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My Anniversary Playlist – Part 1

July 5, 2013

A wee while back I mentioned that Mrs simonsometimessays and I are shortly to celebrate a significant anniversary. I’m not telling you which, but here is Sheila Silver’s solo violin work, Six Beads on a StringIt’s an absorbing, almost transfixing performance and bowls me over.

Part of the prep for this event is the pre-selection of music that we will require our guests to enjoy if they are to accept our hospitality. I promised an update on this (were you interested?) which will be brief, since we have made very little progress except on ruling things out:

  • no Michael Jackson (both)
  • no Lionel Richie (Mrs sss, but I agree)
  • no Chris de Burgh (me, and I’m not consulting)
  • no Benjamin Britten (Mrs sss, but even I would have to admit it might not be great party music)
  • no Wagner (me: we only have one evening…)
  • no Spice Girls (does that need explaining?)

Doubtless there will be more on the list – probably most of my own music collection will be prohibited. And even though, for the day, I will be promoted to the status of equal partner, it would be pushing my luck to craft the occasion solely to my own taste.

There should be some romantic stuff, I know, but there is a strain of over-sentimental mush which is to be avoided. Power ballads – like The Power of Love by Jennifer Rush, with industrial-strength shoulder pads – nicely sung but lyrically emetic. Why – while we’re on the subject – would you choose that over the songs with the same name by Huey Lewis and the News or Frankie goes to Hollywood? Those are a couple of songs that make you want to cheer about love ‘n’ stuff, not go all misty-eyed. And for an Inception-style digression within a digression, isn’t it glorious that Frankie’s song refers to the Hooded Claw, a cartoon villain, like Dick, much admired for his dastardliness? “I’ll get you, Penelope Pitstop“.

The Hooded Claw explains to Penelope Pitstop the dangers of Breakbot

The Hooded Claw explains to Penelope Pitstop the dangers of Breakbot

Back to the point. Songs about the heart – that should be a rich vein for me, shouldn’t it?  You stole the sun from my heart, Owner of a lonely heart… no, hang on, perhaps they aren’t totally suitable.

And neither – more’s the pity – is Just another broken heart. I thought I might be the only person who remembers Sheena Easton? I recall – and blush to do so – buying several of her singles having accidentally watched The Big Time, the documentary that launched her career when it was first screened in about 1980. But of course I’m not alone: only a little reflection reminds me that she had a good number of hits, has had a long career especially in the U.S.A., and still performs today. And I didn’t even have to look that up on the great database in the sky. Listening again to those tracks this morning, I discovered that they are no longer even guilty pleasures: I don’t know what came over me back in the 80s – maybe it was something about the big hair. But we can make honourable exception for a fine duet with Kenny Rogers: We’ve got tonight, in this live performance of which Sheena seems to be just on the wrong side of the line between angry and dramatic, and Kenny’s white beard gives me an image to aim for in a few years time.

I stopped buying Sheena’s records after For Your Eyes Only, which was not her best recording, and wasn’t a particularly good Bond theme. It wasn’t as good, in my view, as the song submitted by Blondie (and later included on their album The Hunter), which you can listen to here, while watching the opening credits to the movie featuring a visual appearance by, er, Sheena Easton.  Neither song, in any case, is in the same league as Carly Simon singing Nobody Does it Better from The Spy Who Loved Me. That remains, pace Skyfall, the Bond theme to beat. (Bond films are another point of difference between myself and Mrs sss. I like them, she doesn’t. Don’t misunderstand me – it isn’t that I subject them to the full rigour of my critical faculties and find that they reach the exacting artistic, social and cinematographic standards which I regard as acceptable. I just like them.)

So, no further forward. If we were to try and relive some of the wedding day itself, then I might get my sister and brother-in-law to reprise One Hand, One Heart, which they sang at our wedding. I don’t think I’ve mentioned my brother in law, Peter? He’s a proper, grown-up, opera star: always flying off to here, there and everywhere to perform on international stages; his recordings are double stacked on Dad’s shelves; he’s singing Wagner in two of this year’s Proms at the Royal Albert Hall – you name it. He’s got his own website and everything, and deserves his own clip – to an excerpt from Richard Strauss’s Salome. Another member of a family of whose talents I am enormously proud, and only slightly envious.

I’m achieving nothing very fast with the anniversary playlist. And the reason is that while writing this I am simultaneously engaged in a twitter debate about the relative merits of The Eagles, REO Speedwagon, Mumford and Sons and a number of others that I don’t know. That nice lady over at Snig’s Kitchen just recommended The Lumineers to me, and as usual her recommendation is sound. Here’s Stubborn Love: another great song, but another one not ideal to express the sentiment appropriate to the occasion in question. So I’m going to admit defeat and wrap up here.

Just as an afterword: having mentioned Penelope Pitstop, I used her in the hope that she would disprove a depressing theory I have been forming, to wit that someone, somewhere has written a song about anything you care to name. It didn’t work, as this dance tune by Breakbot, featured on the soundtrack for a console game, will show. I call it a dance tune, but I don’t go in for that kind of dancing myself.

Here’s one that I would love to hear live: Ray Manzarek and RoyRogers: Just like Sherlock Holmes. Well, it would make me happy, and is actually an infectious, jumpy, get-on-the-dance-floor sort of song. Ideal for dad-dancing, and altogether my kind of thing.

And (really) finally – here’s a tip for you. I thought of it yesterday and am trying it out as a new line in motivational thinking: Confuse the hell out of people by beating them with carrots.


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  1. Dear Simon,

    Anniversary or wedding playlists are a hard task. You’ve got to go for emotion, but without cheese. And everyone seems to draw the line somewhere differently.

    Personally, I think FGTH’s Power Of Love is ace. The John Lewis ad cover is OK, but won’t touch the original. But is that because I have loved the Frankie version since I was 10?? I don’t know.

    It was quite a heated debate on the merits or demerits of MOR music today, wasn’t it?

    I’ll confess, that sometimes REO Speedwagon’s Keep On Loving You or Bread’s Guitar Man are just melodic, wonderful tunes that should be capable of being enjoyed guilt free.

    Neil Young found the whole thing a conundrum. After the success (and backlash) of the commercially successful Harvest he decided to go from middle of the road to back into the ditch with On The Beach and it’s other 2 “ditch trilogy” albums.

    Music is all about personal engagement and personal enjoyment. An anniversary playlist should be about what you and Mrs SSS enjoys. Even if that is Mr Blobby/Mr Buble/Jive Bunny.

    Happy Anniversary!

    Love to you and Mrs SSS

    (Snig’s Kitchen)

    • Thank you, by the way, for the Lumineers recommendation. And in your comments you’ve given me something else to go and explore. Neil Young is a rather unknown quantity for me: Youtube will be getting a bit of a bashing in the next day or so.

  2. Thank you! Jive Bunny, eh – that’s a thought…

  3. Mrs sss has impeccable taste! And I gave a “whoop!” when I read de Burgh was banned. The same ought to apply to Phil Collins. Can I recommend a look-listen to Bjork’s It’s Oh So Quiet? That was my wedding first dance – romance but with a whole lotta oomph.

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