Sunday, 14 December 2008

top billin

I'm not convinced by any of the usual explanations as to why people make lists of records. I've looked over a lot of end of 2008 lists and talk lately - individuals' mostly; magazine lists are just an aggregate anyway - and I've checked out some of the more tempting sounding objects of praise. The quantity of records some people listen to just clicks your perspective back a little. Some guys offer their top 100 records of the year. And people catch up on the just slipped away present by checking out each other's lists. Some of it seems like an attempt to make everything more scientific, a constant reassessment of the state of the field by all the practitioners of the discipline.

My thinking-patterns go in and out of fashion, and so this thought brings me to something I was talking to Roland about the other day. Seeing some Michelangelo statues he'd made for a tomb, I was thinking about the space ideas exist in. In a list of 100 records of 2008, what sort of space does number 24 have? I'd like to see a graph of the ideas to people ratio of the last 3000 years. A list isn't supposed to create new ideas but order existing ones, spread them. But so few lists have done anything for me.

Top 3 lists of records in my life:

1. A list I'd copied down onto a yellowed lined A-4 pad aged 15/16 of what Thom Yorke had been listening to at the time. This was a thrill to copy down, like some arcane knowledge I'd stumbled onto. It had "Jennifer" by Faust on it, "Dodgy" by Kid606, someone called maybe I.F. with maybe "Energy Vampire". There was Christoph De Babalon, "On The Block", and probably some Warp or Warp-styled electronic stuff. I didn't find most of the stuff on the list searching painfully on Napster, and I've forgotten it. I loved "Jennifer" and "Dodgy" and got into Faust in particular afterwards (I don't think kid606 has done anything as good as Dodgy), but I had a feeling of perfect trust and hope as I copied down this dutifully and that's what left the mark.

2. Glenn Jones' top 10 albums for Perfect Sound Forever. There's a lot of great top tens on Perfect Sound Forever, but when I read this aged 18 and it seemed to tie together a lot of different things I'd been listening to and thinking about. It's the top ten I dig the most, one I've increasingly felt at home with, though of course there's two or three I don't feel anything for. I'd heard of pretty much all this stuff when I read it, but Glenn Jones was another sensei to me and I was resolved to hear Forever Changes, Death Of The Rare Bird Ymir and AMMMusic 1966 afterwards.

3. The great sixth form compiled list. A different animal, the list-making impulse in full effect but so localised and personal and in retrospect sweet that it fills me with affection. Does anyone still have a copy of this? I remember OK Computer came out top, that my high school English and form tutor Mr Morrison sent in a list via my brother, and that people kept revising their lists in response to each other.

But there are other sorts of lists I think.

"Dodgy" sounds too loud, like the sort of headache you'd get for having too many awesome thoughts, something out of Pi maybe. Check it out


  1. i am a list maker, as you know, though its hard to pinpoint the purpose of making lists. knowing me, it has something to do with control; wiith the thrilling, shiny surface of control. the idea of ordering was about right, and it is never the future: it is the past or the present, which has an impression - an effect - on the future, hence the thrilling, shiny surface of control. sticking to a list is another thing altogether.

  2. I need to make lists to function, some times. For example if I need to do a number of things my mind is constantly rolling them round and they're taking up room and time and I can't focus on any one thing in particular. But if I write them all down I am free to forget about them, like a safety net.
    I imagine alot of people are like this, at least sometimes.

    Also when people come to my room for the first time I often show them all this stuff I have that I like. Different books, different music, frisbees. I say this "this is a frisbee. I play frisbee with this frisbee." and i feel like a kid when he is showing you his favourite toys and things.

    Maybe we make these lists for the same sort of thing, as a presentation to someone else? I guess I don't know! But a good point Tom!