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Baker's Dozen

A Tower Of Songs: Sylvie Simmons' Favourite Music
Manu Ekanayake , August 13th, 2020 09:48

Like a gamekeeper turned poacher, rock journalist Sylvie Simmons has a new album of her own music out. Here she guides Manu Ekanayake through 13 lifelong inspirations, from Leonard Cohen to Johnny Cash, Miles Davis and Black Sabbath


Joni Mitchell – Blue
When I was a kid I decided that I was going to be a singer songwriter, rather like on the basis that I decided I was going to be a rock journalist - i.e. no basis whatsoever. I had that strange mix of sort of utter 'Go for it’-ness but at the same time complete terror and shyness that kind of worked against me when I actually had the confidence to go on stage with a couple of friends in a pub and immediately felt the shyness completely freezing me. The song that I froze on was 'River' from Blue. I learned the whole of Blue, it was one of those albums that a girl of my age had to have; you had it in the same way that you'll see all these pictures of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards walking around with vinyl under their arms when they were teenagers. It's almost like a calling card, saying ‘this is the kind of person I am.’ So though I loved Joni Mitchell's Blue completely, it also coincides with me going on stage in front of seven or eight people. As it was a pub in those days, so all men, beer in hand, looking at me which, of course is the idea of being on stage. But I hadn't factored that in, so all I could do was make a little 'ack!' come out of my mouth. Immediately I realised 'Well, okay, I'm not going to be a singer songwriter.' I think that was the point when I decided I wanted to write about music, because that was the first thing that I did as a job. Other than part-time jobs, you know, in a shop or something, the first thing that I did as a job was writing about music. So I am that cliché: 'if you can't do it write about it.'