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I AM going to do a series of posts which are lists — favourite movies, favourite novels, best loved music, paintings, sporting moments, and so on. I am going to start with music.

It has been much more difficult than I expected — and, of course, I had expected that it would be difficult to select just 10 pieces from the hundreds of pieces I’ve come to know and love over the years.

However, it has been difficult in ways I had not anticipated too — sometimes, for instance, a piece of music cannot be separated from the performance or recording of it (or from the video or film associated with it), or what it represents as a moment in time.

And then there is the whole issue of the fact that what I’m doing with this is making a blog-post so that to some extent the visual aspect of what is being selected for presentation has to be given consideration too.

London, garden of Ingall House, Dulwich (a college residence), middle 1980s

London, middle 1980s; garden of Ingall House (a college residence), Dulwich (south London).

And then, inevitably, biographical considerations come into play as one seeks to massage some kind of shape to the list as a whole. Even if one eschews biographical considerations altogether, there are a host of other ways in which a list can be combined into a collection (rather like one might put together a mixtape for a friend), which is to say, it is very difficult (it seems to me) to simply offer up 10 tracks which have no connection one to another at all as a collection (i.e., picked without any awareness that they are to be part of a list of ten, especially when what one is actually doing is putting together a blog post which will have a heading such as ‘Top 10 Tracks’!!).

As a result of these difficulties (along with some others) I think I will probably produce a number of ‘Top 10 Tracks’ before I finish, one for the music from my period, so to say, and another for the music of the period between the end of World War 2 and when I was born (i.e. the middle of the 1960s), and then another for the early part of the 20th century and so on. (I might even do a separate list just to do with pop music videos, for instance, because there is simply too many wonderful things that have not made the cut for this list — if I look through all the items I had in this list at one time but which subsequently got taken out for one reason or another, I see a lot of really special stuff, Tom Waits, Radiohead, Brad Mehldau, Belle & Sebastian, P.J. Harvey, Nick Cave…)

By the by, apologies if you come to this post one day and something that is supposed to be here has been taken down from YouTube; this is always a risk one takes when doing a post such as this (I might try to see if I can source audio files for each of the tracks as back-ups).

Finally, the tracks listed are in no particular order (i.e. being number one in the list is not in any way more prestigious or significant than being number 6 or 8, say), however, there is (to some extent) a biographical aspect it.


1. Nina Simone, ‘In the morning’ (‘Nuff Said, 1968)

2. Van Morrison, ‘Summertime in England’ (Common One, 1980).

3. Paul Weller, ‘Come on, let’s go’ (As is Now, 2005)

4. ‘Down to Zero’, Joan Armatrading (Joan Armatrading, 1976)

5. ‘Sawdust & Diamonds’, Joanna Newsom (Ys, 2006)

6. Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground ‘Pale Blue Eyes’ (The Velvet Underground, 1969)

7. ‘Just like Tom Thumb blues’, by Bob Dylan (Highway 61 Revisited, 1965)

8. The Bad Plus (with Wendy Lewis), cover of Pink Floyd’s ‘Comfortably Numb’ (For All I Care, 2008)

9. Eric Bibb, ‘Shingle by Shingle’ (Good Stuff, 1997)

10. Feist, The Park (The Reminder, 2007)