The Godfather: Peter Corris on his CDs
We have 149 CDs on our shelves (I culled quite a few when we left Newtown for Earlwood; those that I’d tired of or that had become damaged). They are organised thus: 56 male vocal; 23 female vocal; 39 groups; 17 compilations; 14 classical.
The male vocal section is dominated by Elvis and Bob Dylan. John Fogerty and John Prine feature prominently, along with Van Morrison, BB King and Eric Clapton. There are one–offs from Robert Johnson, Elton John, Leonard Cohen, Frank Sinatra and others.
The female vocal collection includes only two multiples – Janis Joplin and Dusty Springfield. Carole King’s Tapestry is there, of course. It apparently sold 25 million copies, so it is everywhere. Among our most frequently played would be kd lang, Joni Mitchell, Janis Ian and Edith Piaf. I have a particular fondness for Roseanne Cash’s The List – a collection of country songs her dad advised her to record. A duet with the Boss on ‘Sea of Heartbreak’ is a standout track.
As we came of age in the early 1960s, our Groups section is dominated by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, particularly the latter. While the best Beatles songs are superb, much of their later output is, in my opinion, merely silly. A 20-plus-track best-of by Creedence Clearwater Revival has replaced the five or six vinyl LPs I once had.
There are two albums I consider gems – Sweetheart of the Rodeo (the Byrds), and Fairport Convention’s Liege and Lief. I lost interest in popular music in the late 1970s but Dire Straits crept in and, honouring the greats (some of them now late greats), I liked and play quite often The Travelling Wilburys. The Stones’ recent effort, Blue & Lonesome, I’ve devoted an earlier column to. In one song, if there are better lines defying honky grammar than ‘Some say you can, some say you caint/Some say you is, some say you aint’, I don’t know them.
The Compilations stack includes film soundtracks like everyone’s favourite, The Big Chill. The soundtracks of Cabaret, Forrest Gump and The Boat that Rocked often get an airing. My favourite compilation disc is Room Service, which includes winners such as Mama Cass’s ‘Dream a Little Dream of Me’ and Glen Campbell’s ‘By the Time I Get to Phoenix’, but above all, Tony Bennett’s masterly ‘I Left my Heart in San Francisco’. As far as I know nobody has covered this song – who would have the temerity?
The classical selection is Jean’s province. I am responsible for only two items – Beethoven’s Piano Concertos 2 and 3 and Ravel’s Bolero. A girlfriend long ago gave me the Beethoven as a vinyl 12-inch LP and I play it occasionally when in the mood for ‘The Emperor’. I once saw Albie Thoms’s short film Bolero, in which the piece plays towards its crescendo as the camera moves up a narrow alley to finally focus on a woman sitting on a chair. The music has haunted me ever since.
This comment makes it clear to me that, at least partly, I use the records as a kind of time travel: when I hear Dylan’s ‘The Times They Are A’Changin’ I’m in Ian Turner’s room at Monash in the mid-1960s, almost breathless with excitement at the raw energy of it; when I hear Sgt Pepper I’m in a group of graduate students at the ANU, drinking, flirting and playing darts; when I hear Creedence and ‘Lodi’ I’m in Port Moresby at the beginning of my relationship with Jean.