Chuffed To Bits: Songs On My Brit Music Playlist – British Music I’m Listening To Now

Music means everything to me.  My friends will tell you that I always have a song in my head and my heart that I’m dying to talk about and share.  Albert Einstein once said, “…I often think in music.  I live my daydreams in music.  I see my life in terms of music…  I get most joy in life out of music.”  I think Einstein and I would have been great friends.

Like most people, there are many songs that hold a special significance in my life.  There are songs that remind me of certain individuals, and songs that remind me of particular feelings or events I’ve experienced.  And there are, of course, songs that remind me of certain places.  I’m a big fan of the shuffle feature on my iPod, and more often than not, a song comes on that reminds me of England, and I’m instantly transported by it.  The sights, the smells, who I was with, how I was feeling… all of it comes flooding back.  So I thought I’d share some of the songs that always remind me of my life and times in Blighty.

 

LDN by Lily Allen.  Cheeky and fun, this song is a favourite of mine.  Before my first visit to England in 2009, my friend and I used to listen to this and joke that we’d meander through the streets of London on bicycles like Lily does in the song, whilst singing this out loud.  Well, once we arrived, it turned out that we weren’t very good at even crossing the streets without nearly getting hit by a car (LOOK RIGHT!), so that pipe dream went straight out the window.  But despite our lack of pedestrian prowess in the UK, this is still a marvellous tune, and it will always remind me of that inaugural trip.

 

London Skies by Jamie Cullum.  This is the song I listen to without fail when I’m packing for a trip across the Pond.  I’ve also been known to listen to it on the plane ride over, and I have fond memories of listening to it whilst wandering through Green Park.  It always makes me happy.  Keep in mind that I’m a native of a state where the sun shines 300+ days a year.  You know what they say; you always want what you don’t have.

 

Ticket To Ride by The Beatles.  I was listening to this song when I saw English countryside for the very first time.  My friend and I were travelling on the Eurostar from Paris to London, and when we cleared the Chunnel and I caught my first glimpse of those gorgeous, green, rolling hills… there just aren’t words for how I felt in that moment.  My friend glanced at me and said, “Look at you! You’re lit up like a Christmas tree!”  I could not stop smiling.  I was on a train, listening to The Beatles, in England for the very first time in my life.  I will never forget it.

 

Can’t Be Sure by The Sundays.  The Sundays were my favourite alternative band when I was a teenager.  A Doc Martens-clad, pensive teenager who gobbled up any and all music from the UK that I could get my hands on.  And now as an adult, this song reminds me of people watching in Trafalgar Square.  I sat on the steps in front of the National Gallery last year, and listened to this during a solo trip to London.  A brilliant track.

 

There Is A Light That Never Goes Out by The Smiths.   This is another song that conjures up people watching memories from Trafalgar Square.  I lost count of how many double-decker buses actually passed by (safely, thank you very much) as I sat there, sipping Earl Grey tea from a paper cup, marvelling at the fact that once again I was in my favourite city in the world.  I adore The Smiths and Morrissey, and I loved this song long before it was made famous by (500) Days of Summer (which is a fantastic film, by the way, if you haven’t seen it).

 

London Calling by The Clash.  This song is on a mix CD that I have in my car.  Last month, during the London riots, it flooded my speakers unexpectedly, and it gave me chills.  However, I have another, much happier memory associated with it.  Last year, I went to see American singer/songwriter Joshua Radin perform at The Roundhouse in Camden.  As I stood inside the venue waiting for the show to begin, a group of young Englishmen passed by me as this song was playing over the sound system.  They were obviously several pints into quite a fun evening, and as they careened past me in a single file line, train-style, they loudly sang out in unison, Cause London is drowning and I… I live by the river!”  I laughed, savouring yet another amazing moment in the Big Smoke.

 

Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty.  My only memories of this song up until last year were of hearing it on the radio when I was growing up, and then hearing it featured in the playground fight scene of the film Good Will Hunting.  Then one day, whilst trying to find the London Beatles Store, I found myself on the Baker Street. And, musical sap that I am, I immediately found it on my iPod, and let that infamous saxophone hook fill my ears as I walked.  This song will always be a part of the memory of my Beatles Day in London.

 

Here Comes the Sun by The Beatles.  After my walk on Baker Street and my rather successful visit to the Beatles Store, I headed to Abbey Road Studios in St. John’s Wood and the infamous crosswalk.  I got lost in the surrounding neighbourhood, but I didn’t really mind too much because I was listening to some amazing music.  I’ll give you three guesses as to what album I had playing on a loop whilst I was there, and the first two don’t count.

 

Little Lion Man by Mumford & Sons.  These guys are one of my favourite bands of all time.  They are quintessentially English, and I genuinely believe they can’t make a bad record.  I was in Brighton last year, eating lunch at a pub, when this song came on.  In fact, the next three songs were all by Mumford & Sons, and I soon struck up a conversation with the owner of the pub about the band.  I’ve been lucky enough to see them live twice: the first time was in a small club where they played to a crowd of about 150.  The second time was earlier this year, where they played to a crowd of 10,000.  They’re obviously doing something right.  Note: There is an expletive in this song, so if that sort of thing offends you, keep calm and carry on…

 

England by The National.  I’ve only just discovered The National.  I highly recommend checking them out; their album High Violet is simply brilliant.  I first heard this song as a cover, actually; Mumford & Sons did a magnificent version of it on VH1 Unplugged.  I loved it, but of course I sought out the original, and promptly fell in love.  This American band has somehow captured the essence of England that continues to enamour me more and more each time I visit.

Which songs remind you of England?

Comments

  1. avatarFGM says

    Excellent article and idea. And some excellent choices! For me a list like this can’t be complete without something by the Kinks! They’re about as Brit as you can get! Probably ‘Waterloo Sunset’ would be THE first Kinks song on my list – with visions of Terry meeting Julie at Waterloo Station every Friday night. So many, many Kinks songs and albums dedicated to British life (songs ‘Have a Cuppa Tea’ and ‘Victoria’ and the album Soap Opera also come to mind).

    Another on my list would be Peter Gabriel’s Solsbury Hill – especially since me and my SO climbed it and picnicked atop it looking out towards Bath.

    Also:
    Kate Bush – ‘Oh England, My Lionheart’ – and many other KB songs, too.
    Pink Floyd – ‘Grantchester Meadows’
    XTC- ‘Towers of London’ and albums English Settlement and Skylarking
    Darren Haymen – ‘Pram Town’

    I could keep going on and on…. I ‘heart’ British music!

    • avatarAmie says

      Excellent choices, FGM, all of them! The Kinks are absolutely legendary. And I’m with you: I ‘heart’ British music, too. I can’t ever get enough. :-)

      Thanks very much for reading. :-)

  2. avatarJackie Bourassa says

    I hope you will have a chance to check out the greatest English band ever…Josh Bray Band. I met them when I went to England for the first time last year. Josh is from Devon and he and the lads that are in the band all have a beautiful, unique English sound that we just don’t have over here in the US. They are handsome, charming and loads of fun in addition to being talented. Be sure to check out Guy Prall (the guitarist) on Hard Living from their Whisky and Wool album that was just released this summer. http://youtu.be/s4ee23WZqSI
    I have been enjoying your posts for a while now and really wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed this one especially. Cheers!

    • avatarAmie says

      Hi Jackie-

      I will definitely check them out- this is the first I’ve heard of them. It’s so nice when you can actually meet the people behind the music, isn’t it? ;-) Thanks for the rec!

      And thank you so very much for reading, and for the kind words. :-)

  3. avatarValerie says

    Nice post! Familiar with most of the songs, but loved the Jamie Cullum song and the Nationals. Nice choices.

    I’d have to add anything by Johnny Flynn. His music has a unique folky sound that one might expect to hear in 19th, not 21st century England. Check him out. Quite amazing.

    And, yes, they may be popular and they may be cliche, but I can’t have an English playlist without good ol’ Chris Martin and the gang…on my ride on the tube into London from Heathrow in 2008 when Life in Technicolor came on my iPod the excitement couldn’t be stopped. Things haven’t been the same since.

    • avatarAmie says

      Hi Valerie-

      Johnny and I are actually old friends (musically speaking). ;-) I included him in a list I did last year: http://www.anglotopia.net/anglophilia/guest-post-25-british-music-artists-you-should-be-listening-to/

      I’ve seen him live twice, and I’ve met him once. He’s just the kindest, most modest bloke you could ever hope to meet, very easy on the eyes, and incredibly talented as you know. I love his music so much, and you’re right- it’s absolutely timeless.

      And don’t even get me started on the amazing talent of Coldplay! Have you heard their new single, Paradise? It’s literally all I listened to yesterday. I can’t wait for their new album. I’ve seen them live once, and I hope to again when they tour for Mylo Xyloto.

      Thanks so much for reading. :-)

  4. avatarsharon says

    The list is far too long. Recently when depositing songs into Spotify playlists I realized that most were British – from every decade of my life.

    Really feel the UK is synonymous with music. Full stop.
    and We can’t talk British without talking about Paul Weller whether in the Jam years or years since.

    Definitively, The Jam “English Rose”.
    Here’s Weller playing it solo:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IccNC0XKy5Q&feature=channel_video_title

    The Jam “in the City” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ipGhzrIi3s

    Paul Weller
    “Broken Stones” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhTypyM4iX0

    Just too bloody mayn with a round-about 35 yr career.

    The Kinks were mentioned above but for me, it’s “Well-respected Man”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eq5WmHBSVa0&feature=channel_video_title

    The Small Faces, The Yardbirds, Eric Burden and the Animals….

    Nowadays Erland and the Carnival take Britishness to new heights, extracting influence from traditional folk tunes, news articles, and even the oldest Anglo-Saxon poem in existence. with a completely modern twist.

    E&TC “Stack O Lee” “Love is a Killing Thing” “Arabian Sea” “the Tempest” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OsxACXIJmOY&feature=channel_video_title

    Anothe current band: Kasabian
    “Where did all the love go?”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=msPbDhS1-1k

    There is of course is Oasis, The Verve, Blur and far too many bands from the 1990s. The Damned, The Buzzcocks, The Sex Pistols and more 70s bands that you can’t help but think of the UK when you hear them.

    of course along with Pink Floyd, Syd Barrett ‘wined and dined’
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dsC-cVSJSzE&feature=fvst

    and Nick Drake “Northern Sky”

    I could write a musical dissertation on british music at this point. there are far too many to mention & I am sinning with my innumerable omissions!

    • avatarAmie says

      Great picks, Sharon! The Jam, The Yardbirds, The Animals, Oasis, Blur, The Sex Pistols, and Nick Drake (especially “Northern Sky”, which is one of my favourite songs of all time), are all fantastic. I had a hard time only including 10 songs in this piece; I could have gone on forever. Far too many to mention, just like you said!

      Thanks very much for reading. :-)

  5. avatarPaul says

    Can I advise ‘Chas & Dave’
    they were popular in the early 1980’s with a brand of music called ‘cockney Rock and roll’
    While they will not be to many’s taste, their songs are so London centric that even a short play of one of their songs will have people thinking of London, the songs are laced with traditional cockney slang and attitude, and have the type of humour Londoners are famous for.
    No old fashioned cockney knees-up is complete without at least one Chas and Dave song being played and sung along to.

    • avatarAmie says

      Hi Paul-

      To be honest, this is the first I’ve heard of Chas & Dave. However, as a Tottenham Hotspur fan, I’m a bit ashamed for not having known about them before, as it seems they recorded some FA Cup final singles for the team (yes, I Googled). ;-)

      Thanks so much for the education, and for reading. :-)

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