Top 20 for 2017

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The Treadmill Tapes, Confessions of a Compulsive Pop Picker was published in 2007, launched at Paekakariki’s Kakariki Bookshop in Wellington Road with proprietor Michael O’Leary leading the singing of Happy Birthday to Ringo. The bookshop has moved to the station, bookending the Paekakariki Railway Museum with the tearooms where I have subsequently launched three books. The treadmill did not survive my shift to Ocean Road, but all my cassette tapes, CDs and LPs continue to expand, and my Spotify library is significant. The decade since has been dominated by the music and books associated with the museum complex.

In 2009 Wayne Mason from the adjacent steam train complex sang his engine driver tribute What Fred Said to launch my book about travelling the New Zealand rails, The G’Day Country Redux. Wayne’s Nature has been voted New Zealand’s top song. He stood on a chair on this occasion, saying it was the smallest stage he had performed on.

Pictured is local troubadour Francis Mills and his Cecil Road Trio, Gary Allen on flute, out of picture Ray Butler on drum, delivering in 2014 the world premiere of the poem Matata. Fellow train enthusiast Michael O’Leary wrote it for me after I told him about my happy childhood with my brother Michael riding jiggers at the rail settlement of Matata in the Bay of Plenty. The occasion was the final of the Up the Creek trilogy Stamp in the Creek, comic novels about my fictional Matata. Go to my website and click on the first page arrow for my launch speech; 16 minutes in Francis sings Matata. Shortly after the launch my brother died, and Matata was played at his funeral.

In his nearby studio Francis burned me a CD that starts with Matata. The CD also includes three Bob Dylan songs and the Rolling Stones, ending with Van Morrison singing the Pink Floyd song Comfortably Numb. The CD marks much of my musical input in the past decade.

Michael O’Leary has greatly expanded my Beatles experience, often during midweek afternoons watching DVDs of the Beatles and subsequent solo efforts of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. Major additions to my pop LP collection are two gifts from Michael, Let It Be and Double Fantasy. Our favourite viewing continues to be John Lennon v USA. Not far behind Paul McCartney’s epic 2009 New York City concert, George Harrison’s Bangladesh concert, his Travelling Wilburys (we watch on YouTube) with Bob Dylan. The Nobel maestro’s Moving Tracks is another stand-out, along with Leonard Cohen’s three-hour concert, Paul Simon’s You’re the One concert, Roy Orbison’s biography, Scorsese anything, like The Last Waltz and the Stones’ Shine a Light. In their Rock ‘n’ Roll Circus we enjoyed Yoko screeching at a startled French classical violinist, Lennon egging her on, young Ian Anderson doing an early Jethro Tull outing on one leg. We watched mature and now balding Anderson hosting his band’s story and the Isle of Wight punk fiasco. We have renewed acquaintance with Magical Mystery Tour and Yellow Submarine and that glorious rooftop final concert, with me somewhere down in the street enjoying two renditions of my Beatles favourite Get Back.

That paragraph was getting too big, but there are so many more afternoon concerts, recently Van Morrison’s It’s Too Late to Stop Now. Cat Stevens, Dave Dobbyn, Neil Diamond, Led Zeppelin, Woodstock again, Jimi Hendrix again. Sometimes we watch documentaries I have recorded, like Paul Simon making Graceland, Ian Curtis disintegrating magnificently in Joy Division’s Love Will Tear Us Apart, blues singers like BB King, electric guitar pioneer Les Paul,  the Apollo with Ed Sullivan, James Brown, Neil Young.

Some music I spare Michael, like opera, Sole Mio, Wishbone Ash, Fleetwood Mac, the Eagles, Pink Floyd, Mumford and Sons, Harry Belafonte, Ronnie Lane. Much of this I harvest on Spotify, and its library is there to revisit, a brilliant invention.

My Top 20 singles still has at No 1 Anchor Me, triumphantly confirmed by Don McGlashan performing it at our own busy music live venue of St Peters Hall. The packed audience spontaneously sang the chorus line Anchor me in the middle of your deep blue sea. No 2 Heroes, David Bowie; 3 Astral Weeks, Van Morrison; 4 Comfortably Numb, Van and Pink Floyd; 5 Desolation Row, Dylan; 6 Mr Tambourine Man, Roger McGuinn; 7 I Will Wait, Mumford and Sons; 8 The Last Resort, The Eagles; 9 The Power of Love, Jennifer Rush; 10 It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue, Graham Bonnet; 11 Matata, Cecil Road Trio; 12 Rave On, Buddy Holly; 13 A Whiter Shade of Pale, Procul Harum; 14 Dylan’s Series of Dreams; 15 Pocahontas, Neil Young; 16 Get Back, the Beatles; 17 Good Vibrations, The Beach Boys; 18 Won’t Get Fooled Again, The Who; 19 Blue Monday, New Order; 20 One Tree Hill, U2.