Tuesday, November 18, 2008

31 songs

"31 Songs" is the title of a book by the british writer Nick Hornby, which I have been suggested to read (but i didn't read it yet) by my blog friend Silvano, who has a blog titled infact "31 canzoni" ["31 songs"].
As Silvano tells me, the book is about the 31 songs that "marked" the author's life.
This dialogue with him made me want to list the 31 songs that marked my life.
No sooner said than done.
I thought it would have been a colossal enterprise, but instead it was pretty easy to find out so many songs. On the opposite, i had to exclude some songs because they didn't fit in the number of the list.
To tell the truth, I cannot say that, considering each song individually, all of them were really the essence of my life, but for sure each one of them "describes" atleast a part of me. They are songs that i love, or i loved in some period of my life. Nowadays some of them would not even enter my personal hit-parade anymore. But i remember all of them with much affection for what they meant or still mean now. Some of them still give me chicken skin.
Thanks to Silvano for giving me the idea to start this introspective search. ;-)

The order of the songs is absolutely random.

1. Keith Jarrett, The Köln concert - part I
Keith Jarrett concerts are the exasperation of the concept of improvisation, meaning that they are totally improvised. Melodies and harmonies are not prepared before but they develop under the fingers of the pianist, apparently in a way independent from his will. One has the feeling that the pianist is only a subsidiary instrument of a trascendent design. If i had been a great pianist, Keith Jarrett would have been my model. Unfortunately i always had to be satisfied with much less.

2. The Queen, Somebody to love
This song is, in my opinion, perfect. Never repetitive and always surprising from the beginning to the end, in a mixture of harmonies and melodies that run after each other without a break.

3. Pink Floyd, Shine on you crazy diamond - part 6, 7 and part 8, 9
The thing i like in this song is the warm sound of the monofonic analog synthesizer. In this type of music the synth is used to research new sonorities and not, as it happened later, to simplify the musicians' task with the faithful imitation of traditional instruments. Artificial sounds, but in this song they have a concrete expressivity, as it can be found only in traditional instruments.

4. Louis Armstrong, The wonderful world
To me this is the anthem of Nature, in its simplicity.

5. Miles Davis, Human nature
This is a song by Michael Jackson (i don't like the original version at all). The last "electric" period of Miles Davis is marked by the contamination of jazz with pop, and this makes it much easier than the classic Miles Davis, remaining at excellent levels (and here the purists would tore me to pieces!). Miles Davis is the less technically talented trumpet-player that i know, nevertheless any single note of his is a shudder at my back.

6. Incognito, Don't you worry 'bout a thing
Acid jazz is since some times the type of music i prefer.
I have been at a live concert of this band years ago and i had been enthusiast of it. Impossible to stop dancing! About 20 musicians on the stage, everyone with some particular talent that extols him, but all of them perfectly combined with each other, even though they are a bounch of different nationalities and ethnicities (a good example of integration!).
This song is one of their most popular (and also most beautiful to me) hit. It's a cover song really much more funky than the original by Stevie Wonder.

7. Cyndi Lauper, Time after time
This is a song that when it gets in my head, it doesn't want to go out anymore. There are a huge number of versions of this hit. I love in particular the one by Miles Davis, but i wouldn't like to repeat the same comment of song n. 5 :-)

8. Francesco Di Giacomo & Sam Moore, Hey Joe (sorry i didn't find the song on the Internet)
Hey Joe is the popular song that Jimi Hendrix made famous. Even if i don't deny Jimi Hendrix's talent, i could never appreciate his style. Francesco di Giacomo and Sam Moore gave this song a second life with a funky-blues very refined rearrangement. Unfortunately i have only the vinyl record (what's the name of those 45rpm records sized like an LP?): i don't know how to listen to it anymore.

9. Premiata Forneria Marconi, Impressioni di settembre
This song reminds my teen age, even if, actually, when i used to listen to it, in that period it was already a piece of history. It was the first song that i played with a band: passion for played music was born into me along with passion for this song.

10. Dirotta su Cuba, Tutto da rifare
I listen to Dirotta the first time at a show on TV in the early 90s, where they played live "Liberi di Liberi da", their first hit. And i loved it. I bought their first CD and i was enthusiastic. So i bought also the second CD and i was enthusiastic again. I skipped the third because it was a compilation of songs of the first two, and about the fourth... it was a waste of money because i didn't like it at all. I stopped being their fan, but the first two CDs are still masterpieces to me.

11. Simply Red, The right thing
Beyond the typical voice of Mick Hucknall, i like very much also the musicians. I remember once that, going for a beer to my favorite pub-live-music (Ponderosa at Lonate Ceppino - ah! it would deserve a post itself!), i found them on the stage playing jazz cover music, in a makeshift concert, while

Sergio Cammariere
Mick was staying sitting at the bar drinking beer and chatting with the barman. "The right thing" is a beautiful song. In particular i like the harmonic change of the refrain at the reprise.

12. Roberto Vecchioni, Luci a San Siro
The mood of my town, in which i don't love to go anymore, becaus, as Vecchioni says, il tempo emigra [time migrates], and luci a San Siro non ne accenderanno più [lights, at San Siro, won't be lighted anymore]. And Milano is not mine anymore [San Siro is a quarter of the town].

13. The Blues Brothers, Sweet home Chicago
A movie that i would never be tired to watch again and again, an incredible band, Sweet home Chicago, a classic that this list couldn't miss.

14. Sergio Cammariere, Tutto quello che un uomo
It's the song i would have liked to compose for her.

15. Sade, By your side
Her warmth, by my side, in the hard moments, even when she's far.

16. The Cure, Why can't I be you
I believe that the one of The Cure was my first big concert at a stadium. I never identified myself in their style, but I always liked their music for the amount of simple melodies that "interlace" the armonies

17. Sting, Moon over Bourbon street
The mood of the night.

18. Deep Purple, Child in time
A far (fortunately - for my health - enough short!) period of my life I played in a hard rock band that used to play Deep Purple cover songs. Child in Time is an example of that style where virtuosity with instruments, as well as voice, is exalted. Lately i changed style and tastes, but this song was a point of referennce.

19. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Lacrimosa (Requiem)
Even if i don't have a wide culture of it, i always liked classic music. My favorite musician is Mozart, and Requiem is the most beautiful opera.

20. Average White Band, Pick up the pieces
This song is a really infectious funky, and often it was the "soundtrack" of light-hearted moments.

21. Jevetta Steele, Calling you
It's the song of the movie "Baghdad Cafe". This song is diametrically opposite to n. 20: it's the soudtrack of many sad moments.

22.Carl Orff, Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi (Carmina Burana)
Another classic music opera i particularily love is "Carmina Burana" by Carl Orff, that contaminates classic music with other more contemporary genres. Also the subject of this opera is quite original in the context, because it describes scenes of everyday life, from the tavern to the brothel, not missing a roasted swan singing. A mixture of Latin and German language.

23. M People, Don't look any further
It's a pop song, that had been remade in tons of rearrangements, also in a taste of acid jazz. A song that in its simplicity went over the passing of time and i still listen to it very pleasantly.
The version of the linked video is a remake by M People theirselves, a little too much "dance" for my tastes.

24. David Bowie, Heroes
I always perceived David Bowie like a kind of extraterrestrian. Like those people that look like they attract attention among the indistinct crowd. Not that i give much importance to this feature, but i always thought that Bowie's greatness was to be able to use this charisma to transfer emotions.

25. Toto, Georgy Porgy
I like Toto for the originality of their sounds and mostrly their rythms.
About this song i remember a picture of the drummer i used to play with while obsessively tried again and again the stroke with the snare drum at the reprise from the stop at 1'55" in the linked video, which is not exactly on the beat (as he said, "an intention on the upbeat"). This song gives the idea to be built around that snare drum stroke.

26. Manhattan Transfer, Soul food to go
What i like of Manhattan Transfer is the impression they give to use the voices as musical instruments. Very sofisticated.

27. Let the sunshine in - from the movie Hair
It's the pacifist movie that represent, in this final song, the collective protest against war and the establishment that guides it, in which i totally identify.

28. Dire Straits, Tunnel of Love
The real personality of this band is given by Mark Knopfler guitar, without which their songs would totally loose any meaning. Even if one cannot really exalt his singing talent, also the print of his voice makes Dire Straits' songs unique.
I like Tunnel of Love in particular for the crescendo in the instrumental final part.

29. John Lennon, Imagine
The lyrics of this song are to me the definition itself ot the word "Peace".

30. Vinicio Capossela, All'una e trentacinque circa
Nowadays i don't like Vinicio Capossela a lot, anymore, but when the album that is named after this song came out, i liked it very much. Refinedly jazz but also popular. Vinicio Capossela almost looks one of us found himself by chance on a stage. With a bottle of cheap Lambrusco wine.

31. Johan Sebastian Bach, Passacaglia in C minor and Thema fugatum
The first time i listened this music was at an organ conncert in a church where a friend, keen on pipe organs, dragged me. Even if i am not completely ignorant of classic music, i had never gone to a classic concert before (in a church, in addition!). I already resigned myself to boredom, when, all of the sudden, in particular at this song, here it comes my enthusiasm! Years after, when i acquired some technique, i made a personal reduction for piano, and i learnt to play it.
Passacaglia is a musical form based on obsessive repetition of a theme always identical to itself, that is harmonized any time in different ways. In this case the theme is then reprised in the final fugue.


tychecat said...

Your listing is an interesting one. If I were to make one, it would be almost all classical/operatic - Heavy on in order or preference:
Mozart, Beethoven, Puccini, Debussy, Chopin, Tschaikovsky, Wagner, R Strauss, Stravinsky, and Gounod
and that's just the first ten.
Of course I have my favorites of each composer, but I would have a good deal of trouble selecting those that have had the most effect on me.
I have tried to think of a pop or jazz song that's effected me seriously - though I do like Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong (When I was in college, I was part of a group that actually hired him to perform for the school - met him) Beetles, Iron Butterfly, Brubeck, and some others.
I suppose I'm showing my age and generation here.

dario said...


What do you mean, that you have seen him, maybe shaked his hand and said something like "nice to meet you"?!?

Dick, i don't think it's a matter of age. Me too, when i was listing these songs i was thinking that most of the people i know through the Internet are much younger than me so they would choose different genres, but... this is MY personal list, which someone else can share or not.

Now i am curious anyway about your list. That's a challange now ;-) why don't you make a post with your favorite 31 songs?

Also i think about your classic favorite... mmmh... i don't know... for example about Beethoven, i don't like it so much as i love Mozart or Bach, for example. For sure his Ninth symphony... or the Sixth... well... mmmh... i could say all the nine ones, they are absolutely masterpieces... but how to compare for example the Fifth of Beethoven with Mozart's requiem? They are different, so uncomparable.

rowena said...

You know I listen to crap.... :lol:

tychecat said...

Yes, I met Louis Armstrong. Back in the late '50s I was a member of my University's (U of Florida) Inter-fraternity council and we decided to spend some $ on a "Break" during Spring Exams. We had something like $35K (Today probably more than $200K) to spend so we hired Armstrong's full show - Louis, his orchestra, his female singer (can't remember who she was -but she was well-known at the time).
At that time Armstrong was heavy into college appearances - racial integration was just beginning to hit the South in the US.
We threw a party for them and lots of us got to mingle with the entertainers - including Louis.
There were approx. 15K at the concert (It was free to students, of course) and maybe a hundred of us at the party - the council membership was 40-50 fraternity & sorority presidents and student leaders.