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Posted on 17 Nov 2017 in The Godfather: Peter Corris | 4 comments

The Godfather: Peter Corris on his CDs

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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.


  1. I love your post on music and our times, Peter. I find the same thing – when I hear the Beatles Sargeant Pepper, it’s 1967 and I’m sitting on my friend Clive’s garage floor against the wall, while he – a future sound engineer – enthuses about the tiny details of the sound and music, and the songs wash over me in amazement. And similarly for other music too. Thank you for this lovely reminder. Virginia

  2. Hi Peter,
    Music is to me what Madeleine cakes were to Proust. But I do need a bit of a tidy up and a throw out. I’d like to pare it down to a meaningful sound track.

    Today’s headphones are so wonderful, I can get lost in the past without bothering anyone.

    Thank you.

    Ps have you heard the choral version of Johnny Cash’s Hurt on The Frozen Dead. Originally a Nine Inch Nail song. It’s in synch with the Scandi Noir title music.

  3. There are versions of I Left My Heart in San Francisco by the great Julie London, Sarah Vaughan, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Andy Williams, Dean Martin, Louie Armstrong, Rod Stewart, Perry Como (whose wistful ‘Aubrey Was Her Name’ by David Gates I have returned to often over the 50 years since I first heard it) …and more, even Liberace!

    All on YouTube

  4. Music. A great topic. Stuff I bought when it came out and still visit today. That would have to Janis Joplin. Cheap Thrills and Pearl, plus a couple of other individual tracks: Cry Cry Cry and Raise Your Hand.

    Agree that the Best of Creedence holds up, and have fond memories of making tape recorder radio shows with a friend which included both parts of Susy Q.

    In my first Surrey Hills household after bolting Qld, Sweetheart of the Radio was a major big ticket item. Played it last week and did it sound thin.

    Individual tracks then and now. Ever Loving Man – Loved Ones. Chain of Fools/You are my sunshine – Aretha. Try a little tenderness – Otis. Papa was a Rolling Stone – Temptations esp the 17 minute version.

    Stones/Beatles and The Bobster – couldn’t care less if I never heard another song by the whole bunch.

    Through necessity some years ago, flogged off about four metres of vinyl to a collector and, now looking back, I don’t regard it as mistake.

    Here is one for your readers Peter. Youtube…The Greenhornes and Holly Golighty – There is an End. (unrelated to the Doors)

    And while you are on Youtube, hit up Women singers of Mali and Burkino Faso. Stuff to die for. Womens advice music. Try Mamou Sidibe.

    Best and am looking forward to the final Cliff Hardy.