This is a thread about a CD I did for someone who didn't have a CD player. No, really.
It's probably going to be quite long, but it does have a point to it, and it's probably not what some of you will be expecting either. So I may as well start at the very beginning...
A couple of months before the first lockdown began, I went on a couple of dates with someone who seemed quite promising. We had similar personal histories, both big fans of Roxy Music and David Bowie - we're talking knowing the lyrics to Did You Ever Have A Dream? here...
...were both obsessed with The Box Of Delights, liked similar movies and comedy, both liked trying new places to eat, seemed to get on very well in general and on one occasion stayed out for over nine hours. But as so often happens, we just didn't 'click' and that was that.
Sometimes, that's just how it plays out, and while I can't pretend I wasn't a little disappointed, what can seem world-stoppingly heartbreaking when you're a teenager just feels kind of 'oh well, back to the drawing board' when you're older and we drifted out of touch afterwards.
Anyway, the reason I mention this is not to start a dating woes thread but to bring up something that happened on one of those dates. I did her a CD of some of my favourite music. And she looked at me a bit awkwardly and said "...I don't have a CD player".
It was actually a genuinely funny moment, and I put the CD in my pocket and forgot about it. Until now.

Due to lockdown, I hadn't so much as looked at that particular jacket until the other day, and there it was, like some outdated-looking digital relic from less peculiar times.
I couldn't remember what I'd put on it, and that's where it gets interesting. Years ago, I would spend literally hours devising compilation tapes for prospective romantic interests, working out what song to put where for maximum intrigue, meaning and stamp of identity.
On this occasion - and I remember this clearly - I just scanned through my folders and thought 'that, that and that', and burned it. No plan at all. Or was there?

What I'm intrigued by is what I might have been trying to say about my self unconsciously with my choice of music.
Whatever I'd picked, it would not have been for reasons of showing off about my record collection, or trying to look 'interesting', or trying to force an admission that, yes, B.A. Robertson is quite good after all. I was clearly unknowingly communicating something about who I am.
So what *were* the songs - if they even all had lyrics - that I'd idly picked out actually trying to 'say' about me, whether I realised it or not? I don't know, because I can't even remember what any of them actually were. But we're about to find out...
1. The Beach Boys, 'Our Prayer'.

The wordless chorale that would have opened the legendary unreleased 1967 album SMiLE, essentially the sound of a religious studies class hitting the beach with a surfboard in one hand and a bible in the other.
Although it has since been completed, SMiLE as a great pop cultural mystery is something I was often told I talked very eloquently and passionately about without prompting, so I was no doubt attempting to channel that in some way. 'Have you ever heard this song Cabinessence??'.
2. Big Star, 'In The Street'

Atypical punchy early seventies pop rock from a band way out of their time, and for a long time were record collectors' best kept secret. Everyone had heard of them but few had actually heard them.
Even if you don't know Big Star, some of you might know this as the theme from That '70s Show (see below). I don't imagine I put this - the album version, obviously - on for any deeper reason than that I deeply, deeply love it.
Though again, an opportunity to get excitable and passionate about something that's maybe a bit of a mystery to a lot of people. It's a short leap to talking about how you like India Song despite everyone else hating it, Chris Bell's solo album etc, though probably not Holocaust.
3. Saint Etienne, 'Nothing Can Stop Us'

Sample-tastic indiepop that sounds like it's coming out of a radio with the dial jammed halfway between The Evening Session and a sixties pirate station. From an album that I occasionally think may be the best ever.
Although it's a tremendous and often overlooked single by a tremendous and often overlooked band, it's actually quite obvious what was going on here. "So what sort of thing do you actually write?" - "Well, that band on the CD? I wrote a book about them...
Three songs in, and so far, so toe-tapping. A couple of possible conversation openers and some idea of what is usually running through my head when waiting for trains but that's it really. It's more like a CD I would have made for anyone really. But just you wait...
4. Nick Drake, 'At The Chime Of A City Clock'

Everyone's favourite big-shoe-favouring blazer-sporter gets a bit wistful about apparently walking round in circles in the middle of Trumpton. And that flippancy is a bit more pointed than you might expect...
I have *opinions* about Nick Drake.

I have been obsessed with his music since I first heard The Thoughts Of Mary Jane on daytime Radio 1 in the late eighties, and own and adore everything he ever did. Especially the original Time Of No Reply compilation.
Well, I say 'everything', but I have not got on board with the apparent licence to print money that his music has become in more recent times, especially that box set called Frisps 10 Bag Family Pack or whatever it was. I ranted more about that here.
But my main and most strident opinion is that I thoroughly detest how Nick Drake has become a totem for other people's prurient attempts to define themselves through someone else's mental problems. It cheapens and devalues his actual music and frankly stinks.
I had no sense of him as a 'doomed genius' when I first heard his music, and I have no sense of that now. I once remarked on how this attitude shows "more a love of yourself than a love of his music", and I stand by that absolutely. See also Syd Barrett and, well, Brian Wilson.
Would I consider someone arguing that we should consider him a troubled young man first and foremost and endlessly search for 'clues' in his lyrics a whopping great red flag? Yes I probably would, so maybe that's why that ended up here.
Or maybe it's just because I really like At The Chime Of A City Clock and have fond memories of playing it while we went out cruising in a friend's car in the small hours in lieu of anything else to do. Also its proximity to the next track is quite telling...
5. Tim Buckley, 'Buzzin' Fly'

A yodelling ode to languid summer romance, set to yet another of his apparent attempts to rewrite the Camberwick Green theme with a few notes changed so 'Clown' didn't notice.
Tim Buckley is another longtime obsession of mine, and not just because he's one of the few non-embarrassing public figures to share my name. I am fascinated by his impressionistic free-jazz approach, with every song being performed quantifiably 'differently' every time.
I was already fixated on Tim Buckley while I was still in sixth form, and own all of his many, many live albums. You might think that once you've heard one rendition of Morning Glory, you've heard them all. You absolutely have not.
For starters, there's this performance late at night on BBC2 in 1968, where it drifts into a meditation verging on a devotional mantra, and was literally the last thing seen on television that day. I had more to say about that here:
Buzzin' Fly, however, has the absolutely Relationship Goals chorus "you're the one I talk about, you're the one I think about, everywhere I go, and sometimes honey, in the morning, lord I miss you so", so it's not difficult to work out what was at the back of my mind there.
I don't think Venice Mating Call would have quite cut it frankly.

Meanwhile, Buckley never gets the same attention as the supposed tortured genii as he wasn't one - he loved what he did and partied hard until it caught up with him. So there's probably a rant in there too.
6. The Left Banke, 'Barterers And Their Wives'

Harpsichord-toting sensitive souls who preferred Yesterday and Michelle to She Loves You tell ye olde capitalismme that it can verily go fucketh itself.
A little off-script here, as The Left Banke are about as much of a household name as 'barterers' - or, for that matter, 'wifely' - is a household word. I discovered them when I heard Desiree playing in Probe Records, pointed up in the air and said "I'll have this, please".
While I probably wouldn't have gone as far as The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band or White Noise, this is very definitely me trying to make an unequivocal statement on who I am. As well as being a deep sixties guitar pop cut, there's the whole political angle too.
I'm fairly sure Michael Brown and the gang will actually have been taking aim at Nixon and his ilk, but whenever I hear "crowding the city gate, shunning the master's fate, low decisions, they envision, cleaning the pauper's plate", I think of bastard Johnson and Rees-Mogg.
We had already established we were both left-wing and anti-Brexit, incidentally. So it was never going to be like that date where a woman, aware of my links to Jo Cox, started regaling me with her awful theories about the murder, causing me to walk out halfway through. Anyway.
7. France Gall, 'Chanson Indienne'

Serge Gainsbourg protege buys a Hendrix jacket, ramps up the dry ice, rolls a joint and starts singing about hallucinating 'tobacco' colours in the middle of a Delhi market. Not suspicious in any way at all, officer.
I am fluent in French and like to show off about this at any available opportunity. This has included translating entire television series in real time, confirming whether an Ionesco play was being staged correctly to other theatregoers, and of course my offbeat musical tastes.
I mean come on, that's practically begging to be asked what the lyrics actually mean. So let's move quickly on...
8. Francoise Hardy, 'Les Temps Des Souvenirs'

Moody sha-la-la-ing about how easy it is to get tongue-tied on the phone and how it's much better to romance in person. A lost world in more ways than one.
I own a terrifying amount of Francoise Hardy records, including that one where she tells a mouse to wipe its feet before it comes in or something, but I cannot think of any reason at all why I might have wanted to bring this up. Anyway...
9. Serge Gainsbourg And Brigitte Bardot, 'Bonnie Et Clyde'

Ominous doomed love duet between Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway as played at chucking out time at every last 'Loungecore' club night, which Chris Morris only played the four times on Blue Jam.
Did I mention speaking French?
10. Jake Thackray, 'The Castleford Ladies' Magic Circle'

BBC Local News-friendly folk drollery about respectable suburban housewives practicing devilish jiggery-poke and rub-a-dub-dub with their Woolworths broomsticks and tabby cats.
I'm not entirely certain what this was doing here. I love Jake Thackray but certain of his songs veer into areas that would make even the most forgiving listener wince now, and I also laughed for about an hour when informed a while back that hipsters had 'discovered' him.
This is a corking song with some of his finest wordplay ever and a genuine unsettling air and hint of menace, but in the middle of a compilation with a purpose, it doesn't really represent anything at all. What conversation could you get going on the back of this?
Unless she was in fact a practicing Wiccan, of course. But then you'd probably have to hear a very long explanation of how he'd got it all wrong and there's actually very little in the way of wittering twittering petty poltergeists involved. I do like a witch costume though. Erm.
11. Miles Davis, 'Freddie Freeloader'

Modal impressionistic sound portrait of some ne'er do well trying to bunk his way into the sextet's gigs with a woman on each arm and a winning card up his sleeve.
Right, well this is a real fish out of water. Thematically, sequentially and musically. I adore every note of Kind Of Blue, particularly the moment in this when the main melody just saunters back in as though it's been leaning on the bar waiting for its turn. But...
It just doesn't fit here. At all. So what's it doing here?

Well, here's a slight confession. As those of you who have been following me for a while may have noticed, I tend to hammer Kind Of Blue when things aren't going brilliantly. Like throughout lockdown for example.
For a number of reasons things were not spectacularly upbeat around then, and maybe that's one of the reasons why we just didn't 'click'. I like to think I conceal it well but it's probably as if I have a big flashing neon sign above my head signifying I'm in 'a place'.
In fact, around the same time, someone who is probably reading this had the decency to tell me straight that she didn't think I was in the right place to date anyone, but enjoyed my friendship and wanted to maintain it, and did. You know you who are, you know you're💯x
Probably a bit too much information there, but it's the only reason I can think of why I might have put Freddie Freeloader on here. More as a nudge to myself than a cry for help. So moving on...
12. John Faulkner And Sandra Kerr, 'The Princess Suite'

Gabriel The Toad and Madeline The Rag Doll turn the mice's flight of fancy about boring suitors turning into dragonflies into a hypnotic bit of plainsong, much to Professor Yaffle's chagrin.
I don't imagine there's anyone reading this who can't be aware of how much I love the BBC's old Watch With Mother shows, and the ones made by Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin in particular. The BBC didn't introduce me as 'CLANGERS EXPERT' for nothing.
You talk to me for any length of time, you're going to get me on this sort of subject eventually, so that's clearly what was being tacitly invited here. Also the album had not long come out and I was probably still giddy about having done some of the PR for it.
Also someone once swiped right on me specifically because she'd read that feature on The Princess Suite, though that didn't work out either. That's a long story.
13. David Bowie, 'The London Boys'

Britpop-haired Ziggy-in-waiting sketches out a lament for a drug-guzzling Mod who followed the crowd only to find that "you've got what you wanted, but you're on your own". The Gnome didn't have much to laugh about here.
I'm really not sure what I was playing at here. Yes, The London Boys is probably my favourite David Bowie song ever, but we'd already spontaneously sung Did You Ever Have A Dream?. Nothing to prove to anyone about how good his sixties material is here at all.
14. Pizzicato 5, 'Peace Music'

Cross-dressing retro-futurists sing about the power of love to turn fairground rides into reverse to the accompaniment of a sixties-inspired brass section and one of those things that went 'WHEEE' when The Goodies fell over.
Well despite what you might be expecting, I don't speak Japanese. Apart from when annoying one of my friends with proclamations that Brock from the Godzilla cartoon is canon.
Probably this is here because it was a nice-sounding 'we're almost finished' track with mild romantic sentiment, though how anyone was supposed to pick up on that is another question.
15. Astrud Gilberto, 'Beginnings'

Her who got all hot and sweaty about The Girl From Ipanema turns her wildly funky attention to someone else who gives her a cover of chills all over her boh-wa-di-ha-ooh-wa-da-dee-hee.
If you've read Can't Help Thinking About Me, you'll know all about my longstanding relationship with this eight-minute exploration of fired-up female sexuality and how it's 'only the beginning' of whatever she did to whoever she went home to after that recording session.
So yes, I may have believed these were random choices, but I don't think you need to call in a crack team of psychologists to work out what I might have been driving at here. Ahem.
16. Roger Limb, 'The Box Of Delights (Closing Theme)'

The Radiophonically-treated extract from The Carol Symphony that saw out Kay Harker's battle of posset-fuelled wits with Foxy-Faced Charles and Chubby Joe.
I've no idea what she made of any of these choices, as she never heard any of them, what with the not owning a CD player and everything. I've no idea what she's doing now either but I hope she's doing well, as she seemed like a thoroughly decent person.
Also, in an incredibly weird you-couldn't-make-it-up coincidence, it was apparently her that I overheard saying "I was expecting Steed and Emma and then... a racoon started talking?" as I left a screening of Avengers: Endgame.
What's surprising to me, though, is just how many artists that I thought would have been on the CD aren't. Where are Syd Barrett, Love, Sandy Denny, Mike Westbrook, 5th Dimension, The Free Design and Ride? Search me. There was room too. Ah well.
Anyway, that was a lot of fun and I hope it hasn't been too boring - I've only lost two followers - but my advice would be that if you were thinking of making a CD for someone you had romantic designs on... don't. Unless you speak French, obviously.
You can follow @outonbluesix.
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