Glastonbury is almost upon us, so for those of us staying home this weekend, our writers have created a special Standard Issue playlist of the best of what we’re missing.
If Glastonbury has a spiritual element, then Mike Scott is its high priest. Glastonbury Song is a hymn, pure and simple. It even echoes the words of a hymn but this “green hill far away” is Glastonbury Tor.
The song charts Mike Scott’s spiritual journey around the world and the destination is Glastonbury. He finds God “where he always was” although whether this is within himself or on the Pyramid Stage remains unclear.
The Waterboys are the most radiant band to see live. What can sometimes sound a little stilted in the recorded version, leaps into glorious vibrant life on the stage. When Mike and his ever-changing troupe of players perform the song on its home ground, something magical will happen.
I only wish I could be there to see it.
Billy Bragg – Must I Paint You A Picture
You might know Billy Bragg (who’s curating the Left Field stage this year), as the vocal, shouty and occasionally tiresome leftist who pops up on Question Time sometimes and once wrote a song made more famous by Kirsty McColl. But in fact he’s behind some breathtakingly heartbreaking love songs.
Of course, my history with this song has a Boy in it. Jon, my third proper (albeit speedy – in more ways than one) boyfriend, introduced me to Billy Bragg back in the mid-90s and, if I got nothing else from that relationship, I got a lifelong love of the Bard of Barking and a copy of Workers Playtime that I never gave back.
I only have to hear the melancholy slide of the first few notes and I am transported back to a – slightly hairy – motorbike ride through the Kent countryside. Me, a “little black cloud in a dress”, the precious things Bragg sings about, not really fitting back together again. It was pretty bad timing, but then it probably always would have been.
And it’s not even his best song.
The Chemical Brothers (featuring Noel Gallagher) – Let Forever Be
“How does it feel like to wake up in the sun?” Brilliant, it feels brilliant, I feel like a new person. “How does it feel like to let forever be?” I don’t know Noel. To be honest, I’m not sure I understand the question, I just love the beats. I’m sticking my hands in the air and pointing with the enthusiasm of someone that has just discovered pointing. Yas.
“Spend a little lifetime sitting in the gutter”: is that sad? I don’t care, my face is aimed at the sky and I’m shouting along. “How does it feel like to sail in on the breeze?” It feels glorious, I’m floating along, swaying my hips with a Gallagher brother swagger. There’s that bit about the gutter again. Hang on, this is really a bit grim.
I open my eyes and realise I’m in Sainsbury’s. I take off my headphones and leave without the milk.
Kanye West – Black Skinhead
Over A HUNDRED THOUSAND people signed a petition trying to ban Kanye West from Glastonbury this year, while festival organiser Emily Eavis received death threats for even booking him.
It’s been oft-cited that the anti-Kanyes’ signature rate far outweighed those signing up to save the NHS, which is clearly terrifying, but I’m hopeful it’s because people don’t mean it – not least of all because many of those signing aren’t even going to Glastonbury.
This stupidity seems to fit with the fact that Kanye is a rather ridiculous man who tries too hard to be cool and is often filmed walking into lampposts and suddenly remembering not to laugh. A man who seems to care even less what his child is called than I do. He was the talking point of the festival until Dave Grohl upstaged him by falling over. He was an idiot to Beck and everyone was just bloody embarrassed.
There was huge hostility when Jay-Z was booked some years ago, and having been present for that set, I can confirm he went down a storm with thousands of converts screaming for more Jay-Zed while realising the whole country also used that ‘we’re English’ Zed joke too. Beyoncé was a flippin’ triumph in the raised-eyebrows headline slot a few years later so get your head out your uptight indie arses.
Being rude to Kayne is no more likeable than being rude to Beck. Manners, everyone: the least you can do is applaud and buy him a tea.
M.O. – Preach
I wasn’t looking for a new girl band. I was perfectly happy with Little Mix. But that all changed late one night in March when I had 4Music on for company while tapping away on a deadline.
My ears flew open. My eyes lit up. What was this catchy RnB pop grooving its way into my tired earholes? It sounded so 90s, so SWV. And who were these fresh young women kicking about in baggy blue denim and ice white trainers? They looked so 90s, so TLC. I turned to Google: “Google, is it the 90s again?” No, the year is 2015 and the song is Preach by British girl group M.O..
Preach, in the band’s words, is about: “girls who know what they want, have got their own minds and stick to their guns.” More specifically, it’s about telling an idiot boyfriend to do one. While I haven’t needed to do that in a while, Preach has nevertheless become my unexpected girl power anthem of the year. So come on: Preach!
Super Furry Animals – If You Don’t Want Me to Destroy You
Though the title may sound like a threat more suited to the back catalogue of a death metal band, to me this gorgeous three minutes and 15 seconds is really about the fact that none of us are getting out of here alive. So we might as well be decent to each other in the meantime.
Released when I was in my early teens and dealing with the perils of school bullies, and a home life probably best described as “never dull”, this was the song I would listen to while surreptitiously smoking out of my bedroom window and trying to make sense of things, some of which still puzzle me today.
And I often still listen to this song when I’m struggling with something, though this can sometimes feel a little strange as I know the last time it’s played in my presence, I won’t hear it. You see, this is the song I want played at my funeral. Not just because it has consistently meant something to me, but also because of the last two lines: “Let me go into the depths of your infinity / I can sense your presence in the vicinity.”
What better way tell everyone: “I loved you and goodbye”?
I’m ashamed of how long it took me to realise what a titan Patti Smith was. No really, I was at least in my 30s when I said to a friend: “I’ve never really listened to Horses” and he gave me a look you reserve for dying animals.
I literally don’t know what the fuck I was doing with myself.
One of the most hardwearing of a feast of musicians from the explosion in musical genres that a run-down New York produced in the 1970s, Smith looks at the gentrification of the city and asks where new culture will thrive. I love her for it.
Free Money is completely majestic. It forms (mostly in my head) a wonderful musical triptych – with Janis Joplin’s Mercedes Benz and Tracey Chapman’s Mountains O’ Things – of women who’ve had enough of being hard up and are letting themselves dream. Too frigging right.
Hannah Dunleavy1963 Views
Some of Standard Issue's brilliant women's carefully crafted words for your reading pleasure.