Archive for May 2020

Songs from the Vault – “lockdown” special

My last SFTV was in October so there’s been plenty of time to think about what tunes I should include in this edition.  Often the tunes I include don’t represent what I’m listening to at the time of going to press.  This time round, however, it ticks both boxes:  SFTV and tunes that I’ve been appreciating in the so-called “lockdown”…

First up is Martha from Tom Wait’s 1973 debut album, Closing Time.  The song is a phone call from ‘old Tom Frost’ to Martha.  It’s been forty years since they last spoke and old Tom is in reflective mood, perhaps pining for a past that never came to be.  The song is a perfect combination of prose and music.  Waits started his career playing in bars in San Diego and one can imagine him in the corner hunkered over the old reverberating piano.  Tunes like this are few and far between.

We’re going to jump to 1990 to another debut album, Ride’s Nowhere.  The last track, Vapour Trail, is probably their most known tune.  Back in 1990 I didn’t pay much attention to Ride though the album cover always intrigued me.  It more than passes the test of time and belongs in any ‘shoegazing’ playlist.

Total change of gear and genre.  I didn’t know the next tune – I Wish I Knew – until a few months ago, having covered it in a piano lesson; it’s a well known (though not to me!) jazz standard, featuring for example on John Coltrane’s Ballads album.  When learning a new tune I try and listen to numerous versions of it, this time coming across Jimmy Scott’s version. I’ll admit to being a bit confused when I first heard it; is Jimmy Scott the producer rather than the singer?  My confusion arose from the fact that Scott suffered from a rare genetic disorder that prevented him from reaching puberty and limited his growth.  While he grew taller when he hit his forties his voice remained in the contralto range.  Regardless, it’s a wonderful performance of a wonderful song, and Scott has some serious heavyweight backing in the band, which features greats including Ron Carter and Eric Gale.

I’ve never included any Nick Drake in SFTV.  Shame on me.  To put that wrong right our next tune is From the Morning, a personal favourite, which features on Drake’s third and final album from 1972, Pink Moon.  It’s very likely that you’ve heard it before; I’m sure it’s featured in various adverts over the years.  It’s just Drake and his guitar, for 150 seconds.  Magical.

I’m going to call it a day there.  I hope you’ll enjoy these tunes as much as I do.