What a week; I’m now feeling thoroughly wind-swept, buffeted by countless gusts of wonderful music. Was ‘Wind’ a particularly good topic, or is it just that I normally don’t have time (or make the time) to listen to more than a tiny fraction of the songs suggested? Certainly I feel distinctly humble about the limits of my musical knowledge; for the first few hundred comments, I knew the majority of the suggestions – the feeding frenzy does generally throw up most of the obvious numbers, especially when it’s a topic with a searchable keyword – but thereafter I was blown off into largely uncharted waters. One of my guiding principles, as I mentioned on the main thread, was that the A-list should be mainly or entirely music that was new to me, with the B-list used to accommodate stuff that I was thus ruling out. In the event, the only familiar elements in the A-list were a couple of artists whose music I’d heard before but not these particular songs (Esperanza Spalding, Gallon Drunk), and two standard songs in new versions (The Wind That Shakes the Barley and Wild is the Wind); even the B-list is largely made up of things that I’d never heard before this week.
And I can only imagine what other great stuff I’ve missed through my insistence on proper justifications; just a personal obsession which I hope didn’t annoy too many people too much, and in fact it made an almost impossible job a bit more manageable. Even so, I could happily have listed at least three times as many songs, and for my own sanity I’m resisting the urge to send messages to lots of people to explain why, despite its brilliance, I didn’t in the end pick their song. The idea for a write-up based loosely on the Beaufort Scale had come to me before I listened to anything, and wasn’t much help in narrowing down the choice, so long as I included a variety of different kinds of wind rather than just relentless storms. I wanted a variety of styles, of course – given the importance of the wind for rural life and seafaring, I could have filled the list many times over with folk and other traditional music – but also felt particularly drawn to songs that evoked the sound or the feel of the wind, and my one fear is that this may, despite all my conscious efforts, have given the list a more ‘samey’ feel than I wanted.
In the end, it always comes down to personal preferences – the ‘judgement of taste’, as Immanuel Kant put it (just in case anyone was disappointed by the limited amount of pretentiousness this week). In some cases, I knew a song had to be in the list the moment I heard it: Lord Beginner, Christian Kjellvander and Nina Persson, Skeletal Family. Others went onto the long-list, and I was then trying different combinations through most of Tuesday afternoon to produce what sounded to me like a well-balanced playlist. During which time, some songs wormed their way into my consciousness: Kauan’s Valveuni originally slipped in as a temporary substitute after Fuel bloody-mindedly refused to nominate Edward Vesala’s The Wind properly (the one track for which I’d have made an exception to my ‘only new stuff’ rule), but I’m now mildly obsessed with it; I was struck that a couple of former gurus said they needed a week or so’s break from listening to music after they’d done a stint, because I can’t wait to spend more time exploring the work of Kauan, and various others, at greater length.
It’s only an eleven-song A-list, as I honestly couldn’t decide which other track to include – the lead candidate by the end was Dorival Caymmi, nominated long after the deadline, and I’m not sure I want to take on the responsibility of setting such a precedent – and in any case the playlist seemed to work nicely as a whole already. I did briefly consider going completely retro and having a ten-song A-list and ten-song B-list; in this case, I did know which of the first eleven I’d drop as being the one with which I wasn’t absolutely and utterly in love, but it played its role in the sequence perfectly and so got to stay. Anyway, then I’d have had to drop some from the B-list, and that could have taken at least another day of vacillating.
Like other temporary gurus, I didn’t pay any attention to who had suggested what. Once I’d decided on my A-list, and checked the Marconium to make sure I hadn’t included already zedded, I did check who had suggested the final 11, and then spent some time wondering whether I should make changes – I mean, two double A-listers, one of whom got a double just last week? That is not how I would have planned it; if I’d organised the list around the identity of nominators, I’d have been aiming for as broad a spread as possible, and might have gone out of my way to avoid choosing the suggestions of certain people. It really was just about the music – but of course I’ve no way of proving that BeltwayBandit gets listed so often because he suggests so many fantastic songs in so many different styles, rather than because he’s Lord High Conspirator of the RR Illuminati. So it goes; time to head for my bunker with a week’s supply of beer to ride out the likely storm…
The one really major problem: one of the best songs on the list, Lord Beginner, isn’t on YouTube; it is on Spotify, but for everyone who’s in a part of the world where they don’t have Spotify, it’s also here:
Final thing: thank you all (and all the RR people who don’t come over here). This has been wonderful, easily as good as participating in the blog normally, and that’s entirely down to everyone else in a way that making one’s own suggestions isn’t.