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Baker's Dozen

Death Before Silence: Ed Harcourt's Favourite Albums
Wyndham Wallace , March 4th, 2013 06:44

Singer, songwriter, pianist and all-round bon viveur Ed Harcourt talks to Wyndham Wallace about his favourite records


Ry Cooder - Paris Texas OST/Neil Young - Dead Man OST
They’re both by people who started off in the same scene, really, in the 60s, and went on to have very different careers, but both obviously very interesting. I think both of them have similarities in the fact that they don’t really give a shit, and they’re quite truculent in the way they approach their music. It feels like not only do they do everything on a whim, but no one’s going to stop them from doing it. They’re both forces to be reckoned with.

Paris Texas is a record that I put on a lot, especially when I need to calm down. The song that Harry Dean Stanton sings (‘Cancion Mixteca’) is just one of my favourite songs ever. I never knew he had such a great voice. It’s just amazing. Paris Texas is such a beautiful film, and his character is so lovely. I’ve only seen the film once, but for some reason I’ve listened to the soundtrack 50, 60 times.

Jim Jarmusch is one of my favourite directors, although I feel like recently I haven’t really enjoyed much of his output. But he’s amazing, and especially Down By Law and Mystery Train. But Dead Man for me is probably one of the best films about dying that I’ve ever experienced. I love the way it’s so weird and odd and mysterious and dark. It’s really slow moving. So slow! It’s odd, in the best way! There’s a shot of Neil Young’s silhouette – and apparently he did the whole thing with the film rolling on a big screen – and he’s just stooped over and you can see his silhouette and some of the film, and it’s just this amazing shot, like he’s just improvising everything while he’s watching it on the guitar, with this delay pedal and the Neil Young guitar sound. And then there’s some beautiful moments with the pump organ interspersed with dialogue from the film. It’s a little like Paris Texas in that way, where you hear a few snippets of scripts coming in and out, and it’s just very ethereal and beautiful.

You’ve got to watch Dead Man. It’s got Iggy Pop being really odd, acting as a child dressed as a woman. And it’s got Robert Mitchum’s last role. And it’s got Gibby Haynes in an alleyway getting a blowjob for, like, five seconds.