As a fan since my teens it was pretty hard to know where to begin in making a selection of favourites for this playlist.
I first heard his 1975 Greatest Hits album while sitting on the bed at my friend Bridey’s house in Cardiff as a teenager.
Both of us have old boho parents, and while it sounded at first to me like a kind of familiar singer songwriter music that would play off cassettes on long car journeys, it was after a while that I started to listen closer to the words, and knew this is something I should get to know better.
I borrowed the CD that night and kept listening.
As is often the case when one becomes a fan of a prolific artist, late in their working lives (I’m thinking now of Joni Mitchell or Kate Bush, to both of whom I’m coming in on late in the day), I began with the better-known early work and then edged slowly through the decades, album by album, getting to grips with the different phases and styles.
While including some favourites from the 70‘s, as well as an especially wonderful cover version from Judy Collins, this selection weighs more towards the recent music from the 1990’s and 2000’s.
This late style, sees ever slick production – rhythm sections that sound almost like bon-tempi presets, almost cheep, glassy – digitally recored banjo strums, keyboard and backing singers – a melodic sickliness – that is counterposing his gravelly voice as it slows down, and deepens – then the strange assuredness of the music setting to his growing sense of acceptance and wry serenity.
In making a selection it was easier to begin by thinking of the ones that come into my mind when I’m thinking of other things.
– the ones that continue in certain moments colour my thoughts with their particular turn of phrase, of articulations so succinct that you can’t not adopt in some kind of internal level. Some of his songs have become part of how I see the world.
Also included here are a few recordings of poems by Philip Larkin and Stephen Dunn as well as some turntable music by Philip Jeck.