Britsoc: The British Society of Amsterdam and the Netherlands. Serving the British Expat community since 1920.

Texel Island Discs | July/Aug 2015

Texel Island Discs | July/Aug 2015

By John Richardson,  John The Copywriter, Amsterdam

Marooned for eternity on Texel Island in the North of Holland, John Richardson from John The Copywriter, and editor of the Britsoc’s Fish and Chips for the Soul magazine chooses his favourite 12 discs to take with him.

Like most who are asked to spend the rest of eternity on Texel with only 12 songs for company I found the selection process a daunting challenge. Do I pick songs that mark special memorable moments? Or that reach inside to places I never knew existed? Songs that make no lyrical sense yet are rich with light and dark poetic shades? Songs that trigger, anger and confuse? Songs that sum up the moment, the year, the decade? My choices are pre John Lennon’s assassination. I didn’t listen to music after that. I removed it from my life to give room for other things. But recently I have started to listen to those old tunes again. Through older and wiser ears. Whiter Shade of Pale and Hotel California still make about as much sense to me as a U2 lyric. But the blues still has a clarity that reaches deep down and nourishes my mojo.

Woody Guthrie—Mean Talking Blues

I’m not sure if you can still buy this amazing song, but the wonderful lyrics are built from chainsaw parts that cut through the crap to reveal the devil’s soul on a bad day.  Talk about speaking your mind. Reminds me of my mother.

I’m the meanest man that ever had a brain,
All I scatter is aches and pains.
I’m carbolic acid, and a poison face,
And I stand flat-footed in favor of crime and disgrace.
If I ever done a good deed — I’m sorry of it.

I’m mean in the East, mean in the West,
Mean to the people that I like the best.
I go around a-causin’ lot of accidents,
And I push folks down, and I cause train wrecks.
I’m a big disaster — just goin’ somewhere’s to happen.
I’m an organized famine — studyin’ now I can be a little bit meaner.
I’m still a whole lot too good to suit myself — just mean…

Captain Beefheart—Safe as Milk

I first came across this bonkers band during my first day at art college. We sat in total darkness and tried to draw a naked model. Captain B was blaring out Safe as Milk and I was hooked.

John Lennon—Give Peace a Chance

It’s difficult to know how much Yoko influenced this masterpiece but given the backdrop from everything from Vietnam to the daily atrocities of ISIS this song looks like never loosing its relevancy and potency.

Paul McCartney—Yesterday

I was once in a restaurant in Soho London talking with a friend about how Paul McCartney had lost the plot with Wings and the cringing songs that came out of that partnership. We were very loud and my friend Terry kept saying that Paul McCartney was stood behind me. Which I took as a joke. Eventually I turned around and there he was. I went from cynic to one of those screaming  girls in those early black and white Beatles  gigs. Apparently, Yesterday arrived fully formed in Paul’s head.  Go figure.

Who Do You Think You Are Kidding, Mr Hitler?

Co-written by Jimmy Perry and Derek Taverner and sung by World War Two comic Bud Flanagan  (it was the former Crazy Gang member’s last recording; he died later the same year).

Who Do You Think You’re Kidding, Mr Hitler?” was the signature tune of Dad’s Army, a BBC TV comedy series based on the Home Guard. Dad’s Army ran for eighty episodes between 1968 and 1977; there were also a number of radio episodes, a film, and various spin offs including the Dad’s Army Appreciation Society.

While I’ve always hated the class wars in Britain ( I was born in a council house) it does give rise to classic Blighty comedy. I love the understated audaciousness of the song, which perfectly mirrors the ‘give it a go mood’ of people who would never have met and teamed up in normal life. A bit like expat life really.

The WatersonsLal & Mike Waterson - Fine Horseman

I first heard the Watersons at the Bluebell Folk Club in Hull. Only close family members can sing with this kind of uniquely beautiful harmony. I remember Mike Waterson being very friendly and encouraging me to get in to the folk scene.

Lal, Norma, and Mike Waterson were orphans and brought up by their grandmother who was of part gypsy descent. Lal Waterson (15 February 1943 – 4 September 1998) was born in Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire and died suddenly in Robin Hood’s Bay, of cancer diagnosed only ten days before.

Lal Waterson’s voice was stark, captivating, incredible. As you listen it makes you feel every emotion you’ve ever felt. Timeless beauty.

The Who - My Generation

I’ve always had an irrational hatred for the Who. But I’ve always loved this song. It was one of their first hits. It has the lyric ‘Hope I die before I get old’, which succinctly captured the mood of my generation and encouraged me to live a life as full as I could until I reached 30. I was convinced I would die then. But I didn’t. Actually I almost did, but that’s another story.

Led Zeppelin - Whole Lotta Love

What a voice Robert plant had. Waaaaayeeeer down insiiiiiiiiiiiiiide. He certainly reached me.

Bob Dylan—Like a Rolling Stone - No Direction Home

Locked in my bedroom listening to Bob gave me a love for the creative use of words that is still with me today. I saw an interview with Bob recently and even he says he could never write songs like that now.  Bob took lyric writing to the highest level. He is a genius who can’t sing. Yet there must be a billion people who bought a guitar because of Bob. Proud to say I was one of them.

Elvis Costello—Alison

I once recorded with Nick Lowe over a long weekend and he told me that he didn’t think much of Costello until he heard this love song. Then he was all in and produced most of his earlier albums, many of which are considered classics. Part punk, part balladeer, a little bit country, a bit of pop, a lot of rock n roll, but never out of fashion, Declan MacManus aka Elvis Costello has been writing, recording, performing and touring for five decades!

Petula Clark —Downtown

I had the great honour of meeting  Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent, the writers of this 60’s hit. I’ve included because it was the first single my sisters bought for or new pink Dansette record player. I can still smell its turntable whenever anybody mentions this classic hit.
I fall in love to easily— Chet Baker
Every woman I meet I fall in love with her. Women are amazing. And I love all of them. You would think I would learn from this song. Nope.

I fall in love too easily
I fall in love too fast
I fall in love too terribly hard
For love to ever last
My heart should be well-schooled
‘Cause I been fooled in the past

Chet Baker—I fall in love to easily

Every woman I meet I fall in love with her. Women are amazing. And I love all of them. You would think I would learn from this song. Nope.

I fall in love too easily

I fall in love too fast

I fall in love too terribly hard

For love to ever last

My heart should be well-schooled

‘Cause I been fooled in the past


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