Joni Mitchell – Big yellow taxi (Leaping Ahead #122)

Leaping Ahead Project 2016 #122: 160501

[A song with colour (5)]

Released in 1970 on her ‘Ladies of the Canyon’ album, Joni Mitchell said this about writing the song to journalist Alan McDougall in the early 1970s:

I wrote ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ on my first trip to Hawaii. I took a taxi to the hotel and when I woke up the next morning, I threw back the curtains and saw these beautiful green mountains in the distance. Then, I looked down and there was a parking lot as far as the eye could see, and it broke my heart… this blight on paradise. That’s when I sat down and wrote the song.

Greig – In the hall of the mountain king (Leaping Ahead #121)

Leaping Ahead Project 2016 #121: 160430

[Favourite classical piece (2)]

From Peer Gynt, Op. 23 – the incidental music to Henrik Ibsen’s 1867 play of the same name, written by the Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg in 1875 – ‘In the hall of the mountain king’ is my 2nd classical selection. I have a 1966 vinyl copy of the suite performed by the London Symphony Orchestra which I inherited from my father. There’s a lot of great pieces here, but this is my favourite. Something about the building mystery rising to a crescendo as it develops.

The Disturbed – The sound of silence (Leaping Ahead #120)

Leaping Ahead Project 2016 #120: 160429

[Favourite male vocal song]

I first heard this wonderful cover of the classic Simon & Garfunkel number on a late night show on ‘Planet Rock’. It was about two in the morning and I was half asleep; but David Draiman’s power vocals hit me hard and I just had to scribble down the details. The song was downloaded from i-tunes first thing the next day and I’ve listened to it countless times since. There are lots of great male vocal songs I could mention here – but this one currently shines. It’s a true diamond.

The Kinks – Sunny Afternoon (Leaping Ahead #119)

Leaping Ahead Project 2016 #119: 160428

[A song from 1966)

Sunny Afternoon” was first written in Ray Davies’ house when he was sick.

I’d bought a white upright piano. I hadn’t written for a time. I’d been ill. I was living in a very 1960s-decorated house. It had orange walls and green furniture. My one-year-old daughter was crawling on the floor and I wrote the opening riff. I remember it vividly. I was wearing a polo-neck sweater.

The only way I could interpret how I felt was through a dusty, fallen aristocrat who had come from old money as opposed to the wealth I had created for myself.

In an attempt to prevent the listener from sympathizing with the song’s protagonist, Davies said,

I turned him into a scoundrel who fought with his girlfriend after a night of drunkenness and cruelty

Sheryl Crow – Every day is a winding road (Leaping Ahead #118)

Leaping Ahead Project 2016 #118: 160427

[Favourite female vocal song]

The second single from American singer and songwriter Sheryl Crow’s 1996 self-titled album with Neil Finn of Crowded House on backing vocals. It peaked at No 11 on the Billboard 100 in the US and at No. 12 in the UK. The song’s video was directed by Peggy Sirota and filmed in New York City in sepia. It features a toy airplane flying from person to person throughout the city. The song garnered a nomination for Record of the Year at the 1998 Grammy Awards but lost to “Sunny Came Home” by Shawn Colvin. It was covered by the late Prince on his 1999 album ‘Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic’

Jefferson Airplane – Hesitation Blues (Leaping Ahead #117)

Leaping Ahead Project #117: 160426

[Song from a band beginning with J]

Flight Log (1966–1976), released in January 1977 as a double-LP, is a compilation of Jefferson Airplane and Airplane-related tracks, including stuff by Jefferson Starship and Hot Tuna, as well as solo tracks by Paul Kantner, Grace Slick, and Jorma Kaukonen. Hesitation Blues features Kaukonen on the 12-string and remains one of my all-time favourite versions of this traditional tune.

Boomtown Rats – I don’t like Mondays (Leaping Ahead #116)

Leaping Ahead Project 2016 #116: 160425

[A Monday song]

I was doing a radio interview in Atlanta with [Johnnie] Fingers and there was a telex machine beside me. I read it as it came out. Not liking Mondays as a reason for doing somebody in is a bit strange. I was thinking about it on the way back to the hotel and I just said ‘Silicon chip inside her head had switched to overload’. I wrote that down. And the journalists interviewing her said, ‘Tell me why?’ It was such a senseless act. It was the perfect senseless act and this was the perfect senseless reason for doing it. So perhaps I wrote the perfect senseless song to illustrate it. It wasn’t an attempt to exploit tragedy.

Bob Geldof (1979)