everybody’s favourite song

when i first arrived on the estate as the artist-in-resident, i was trying to find other ways to observe sound on the estate (as well as the listening works). in the first week, i went into the neighbourhood house for a meeting – possibly a CHEAC meeting, and i observed deb, a resident, come in, make a beeline for the stereo, put a CD on, go directly to track 17 and listen intently. she didn’t have her ears pressed to the speaker, but she was intensely focused on the song, as though she had dived out of the present moment and into whatever meaning that song held for her.

i wrote that down on the whiteboard in the studio, as well as the name of a CD i had found lying around, thinking that i was going to start collecting sounds in an ambient way. sounds that i ‘happened upon’.

somewhere along the way i realised that others probably had similar experiences to particular songs – one’s that they carried with them. and that was a particular phenomena of listening and sound in public housing. so i started asking people what their favourite song was, and writing it down.

ages ago, niko and i had talked about the device of The Playlist as a means of empowering people – an abstract form of choice that people could move around, customise and personalise. I didn’t actually think i would end up making a playlist, but that’s what happened.

unsurprisingly, it was a great device for talking to residents about music, listening, what i was doing and who they were. just personal enough to expose a little bit of ourselves, but not so much that i would be intruding or interfering in delicate dynamics or defense mechanisms.

as i wrote here, children and teenagers were the most in touch with their favourite songs. they knew, as though their lives depended on it. perhaps your favourite song is currency in the school yard – like if you like justin bieber, i’ll talk to you, but if you like beyoncé, i’ll only play with you once. i don’t know – i just came up with that then.

A&R peeps for justin bieber, beyoncé, taio cruz, usher, eminem, LMFAO and gym class heroes will all be pleased to know that their biggest fans are 8 – 12 year olds in poor areas. i’m guessing that’s exactly who they’re pitched at (except beyonce – she rocks my socks too and jackie, 12 and i were friends for an afternoon because of it).

older residents were also quite in touch with their favourite song – like all the likes/dislikes over the years had decanted, leaving that one song that just stuck through. the beatles, simon and garfunkel, lynard skynard.

obviously there were a few “i dunno”s and a lot of “ooh, aah, ummm”, but most people could think of something – at least a band or musician that they liked. the vietnamese on the block loved traditional asian melodies and soft, sweet sounds. and the aboriginal crew loved archie roach and bob marley. more than once i got ‘took the children away’ stuck in my head.

and above all else, people loved love songs.

day after day, i wrote up one song of the day on the blackboards,  i made sure that i chose a love song if i could.  love me do, i love you like a love song, everything i do, i do it for you, greatest love of all, when i fall in love, i want you back.

time and time again. simple and universal, clearly.

here’s the final playlist, pretty much in chronological order. i made CDs and handed them out to peeps from the listening booth. i left some at the neighbourhood centre and i will be making a new batch of full sets in the next few weeks.

everything is alright – jesus christ superstar: deb
love is in the air – john paul young: anna
you are so beautiful to me – joe cocker: nga
red & black – les miserables: geraldine
little wings – jimi hendrix – gunther
money for nothing – dire straights
three little birds – bob marley: reg, reggae
gold dust woman – stevie nicks: lola
the power of love – huey lewis and the news: johnny
mua ru’ng: han
when i fall in love – nat king cole: mark
drive-by – the necks: tony
use me up – bill withers: jed
dj got us falling in love – usher: jake
not afraid – eminem: danny
party rock anthem – LMFAO: KK, ikro
freak the freak out – victoria justice: vanahn
set fire to the rain – adéle: maurice
ace hood – lifestyle
all i ever wanted – : sumeyra
i love you like a love song – selena gomez: hillary
venus – bananarama: val
luper – earl sweatshirt: brian
venus in furs – velvet underground: hugh
rain over me – pitbull: sondos
all day – cody simpson: hana
i wish you would – flamingoes: nick
whitney houston – greatest love of all: kaukau
itchycoo park – small faces: susanne
baby got back – sir mix-a-lot: cst pallisier
fight the power – public enemy: snr cst mclaughlin
catch a fire – mojo juju: nikita
memory lane – nas: james
flame trees – cold chisel: shane
took the children away – archie roach: james, tracey
take it easy – the eagles
stereo heart –  gym class heroes: vanahn
run to the hills – iron maiden: wally
fade to black – metallica: rob
under the bridge – RHCP: simon
the end – the doors: simon
sweet home alabama – lynard skynard: deb
superstition – stevie wonder: sue
sole survivor – rolling stones: sue
bad romance – lady gaga: de-anne
dynamite – taio cruz: shey
someone like you – adele: lillian
one time – justin bieber: jessica, natasha, isabella
never say never – justin bieber: vanja, natasha, jessica, izabella, elisha
pray – justin bieber: natasha
love on top: beyoncé – tia
ram jam – spiderbain: kerry
all the single ladies – beyoncé: jackie
california – tupac: DJ
love me too – the beatles: john
traditional greek songs: greek women’s group
L-O-V-E – al green
feel so close – calvin harris: emma NYCH
i needed you – chris brown
sounds of silence – simon and garfunkel: peter
everything i do (i do it for you) – bryan adams: tammy
white lotus – poy
i want you back – jackson 5: lauren
khe sanh – sharon boyd
love story – taylor swift: jessica
beat it – michael jackson – taylor b

let me know if you’d like a copy.

thanks for subscribing to she sees red by lauren brown. xx

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