John Lennon – Give peace a chance (Leaping Ahead #243)

Leaping Ahead Project 2016 #243: 160830

[A song about peace]

All we are saying is give peace a chance
All we are saying is give peace a chance

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Patti Smith – Because the night (Leaping Ahead #90)

Leaping Ahead Project 2016 #90: 160330

[A song for soulmates]

From the ‘Easter’ album, this song, released in 1978, became our soulmate song, was the song we danced to at our wedding in July 1979 and remains a firm favourite 38 years later. We still have both copies of the 45 (‘Godspeed’ on the B side) we brought each other at the time. The song brings a smile every time – cos it’s definitely our song.

The Beatles – Please please me (Leaping Ahead #89)

Leaping Ahead Project 2016 #89: 160329

[A song from 1963]

Released on 11 January 1963, this was the second Beatles single in the UK and the first in the US. It did so well in the UK that Parlophone rush-released the album of the same name on 22 March 1963, primarily to capitalise on its success. It didn’t do so well stateside but, on its re-release in January 1964 with ‘From me to you’ on the B-side, leapt to No.3 in the Billboard 100.

Radiohead – Everything in its right place (Leaping Ahead #85)

Leaping Ahead Project 2016 #85: 160325

[A song to chill to]

The opening track from Radiohead’s 2000 album ‘Kid A’, this was, however, never released as a single. Written by Thom Yorke in the shadow of the band’s 1997–1998 OK Computer tour, he recalled in an interview that it was their show in Birmingham that affected him the most; the time when he was beginning to fully realize the band’s sudden and unexpected fame. Immediately after the show he returned to his dressing room feeling burned out and helpless. “Everything in its right place” was written in 1999 reflecting an attempt to find normality; a realisation that everything in life has a place and usually for a good reason.

Yorke revealed in an interview that while promoting OK Computer, he was told he frequently exhibited a sour-faced look, hence the line “Yesterday I woke up sucking a lemon”. Other lyrics were drawn randomly from a hat in a process inspired by artist Tristan Tzara, whose instructions for “How to make a Dada poem” appeared on Radiohead’s website at this time.

I particularly relate to the line “There are two colours in my head”, a reference to the paintings of Mark Rothko, one of my favourite painters.

Don McLean’s ‘American Pie’ (Leaping Ahead #72)

Leaping Ahead Project 2016 #72: 160312

[A song to sing along to]

Released originally in 1971, critics have been arguing over the meaning of the lyrics for years. But in 2015 Don McLean announced he would reveal their true meaning when the original manuscript was auctioned in New York City in April 2015. The lyrics and notes were auctioned on April 7, and sold for $1.2m. In the sale catalogue notes, as promised, McLean said…

Basically in American Pie things are heading in the wrong direction. … It [life] is becoming less idyllic. I don’t know whether you consider that wrong or right but it is a morality song in a sense.

The catalogue did confirm some of the better known references in the song’s lyrics, including mentions of Elvis Presley (referred to in the lyrics as “the king,”), Bob Dylan (the jester), and the death of Meredith Hunter at the Altamont Free Concert (most of the fifth verse).

The Hollies – the air that I breathe (Leaping Ahead #49)

Leaping Ahead Project 2016 #49: 160218

[A favourite 1970’s song (2)]

I can remember buying the single of this major 1974 hit for The Hollies. Released that January with ‘No more riders’ on the B-Side, I got my copy from the record counter in Woolworths. I only had an old Dansette then to play it on, but got a lot of value from that 34 pence (34p) spent with the number of plays it subsequently had. And yes, I’ve still got the original single.