I’ve been tagged by Gareth to list what I think are my 8 most memorable musical moments. I’m torn between memorable performances caught on film/video and moments that have shaped my musical taste, so I thought I go half and half here. But as the curse of blog memes go, I have to tag someone else whom I think reads my blog; so now I tag the fabulous Jha.
- Love Me or Leave Me by Nina Simone was playing on my Yahoo internet radio years ago when everyone was still using Yahoo as a search engine and making websites on Geocities. What grabbed me in this track is Simone’s baroque cadenza syncopated with jazz rhythms. Simone was an amazing singer and competent classical and jazz pianist, and was someone I wish I could emulate, but as some people I know and love can testify, that hasn’t been a very successful pursuit – yet.
- Singing as a tribute to Roy Orbison is k d lang’s Crying. The duet between the two is really good too, but there’s something quite special about lang taking command of the audience in this video. Standing ovation material this one definitely is.
- Party Fears Two by The Associates. There are two things I found out about Party Fears Two that will stick with me forever; first, it was released on the year of my birth, making it quite ancient and strangely lacking the timelessness of Bach and Ravel, and second, the voice of Billy Mackenzie.
- A list of my favourite music won’t be complete without something classical. I first listened to Prelude from Maurice Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin in a shadowy 1951 recording of Robert Casadesus playing the opening of Ravel’s tribute to the baroque master of the harpsichord, Francois Couperin during my mid teenage years. The recording however made this magical and mysterious piece even more magical and mysterious. This video recording is perhaps one of the best that captures the piece’s texture and colour, and the zither-like climax!
- Slow Hands by Interpol. I was in the advanced stage of indie music appreciation when arty New York bands like The Strokes and Yeah Yeah Yeahs were becoming big. It was around the time I fell in love with NYC’s relatively smaller bands like Interpol for its deep base, open drums, old-fashioned guitar twang, and the sexy baritone of Paul Banks. Somehow, their live shows only seldomly showcase Banks’ signature voice for some reason; it often comes out a little flat. Anyway, here’s a video where Banks sounds pretty decent and looks adorable, thankfully without his ridiculous hats and unfortunate distribution of facial hair.
- Melati Di Tapal by General Wiranto. There’s nothing like a shady politician who does a little crooning on the side. This song is one of my favourites despite its half-hearted reference to Sri Kandi and message to women in the military, it also reminds me of my undergraduate days as choir pianist and occasional soprano. Melati has survived decades of different renditions, but Wiranto’s jazzed-up smoky night club version of the anti-colonialist ballad is particularly cool.
- Love of My Life by Queen makes me all nostalgic about the last years of Freddie Mercury’s life, when my mum played Queen’s Greatest Hits Vol. 2 on repeat in the car every time we go out. It was when I saw him singing on stage in a TV programme that I knew what true rock showmanship is and should be about. But I’ve only begun to appreciate this particular song recently when my stepdad and mum sang this together at a karaoke session last year. It has the most beautiful and heart-felt lyrics, and my parents – who are both terrible singers – make this song all the more poignant.
- The Plaint; O Let Me Weep, For Ever Weep by Henry Purcell, performed and choreographed by Pina Bausch. I often associate musical memory with images, but rarely from films. The Piano is one of the few examples, but I find the opening of Pedro Almodovar’s Talk To Her very memorable visually and musically.