The Graveyard

The Lair Of Gary James

Good Listenin’

Posted by BigWords on August 16, 2009

Because I can, and for no better reason, I’m going to list what I’m listening to at the moment. There’s a lot of chit-chat about music as a writing tool, but this is more of a general ‘mood’ music than the “Inspire me, please… for the love of Cthulhu…” kind.

I’m not above kick-starting the little gray cells with aural input, but I’m not obsessed with coming up with more material than I already have at the moment. These are simply my favorite listening material, nothin’ more…

The Rolling Stones

The ongoing “Are you a Beatles man or a Stones man?” debate is a complete no-brainer for me. Can’t Get No (Satisfaction), Start Me Up and Sympathy For The Devil are among the greatest songs I have ever heard. Of course, they aren’t bulletproof, and there’s a lot of output that I don’t really like. The Sympathy For The Devil film is overlong and pointlessly interrupted by a string of scenes which take away from the actual music, which is what the film should be about.

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins

With two songs (I Put A Spell On You and Itty Bitty Pretty One) that I constantly return to, Hawkins might not seem like he belongs in a favourites list, but the quality of those two songs is so great that I must include him. I can’t remember when I first heard his music, but the coughing, spluttering, muttering and theatrics of his albums is amazing. It’s less pantomime than some reviewers have suggested, and likening him to Vincent Price seems forced.

Houdou themes keep returning in his songs, and Feast Of The Mau Mau is scarily authentic-sounding.

Lynyrd Skynyrd

Freebird and Sweet Home Alabama may get all of the attention, but I like Gimme Three Steps, which I’ve listened to endlessly since I first found it. There are some great compilations of their music, and yet I still feel like I’m missing out because I never got to see a live concert. Being born to late, and on the wrong side of the Atlantic, means I have to settle for DVDs and CDs… The recorded material is astonishing, and yet something – a spark of magic – is lost through the separation of time.

I so want a time machine, just so I can go back to the early seventies and stand in the crowd at one of their concerts.

Jimi Hendrix

All Along The Watchtower, Voodoo Chile (Slight Return), and Crosstown Traffic are my favorite Hendrix tracks, although the recordings in collaboration with Little Richard are also great. I didn’t think I would have liked the mix of styles, but each performer is so strong that they compliment each other rather than crowd the other out. I found What’d I Say? a few years ago, and while it isn’t one of his better tracks, I still like it as much as the better-known material.

Castles Made Of Sand is epic, while coming in at under three minutes. That is a talent I wished I had.

Bob Dylan

The John Wesley Harding album, with the titular track, All Along The Watchtower, and I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight is one of my favorite Dylan albums, especially because he is so descriptive with so few words. It’s always a treat to listen to him, and the nasal  quality of the vocals – which some complain about – makes the songs less artificial somehow. Modern performers try a little too hard to polish off the rough edges, and manage to sound plastic and fake most of the time.

Camille Saint-Saëns

I can think of few things better to listen to while reading horror stories than Danse Macabre, as the creepiness factor of the violins slowly builds. I’ve picked up a few recordings of this over the years, but very few orchestras really get into the music and relish the strangeness. I guess this is one of the few classical pieces I listen to regularly, despite building up a few stacks of CDs in the hopes that I would come across something else as addictive.

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There are other performers I could add to this, but it seems there is plenty here already. I’m missing The Who, Led Zeppelin, Eminem, The Cure… All of whose CDs are rotated in my collection frequently, but who don’t mean as much to me as the ones listed above. I should probably have added a few words about Night On A Bare Mountain, to show that there are other classical pieces which get aired from time to time.

I’m off to listen to some music now…

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