Damon from Blur talks about the songs that changed his life
1. Terry Jacks: "Seasons In the Sun"
"One of my most vivid memories of primary school is that this had naughty lyrics and I can't exactly remember what they were but they really got me going. It had a quality which was very orgasmic for an eight year old, if that's possible. It's an amazing song, although I know it's the naffest song from the Seventies. It reminds me of matchbox cards and the banana seat on my bike, which made it the next best thing to a Chopper.
2. Adam and The Ants: "Ant Music" "Adam was the first and only pop star I wanted to be. This was the only time I was suceptible to things like that. It was the first record I played over and ocer again in front of the mirror. I liked all of his stuff but I suppose everything went wrong with 'Prince Charming'. It was a strange moment in pop. The full stop after punk."
3. Cat Stevens: "Sitting" - and anything by The Soft Machine "My parents used to work with Cats Stevens. We had all these strange blue plastic chairs he gave us when he gave up all his wordly possessions upon discovering Islam. It all went hand in hand with The Soft Machine because, again, my Dad managed them when they started. So I was very much a part of all of that. It was my environment. That's probably why I'm a bit off centre about the rock myth. I rebelled against it and tried to be very straight. This music has a simplicity that reminds me of Herman Hesse, who I love. It's not about bedsits and starmen, it's about sitting by a lake and trees. I'm more on the side of life than, um, the other."
4. Madness: "It Must Be Love" "This song started me going out to youth clubs. When I was 12, I went to the Great Tey youth club in a little village outside of Colchester. I had my brogues, my jacket, my pork-pie hat, and my little badge; and I used to get in a hokey-cokey circle with all my mates and we'd pretend to be Madness. All the to-be Essex girls veered off into soul and I went off wherever I did, but Madness bridged that gap. They're immensely important folk heroes in British pop music."
5. Wire: "Outdoor Miner" "It's the most tasteful song ever. They always had immense dignity. They were an enormous influence on me. I don't know how they were received at the time but, listening in hindsight, they seemed to encapsulate everything that other bands could only aspire to. They will obviously never be regarded in the way their contempories are because they always changed their set and never played to the crowd. Music has to be emotional or clever and, for me, they were both. They suported us as Wir once and it was really depressing because the entire audience stuck their fingers up at them."
6. Syd Barrett: "Terrapin" "It annoys me that he's got a bad image beacuse the acid was the last thing about him. He had a wonderful, organic English voice that didn't seem to be effected by anything- and that was his downfall. He had a knack for creating an atmosphere, one that's very resonant with a pastoral England that doesn't exist anymore. As soon as he left Pink Floyd, the band invented packaging. They must be partially to blame for the whole modern rock package. I think they were more insane than he was. They made amazingly vacuous music."
7. Robert Wyatt: "Shipbuilding" "This was written by Elvis Costello- a brillant songwriter. And Wyatt's got the most desperate voice. Whenever I hear him sing, I get the feeling he must have about his entire life, and, because my Dad worked with The Soft Machine, I knew about the circumstances in which his back was broken- so I can't help but think about that as well. He's a beautiful singer. He's got one of those English voices like John Lennon, Marriott, Howard Devoto, Pete Shelley, Kevin Ayers, Paul Weller, and Julian Cope, voices that are in contact with what it is to be British."
8. Vaughan Williams: "The Lark Ascending""Before I found any interest in pop, I was into classical. I played in an orchestra and wrote for ensembles, and that is what I loved. This is amazingly English. It's basically taken from a poem by George Meredith about a lark flying higher and higher into the sky until you can't see it in the sunshine. It's an incantation which could accompany a Constable painting- though I'm not very keen on him. It's stupidly perfect if you're lying in a field in early June, and there's a clear sky, and you're 16, and a bit drunk. So, as an adolescent, this was my idea of sex."
9. Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht: "Die Dreigroschenoper" (The Threepenny Opera. "For all my sins, I went to drama school for a year- the weird one, E15. Anyway, it wasn't for me. I played the music for all the shows and didn't really do any acting song. I loved these songs. Weill was so ahead of his time- he was writing post-modern music before the war. There was as atmosphere in Germany then that if you weren't a Nazi you were really up against it. And you get that feeling from this. You can imagine someone playing one of those songs in a room and a door opening and everyone getting shot. It's overwhelmingly articulate music. It had more influence on me than any other pop record."
10. Scott Walker: "The Old Man's Back in Town" "It could be any song but this is my favorite because it starts with a rumbling bass line. His voice is better than Frank Sinatra's. He had such an elegance about him, as well as mad lyrics and amazing string arrangements. It's like if Syd Barrett had been brought up in a big city and smoked cigars, he'd sing like this. I don't know, I've always wanted to dress up in a dinnner suit and sing at the Albert Hall. Marc Almond had that kind of fixation and has achieved that dream.>
11. Marvin Gaye: "Sexual Healing" "After classical music I got into Motown. It's a wonderful period of music. I even love the Jacksons, Anita Baker, and even Mica Paris. I love black music and I don't get to listen to enough of it. It's terrible how the rock establishment's xenophobic racist values don't allow these reference points. You're not meant to mention black music. It's disgusting that you never hear anyone praising anyone other than The Stones, Bowie, and Ray Davies."
12. Kate Bush: "'Army Dreamer" / The Beatles: "A Day in the Life""She went through a period of becoming really Dickensian and I used to facy her terribly then. There's one photo of her, the leopard photo, which was completely outrageous. That's what sexual politics is about, I suppose, little nuances like that. 'A Day in the Life' was the first conceptual song I got into. I understood it. It was one of the first supermarket emptiness songs. It's great. Except it's completely destroyed by Paul McCartney in the middle section."