I wanted to start with a song about a collector and Nine Inch Nails provide one. Not the sort I was expecting when we started this topic, mind you. “I pick things up. I am a collector. And things, well things, they tend to accumulate. I have this net. It drags behind me. It picks up feelings for me to feed upon.” Sometimes he wishes he could let them go but he swallows them all. Being a collector can be fun but feelings… Collecting them can be dangerous.
Sarah Vaughan’s version of an old show tune is quite stunning. And a reminder that positive emotions can be saved too. Keep the memories of all the things you love. List them when everything goes wrong. “When the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I’m feeling sad. I simply remember…”
Tattoos on your skin. That’s a kind of collection. And it’s a ‘hobby’ that’s become more and more popular over the past 20 years or so. I still intend to live and die without acquiring any at all. But some people, like the man in the Johnny Winter song, love having them and showing them off. Because sometimes “people have to stop and stare.”
“I write down lists and read our thoughts from week to week, and keep things in their places.” That sounds rather close to home, I have to say. I admit knew nothing about Nina Nastasia before this week, even though she has two songs in the Marconium already, but what a voice. And what a perfect song for the topic.
Collecting, of course, can be obsessive. Wanting to own things. Wanting to own people. “I get a cicada, I must get you. I get a spider, I must get you.” Yapoos’s Jun Tagawa gleefully narrates a quirky song that apparently includes a sequence about abduction. I’m pretty glad that bit’s in Japanese.
Definitely time for something uncomplicated and just plain celebratory. The joys of soul and of dancing. And a list of (some of) the dances. There must be more than 1,000 dances in the world; or even just in the USA. And I’m sure somebody has attempted to catalogue them all, Mercifully, Wilson Pickett doesn’t list a thousand. “Got to know how to Pony, like Bony Moronie. Mash Potato, do the Alligator…” That’s me disqualified already.
Marisa Monte sings a list of everyday tasks and what is required for them In other words, for everything you need to do, there is something you need to have. This is another potentially endless list but some of the examples she gives (according to the lyrics discussion site here) are: “To cook: 220 Volts, to wash your clothes: Omo, for all things: dictionary, for them to get ready: patience.”
Not all lists are as much fun as a list of dances. Or as mundane as an inventory of your everyday life. Saul Williams takes an entirely different attitude. “I got a list of demands written on the palm of my hand and, when I ball my fist, you’re gonna know where I stand.”
Is there any need to make your own lists any more? As early as 2002 Tracy Chapman could write that “your wants, desires, needs and wishes will be duly noted, processed, filed and catalogued, labelled and encoded.” Doesn’t seem paranoid now. If it ever did.
In similar vein Hüsker Dü say: “A nine digit number for every living soul. That’s all they talk about at Data Control. They know all about you, keeping secrets is too hard.” You have been catalogued somewhere, whether you know it or not.
Collecting autographs. That’s a much more benign and less threatening activity. Most of the time. But still the danger of becoming too obsessive. Mark Knopfler describes one example. They won’t let him in the venue but he waits outside. “Rudiger stands in the rain and the snow. Collector of autographs, names upon photographs, faces of people who everyone knows.”
The Legendary Pink Dots end with another song about a collector. About the collection, the catalogue, the lists. And possibly about not knowing where to stop. “Sometimes he’d look in his catalogue and it was like the whole wide world, bundled up and waved.” That’s going too far in my opinion. Now, pardon me. I’m off to make a shopping list. That should be safe enough surely.
Amassed Archive A-List Playlist:
Nine Inch Nails – The Collector
Sarah Vaughan – My Favourite Things
Johnny Winter – Illustrated Man
Nina Nastasia – I Write Down Lists
Yapoos – コレクタ
Wilson Pickett – Land of a Thousand Dances
Marisa Monte – Diariamente
Saul Williams – List of Demands (Reparations)
Tracy Chapman – Hard Wired
Hüsker Dü – Data Control
Mark Knopfler – Rudiger
The Legendary Pink Dots – The Collector
Big Collection B-List Playlist:
Leonard Cohen – Who By Fire
Diana Ross & Marvin Gaye – The Things I Will Not Miss
The Monkees – Star Collector
The Fall – Carry Bag Man
Sparky – Playback
Christina Perry – Jar of Hearts
The Go Gos – Girl of 100 Lists
Jeffrey Lewis and the Voltage – LPs
Joaquin Sabina – Todos Menos tu
Talking Heads – Cities
Cate Le Bon – Mug Museum
Kate Bush (w Stephen Fry) – 50 Words for Snow
Bryan Ferry – A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall
Siouxsie and the Banshees – Trophy
The Rolling Stones – Fingerprint File
Art Pepper (with The Milcho Leviev Quartet) – Make a List, Make a Wish
Guru’s Wildcard Pick:
Honolulu Mountain Daffodils – Collector of Souls
These playlists were inspired by readers' song nominations from last week's topic: Take your pick: songs about collecting, cataloguing and lists. The next topic will launch on Thursday at 1pm UK time.
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