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Baker's Dozen

Just Some Modern Rock Songs: Stuart Murdoch's Favourite Albums
Adrian Lobb , September 4th, 2013 07:02

The Glaswegian indie pop pioneers' frontman picks out his top 13 records


Simon & Garfunkel – Bridge Over Troubled Water
Usually, the LPs you listen to when you are younger are the ones that just happen to fall into your lap. Especially back in the day. Nobody had lists in the 70s, nobody had cool parents.

The very first LP I got was Pinky and Perky’s Greatest Hits Volume II. I got that at the Scout jumble sale, and loved that LP. A few months later, at another jumble sale, I picked up Bridge Over Troubled Water – and obviously that one has stayed with me longer. But at that age, I probably listened to both about the same amount and I listened to the Pinky and Perky LP all the way through. I took them seriously.

But I feel very lucky that one of those early ones was Simon & Garfunkel. It is always the record sleeves. I was flicking through a pile of records and took a random stab based on the sleeve and the title. I was too young to have heard their songs, I was only nine or ten.

It is a very easy record to listen to when you are young. You wouldn’t need a musical bone in your body to get into every song on this LP. That's why all the early Beatles records are so great. It is almost like music for children, very straightforward with the hooks, and the different flavours of sounds. Now you would look back and think, ‘El Condor Pasa’ is a bit of a funny one, but not when you are young. I remember ‘Cecilia’ really staying with me. “Making love in the afternoon with Cecilia up in my bedroom/ I got up to wash my face, when I came back to bed someone’s taken my place.” There is so much mystery for a ten-year-old boy – and I was a late developer anyway. There is so much unexplained. I didn’t know what the hell was going on up there, I don’t know why he was staying in, why he wasn’t at work, I don’t know what he was doing with this girl – but it was all vaguely exotic and kind of educational.

‘The Boxer’, at the time, seemed to be a very profound song, it gave me chills. “I am just a poor boy and my story’s seldom told” – that's like 'once upon a time' for a kid. That is like the start of a story. You are rapt. That was quite profound when I was younger, whereas a song like 'The Only Living Boy In New York', which is more tender, has grown on me in stature – I love that the song is obviously about his relationship with Art Garfunkel, who is going off to do his film. He says “Tom”, and they were known as Tom and Jerry for a while, so that is the meaning, but none of that clicked with me at the time. It is a very tender song.

This LP is an established classic, but I’m not going to ignore those on this list. Some records are classic for a reason. If you asked me who are the great songwriters, I’d say Paul Simon is the greatest. I would have him up with McCartney and Bacharach and David, but I would give him the top spot because I like him more. His influence is so fundamental, it is not really worth stripping it down, it has just always been there…