Tuesday, 2 April 2013


WORDS | Thea Halpin

Music taste is definitely hereditary.  The songs and albums that formed the soundtrack to your childhood live forever as a more than a simple taste, but ingrained in you psyche.  I think you can tell a lot about a person by the music their parents listened to.  Your parent’s taste in music doesn’t just become your taste, but it is as if you have no choice.  I can’t even tell if I really like all these artists.  I’m pretty sure I do, but part of me thinks it is some kind of folk-rock indoctrination and now I will live forever as a victim of my parent’s weakness for male musicians that emerged in the 1960s and 1970s.  Here are some of the best of the best from my parents CD collection.

Van Morrison

Van Morrison has been described by some as the grumpiest man in music.  He is also, however, one of the best writers in music since the beginning of time (in my opinion).  The northern Irish singer-song writer is timeless and I think it is physically impossible to get sick of listening to him.  I have been listening to Van Morrison since I was all but a twinkle in my mother’s eye as she stood in the crowd of one of his London concerts circa 1983 (the same year she met my dad).
'Astral Weeks’ is Morrison’s second album, released in 1968.  I also highly recommend the live recording of Astral Weeks from when he performed it live at the Hollywood Bowl.  Classsssssic!

Neil Young

When you consider Canada’s other musical accomplishments include Celine Dion, Michael Buble and Justin Bieber, it is hard to believe this folky, country, hard rock sound came from the same place.  Alas, our fellow colonials definitely punched above their weight when they produced Neil Young.
'After the Gold Rush' is Young’s 1970 offering and is a pretty chilled acoustic sound compared to some of his more hard rock offerings like Rockin’ the Free World.  The song to which After the Gold Rush owes it name is definitely a high point of the album.  It is all profound and metaphorical plus makes a casual reference to drugs.  Timeless.

Billy Bragg

I am yet to meet anyone under the age of thirty who is also a Billy Bragg fan so if you are let’s be friends.  Classified as “folk punk/alternative rock” on his Wikipedia page (the be all and end all of my music knowledge) Billy Bragg is somewhat of an acquired taste with a deep voice, strong northern Irish accent and pretty much all of his songs being socialist anthems. 
As far as the quintessential Billy Bragg experience, I recommend 'William Bloke' as your first stop, but then quickly make your way through the rest of his albums.  Although it is not exclusively a Billy Bragg work Mermaid Avenue is another album you have to listen to!  It is a collaboration between Bragg and American folk band Wilco who were chosen by the daughter of the late (and great) folk singer Woody Guthrie to record songs he wrote but never saw the light of day.  Solid album to both dance and cry to.  YouTube is surprisingly scant on full Billy Brag albums so please enjoy my favourite offerings from each album: Hesitating Beauty (above) and Brickbat.

Leonard Cohen

Yet another Canadian: what a polarized and confused music scene those poor Canadians must have to endure.  I feel like Leonard Cohen is an awesome poet who somehow accidentally fell into music and everyone just decided to let him hang around.  Apparently after years of being a failing writer he decided to pursue the far more guaranteed career path of being a folk musician.  I never really thought of Cohen as an incredibly gifted singer, however he is one of the best songwriters around and does have a deep, soothing sound that suits his metaphor drenched love ballads.  He has some serious mid-1970’s hipster cred considering he was a fringe member of Andy Warhol’s ‘Factory’ crowd; meaning he probably hung around with the likes of Edie Sedgwick and Patti Smith, along with the intriguing and elusive Warhol himself.  And in case you didn’t realize (since there are approximately 15 million covers) he wrote and originally performed ‘Hallelujah’.  So get some songs of love and hate into you.

Nick Cave

Listen to Nick Cave.  Are you not listening to Nick Cave?  You should already be listening to Nick Cave.  If you don’t already listen to Nick Cave then stop reading and start listening to Nick Cave.  He is awesome; sometimes creepy, but always awesome. 


  1. A significant singer, songwirter not covered above but also a favorite of those of the boomer generation among white liberal South Africans who were part of the anti- Apartheid movement and who represented anti establishment values -Rodrigeuz is a must to listen to.
    The most incredible story recently uncovered and documented in "Searching for Sugarman" (2012) -documentary by Malik Bendjelloul.
    Rodrigeuz - a lost poet. Rodrigeuz has just played Brisbane earlier this week and played Byron bay Bluesfest over the Easter weekend.

  2. Certainly the best thing I have inherited/will inherit.