Song Lists: Charting the Colour of Sound

The Pink Floyd list in progress

The Pink Floyd list in progress

You may have wondered where the Song Lists have gone, well don’t worry there are still plenty in progress. For starters I concentrate on bands with long track records, not just because my era was the eighties but for breadth of material and hopefully colour. A band with say a 30 year career can take me over a month to produce. Shouldn’t it be easier you might well ask. In some cases yes, a song in the key of red is mostly a song in the key of red, but as I may have mentioned before music is more fluid than that, especially if a song is up tempo and has multiple key changes.

So how do I go about it? First I listen to all the studio albums – back to back if possible. This in itself can take several days with a lengthy discography. This is called the first run through. From that I can make notes, and some of the songs will stay in their selected colour-band eg white, red etc. However many are more difficult and require repeat listens. Example, where does crimson become dark green? Or bright blue orange? Or pale pink shift to its darker hue? Deciphering the borderline is painstaking and can rely purely on nuance. Each list is a learning curve and sometimes songs I’ve thought of for years as being a certain colour are anything but on closer scrutiny. Reprogramming the brain to accept this is another thing.

So where I am at? Well, following my St Andrew’s Day trilogy of The Blue Nile, Cocteau Twins and Simple Minds last autumn it was my intention to present a St David’s Day trilogy of Scritti Politti, Stereophonics and Manic Street Preachers. However, while these lists are under way they won’t be ready in time so I’ve had to put them back to 2016 (along with whoever represents the English on St George’s Day). Instead, I’ve opted to turn my attentions across the Irish Sea and do a St Patrick’s Day double bill of Perry Blake and U2. As with Simple Minds the latter is a lot of work!

Aside from those I’ve recently worked on the lists for Pink Floyd, Duran Duran, Brian Eno, Depeche Mode and Roxy Music. In the case of Floyd the dilemma is whether to put it out in September when it’s Roger Waters birthday and Wish You Were Here’s 40th or next March to mark David Gilmour’s 70th birthday. What do you think?

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