MERCURY REV’S JONATHAN DONAHUE: SONGS IN THE KEY OF LIFE

Jonathan Donahue reveals the records that made him...

FIRST RECORD YOU CAN REMEMBER

‘The Little Prince’ – Soundtrack

“My mom used to play it for me a lot when I was growing up. I’d come home from school and she’d put on this record. It had Richard Burton and some other people playing various characters from the book The Little Prince. Some of it was musical, but mostly it was just dialogue and different sound effects. It really impressed me for some reason, and it turned me on to Richard Burton. What a guy.”

RECORD THAT REMINDS YOU OF BEING IN SCHOOL

‘Seasons In The Sun’ – Terry Jacks

“I think that record really blitzed everyone when it came out, especially in America. I don’t remember the year it came out exactly, but I was quite young. Mid-’70s. I always just thought it was great to hear a song that sounded so morbid and melancholy on AM radio stations. It hit me where it hurts.”

SONG YOU FELL IN LOVE TO

‘I’m A Fool To Want You’ – Billie Holiday

“There’s a story that goes along with it, but it’s personal and I don’t really want to go into it. You wouldn’t want to know, honestly. I’m not very good at this, am I? I’m nervous.”

HEARTBREAK SONG

‘On The Beach’ – Neil Young

“Again, I can’t go into it. Let’s just say it got me, it really got me. She was quite young. I was young too, but not as young as her. It was a long time ago, but it doesn’t really feel like it. And no, she’s not the same as the subject of the record I fell in love to.”

RECORD THAT EVOKES THE BEST SUMMER OF YOUR LIFE

‘Music From Big Pink’ – The Band

“I can’t actually remember that summer, or even what summer it was, but I know it was really good. When I say I can’t remember it’s because I was enjoying myself too much. It wasn’t too many summers ago, a couple maybe. We’d put this album on in the car, pick up some whiskey and drive around town looking at all the pretty girls.”

RECORD FOR A NIGHT ON THE TILES

‘A Tribute To Jack Johnson’ – Miles Davis

“My first choice would be The Band‘s first album again – in fact, it would be my choice for a lot of these. That would make things pretty simple, wouldn’t it, if I just chose the same record for every single question? But there’s always Miles Davis. What makes it so good for a drunken night out? That crazy, crazy guitar. It’s one of my favourite, favourite things.”

RECORD THAT INSPIRED YOU TO FORM A BAND

‘Death Letter’ – Son House

“This is the record that inspired me to make music, not necessarily to form a band. He was a Delta blues guy and I think he probably recorded this in the early-’60s. I was quite young when I first heard it and it really opened my eyes. It spoke to me. The fact that it didn’t have a lot of words, and I couldn’t remember them all – yet every one of them was very poignant, very simple and very true.”

RECORD GUARANTEED TO CLEAR THE TOURBUS

‘Boces’ – Mercury Rev

“There are a lot of painful memories attached to that album, it’s not that there’s anything bad about the music itself, but I don’t think any of us can really listen to it. So many dark, chaotic, bad things happened while we were recording it. I still think it’s a great record, but it’s just very painful and unpleasant to hear because it just brings it all back.”

NEW YEAR’S EVE 1999, WHAT’S ON THE HI-FI?

“A bottle of gin and a pack of smokes. I’m listening to pure silence on New Year’s Eve. No music at all. I love silence, there’s nothing more pure or resonant than complete quiet.”

WHAT SONG WOULD YOU LIKE PLAYED AT YOUR FUNERAL?

‘The Black And Crazy Blues’ – Rahsaan Roland Kirk

“I don’t know why, I think because it’s just good-time party music and I think my friends would really enjoy it. It should be a happy occasion – yeah, a party. Why not?”