used to be my life. I guess it’s more words now. But I’m still a “music person” at heart. Some people find that I have “posh” musical taste, but when music is your job, your life, I think you hear it differently. Actually, I find my taste to be very eclectic – I like music in almost all genres, maybe with the exceptions of musicals, some types of jazz and R&B. I also truly dislike the kind of pop music featured on shows like X-Factor. They all look and sound exactly the same.
Here’s a run-down of my musical background for those of my readers who haven’t known me that long (that would be 30 years+, ha): I started with the recorder and piano like all other nice little middle class girls and then went on to the more sociable instrument, the violin. As soon as I was good enough I started playing in a local youth orchestra and relatively shortly progressed to the Danish Radio’s Youth Orchestra. I loved playing in an orchestra and we toured and played concerts and generally had a fantastic time. It is still so that, when I hear specific orchestral works, like e.g. Mendelssohn’s The Hebrides, I swoon and am again 15… I switched to the viola at some point, because I so enjoyed being a team player. Was of course contemplating a professional career, but was not quite talented enough and, what’s probably more important, too lazy. Also, already then, standing up was hard on my back and when practising the violin/viola, you stand up!
Took a college degree in music and got to know people who were into pop music. You’ll have to picture me at 18 not knowing the difference between Sweet and Slade… At this point in time I owned a nice, if small, collection of classical LPs and two 7″ singles, Me & Bobby McGee and Hey Joe. My new friends liked King Crimson, Brian Eno, Genesis, etc. and I was slowly introduced to this new world. At this point in time I also met a girl who had the biggest record collection in living memory and she gradually introduced me to all the music I’d missed and to practically every new album that was released, because she spent every penny on music.
The first real turning point in my musical life came when my friend from college came and said, “Hey, you gotta come see this guy at work, he’s out of this world”. His work was in a music shop and “this guy” was a shy youngster with the most awful Sweet-hairdo and a guitar glued to his hands. My friend and I were equally stunned – I think it was the first time any of us experienced such raw, unpolished talent. The youngster was Hilmer Hassig, who, I’m so sorry to say, is no longer with us. I wrote him a eulogy.
The two of them formed a band and quickly I was drawn in by the whole thing and joined the independent record company Irmgardz…, that eventually published their debut album. Band’s name was Scatterbrain. They sang in English and their music was a kind of synth-pop and it was A FIRST in Denmark.
Irmgardz… and later Garden Records became my life up until we went belly-up in 1992. They were fantastic years and we produced some pretty good albums, if I may say so myself. We also arranged concerts, so have heard and met quite a few of the Indie icons of the era. Some were a lot of fun and great musical experiences, but a lot are best forgotten.
I have a weakness for lists and some years ago I made a Top Three of the best concerts in my life. I thought a lot about it and the result is a bit surprising – it was surprising to myself at the time. But looking back now, I’m quite sure they were really the best! I even paid good Danish money for one of them – something I otherwise never did back then.
1. Violent Femmes (this would have been in the mid-eighties) at Montmartre – a legendary Danish jazz club, which doesn’t exist any more. It was a band I really liked (from Milwaukee of all places), I had their albums and listened to them often. Seeing them live was absolutely fabulous. Sometimes during the concert you could hear a penny drop on a carpeted floor. I’ve just finished The Timetravelers Wife where one of the key moments in the book is a concert with Violent Femmes in Chicago. I knew exactly what it was like, could hum every tune…
2. Tom Waits in the Falkoner Centre on his Rain Dogs tour (1985). It was a sit-down concert, something very unusual at the time. Waits traipsed around between his little settings and played a very low-key, but super intense set. Fantastic!!! I still like Tom Waits a lot and throw money at every new album on Itunes.
3. U2 at Roskilde Festival (1982) following the release of their second album October. I was in complete awe of Bono, who did things with the audience that were very unusual at the time and who had a really remarkable voice, but similarly of The Edge, who really did something different with that guitar and had such a distinct tone!
I’ve had a look through my Itunes and here’s a completely random and nowhere near exhaustive list of albums that have made a lasting impression on me. I don’t always know why, but just know that something about that album changed me a little bit.
- Anouar Brahem: Le Pas du Chat Noir (latest addition, thanks to Gabs)
- Bob Dylan: Nashville Skyline
- The Costello Show: King of America
- Del Amitri: Twisted
- Echo and the Bunnymen: Ocean Rain
- Emmylou Harris: Wrecking Ball
- Genesis: The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
- The Jesus & Mary Chain: Psychocandy
- New Order: Power, Corruption and Lies
- Paul Simon: Graceland
- Portishead: Dummy
- Prince: Parade
- R.E.M.: Automatic for the People
- Ry Cooder: Paris, Texas Soundtrack
- Tricky: Maxinquaye
- U2: War
- John Lennon & Yoko Ono: Double Fantasy
- George Michael: Older
- Depeche Mode: Violator
- The The: Soul Mining
- Blondie: Parallel Lines
- Keith Jarret: The Carnegie Hall Concert
- The Go-Betweens: Before Hollywood
Most of you will have Spotify, but if you don’t, go here and listen to some of the albums you don’t already know. There could be a song to change you too?
Only a few Danish albums (that we didn’t produce ourselves…) spring to mind, the most memorable ones being Kliché‘s Supertanker and Sort Sol‘s Dagger & Guitar.
Classical music will have to be another day…
Very eclectic list. Surprised you’re not into Jazz…Monk, Davis, Brand, Stanko … Oh. I love them!
I like some jazz – just listened to Dave Brubeck yesterday and have seen Miles Davis live several times. But a lot of jazz lacks melody and is so much about skill – endless solos showing off skill only discernible by other musicians.
Very interesting to read. I tend to be a late bloomer when it comes to music. I listen to all categories (except perhaps the same categories you excluded!) but sometimes “new” sounds grow slowly on me. Will now go and look into some of these albums!
I agree about Irmgardz – you really did make a difference to the Danish music scene at that time. I used to listen a lot to the records from that label, and actually I was co-arranger of one of the first concerts with Gangway in Jutland (Vejle) shortly after the release of their remarkable debut album. Nice list by the way. Nashville Skyline, Wrecking Ball, Graceland and Parallel Lines are my personal favorites, but I know most of the mentioned albums quite well. I heard, and was very fond of, Oscar Petersons Hymn To Freedom when I was a kid. That tune I guess was my key to the world of Jazz though I still don’t fancy the free style stuff a lot, but endless solos can be ok :-) Love your blog.
@ Eyglo Most of the albums on the list are 20 years old, some of them much older, so don’t worry about being a “late bloomer” :-)
@ Bo Thanks for your lovely comments. Much appreciated.