I used to write this thing called The Vinyl Countdown – I was curious about my own record collection, why did I have the albums I had? Where had they come from – not just the store or record fair, but where were they before I owned them? How did I hear about them? What did I think about when I heard them? That sort of thing. The mind drifted – sometimes it got very tangential, other times it was just ticking off a recent purchase. I counted down from 2000 to 0.
I don’t own 2000 records anymore. I sold and bought several during the time of writing The Vinyl Countdown. And more recently I’ve decided to really shrink my record collection down. But there are must-haves and must-holds; things I want to buy again, things I never want to get rid of, things I still have to find and buy one day.
So, an example of the Vinyl Countdown and a typical post: Brian Eno’s Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks.
I love this record – it’s one of my favourite albums by Brian Eno, it’s got a bit of competition, of course. But some days it’s one of my favourite albums by anyone – it features one of my favourite guitar players too, Daniel Lanois. (He’s also one of my favourite producers).
But as I mention in that post about the Eno album, I had a long conversation with Dave Dobbyn about all things Eno. I was speaking to Dobbyn for the first time, and it was a decade ago now. Ostensibly, the conversation was for my book, On Song. But he was so welcoming, so generous with his time, and we got to talking about all sorts of things – music of course. But so many things beyond his music.
I think Dave Dobbyn is one of our best songwriters. Anyone upset at the ubiquity of some of his hit songs, his anthems, is only hearing half the story. Those songs – so many of them – are great. But the real magic, as is almost always the way, is in the album-tracks, the concert favourites that were not hit singles, that aren’t used weekly (and weakly, it could be said) as part of a sporting soundtrack.
When I chatted to Dobbyn that Friday morning a decade back, he told me that one of his favourite albums was My Life in the Bush of Ghosts. We bonded over that; a superb record made by Eno and David Byrne. Astonishing to think that something that good could arrive in tandem (or near enough) with the great Talking Heads album, Remain in Light. It was a white-hot streak for Byrne and Eno, particularly as there was little breathing room from the also superb Fear of Music.
So, on and on the conversation with Dobbyn went – and we’re knee-deep now in Eno love. And I mention the Apollo soundtrack album and we get talking too about the series of ambient records, the first post-Roxy Music solo albums, the “singer/songwriter” stuff within his oeuvre. We’re so full on into Eno that I’m wondering if we might not actually get to Dobbyn. But of course in so many ways I’m finding out an awful lot about Dave Dobbyn in hearing him talk about his Eno crush; in the way that he’s talking about this music, the way it provided so many lightbulb moments for him.
He told me that he was sure he had a record in him like My Life in the Bush of Ghosts; such had been the influence of that record. He hoped that one day he’d make something like that: his version.
I hope he does.
I like to think he’s working on it. He probably isn’t. But I’d sure like to hear it.