asked, “If I gave you the job- could you change how you look and would you?” I know I’m a sensitive person, and I know I’m not attractive at all- but does it need pointing out in a job interview of all places? Job interviews are terrifying enough, but come on now.

I’ve been trying to work out what made them ask such a question, and I really don’t understand. I didn’t think they could. If you must know, I went against everything I stand for and said yes to their question.  I said yes because I really really need a fucking job. I said yes because every day I am sat at home applying for a job is another day of self-loathing. I have friends, if I can call them that, who refer to people as being on Job Seekers as “scum” amongst other things. I’m scum, apparently. To me, scum are those who harm children, those who rape and those who kill. Not people who need help with getting by. I’m aware there are people who play the system, I’m not totally stupid. But everyone has their own struggle- so don’t judge.

I’m sick of being asked “what jobs have you applied for? Maybe you should aim lower.” I’m 27 years old; shouldn’t I have a career by now? I’ll never be paid to write, and I find myself compromising myself when I apply for jobs. I disregard the fact that writing and music make me happy. I lie and lie just to get somewhere. I’m getting nowhere. And I am so tired. I am so fucking tired.

I have no point with this, I really don’t. I don’t want to be a fraud. I can’t keep going back and forth with having a job to being on JSA again. I really can’t.

But then again, maybe I’m just too sensitive.

Have some songs:





HAPPY BIRTHDAY LOU.

2 03 2014

 

Today would have been Lou Reed’s birthday. It is fairly obvious just how important he was to a hell of a lot of people. For his music, his words, his wisdom; he guided those who felt uneasy in their skin and allowed them to feel a hint of self-acceptance. Has anyone recently done that? No. Will anyone ever do it again? No. Lou Reed was something truly rare. Treasured in life and death.

Forever missed.





L.A.R

9 02 2014

In love, darkness, desperation and heartache, 

I was guided by the angel of New York City. 

Walking with clenched fists and gritting my teeth. 

I want to be set free, I’m in search of Candy. 

The angel took me to their hell and showed me how to make it a peaceful state of heaven. 

A piece of me, a piece of him. 

I turned a blind eye to my sins. 

Slowly and softly his words carry me through. 

 I drag my feet across unfamiliar ground, 

And I welcome the ugly feelings that I should ignore. 

I wait for the unknown. 

His words circle my mind going deep into my soul. 

I’d go back in time to find a cure. 

For all the souls that didn’t quite get there. 

In love and courage, you’re standing in your leather and shades. 

I’ll linger on. 

I wrote this a few hours after hearing Lou Reed had died last year. I know you should never publicise your private thoughts, but I suppose some things just have to be let out. I don’t enjoy showing anyone my poor attempt at poetry, I’ve only ever shown not even a handful. I have no idea why I’m doing this but maybe it doesn’t need a reason. Not everything does.

The loss of someone like Lou is beyond words, and it leaves a gap. But at least someone like him existed and gave us a legacy of music that will forever inspire.

You’re missed Lou.





R.I.P LOU REED: “Skip a life completely. Stuff it in a cup…”

27 10 2013

 

“If I could be anything
in the world that flew
I would be a bat and come
swooping after you.”

 

There are a few bands and singers who I frequently write about who cemented their mark in music before I was born. They are my heroes and reasons as to why I love music; why I cannot live without music. You never really seem to think of life without them no longer here, you just wonder how it would have been if you never found or them, or if they never found you. It is easy to look up to those who are no longer with us because we never have to face losing them. Today is a sad day for music, and to think of anything to say about Lou Reed that hasn’t already been said is causing a part of my brain to just turn to mush.

I’ll try anyway.

My blog, Gypsy Death And You is taken from Run Run Run by the Velvet Underground and the header photo is of the band. There was no other band I wanted to have named my blog after, it just wouldn’t be right. Lou Reed was more than just a singer; he was a poet who painted the world in a way that, as soon as you first heard his music- that is how you saw the world. Andy’s Chest opened me up to a world that was better than anything I’d ever known. Pale Blue Eyes made me feel a sense of heartache I’d never felt before. It even got me through some form of a breakup. Although, I don’t think there was anything worth breaking at that point. The song became something I couldn’t listen to for a while, but then it became all I could ever listen to.

Last year I found a copy of Transformer for £2 on vinyl. I felt this heightening pounding in my chest; the kind of feeling you get as you are about to see your favourite band on stage for the first or fifteenth time- the feeling is still there. I was so excited to FINALLY have this record in my hands. I went home, after work, and played it for hours. I got ready for work listening to it, I fell asleep listening to it. Transformer is easily one of the greatest records of all time.

Lou Reed’s guided the misfits and outcasts into a world that was dark; but it was pure and passionately bold. It was a world I’ll never want to leave. He may no longer be with us, but the music is ALWAYS going to be there. His legacy is more memorable than those of the false generation. The generation made up of manufactured pop-stars who have the personality of a dead cat. Lou Reed conveyed ugly feelings in a way that made you feel alright with carrying them about. Candy Says is one of the most harrowing yet gorgeous songs ever written. Heroin may be about drug use, but it is written in such a romantic way. You shut your eyes, and you are heading right to the kingdom with Lou.

Listening to Lou Reed’s music gives you a sense of feeling untouchable. Much like when I listen to New York Dolls, Patti, Ramones; he has this ability to make you feel protected and as if you can take on the world even if the world is taking on you. His music embodies everything I love about music. Writing about him in past tense is not only uncomfortable, but it is heartbreaking. One thing I’ve seen is the amount of musicians I follow on Twitter who have paid tribute to him; he influenced so many people from all over. It doesn’t matter that most will just say “Oh Perfect Day is my favourite Lou Reed song.” At least they’ve heard of him. Besides, Perfect Day is a gorgeous love song.

Last Christmas my uncle and I were discussing how important Lou’s music is. And just this Friday passed, my manager and I (yeah I’ve got a job now!) were talking about Lou Reed. She saw him back in the 70s, and to hear these stories about him was just brilliant. All we have are memories now. He’s someone you remember where you were when you first heard him. He made wearing all black seem appealing; it isn’t a phase just for me, I don’t feel comfortable wearing colour. He had this way of remaining a constant mystery, but when you played his music it felt like you were hanging out with your best friend. Music is the only reliable friend you may ever have.

His vocals weren’t flamboyant or over the top; he sang in a way that made him relatable. He made it easy for you to sing like him in the shower. And when his vocals go real low when he sings, “Hey babe, take a walk on the wild side” is easy to do, and when you sing it- you feel empowered. The word “cool” is thrown around all the time, and I guess it is a redundant word to use, but Lou Reed was cool. He was everything those who listened to him wanted to be. He had this way of making you feel like you were sat on a stoop in New York watching the world go by as you listened to his music, you felt as if he was sat next to you telling these crazy stories that are in his music.

Everything about Lou Reed was iconic, it always will be. There are so many things I would love to write, but the words in my head aren’t reaching my fingers- I can’t type them out. I’ve played his music and gazed out the window on long tube/train journeys and felt like I was somewhere other than where I was or where I was headed. I felt like I was going somewhere where nobody else knew. I think anyone who REALLY listens to Lou’s music gets that feeling straight away. It’s a rare feeling, but we all know just how rare Lou was. Sure he may have been difficult in interviews, but it was probably because most music journalists are dull and ask the same shit over and over. His music defined a generation and is still inspiring so many. In the light and in the dark, his music offered peace and self-discovery. The ability to turn my back on conventional and traditional means, the strength came from his music. With love and heartache, I have written this. With respect and gratitude, I’ve written this; for Lou.

All that’s left to be said is; bless your soul Lou and thank you for the music. In life, love and desperation- you were always there. Thank you x.

Sunday Mourning.





“Waiting for the stars to align, there is a restless rain cloud in my mind. Heavy eyes fixed in the middle of the room.”

5 01 2013

Many have frequently stated that you must suffer for your art. I’m unsure how true this is, or if I even believe it. Surely if you are a good writer or painter, you can place yourself in various positions without having to hit rock bottom. You can empathise with those who are in a dark place rather than torturing yourself on a daily basis.

I write songs/poems. I personally think they are bloody awful. I don’t show them because I don’t want anyone to see how shit they are. However, I do have some stupid dream of having them published in a book one day. I haven’t done anything about it because the fear of rejection plagues me more than I want it to not because I am lazy. Some of what I have written is quite dark, but not because I feel so utterly hopeless and depressed. I know what depression. I’ve seen what it does to people, and I’ve never felt like that. People who say they are depressed but can still go out and function aren’t depressed. You cannot move, you cannot do a thing; that’s depression. My gran had it before I was born, and a bit when I was younger. Friends have battled with it, and there is nothing you can do but watch helplessly hoping one day it leaves them alone so they can go back to being the person they once were. You don’t need to be in love to write about love. Feelings of love and joy can fill you by watching a certain film, listening to a certain song or gazing at a piece of art. It is everywhere. Everything and nothing can be inspiring.

Being able to put yourself in the mind-set of others teaches you to be a more accepting and gentle person. I’ll happily be the first to admit that I am far too sensitive. I know I need to toughen up, but it just will not ever happen. I cannot be cruel to get something I want. I cannot harm someone on purpose; I’d rather just hug everyone instead. I’d like to think one day that being a gentle soul will go in my favour. Until then, I wait. Or just accept it. Same thing I suppose.

I’m drawn to the darker things. Dark songs, creepy literature. It is all fascinating. I’m not religious at all (I believe there’s a spiritual being above us all, but not in a powerful sense) but anything that questions God or whatever in songs really gets my attention. That’s why I love bands like Dum Dum Girls, Crocodiles and The Long Wives. There are religious references, but not in a “I BELIEVE IN GOD AND YOU MUST TOO” kind of way; far from it. I am all for people questioning each other in a non-threatening manner. I’m not religious but that doesn’t mean I’m going to belittle someone who does. We all have our own things to believe in; nobody should ever try to shy someone away from what they believe in. Unless it means promoting hatred and intolerance, then I’ve got an issue with it.

I honestly had no point in writing this. I never do. It’s a cheap outlet I suppose, as always. I just thin we need to stop thinking we must feel low and hopeless in order to achieve something great. You can function being a happy person. But it seems, when you are happy people have an issue with it. Yet when you feel like shit, people may deem you as being draining. You cannot win, so forget them. Yet I know it is hard. You do not need to suffer in order to do something of worth. You justify your own worth, not the objects and people that surround you.

That’ll do for now.





Top 10 Male Singers (of all time..sort of.)

13 10 2012

I frequently have internal battles with myself about my favourite songs and records of all time. I place them into categories to make it easier, such as Favourite Debut Record of All Time to BEST SONG EVER PART 1 OF 100. Stuff like that you know? But earlier, I managed to come up with a solid list of my favourite male singers of all time. I basically narrowed it down to singers that were around before I was born because if I did recent ones, I’d firmly place Brandon Welchez from Crocodiles as my number 1. Maybe I’ll do a list for that.

So, I’m going to attempt to list my favourite male singers of all time (that existed before I was born..I was born in ’86. The golden era of Hip Hop.) Of course I may change my mind at some point, but hopefully I won’t fret and lose sleep over this. I’m a born worrier; but I keep it well hidden. Obviously I’ve just admitted to it, so it’s not a secret. Oh well.

10. David Johansen (New York Dolls.) I hate that I’ve had to put this in order because I want to jumble it all around. However, the love I have for David Johansen goes beyond him being my number 10. What I love about him is his flamboyant style and distinctive drawl. I remember my mum playing their first record round the house when I was younger. I didn’t know it was the Dolls but I was hooked on Jet Boy. I probably used to sing it, and get the words mixed up. Nothing has changed. Into my teenage years, I saw a copy of their debut record at my uncle’s. I was drawn to the cover, and I always stand by it being my favourite album cover ever. The sheer beauty of it just drew me in straight away. Utterly gorgeous. So, what is it about David Johansen that makes me adore him? I think he’s one of the best front-men of all time. His charisma and charm just leaves you in awe. The way he moves makes you want to emulate him in a dramatic fashion. He’s one of a kind, and undoubtedly inspired so many to express themselves in a way no one else dared to do so.

9. Townes Van Zandt. My love for Townes started only a few years ago, and it wasn’t his voice that got me hooked. Before I even heard his voice, I read his lyrics. His lyrics were that of a troubled soul. You couldn’t help but connect with him, yet at the same time feel uncomfortable that you connected with his words. Then when you heard his voice, you TRULY got all the pain. Some singers become actors and don’t believe in what they do. Some just want the money. With the likes of Townes, you could tell that music was everything to him. His life was dependant on making music. It didn’t really matter how the listener felt; he just needed to get it all out. We all need an outlet, music is one of the most powerful ones. Townes possessed a unique voice that no matter what, just sounded so vulnerable. He didn’t have to put on an act; everything about him was truthful. At times some of his songs became too painful to listen to, but at best- you just knew someone else understood some of the perils of every day life.

8. Nick Cave. Some singers you remember falling in love with, because it just stays with you for the rest of time. Nick Cave is a prime example of that. My gran used to look after me when I was younger, before I went to primary school. Before chewed up and spat out my soul. Or you know, before I ate paint and sobbed before swimming lessons. My uncle used to live with her in this house, and I always remembered going to his room when he was at work and staring at a poster of Nick Cave on one of the walls in his room. I’d stare at it in utter awe. I don’t know what my toddler mind was thinking, but it was fixated on this person. I felt like I was looking at something untouchable. I guess I knew of Nick Cave’s genius before I even heard his voice or read his lyrics. Fast forward to about 10 years old and I’m hearing Into My Arms and Henry Lee on MTV. Something was happening in my mind. I knew exactly what it was. I knew what I wanted to be. A writer. I wanted to write words like this; but the thing is, no one can write like Nick Cave. The man is a genius. Sure enough his vocals may not be to everyone’s taste, but his lyrics…I fail to find a song that anyone couldn’t relate to. Everything about him just makes you want to expand your mind and explore other worlds.

7. Leonard Cohen. One of the greatest writers of all time regardless of genre. Leonard Cohen and Morrissey were the two song-writers that truly made me care about words. Poets such as Poe and Rimbaud got me hooked on words too. But these two singers just made me see everything in the world in a different way. The darkness and love and romance of everything around us was made clearer by them. Leonard Cohen for me just creates a different world. A world that is free of everything but full of questions. I think that’s a good way to live. It’s hard to live that way, but it gets you through. I always place Leonard Cohen as a poet before anything else, but his voice is so powerful. Some may seek singers that hit high notes and have a stupid range. I don’t want that. I want you to sing in a way that makes me feel like you are telling a story to my soul. Leonard Cohen does this, and so much more. I’ve many reasons as to why I adore him, that’s just one of them. I don’t think I could put the rest into words to be honest.

6. Otis Redding. I’ve found a pattern in the singers I love; they all basically sing songs about loss and pain. I’m a cheerful soul. Of all the Soul singers in the world that have existed, it was Otis Redding that I truly found a life-long love for. Everything about his voice makes you wish you were around when he was starting out. Imagine being one of the first to have heard his voice all those decades ago. His sad songs could break the hardest of hearts, but his joyful songs could bring tears of happiness to your eyes. He had the power to make you feel every single word he sang. He died far too young, everyone knows that. And I also think most know that Otis, although he had a short career, he was truly one of the best. I’ve got a bit of an issue with the term “Soul” music because all music should come from there and you should feel music right in your soul, but regardless- Otis oozed more soul than most.

5. Joey Ramone. No idea how to get into writing about Joey because let’s face it- he possessed the greatest voice in Punk. The way he towered over the mic stand. Pulling it to and fro like a man under a spell made you want to start something of your own. Easily one of the most distinctive voices of all time. His voice was like no other. His stage presence has obviously been an inspiration to many over the years. From how he stood to how he dressed. He wasn’t just part of a band, he was part of a movement that fuelled the souls of so many lost people. Myself included, and also justifies why I was born in the wrong era. To be in New York in the 70s would have been perfect. What do we have now? Of course we do have wonderful things, but imagine being part of one of the most powerful movements in music (and possibly society.) One of my most prized possession are my Ramones records. I rarely play them as I don’t want to ruin them; but when I do, I can truly hear all they stood for. Joey was the voice for so many, and you know what, he still is.

4. Lou Reed. I’m going to try keep this as short as possible because I truly have no issues with writing a massive essay about my love for Lou Reed. However all I want to say and could say about him has been said before. Again, this is another genius my uncle got me into. He got me into Velvet Underground then after he saw my love for them he told me to listen to Transformer. Is Transformer one of the best records made? Damn right it is. Wagon Wheel is one of my favourites for sure. I just love Lou’s style of writing. He’s a genuine story-teller who takes you into the underworld of all around you. You think all you see is all that exists, then you listen to a Lou Reed song and it’s like you fall into a different world. Something quite dark, wonderful and weird. You never want out of it. I think, once you listen to Lou- that’s it for life. Once you give yourself over to his words, you feel part of something that no one or nothing could tear you from. You even forgive him for that Lulu record because Transformer exists.

3. Scott Walker. I guess like most I have already mentioned, Scott Walker is an acquired taste. His debut record is by far one of the greatest records ever made. My Death is probably my favourite Scott Walker song, you know, with me being a ray of sunshine and all that. But in all seriousness, my love for Scott Walker came from of course, The Walker Brothers. His solo work is just a work of art. Every record is a masterpiece. You really cannot deny that he’s a genius. The way his mind works, the way he writes, the way he sings- he’s just out of this world. He’s an enigma, for sure. I cannot wait for his new record to come out in December. Every record of his sounds entirely different from the last; but they always remain timeless and as important as each other. To have a career that reads like that is rare, and something that should be treasured.

2. Don Van Vliet (Captain Beefheart.) A strange soul who made even stranger music. Safe As Milk changed a LOT for me. I think it honestly changed how I listened to music, and the ways it affected me. It opened up my mind. What did Trout Mask Replica do? Well, it freaked me out in the most pleasurable way for sure. I think it is one of the weirdest records I’ve ever heard.  I loved the way his mind worked. From his songs to his paintings- everything about him just oozed freedom and creativity. The two go hand in hand, but not many can make them work as perfect as Don Van Vliet did. He was a rare spirit that made you feel so free. When you listen to Safe As Milk, whether the first time around or if you’re a new fan, everything about it just gives you something you are never going to get again. I guess you can only get it from a Beefheart record. Certain musicians give you certain feelings, I think what Beefheart gave you is something that goes beyond words you know. I’ve tried so many times to pick a favourite song by Captain Beefheart, but instead I’ve narrowed it down to a moment. It’s when he says, “A squid eating dough in a polyethylene bag is fast ‘n bulbous, got me?” at the start of Pachuco Cadaver. No idea what it means, but it’s wonderfully strange.

Okay so for Number 1 I just couldn’t decide. Bob Dylan or Morrissey. I can’t choose. There’s no way I can do that. So, joint first place are Bobby and Morrissey. So I’m going to keep it brief.

1. Bob Dylan. Where do you begin when attempting to write about your love for someone so inspiring? I have my mum to thank for my obsession with this man. I’m proud of my Dylan tattoo on the back of my neck. It’s of a song that guided me through hell and back. Through hell some more, and back again. His words provide guidance through life- the good and the bad. It is like he is reassuring you every step of the way. My mum used to sing Forever Young to me when I was a baby before I went to sleep. His music is perfect for long train journeys or just walking around on your own. He makes you feel okay with whatever is going on. You stare out to all you see with his words echoing delicately in your ear, and you’re to restart/carry on. I hold Blonde on Blonde very dear to my heart, and I think it is possibly my favourite Dylan record. But with so many, I think it is hard to choose a solid favourite yet it seems to always be the one I go to for various reasons.

1.Morrissey. I’ve always declared Morrissey as being the one true love of my life. Mainly because his words/songs have been there when I thought I had nothing else. Speedway has been the song that sums up my life for the most part, as does Alma Matters. Everyday Is Like Sunday fully describes where I unfortunately live. I could honestly write an essay about every Morrissey song and still feel I had more to say. His words are a safety net and a force of hope to guide you through. He manages to release every unwanted and wanted feeling you have ever had, and will have had. Dismiss him as a moody sod all you want; but maybe you are scared to see yourself in his words. Seeing him live..every single time feels like a healing process. For some reason, every time before I have seen him- something shit has gone on in my life, and I’ve seen him and it all feels okay. His music goes beyond just being music, and I know every Morrissey fan feels like that. He’s not someone you just stick on as background music. He’s the soundtrack to all you do. He’s someone I don’t think I could actually sit and listen to with. It’s a very personal experience, mainly because I relate to a vast majority of his lyrics. I just adore everything about him, he’s the reason as to why lyrics are so important to me. I wear my Morrissey tattoo on my arm with unconditional love and pride. He changed my life and saved my life; that’s why he’s my number 1.