Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

11. Sun Kil MoonGhosts Of The Great Highway

Sun Kil Moon is the one of the incarnations of Mark Kozelek, who started out as Red House Painters. Sun Kil Moon is him with a full band. They’ve released a few albums I’m a fan of, like April and Among The Leaves, but this is the first one I got of theirs in, I think, 2004 or 2005. It was basically the soundtrack to my first ever trip to the Edinburgh Festival and I almost can’t listen to it now because as soon as I put it on, I can see myself walking through the streets of Edinburgh. You know when sometimes an album is just so fixed in a point in time? Not that the time itself is particularly significant, but that connection almost too much, because it makes you revisit that time and place.

This album, I think it’s about boxers. But it’s just fantastic. The song ‘Carry Me Ohio’ is, I think, one of the most beautiful love songs I’ve heard. But I think it’s about a place not a person. The main refrain is “Sorry that I could never love you back”. It’s a big hitter.

I saw Sun Kil Moon once at their height. He kept going on about The War On Drugs, just this really petulant Stewart Lee-esque rant about other bands. There was this really funny moment where he was slagging off some critic who would not put him at the top of their list, and he knocked over all his music, and all of these pieces of paper just went flying over me and everyone else. This was before he’d even played a song, and it was this sad little image of a man in a suit mumbling to himself about The War On Drugs whilst picking up sheets of paper. And I actually left halfway through the gig. He was just sort of driveling on with an acoustic guitar, in these songs that went on for ages and ages about his grandma’s house. It’s a bit frustrating because that album Benji, is when a lot of people discovered him. So he got these really rave reviews and, you know when people come to a musician you really like, but it’s when they released the album you don’t like? And you think, “No, you don’t get it! This is a bad album, and you think he’s cool now. He’s not cool now. He’s an idiot now!”

There have been quite a few instances where he’s said quite contentious things on stage, and it just makes me go back to an album like Ghosts Of The Great Highway, which is now 15 years old but it seems so pure because there’s not this befuddled old grumpy man making a fool of himself. It’s just this wonderful collection of songs. And Red House Painters are also fantastic. There’s a song called ‘Uncle Joe’ which is just just breathtaking.

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