Happy Birthday Tim!” I hear the nation cheer. Today I am 60 and this is my 60th Birthday self-portrait, which I am sure the National Portrait Gallery will be clamouring to get hold of (signed copies can be supplied for an inordinate amount of cash).

It is one of the ‘landmark’ birthdays, the sort of age that at any age until well after 40 seemed a long way away, ‘old’ would then have been the term. 60 is of course (for those who reach it) the new 30, or so we think. So along with the open top carriage drive through eager crowds wishing to see my visage up The Mall, I put together a CD for some friends of songs which have some meaning to me, so that on this auspicious day they can join in with the generous goodwill of the populous. For those of you who don’t receive the CD play this is a video of it on Vimeo https://vimeo.com/home/myvideos, or make up a playlist and please join me!

Every year I put together a CD called (very creatively) What Tim’s Been Listening To…, which goes out at Christmas and is a mix of mainly new songs from the year and some others. But this collection is different, many tracks I hadn’t heard for years, though they are etched on my soul. They are not all my favourites, but have a place in my memory. If you wish to share in the celebrations here is the list and the reason why it is on here. My initial list would have been at least a 10 CD set and so many are missing! I found that many came from that period between 13-19 when in many ways music is set in ones psyche.

There is no classical music which would have been another huge set of CD’s, and by the by I listen every birthday to Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G played by Martha Argerich.

The 60 Collection is:

  1.  Wild Mountain Thyme – Judy Collins – I don’t know when I first heard this, it is from 1961 but it feels like it has been with me forever, a haunting stunning performance.

  2. Ladies and Gentleman We Are Floating In Space – Spiritualized – I didn’t know Spiritualized until the early 2000’s, then when I had come out of hospital after a major operation the words and its weaving in of Can’t Help Falling In Love (one of my mother’s favourites) felt apt. Then a couple of years later I regularly listened to the album on the seemingly endless journeys I made 100 miles across the country when my mother was in hospital for over 6 months before she died.

  3. Sea Cruise – Frankie Ford – I would dance wild and ‘wonderfully’ to this in Leek when I was about 18/19 with Jackie, Louise and others. It is just one of what could have been many rock ‘n roll and doowop songs.

  4. Paranoid – Black Sabbath – When I heard this first it just knocked me out, 17 at art school, this was new music, heavy rock.

  5. Dance Me To The End Of Time – Leonard Cohen – I was late to Cohen, 29-30. This reminds me of some lovely times with lovely friends in South Wales, and then to see him perform it live in Cardiff last September was magical.

  6. Always on my Mind – The Pet Shop Boys – This came out just after I was married, living and working near Boston, Lincolnshire, a very happy time and even though we are separated now it’s best to remember when things were good.

  7. Sweet Baby James – James Taylor – As soon as I hear this I can smell dark red oil paint in my bedroom covered in posters and pictures, drawing and painting late into the night, hair growing long, clothes getting scruffier. 1971 playing this along with Carol King, Dory Previn, Bob Dylan on the Dansette…

  8. Night Boat to Cairo – Madness –  Leaping round Glenn and Anne’s flat in Cardiff in the early 1980’s after drinking in endless pubs!

  9. California Girls – The Beach Boys – Oh The Beach Boys, they have been with me for so long. I saw film of them performing when I was about 9 on I think on Six Five Special, love their music and still regularly listen to Surf’s Up, but this sort of sums them up.

  10. Peaches en Regalia – Frank Zappa – Sitting in the Common Room at Leek School of Art, I was 16 and there were very ‘sophisticated’ 18/19 year olds, playing LP’s by people I’d never heard of! This was one and I got Hot Rats as soon as I could.

  11. L’amour en fuite – Alain Souchon – Films are so important to me and none more so than Truffaut’s. This song comes at the end of the fifth and final film in the Antoine Doinel series.

  12. Belongings – Clock Opera – I love this song and it became even more important to my friend Jackie in Brighton, tinged with great sadness.

  13. FBI – The Shadows – This represents all those songs I loved of Cliff, The Shadows and so many more in that odd pop time before The Beatles came along.

  14. Pump it Up – Elvis Costello & The Attractions – Rosemary took me to Liverpool to see EC in 1986 (she was a devoted fan), he played an hour solo, The Attractions wandered on to stage, he picked up his electric guitar and went straight into this and the place went crazy!

  15. The Dark is Rising – Mercury Rev – I was stuck in a huge queue on the M6 late at night coming back from a meeting in Glasgow, John Peel was on and Mercury Rev, who I’d never heard of, were playing live, it was like I’d found what I had been searching for!

  16. Charlie – Georges Delarue – The main theme from Truffaut’s film Shoot the Pianist, sums up a lot of what I love about Truffaut’s films, which I couldn’t live without…

  17. The Ballad of Frankie Lee & Judas Priest – Bob Dylan – I now have just about all of Dylan’s albums, my favourite is probably Blonde on Blonde, but I could never afford it when I was 16-17, John Wesley Harding was in a second hand store and was the first Dylan album I bought and still regularly listen to.

  18. Virginia Plain – Roxy Music – Age 18 at art school and these came along! Loved the album, then they came to play at The Victoria Hall and instead of the usual long haired scruffy bands who hardly bothered with the audience, here was style and stance and amazing music, a breath of fresh air!

  19. I’ll Be Back – The Beatles – Growing up in the 1960’s which Beatles track does one choose? This comes from the album of A Hard Day’s Night, a film I loved, saw it in Colwyn Bay, but I wasn’t a huge fan then, not like The Beach Boys. Oddly I heard this in San Francisco in 1979 at a meal/party a girl gave for me, I had to go to California to learn to love The Beatles.

  20. This Old Heart of Mine – The Isley Brothers – My favourite Motown track, there could have been a few CD’s full of Motown and Northern Soul, essential to the clubs of my teenage years in Stoke-on-Trent, could always dance to this whether there was a girl to dance with me or not.

  21. The Sound of Silence – Simon & Garfunkel – I was given an EP of S&G when I was about 13, this was on and I always loved it, though it could as easily been Scarborough Fair.

  22. The Court of The Crimson King – King Crimson – 1970 and never heard anything like this, the cover was amazing and the jazz-rock which later was called Prog perfect for my searching mind!


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