Tag Archives: Songs From So Deep

The Songs from So Deep pantheon

Apologies for my somewhat odd posting schedule of late. I’ve been both pretty sick (chest infection) and hellishly busy (end of quarter), and have defaulted to writing about current preoccupations like British politics. I’m away this weekend, so won’t be back until next week now, but thought I’d leave you with what’s hopefully a fun one.

This blog has been running well over three years and in that time I’ve talked a lot about favourite songs and favourite albums, but without having put down a list in black and white.

So I thought I’d give it a try, and actually, it’s a tough exercise. The hardest thing is deciding how whether to include old favourites that you, if you’re honest, don’t listen to anymore. I’ve mentioned that Nirvana’s Nevermind was the album that inspired me to pick up a guitar and start playing, and in my teens I must have listened to it hundreds of times. But I’ve not sat down and listened to the whole thing as an album in a decade at least. I decided not to include it in favour of things that I still listen to regularly, but if the list were of albums that have meant the most to me, no question it would have to be in there.

Most of the records on my list I bought in my twenties. The one that’s newest, to me, is also the most recent, Hem’s Rabbit Songs, which I love for personal as well as musical reasons. The ones I’ve been listening to longest, Dust and Murmur, I first heard as a teenager in the 1990s, and I still hear new, fresh details in them each time I listen.

Top of the list, my two favourites, are Judee and Joni. I’ve written about both records here before. In fact, I’ve written about songs from most of these albums, if not the full albums themselves. Click on the links below for detailed thoughts.

  1. Judee Sill – Judee Sill
  2. The Hissing of Summer Lawns – Joni Mitchell
  3. Paul Simon – Paul Simon
  4. Good Old Boys – Randy Newman
  5. Murmur – R.E.M.
  6. Dust – Screaming Trees
  7. The Band – The Band
  8. Rabbit Songs – Hem
  9. The Heart of Saturday Night – Tom Waits
  10. Fred Neil – Fred Neil

The songs list is a bit less heavy on singer-songwriters and has more soul, funk and disco. For whatever reason, I’ve never found those musical forms as satisfying at album length, but maybe that’s down the road for me. Unsurprisingly, I’ve written about every single one of these here.

  1. Native New Yorker – Odyssey
  2. Didn’t I Blow Your Mind (This Time) – The Delfonics
  3. She’s Gone – Hall & Oates
  4. Silver Threads & Golden Needles – Fotheringay
  5. Stormy Weather – Nina Nastasia
  6. Tennessee Jed – Grateful Dead
  7. What You Won’t Do For Love – Bobby Caldwell
  8. What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye
  9. Someone to Watch Over Me – Blossom Dearie
  10. Rock With You – Michael Jackson
Advertisements

Reassurance EP – Ross Palmer

Hi all. It’s time to push my own work on you again!

Recently I took an old recording of a very old song, put a new live drum track on it, added some extra guitars, an organ part and some harmonies and polished up the mix. The song is called Reassurance, and it is old. I wrote it when I was 20 and at university (I’m 32 now!), but as it was the first song I wrote that I thought had something about it (and people I played it to responded to it as if that were the case), it’s always been one I’m fond of. It had a Fred Neil influence in the chorus and a bit of an Elliott Smith thing in the verses. Anyway, I was going through some archive recordings to play for my girlfriend Mel, and it struck me that this recording of it I did four or five years ago had quite a decent vocal (it’s a hard song to sing, both technically and emotionally – it’s easy to get too fierce in the choruses), so I decided to polish it up and get rid of the awful drum programming (the recording was made before I’d started to learn how to record or play drums).

It’s not a song I’d want to put on an album simply because of its age, but the recording seemed worth sharing with people. So I’ve made it the title track of a 4-song EP that I put up on Bandcamp last night. The other songs include the previously released Little Differences (which is a West Coast, Fleetwood Mac type of thing), That’s Not You (which is more 1990s alternative, and has some properly distorted guitars – I love recording distorted guitars!), and Teach Me to Believe, which I wrote for Mel, early on in our relationship (it’s an old-school voice-and-guitar piece, with only an overdubbed solo and harmony).

You can download Reassurance here, either individual songs or the whole thing. It’s a name-your-price download — but if you want it for nothing, it’ll ask you for an email address. Don’t worry. I won’t spam you about gigs you can’t possibly go to because you live in Azerbaijan. I’ll keep it to updates about new songs and recordings and such.

Take care now. I’ll be back tomorrow with a normal post on something or other. In the meantime, enjoy your Saturday and I hope you like the EP.

Image

The beautiful artwork by Yo Zushi, long-time comrade-in-arms and champion of the song!

For those who are interested…

Here’s some of my own music.

 

I’m playing at the 12 Bar Club, Denmark Street, London, on Thursday 12th June. They’ll likely be more dates after that. Check back for updates!

The author’s own music – Ross Palmer @ the 12 Bar Club, 12 June

Hi all. Permit me a few minutes of your time for a little plug.

On Thursday 12th June, I’m playing at the 12 Bar Club in Denmark Street in London. This is my first solo gig in over a year, and my first properly solo gig (meaning, just me on my own – no extra musicians to help out) in a lot longer. I’m coping by practicing as much as I can and hoping that muscle memory will get me through it. I don’t drink otherwise I’d probably just have an extra beer or two before playing.

Anyway, most of my readers are not in the UK, and most of those in the UK are probably not in London, so I recognise it as incredibly unlikely that any of you would be thinking of coming along. However, I’ve enjoyed focusing on my own music over the past few weeks and thought it’d be cool to share some of it with you.

Here’s a link to some things on Soundcloud. They’re either recent songs, or recent remixes, or recent re-recordings of old songs. Anyway, the horrible lossy Soundcloud encoding process apart, they all sound pretty good (you’ll have to trust me on that). At some point, maybe even this year, I’ll try to release some of it somehow.

I’m supporting my old friend Yo Zushi at the 12 Bar, in whose band I’ll also be playing. Years and years ago, we were in a band together (Great Days of Sail). I produced and mixed his latest album, the first single from which came out a couple of weeks ago. It’s available from Bandcamp and iTunes. It got played by Steve Lamacq, which was an unexpected bonus. It’s very different from my stuff. Much rootsier, more country, more old-timey. The album is out on Eidola in July.

There are links on the right of the page to a bunch of stuff I’m involved in if you ever feel like hearing more.

Image

This is a picture of the gig flyer that’s up in the window of the 12 Bar.

The lay of the land, 6th December 2013

It’s the end of another working week, but this is an important day for me for deeper reasons than that.

A year ago today – Thursday 6th December 2013 – I was in Papworth Hospital in Cambridgeshire having a CRT pacemaker fitted. This was to cure an arrhythmia that I had been left with by hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a disease where the myocardium is enlarged, without any obvious cause, weakening the left ventricle and impeding the heart’s ability to pump blood effectively. It’s a disease that kills people. It killed professional footballers Marc-Vivien Foe and Miki Feher while they were on the pitch. It killed a young player named Mitchell Cole, brother-in-law of Joe Cole (their shared surname was a coincidence). It nearly killed Fabrice Muamba while playing for Bolton against Spurs. The list of US sportspeople it’s killed is long and, frankly, pretty scary. It killed the peerless Leonard Rossiter just before he went onstage in London in 1984. It’s pitiless in its ability to kill suddenly, with no warning and no prior symptoms.

I was very, very lucky, because I did present symptoms. They were mis-diagnosed at first. The primary symptom was a very painful, distended abdomen, along with fatigue and shortness of breath. The swollen belly was diagnosed by a locum at my GP’s practice as acid reflux for a while, until 23rd December 2011 – my 30th birthday. I’d called the doctor in a panic and begged for an appointment, as this was very close to Christmas and my legs had now swollen up too. I hadn’t slept properly in a few weeks, was now at a stage where I couldn’t sleep at all (because I couldn’t lie on my back without coughing, and in any other position my stomach was too painful to allow me to sleep) and was terrified of being stuck in this condition until after Christmas. When she saw me stagger in, breathless, I saw her reaction, and I’m pretty sure we both knew I was in trouble. I was advised to go to hospital straight away, where I was admitted and where I stayed for 12 days while my condition was stabilised with medication, the fluid I had retained drained from me with loop diuretics (I came out of hospital about 20 pounds lighter than I went in – no exaggeration) and tests run on me to see what was going on, and while I tried to get used to the idea that, at just 30, my heart had failed.

It didn’t look all that positive. Gently, with a compassion that still makes me emotional, the staff at Southend Hospital’s Cardiac Care Unit tried to bring me to an understanding of what this meant: I would be greatly physically impaired, I shouldn’t expect to ever work again, to have a family, to reach old age. I might need a transplant, if I could get a donor organ.

I was eventually discharged, and I tried to live as much like before as I could. I went out for the pitifully slow and shaky daily walks I’d been advised to take – half a mile long, or less – which tended to wipe me out to the point of needing to sleep straight after. I looked into what financial safety nets there were for someone who couldn’t work, only to find they were being taken away. I got angry about that. About everything else I was just numb.

But all through this time, though I couldn’t yet feel it, my heart – quite against statistical probability – was healing, and six months later the tests that had been done on me (echocardiograms, MRI scans, endless ECGs and blood tests) revealed definite progress. By the autumn, it was clear I’d got a lot better, but still having an arrhythmia, my heart had plateaued. So I was offered the chance to have a CRT pacemaker fitted. This thing sends electrical signals to put my heart back in synch with itself, and this, exactly one year on, has allowed further healing. I go running – slowly, and not far, but I go running. I lift weights – not heavy weights, like before, but I can do dumbbell curls. The last echo scan I had done suggested an ejection fraction of around 50%, which is the lower end of normal, but is normal. When I was discharged from hospital, it had been 15% (my blood pressure had been so low my GP’s equipment couldn’t measure it, and when I stood up, my heart rate was 120 bpm. My resting heart rate is now 60 – again, low, but normal).

All this is a lot to take in, and a lot to go through, but the key fact of it is that I’m still here, and I bear remarkably few scars for it, of any sort. I’ve been unbelievably lucky. I owe everything to the skill of my doctors, the care of my nurses, the support of my family and friends and to luck. Luck most of all. I am reminded of that every time I go to a cardiac clinic and sit in the waiting room with people, some younger than me – not even in their twenties – who have been less lucky.

And my life now is completely unrecognisable from 18 months ago, entirely unlike what I had been preparing myself for. In the last few months I’ve started a new job in London, moved into a flat in south London on my own (something else that looked unlikely two years ago was that I’d ever again have that kind of independence) and started playing drums in a new project. I’ve also had the good fortune to meet Melanie, the most wonderful person I know, whom I love and am loved by, and whom I gain strength from every day. So a year on, this is how it stands. I’ve never been happier, and am damn near as healthy as I ever was.

To bring things back to this blog for a second, the events of the last two years are why I seldom write about music I don’t like here. The world is full of that stuff, and after all of this, I’m really not that negative a person any more. I prefer to celebrate the things I think are great. I hope that at least some of you are enjoying it, at least some of the time!

And if proof were needed of my restored physical vigour, this is me at The Music Room yesterday, recording drums for Sumner and giving the drums a bit of a battering!

Image