Listening to Thom Yorke reveal the childhood moment of revelation that inspired him to become a musician – namely, hearing David Bowie’s ‘Ashes To Ashes’ while on a climbing frame in an Oxford playground – left me pondering a big question, for a music obsessive maybe the biggest.
If you could single out one song that changed your life, what would it be?
We’re all familiar with the notion that certain tracks have set the trajectory of entire creative lives – whether its Damon Albarn hearing ‘Waterloo Sunset’ for the first time and drawing from it a richly romantic (yet conflicted) method of narrating Englishness. Or a 21-year-old Brian Wilson hearing The Ronettes’ ‘Be My Baby’ on his car radio in 1963 and swerving off the road, floored by the epic intensity of the massed harmonies in the chorus.
But you don’t have to be a musician to remember particular songs in such pivotal terms. I guess for me the hinge moment would be Manic Street Preachers’ ‘Motown Junk’. That’s partly because I heard it an age (12) when barked slogans and vicious power chords still seemed impossibly thrilling.
But more than that, ‘Motown Junk’ demonstrated that music could be eloquent, trashy, glamorous, polemical, absurdly combative (“I laughed when Lennon got shot” – James Dean Bradfield doesn’t sing that bit these days) and most of all significant, propelled by big ideas and worthy of passionate engagement.
It’s still impossible for me to hear the intro (“Revolution, revolution, revolution…”), or even see the sleeve (a blackened watch recovered from the wreckage of Hiroshima, fixed at the moment of detonation) without experiencing an intense Proustian rush.
How about you? Which track changed your life – and why? No straight song titles please. I’m after the reasons behind your choices too.