It’s a new year – welcome, belatedly to 2020. You’ve arrived already of course, but here now is the first edition of the staggeringly inconsistent Five Songs For Friday for the new year. No theme. Just songs that are on my mind at the start of this year. Or on my turntable. Or in my ears one way. Or the other. Five Songs For Friday. Or for your Saturday or Sunday. Or next Friday…five songs posted today for you for when you feel like it…
1.Billie Holiday, Gee Baby Ain’t I Good To You
We moved the stereo system around, changed the look, set it up in a much better way – the record cabinet now in the room where we listen to records, the turntables on either end of the cabinet – amp, mixer, CD player, tape-deck in the middle. Speakers on either side and up off the floor – all pretty obvious really. As a result I sold a few records, traded them in – just trying to downscale a bit, there’ll always be lots of records in our house but we don’t need the hundreds of 1980s compilations and soundtracks I’ve amassed. So I got rid of a crate or so and got a few nice new choices in return. Including Body and Soul by Billie Holiday. Just glorious. 1957. I feel like if I had to have one artist in my collection only it might be Billie. If I could only have albums from one year it might be 1957. If I could only have one album it’d be Body and Soul. And if there was only one song from it allowed…well, what a world that would be. I guess I’d choose this…
2. Randy Newman, Ragtime (Main Theme)
It’s very much about Randy Newman for me as 2020 starts. He’s playing here next month, first time ever in NZ – I’ve just finished reading a good book about him and have already started another, late last year I spoke about him at length for a radio feature. He’s basically always on my mind. Also thinking about the movie Marriage Story which is the first significant movie-watch of this year for me and how perfect Randy’s score was. He’s such a soundtrack master. And the melody here, in the opening main theme is just a beauty. He’s ripped himself off several times, and why not. Reusing this. Speaking of ripping yourself off – I have a good feeling I traded in a copy of Ragtime by mistake and bought a new one just the other day. Which is most likely the copy I traded in. Anyway, it’s home now. Safe. And roll on February!
3. Dolly Parton, The Grass Is Blue
I very much liked Netflix’s new Dolly Parton doco even as it trended toward hagiography. Oh well, Dolly’s earned it. I really liked the examination of this song in particular – an example of her genius as a songwriter. Taking a simple idea, and just following it through with a pure conviction. It’s had me thinking about that gorgeous trio of bluegrass albums she made in the late 90s/early 00s. And they’ll be getting back on my stereo any day now.
4. The Beatles, Strawberry Fields [Take 1]
If you think my choices for the start of 2020 are hopelessly out of touch, consider this: my 8yo is still – daily – having his mind blown The Beatles. Right now he’s just found that we own the Anthology series of DVDs and soundtrack CDs. He was showing them to me eagerly in the record store the other day and I said that we owned them already. “Can they be in my room?” he asked. Meaning can they be considered now a part of his collection (which is basically just all my old Beatles CDs anyway, so sure who not…) We watched that stupid fucking film Yesterday which still has me mad. It could not have missed the point of The Beatles any more than it did. Anyway, bless the wee boy for thinking that he needs to hear all the demos and collect the ephemera. I was just like him. Or rather, he’s just like me. That’s such a worry – if not for the world then certainly for our house.