Posts Tagged ‘Duffy’

(As noted in my first Essentials entry, this is an occasional series in which I spotlight albums that, in my estimation, everyone should experience at least once.)

Immense. That’s the first word that comes to mind when I think of “Rockferry,” the title track of – and lead single from – Duffy’s stellar 2008 debut album. Co-written with former Suede guitarist Bernard Butler, the song is laden with echoes of the ages. Way back at the end of 2008, in a Facebook post (now available here), I noted that it “has an utterly timeless feel, conjuring the likes of Procol Harum, Lulu and Petula Clark.” I should have added Dusty Springfield, too.

Although the single didn’t do well in the charts, peaking at No. 45 in the U.K., it’s the song that drew me to the album. In those days, I sat in a cubicle composing TV descriptions that the whole world – or, at least, TV Guide subscribers – read. An episode of the Brit TV show Later…With Jools Holland that she appeared on was slated to air in the U.S. in the spring of ‘08, and the single moniker led me to verify that, indeed, she was a she and, too, a single-name singer. I also learned that her full name is Aimée Duffy, and that she hails from Wales (which seems to produce more musicians per capita than just about any other country). Anyway, I remember plugging in my headphones to my work computer, pulling up YouTube, and watching the video for “Rockferry” – and being transfixed. It’s a magical song.

I ordered the CD that night, and played it to death over the next few months. And when she released a “deluxe edition” that included six additional songs later that year, I purchased that, too.

Another highlight: “Mercy,” the second single, which broke big. It topped the charts in 13 countries and made her a household name in the United Kingdom.

“Warwick Avenue,” another wondrous track, was the third single. It reached No. 3 on the U.K. charts.

“Syrup & Honey” is another tasty number. Here’s a clip of the songstress singing it in the studio…

My favorites, however, are the title song, which kicks off the 10-track set, and the closing number, the yearning “Distant Dreamer.”

The deluxe version is well worth seeking out, I should mention. It includes the hit single “Rain on Your Parade,” which was in contention to become the theme song for the Jame Bond flick Quantum of Solace. (It lost out to “Another Way to Die” by Jack White and Alicia Keys.)

Other “deluxe” gems include “Oh Boy”…

…and “Enough Love,” which – like “Rockferry” – echoes long-ago days while sounding utterly modern. (At least, it does to my ears.)

There’s much to be said of the trajectory of Duffy’s career in the years since, but that’s grist for another post. The reality is that, even if she never records again, she’s gifted the world with a “bag of songs” that resonates still, a decade later.

Here’s her seven-song set from Glastonbury ’08…

… and here’s the track list of Rockferry, the album, in its deluxe form:

Christmas is the time to say “I love you.” I’m not sure why, but that Billy Squier lyric (and accompanying melody) has stuck with me since I first heard it way back in…1981?! Yes, I suppose so. I was never a Squier fan, never bought anything by him, but this song –

– just takes me back. Martha Quinn, aka Mrs. Bobby Brady, introduces it; the song itself starts at the 1:40 (or so) mark. In fact, I likely saw the clip when it first aired or shortly thereafter, as we had MTV by then (I think).

Seeing Martha reminded me that I have an autographed photo and letter from her, circa April 1983 – perhaps a post for another day? – and, somewhere lost in my archives, I possess a letter from Santa…yes, you read right – not to, but from. The jolly old elf took pity on me one year, though I don’t remember the specifics. Perhaps that’s the year I got hit in the eye by a mud ball? Could be.

Anyway, for today’s Top 5: Christmas Songs. No rhyme or reason to the picks, just songs and performances that I enjoy – and, hopefully, you will, too!

1) Duffy – “The Christmas Song.” This has become one of my favorite Christmas videos and renditions of “The Christmas Song.”

2) David Crosby & Bing Crosby – “Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth.” What needs to be said about this classic clip?

3) The Supremes – “Children’s Christmas Song.” Pure joy set to music – that’s this song in a nutshell.

4) Rumer – “Remember (Christmas).” I created this slideshow from pictures my dad took while serving in Korea during the war. Earlier this year, I was surprised when Rumer retweeted to me someone’s request as to where to find the song. (Of which, I have no idea. Someone shared it with me.) She watched the video, liked it and was intrigued to learn the history behind the slides. Kinda cool.

5) Hayley Westenra – “River.” Not a real Christmas song, but it’s become a seasonal favorite – as this Washington Post article explains. And I love Hayley’s crystalline voice.

And, of course, a few bonuses…

6) The Waitresses – “Christmas Wrapping.”

7) Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band – “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.”

8) Bob Seger & the Last Heard – “Sock It to Me, Santa.”

9) Pat Benatar – “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”

10) Paul McCartney – “Wonderful Christmastime.” Yeah, some folks hate this. I don’t. And Annie Zaleski over at Salon gives a good defense of it.

 

Today’s top 5 tackles the most Freudian of topics: dreams. Except I’m expanding the topic to include conscious musings in addition to the Dali-esque adventures that come with sleep. Of the former: If I ever win the Powerball, in addition to retiring, Diane and I plan to rent a concert hall and invite our musical favorites to play for us, our family and friends. Of the latter: The other morning I found myself on an uncharted desert isle reminiscent of Gilligan’s.

I don’t remember much, mind you, beyond this: a tiger observed me from the edge of a clearing. And then I awoke… and found my ferocious feline splayed beside me, fast asleep.

Anyway, onward…

  1. Bobby Darin & Petula Clark – “All I Have to Do Is Dream”

2) Dusty Springfield – “Come for a Dream”

3) Paul McCartney – “Country Dreamer”

4) Fleetwood Mac – “Dreams”

5) Sandy Denny – “I’m a Dreamer”

And a few bonuses…

6) Blondie – “Dreaming”

7) The Jam – “Dreams of Children”

8) Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – “Runnin’ Down a Dream”

9) Neil Young – “Dreamin’ Man”

10) Duffy – “Distant Dreamer”

A misty haze lingered over the backyard this Labor Day morn the way, I imagine, it lingers over the rolling hills of Wales – I half expected King Arthur and Guinevere to come floating forth from the fog via some sort of time-capsule vessel.

1) Duffy – “Rockferry”

2) The School – “Can’t Understand”

3) The Yearning – “If I Can’t Have You”

4) The Lash – “Lips”

5) Greta Isaac – “Oh Babe”

And a few bonus tracks…

6) Jodie Marie – “Only One I’m Thinking Of”

7) Duffy – “Oh, Boy”

8) The School – “Do I Love You?”

9) Greta Issac – “Down by the Water”