Unknown David Bowie compilation
First heard: Age 3
I must have been about three. Lying in the back of the car, half-asleep, listening to Ziggy-era Bowie through the back speakers. I particularly remember Aladdin Sane and Starman, and I think those are the ones that have shaped me musically the most. The other bands I was exposed to at the time were Queen and Abba, so ever since, the music I have loved has been a combination of clever minor-key concept album noodling, punchy rock hooks and hard, funky disco. Not much of a surprise I became a NIN fan, then.
Pink Floyd – The Wall
First heard: Age 10
I liked a lot of cool music as a kid, along with some truly terrible music, but until the age of 10, everything I loved was informed by what my parents or sister were listening to. Then my sister played me Pink Floyd’s Wall album, and something just clicked. I dimly recalled Another Brick In The Wall Part 2, which had been the Christmas number one when I was three. Hearing the album in its entirety, though, shed a very different light on the track. It had mystified me – still does – why the song had been so popular, with its puerile shouty “we don’t need no education” refrain, but put into the context of preceding track The Happiest Days of Our Lives (the song doesn’t really work without it), it suddenly revealed a new concept to me: angst.
It seems funny to me now to think of myself as a child, debating the meanings of Syd Barrett songs with my rebellious best friend, Jym. We were absolutely obsessed – making our own Floyd-themed t-shirts, picking up sheet music to learn it on the piano, and just lying out in the sun in his back garden listening to Relics and Meddle. Jym would take mushrooms and smoke pot, but I could enter an altered state just meditating on the music. He got expelled from school a year or two later. I never saw him again.