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Baker's Dozen

Peculiar Relationships: Neil Gaiman’s Favourite Albums
Emily Mackay , November 21st, 2013 08:30

Following this week's release of his live collaborative album with Amanda Palmer, the fantasy and science fiction author picks out the records that have most inspired and informed his writing


Penelope Houston – Tongue
I discovered Penelope Houston from one of those books that I picked up in a bookshop after a signing, where they say 'Do you want anything? You just signed $20,000 worth of books for us. Would you like something to read on the plane to the next place?' And I picked up a book of American outlaw musicians. Don't remember the title. It had a CD in the back. And one of the people on there was Penelope Houston. And I loved the song. I downloaded all her albums, and Tongue was the one that really stuck with me. It's literate, smart post-punk, rocky, faintly raunchy. If you listen to the title track, there is so much glorious female fury in it. And love and lust. And there aren't a lot of songs by women about a specific kind of lust. And the lyrics – and I'm always such a sucker for lyrics – of that song and another song on there called 'Worm' which is a giant song of insult and pain. But 'Tongue' has an amazing verse about this Leonard Cohen-type up on a stage. “His voice is soft and riddled with regret/ And every single song he sings is named after a different girl. His wife of 20 years she keeps him yet/ And I'm sitting smiling thinking of your tongue... and me I've never touched it/ But I'd really like to suck it.” And it's the most wonderful song about alienation and lust, she has a magnificent voice, I know almost nothing about her and think she's brilliant.