The 20 Best Songs Recorded by People over 60. Maybe.

OK, so, admin out of the way first. I’m moving house next week so I have spent a lot of this week dismantling flatpack furniture and packing things into boxes. There is an argument to be made that I should have put this competition on hold for a fortnight but I haven’t because, well, I don’t want to. We are all in lockdown, we are all busy, and if you have found the time to nominate something then I should find the time to listen to it. Teamwork! Yes!

Why mention it then? In legalese I think they call it a disclaimer. In short, I cannot be held responsible for any mistakes made in my judging this week. If anyone has got away with nominating a song by somebody who was only 59 when they recorded it, I’m sorry, but, so be it. I’m too busy to check everything. Don’t bother trying to lodge any formal protests. They will fall on deaf ears. I have wrapped too many things in bubble wrap this week to give a shit about petty misdemeanours.

You will also have to forgive me for lumping some recommendations together. It seemed churlish to reward one pick by an artist but punish another, especially when the differences in quality between the songs were tiny.

There are forty bonus points up for grabs in this category. I had reserved them for anyone who nominated Scatman John. Stupidly, it turns out, as Scatman John was only fifty seven when he dies and therefore wasn’t actually eligible. As I liked every song that was recommended this week I have decided to push the scores for 18th, 19th and 20th up slightly and give everyone who didn’t make the top twenty, two points instead of (the normal score of) no points. I hope that meets with your approval.

OK. Enough small print. The following people got two points

  • Rob Cutforth – B.B. King and U2 – When Love Comes to Town
  • Penny – Shirley Bassey – The Living Tree
  • Ellie Hawkes – Leonard Cohen – You Want it Darker
  • Plashing Vole – Richard Thompson – Waltzing’s for Dreamers
  • Beth Woodward – Brian Eno – Ship in a Bottle
  • James Beck – Loudon Wainwright III – Surviving Twin
  • Fat Roland – Adrian Sherwood, Brian Eno and Lee Scratch Perry – Here Comes the Warm Dreads
  • Slugger – Peter Perrett – The Power is in You
  • Georgia Boon – Johnny Cash – When the Man Comes Around
  • Chris Bissette – Bruce Springsteen – We Take Care of Our Own
  • Sex Police – Bob Dylan – I’ve Made Up My Mind to Give Myself to You
  • Chris *WEAR YOUR DANG MASK* – Dr John – Revolution
  • John Power Jr – Bruce Springsteen – Hitch Hikin’ (Film Version)
  • Dan Edmonds – Randy Newman – The Great Debate
  • David Coates – FFS – Johnny Delusional
  • James Battisson – Johnny Cash – Hurt
  • Donna Morris – Ruby Turner – Love Was Here

I think we can all agree, that is a pretty strong list right there, with more than a few absolute bangers in it. Apologies to you all that you only got two points each and that I haven’t got time to give reasons for your choices not making the top twenty. I still have a lot of packing to do.

There was one more choice that didn’t make my top twenty and that was…

  • Adam Farrer – Tom Waits – Hell Broke Luce

He also gets two points. However, as he picked Tom Waits purely because I was rude about Alice and Blood Money last week, and has boldly claimed that he will recommend something by Tom Waits every week, I am going to award him 100 bonus points for his attempting to instigate a blood feud during what is supposed to be a fun distraction from world events. But if he fails to nominate something by Tom Waits for every single category this year that 100 bonus points will become minus 100 bonus points. Chat shit, get banged, etc

The Top 20

So let’s begin. Rebecca Holland recommended Never (Lagos Never Gonna Be The Same) by Tony Allen and Hugh Masekela and because I really liked the song she gets four points for doing so. Tony Allen must have recorded a hundred or so songs that could have made this top twenty. The guy did not slow down at all.

I always get the Silver Apples mixed up with someone else (though off the top of my head I can’t remember who, which gives you a glimpse of how muddled I am on the matter). I’m not sure what I have or haven’t heard by them. I think I had one of their cds, years ago, but looking at their discography I’m doubting myself. But enough about me, Jummo70 recommended Fractal Flow and it got him five points (because it is great).

Adrian Slatcher surprised me completely by recommending Faz Gostoso by Madonna. I am on the verge of suspecting he is trolling me somehow, exposing my love of pop music to a larger and less kind audience somewhere. Did he nominate another song under a pseudonym? Is he plotting my downfall? Or does he just like Madonna? I dunno. Time will tell, I suppose. Either way he’s getting seven points.

Three people each get eight points for championing the later work of the late great David Bowie. Picky Bastards picked Girl Loves Me (so sweary), Graeme chose Lazarus (so moody) and Weeman went with The Stars (Are Out Tonight) (so good). I refuse to rank Bowie beyond the obvious 70’s stuff > Labyrinth Soundtrack > everything else so you will have to argue among yourselves about who should have got more or less points than who.

I was surprised only one person went down the Buena Vista Social Club route as there are a lot of good albums down that way. (If you haven’t heard Compay Segundo’s Calle Salud, you should get on that sharpish) William Mallin recommended Ibrahim Ferrer’s Bruca Maniguá (from Buena Vista Social Club Presents Ibrahim Ferrer, which is another album you should listen to immediately if you haven’t already) and it got him ten points.

Daniel Carpenter recommended Theme from Taxi Driver by Bernard Herrmann but, unfortunately for him, nobody recommended any scum this week so he didn’t get to wipe them from the top twenty and get a maximum score. Instead he had to rely on the fact that it is a brilliant piece of music from a brilliant score and settle for twelve points.

I defy anyone to find a less romantic name for a song than Air BnB. (Actually, I don’t. Keep your song titles about guts and the like to yourself. Ta. But if you don’t judge a song by its title (Which you shouldn’t anyway. What are you even thinking, dude?) you can’t help but notice that Nick Portnell‘s recommendation, Air BnB by Kim Gordon is worth a solid 14 points on anybody’s scoreboard. Or something.

Yeah, that’s right, I’ve just noticed that I have been writing the scores in letters instead of numbers and have switched mid post in a terribly unprofessional manner. But who cares, right? I’ve still got all the stuff in the shed to pack and it won’t stop raining. How do you pack wet tools? Fucked if I know. You probably have to dry them but with what? Toilet paper? You’re living in a dream world, mate. I’m not going to dry a spade with loo roll. I don’t care what you say. Where was I? Oh yeah. Scores. Sam Whyte recommended a live version of Maria da Vila Mathilde by Elza Soares and I decided it was worth 16 points.

Geisterhaus recommended Mr Jukes by Grant Green (featuring Charles Bradley) and in an ideal world I would have looked up Grant Green so I had some idea on whether he, or Charles Bradley was the one over sixty. (I’m guessing Bradley but, honestly, I haven’t a clue. Graham Greene would be over sixty if he was still alive so Grant Green might be too, though there surnames aren’t spelled the same so my maths may not be a flawless on that one. 18 points.

Henry Green! He’d be a hundred and sixteen if he was still alive! That proves it! And speaking of colours, Tom A recommended the version of Darling Lorraine on Paul Simon‘s In the Blue Light. (You’ve got to admit, given this is one long stream of consciousness that is a pretty tight segue). He worried that I would hate it but I don’t because I’m not a monster. It’s a beautiful song with a thick seam of melancholy running through it like a delicious blue bit in some magnificent stilton. That’s a terrible metaphor. Ignore that. 20 points.

I was a bit rude about Nick Cave last week, so kudos to Corvisi and Subfuscous who ignored my nonsense and nominated him regardless (Euthanasia and The Gypsy Faerie Queen by Marianne Faithful and Nick Cave respectively). A couple of cracking songs that will each be receiving 22 points.

Philippe Auclair recommended Blood Count by Duke Ellington and Dan recommended Money Jungle by Duke Ellington, and while I feel compelled to punish Dan for being so close to recommending Wig Wise but failing to do so (it was right in front of you, Dan) I am choosing to be the bigger man and will be awarding both of them 24 points.

Nick Rayney recommended The Soul of all Natural Things by Linda Perhacs. It’s a proper lovely song, this one. So lovely that even a Spanish guitar turning up half way through couldn’t spoil the mood, which is worth 26 points in my eyes. I won’t be the first person in the world to point out that if Linda Perhacs had been a man her career, life and reputation would be very different, but the patriarchy is a piece of shit so there is no harm in mentioning it again. Smash the patriarchy, lads. It fucking sucks.

Can I confess something? I’m not the biggest fan of Iggy Pop. I like the first minute or so of a lot of his songs but I usually lose interest in them. And, sorry, Lust For Life is such a poor shadow of You Can’t Hurry Love that even the Phil Collins version is better than Iggy’s take on the song. Just saying like. Hashtag just saying. So when Justin Chisnall recommended Paraguay by Iggy Pop I was pretty confident that it wouldn’t score many points. How wrong I was. I loved it and would like to give it 28 points please.

Mat Pringle recommended Never Ending Happening by Bill Fay, an artist who was new to me, and one I am going to be investigating further over the next few weeks because I really really liked this song. Mat has accused me of having cloth ears on numerous occasions (and he may well be right) but on this occasion we are in complete agreement. 30 points.

I’ve loved this week. It has given me a lot of new stuff to listen to and reminded me that there are far too many artists with back catalogues that I have barely scratched the surface of. Petula Clark’s Cut Copy Me was one of the biggest surprises of the week. It’s a cracking tune lad and no mistake. Desmond recommended it and he gets 32 points for his troubles.

Graham Cox recommended the version of Mannish Boy on Muddy Waters‘ 1977 album, Hard Again. And while the double entendre of the album’s title hasn’t aged especially well, the music is ridiculously good. I’m listening to the album as I write this and it is, for want of a more academic phrase, fucking massive. 34 points.

Ah, Jello Biafra, you wonderful man. Over sixty and still releasing albums with names like Tea Party Revenge Porn. Still sticking it to the man. And while nobody should be expected to top Bedtime for Democracy, still consistently releasing brilliant stuff. So, for kicking up the angry a notch by recommending the title song from the album, Neal gets himself a score of 36 points.

Second on the countdown for the second week in a row, Sleepy is setting himself up as an early favourite for this year’s title. This week he recommended Here Comes the Judge by Pigmeat Markham. A lot of this week’s choices have been by artists toward the end of their careers, contemplating their work, their past, redefining themselves. In contrast, this is a sixty four year old man blatantly making a rap record in 1968, several years before hip hop became an actual thing. It’s a bloody good record too. The drums alone are worth 38 points.

So what could beat that. Well, this…

Rarely has a suggestion been so obviously the winner as David N Atkinson‘s recommendation of We Have All the Time in the World by Louis Armstrong. It’s so obvious that I don’t feel any need to show my working out. I’m just going to give it forty points and get on with packing everything I own into uniform cardboard boxes.

See you next week, when I will be typing this garbage in a different house. The category next week is SCOTTISH ALBUMS. Remember, it doesn’t have to be by a Scottish band. It could be recorded in Scotland or about Scotland or… well… if you can link an album to Scotland you can recommend it. Good luck finding a Tom Waits link though, Adam.