The latest guest in the “Playlist” series (a list of 10 songs) is writer and journalist, Lara Pawson, who is currently based in London:
“This was extremely difficult to do. I feel I have betrayed many musicians by leaving them off the list. But here we go.”
1. Sparky’s Magic Piano by Henry Blair with Ray Turner at the piano, Narration by Verne Smith, Music by Billy May (1947). I spent many hours listening to this as a little girl, with my brother and sister. It’s surprisingly spooky. I love it because it is only audio – not pictures – so you have to imagine Sparky, his mother and the piano.
2. Hula Hoop, Betty Johnson followed by Georgia Gibbs (1958). Again, I listened to this as a child and loved it. In fact there are two tracks (the first two) on this youtube recording, and I used to dance and hula hoop to them both. I love love love them, and I bet your daughter would too, Sean. I have now bought a hula hoop so that I can dance to these tracks, but wish I still had the small orange single we had as children. Is there a colonialist notion of exotica running through the tracks? Perhaps there is, even if it is not explicit.
3. “What’ll I do,” by The Peddlers, from the album ‘Live at the Pickwick!’. I love the whole of this album. I love the hammond organ. It reminds me of my grandfather because we used to listen to hammond organ tracks in his house (Walter Wanderley) when we were children, and he’d tell us tales of Brazil and get us all dancing. My sister, I think, introduced me to the Peddlers.
4. “Ngaxi by os Astros (Angola 2008). This is totally fabulous, but you do need to understand Portuguese I’m afraid. It captures what Luanda – and the world I guess – has become today. It is the tale of a silly, materialistic young woman who wins a ‘Miss’ beauty contest and whose ‘destiny’ is Portugal’s capital, Lisbon. She stops respecting her elders, she doesn’t listen to the advice of others and she stops going to school: while she may look great on the outside, she is ‘leaking petrol.’
5. The entire soundtrack for the film Once Upon A Time in the West, by Ennio Morricone. I first saw this film in 1999 in Luanda during the Angolan war when I was working as a correspondent for the BBC and Reuters. I’d just returned from a journey into the heart of the country, and had escaped a few close brushes with death. I was in a strange place in my head. And then I saw this film. It blew me away. It’s the first film I’ve ever owned, and the only film I can watch over and over and love it more and more. When I hear the music, and/or watch the film, I remember Angola, the war, and the friend of mine who first showed me the film, the one and only Aidan McQuade. The film is utterly ungenerous and unglamorous about violence and the music is, well, exceptional.