Kate Bush, The Sensual World (1989)
Not one of my favourite Kate Bush albums, but it’s grown on me in recent years. Top track: ‘The Sensual World‘
Aimee Mann, Lost in Space (2002)
I absolutely love this album. The songs are sad, but for some reason I find it comforting. Top track: The Moth
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, The Boatman’s Call (1997)
So much bellyaching about various relationship breakups on this album. Love it though, except for ‘Green Eyes’. Top tracks ‘Lime Tree Arbour‘ and, if I really want some misery, ‘Where do we go now but nowhere?’
Cowboy Junkies, 200 More Miles: Live Performances 1985 – 1994
I first came across the Cowboy Junkies through the track ‘Me and the Devil‘ which was on the soundtrack to teen angst movie Pump Up the Volume (1990). I thought they were so cool and my local library had this on CD, which was a surprise. Later, they turned out to be the first band that I went to see with my girlfriend – mainly because Mary Gauthier was also playing, but hey. Top track: Sweet Jane.
Uh huh Her, Nocturnes (2011)
Fun lesbian electronica. Top track: Another Case
Mark Lanegan, Blues Funeral (2012)
Swampy, dirgy, kind of synthpoppy rock. What a voice.
Black Francis, Sven fngrs (2008) and Frank Black, Frank black (1993)
I had a Frank Black afternoon the other day. Sven Fngrs is dark and punky, while Frank Black is more of a surf rock album.
Johnny Cash, Murder (2000)
I always play this at the beginning of winter.
Nina Nastasia, The Blackened Air (2002)
Chilly beauty for the beginning of November.
Ladyhawke, Ladyhawke (2008)
This is a lot of fun. It energised me while I was cleaning the kitchen.
Massive Attack, Blue Lines (1991)
I hadn’t listened to Blue Lines for a long time. It threw me straight back to my second year at university. We lived in a grotty, damp student house, but we had cool music.
Tom Waits, Blue Valentine (1978)
I tend to think of myself as preferring later Tom when he’s banging on pots and pans with bones, but then I listen to Blue Valentine and think yeah, it’s perfection.
Kristin Hersh, Wyatt at the Coyote Hotel Wyatt at the Coyote Hotel (2016)
Love everything she’s done and I think this is one of her best.
Until recently, I’d have said that The Red Shoes was my least favourite Kate Bush album. I hadn’t listened to it for years. Then Lily and Big Stripey Lie scrobbled on my last.fm account and I completely changed my mind. Maybe The Red Shoes resonates more as you get older. It’s a complex, mature woman’s album, exploring themes of self-determination, resilience (Rubberband Girl), creativity (The Red Shoes), and spirituality.
Well I said, “Lily, oh Lily I don’t feel safe
I feel that life has blown a great big hole
Through me” And she said
“Child, you must protect yourself
You can protect yourself
I’ll show you how with fire”
My partner got me listening to Cris Williamson’s classic of feminist, lesbian and women’s music, The Changer and the Changed (1975). Williamson has such a beautiful, soaring voice. ‘Waterfall’ (0.00) gives me chills and you can just hear them playing ‘Sweet Woman’ (12.51) for the slow dance at the end of the lesbian disco in the 1970s. You might like to compare the original ‘Shooting Star’ (21:15) with the Butchies cover. Williamson has developed a more solidly country sound in recent years. Fringe (2007) is awesome too.
I need something upbeat to get me moving in the morning. July’s get-up-and-go pop music has been provided by LP. Her new album Forever for Now is fast, fun and summery. She’s an out lesbian and she looks utterly adorable playing the ukulele in her videos.
One of my friends sent me this rare footage of Bruce Springsteen and Tracy Chapman singing ‘My Hometown‘ live in 2004. The video triggered a craving and I lost most of an evening watching Bruce Springsteen videos on You Tube. This performance of Dancing in the Dark featuring his Mum slays me, while this live cover of Stayin’ Alive is going on my list of favourite things ever.
The last couple of months have been quite challenging, as well as cold and dark, so I’ve been looking for music to accompany cups of tea and introspection.
I love Joan Baez’s Gone from Danger (1997). All except one of the songs were written by younger artists (Dar Williams, Sinead Lohan) and Baez brings a rich maturity to the material. As you’d expect, there’s a political undercurrent, with songs about immigration, child abuse and environmental issues, but it’s all comforting somehow. The collector’s edition features a live bonus CD of performances in which Baez is joined by some of the songwriters.
I’ve never really been into Dar Williams. This may be a British thing, but the extreme earnestness of her lyrics makes me feel a bit uncomfortable. However, I’m getting beyond that and Promised Land (2008) is growing on me. Apparently this is one of her more poppy albums and frowned on by some fans of her earlier, more acoustic sound. I have no opinion on that at this time.
These are some of my favourite songs to play during the season. It’s rather a sombre list, not because I feel unhappy at this time of year, but because I like the winter to be a time of inwardness and reflection.
Martha Wainwright, Proserpina
Thea Gilmore, Cold Coming
Janis Ian, In The Winter
Kate and Anna McGarrigle, Winter Lady
Kristin Hersh, Winter
Kate Bush, Snowflake
Thea Gilmore, December in New York