Sunday, January 11, 2015

Top 40 tunes Part 1

Its my birthday today and I have just opened my present from my friend A who has managed to get me the rare two disc edition of the soundtrack to The Shadow by Jerry Goldsmith,, so I am putting that on my iTunes forthwith. Yesterday, Guy was synching his new iPod and showed me something that I didn't know you could do, which was rank all the music you have on iTunes by the number of plays.  I thought it might be interesting to have a look at my top forty; not for you but for me.  Also, I am constantly being told that I have strange taste in music (but usually by people who have no taste in music) and so Sophie said she would like to see the list.  The first thing I have to note is that this is a family iTunes account (meaning the children download stuff and I pay for it!).  The Old Bat doesn't listen to music as she is, like her entire family, tone deaf.  So I have to discount all the tunes that have obviously mainly been listened to by Guy and Charlotte.  Their taste in music is execrable and I believe that my greatest failure as a parent is not to have been able to instill a love of proper music into them as my mother did to me.  Guy, at least, does have some orchestral film music on his playlists but all of Charlotte's music consists of groups who can only be found in Kerrang magazine.  Tragic.

I am not sure if the totals include music played on my iPod, Guy thinks they do, and it would explain a lot of the entries on my list.  Anyway, I have 18,633 tracks on iTunes which totals 49 days, 7 hours and 56 minutes of music.  Almost a third of this consists of downloads; the rest being ripped CDs.  I have 200 playlists on my iPod so I can eliminate all Charlotte's dreadful stuff by deselecting her playlists.  The top 40 I have extracted is not really what I would have predicted.  I am also cheating slightly by only including the highest scoring track from an album (do people still call them albums?  Probably not) to avoid tedious duplication. 

So here they are: the first twenty of the forty tracks I play the most.

Sacramento Railroad Museum

40 The Atchison Topeka and the Santa Fe from the soundtrack of The Harvey Girls (1946) sung by Judy Garland.  Thanks to my mother I developed an appreciation for film musicals when I was small.  There is no denying the brilliant orchestration and choral arrangement in this one.  I remember listening to this while going around the Railroad Museum in Sacramento, after having had a meeting with the Governor of California.

39 Our Man Flint from the soundtrack to Our Man Flint (1966) by Jerry Goldsmith. The first of several Jerry Goldsmith composition in my top 40.  It's just so sixties.  Usually played when getting ready for an embassy reception somewhere around the world.  From my "Film sixties" playlist which also includes the soundtracks to Casino Royale, The Italian Job, The Pink Panther, In like Flint and How to Murder your Wife and is, therefore, perfect.

My only painted Andalusians

38 Prelude from the soundtrack of El Cid (1961) by Miklos Rozsa.  I'm thinking of a Saga El Cid force so what better background than this monumental soundtrack in the excellent re-recording of the complete score by The City of Prague Philharmonic.  Part of my "Film Medieval" playlist.

37 Malagueña by Pepe Romero.  Sophie introduced me to this peerless guitarist,  It reminds me of a holiday in the Languedoc in the late sixties or early seventies when I went with my aunt to hear another great flamenco guitarist, Manitas de Plata (who died in November last year), the father and uncle of many of the Gypsy Kings.  I have enjoyed flamenco ever since.

36 Mondraki Bay from the soundtrack to Boy on a Dolphin (1957) by Hugo Friedhofer.  This is the most recently downloaded track in my top forty. One of the first films I saw on colour TV when my uncle got one in the late sixties. Who can forget Sophia Loren as a Greek diving girl?  Slinky.

Miss Keeley undresses for Dutch Playboy in 1987

35  Third movement Symphony number 3 In C Minor by Saint-Saëns. Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Barenboim.  I'm slightly surprised to see this as the highest ranking classical orchestral piece on my iTunes.  Embarrassingly, I first got to know this tune from the pop song If I had Words by Scott Fitzgerald and Yvonne Keeley in 1977.  I had quite a thing for Miss Keeley (really Yvonne Paaij, a Dutch singer) at the time.

34 Marcia Romana from the soundtrack to Ben Hur (1959) by Miklós Rózsa.  This is from my "Roman" playlist and I play it when painting Romans or galleys.

The Governor of California wasn't dressed like this when I met him

33  Riddle of Steel/Riders of Doom from the soundtrack to Conan the Barbarian  (1982) by Basil Poledouris.   From the excellent expanded re-recording by The City of Prague Philharmonic produced a few years ago.  I usually prefer original versions  of film music but this is superior in every way to the original soundtrack recording issue which was made using a cut-down orchestra of just forty players..

32 Comes Love by Stacey Kent from Love is...the Tender Trap.  I go to very few concerts but I did drag myself out to see Miss Kent and her excellent group a few years ago.

31 The Look of Love from the soundtrack of Casino Royale (1967) by Burt Bacharach.  Sung by Dusty Springfield and featuring Herb Albert's double tracked trumpets it's a "Cocktail" playlist favourite.

30 Prelude in G Minor, Op. 23, No. 5 by Sergei Rachmaninov played by Moura Lympany.  Rachmaninov is one of my favourite composers. Although it's an older recording than I usually listen to, Lympany captures the yearningly beautiful central section better than anyone else I have heard.

29 Pièces de Clavecin, Book 2: 6e Ordre No. 5 - Les Baricades Mistérieuses by François Couperin  played by Angela Hewitt.  An extraordinarily calming piece if I'm feeling stressed.  Another piece that was introduced to me by Sophie.  She had it playing one morning while pottering around her kitchen in Vancouver kindly but rather disastrously ("how do you cook sauseges?"  "I can't crack this egg" etc) trying to make me breakfast while dressed in just a little white cotton vest.

28 Aces High March from The Battle of Britain (1969) by Ken Goodwin. One of those rare occasions when a pastiche is superior to the originals.

27 Opening from the soundtrack to Prehistoric Park (2006) by Daniel Pemberton.  From my "Prehistoric" playlist which includes Walking with Dinosaurs and One Million Years BC.  Will be played a lot this year as I try to progress my Lost World project.  Mr Pemberton went to the same school as I did.

26  Maple Leaf Rag by Scott Joplin played by Katia and Marielle Labqèue from Gladrags.  I first came across the sisters with their two piano versions of Gershwin in the eighties and its rather striking cover.  Usually I don't like rearrangements of originals but these are brilliant.

25 La Boquillera by Pedro Laza y Sus Pelayeros.  Infectiously energetic music from Colombia by one of the country's top bands.  Recorded in 1962 it is very good to listen to when wandering around Cartagena.

Tie me up, tie me down

24 Sweet Dreams my LAX by Rachel Stevens from Funky Dory.  I do not habitually listen to any pop music produced after 1985 but make an exception for Miss Stevens.  Her follow up album, Come and Get It is an underrated gem.

23  Tico Tico played by Phil Kelsall on the Wurlitzer organ of the Blackpool Tower Ballroom.  I have no way of defending a playlist of Wurlitzer music performed by the likes of Reginald Dixon (the Rick Wakeman of the fifties) et al.  I just like it.  My Uncle had a large and very expensive organ installed in his house back in the sixties and was always threatening my aunt with devising a way for it to come up out of the floor.  Maybe listening to him play when I was small had something to do with it.

This is the station I walk to

22  Free Bird by Lynyrd Skynyrd.  The highest ranking pop or rock track.  Part of my "Walking to the station" playlist.  It helps that it goes on for so long when faced with the boring walk, yet again.

21  No Moon at All by Andre Previn/Herb Ellis/Shelly Manne/Ray Brown from 4 to Go.  It's easy to forget Mr Preview's jazz background but this 1963 recording has him in his coolest of cool jazz incarnation.  He did an excellent album with Doris Day too, one of the tracks from which, Close your Eyes, nearly made the top forty.

Next time, the top 20.  I bet you can hardly wait.


  1. An interesting selection!

    I must admit that Stacey Kent's appearance in the opening minutes of 'Richard III' singing one of Marlowe's poems set to music was a revelation. It sounded so right.

    Aces High is also a favourite of mine, and for some reason I always have an urge to start to attention, click my heels, and make a snappy salute every time I hear it. (I don't ... but it makes me feel like that.)

    All the best,


  2. Eclectic indeed... some interesting stuff in there, but Wurlitzer's???!

  3. How remiss, I was interested in reading the list that I forgot to wish you Many Happy Returns!

  4. Oh I do love a nose through other people's itunes libraries. At last count, mine is over double the size of yours, which I'm starting to find unwieldy. One day I need to go through and clear out some of the rubbish, or duplicates from compilations. I see nothing wrong with Charlotte's taste though ;)

    and of course, happy birthday!

  5. Happy birthday!

    Have you seen the news of Anita Ekberg's death?

  6. Happy birthday sir! That's an eclectic mix and no mistake...

  7. Belated happy birthday wishes, LH. That is certainly an "eclectic" play-list - not quite as much pure classical music as I was expecting - maybe most of that's in the top 20. On the subject of film sountracks and marches, I was very lucky to find, years ago, a copy of the OST to "A Bridge Too Far" in a Waterstones sale for about £5. It goes for much more than that these daysm, if you can find it - the film has one of the best movie war marches, I think.