Miss Tadey’s Musical Tour of England
Has anyone checked out the trip countdown lately? The numbers are getting smaller every day and I am getting more excited the closer our trip gets. Just like everyone else is doing, I am going through my packing list to get ready. Toothbrush, walking shoes, adapter/converter, water bottle, etc. By now, everyone should be familiar with the list, but I like to do something else to get ready for upcoming cultural immersions.
I make a playlist.
After all, nothing displays the soul and attitude of a culture that music can. The Brits have a rich musical history to pull from, and I have put together a pretty expansive list of music. I want to share of few of the list highlights with you. Don’t expect to see artists like Adele, One Direction, or Mumford and Sons on this list. They are all great and have excellent perspectives to offer, but I wanted to share with you some groups that you might have forgotten about or maybe are completely new to you. Since you are about to expand your travel horizons, I wanted to give you a head start by expanding your musical horizons.
Keep reading to see Miss Tadey’s English playlist (click on the title so see the YouTube video)…
Benjamin Britten “War Requiem” As a strict pacifist, Britten strongly opposed war and his “War Requiem” was a strong political statement demonstrating the horrors of war rather than the glories of battle. Ears beware, this is not easy listening, but the story of the music and the poetry behind it is truly powerful.
Percy Aldridge Grainger “Lincolnshire Posey” Okay, Grainger is actually Australian, but he traveled the British countryside with a wax tube and recorded the local folk songs and used them to compose “Lincolnshire Posey.” Without him, this music might have been lost since it was never written down but passed by word of mouth.
The Beatles “Two of Us” and “Eleanor Rigby” No list of British music would be complete without the Fab Four and their influence spans decades. There is quite literally a Beatles song for every mood and two of my favorites are “Two of Us” and “Eleanor Rigby.” I don’t often listen to the lyrics of music but I do when it comes to the Beatles. Every one of their songs tells a story and offers a glimpse of everyday life.
Oasis “Don’t Look Back in Anger” Speaking of the Fab Four, the Gallagher brothers epitomized the arrogance of the modern day rock star when they claimed to be bigger than the Beatles. Whether you agree or not (not that they care what you think, anyway), it is impossible to deny that they were successful and had a sound all their own.
G.F. Handel “Water Music” Handel is probably best known for his “Hallelujah Chorus” but I find the “Water Music” suites quite inspiring. Admittedly, my ears prefer the sounds of wind instruments and percussion to string instruments, but I really enjoy the way the strings dance around the melody and pass it back and forth with the brass. Rumor has it, that Handel composed this piece for King George I and it was first performed on a barge in the middle of the Thames River. The King enjoyed it so much, that he asked the musicians to play it another three times before he finished his journey on the boat.
The Faces “Ooh la la” The Faces always make me smile. Whether it is the sound of fingers ticklin’ the ivories or the voice of a young Rod Stewart, this song is a favorite.
The Yardbirds “For Your Love” Everytime I hear this song, the heavy kick pulls me in and I feel the power of the British Invasion of the American music scene. Not to mention that the band has had some of the best guitarists of rock with Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, and Jimmy Page. Listening to the Yardbirds is to hear the roots of super groups like Cream and Led Zeppelin.
Billy Bragg “No One Knows Anything Anymore” I just love this song. Maybe it reminds me of my parents’ hippie roots and all of the thought provoking, protest music we listened to when I was young, but I love music that makes me think. “Way Down Yonder in the Minor Key” is another tasty little offering by Billy on the excellent collaboration album “Mermaid Avenue” with Wilco. The songs on this album have American roots with the lyrics pulled from Woody Guthrie’s writing. If you have time, check it out.
British Punk. It would be a travesty to neglect this influential style of British music in my playlist. This musical movement influenced the culture, style, and attitude of a generation and this influence was not limited to the British Isles. Of the punk bands, two of my favorites are Siousxie and the Banshees and the Sex Pistols.
o The Sex Pistols might best be known for the tragic death of Sid Vicious. However, they made great contributions to the world of music and I remember rocking out to “Anarchy in the U.K.” in my room until my mom pounded on the door.
o Siouxsie and the Banshees on the other hand experienced a much longer career. Eventually developing a post-punk sound, this band has produced thought provoking music and was a ground-breaking force in the New Wave direction of music. Their cover of Iggy Pop’s, “The Passenger” is excellent, and the song “Israel” makes me think. Also, I really like Siouxsie Sioux’s voice.
Laura Marling “Meheni Rachi” Laura Marling is a young singer/songwriter with a really soulful delivery. She is actually the composer for one of the plays we are going to see in England, Shakespeare’s As You Like It. This song, “Meheni Rachi”, is a collaboration with the Dharohar Project and Mumford and Sons. (I know, I said I wouldn’t mention them but it is SUCH a great song that offers a nod to the influence of India on Britain….and vice versa). If you want to hear something more characteristic of Marling, let me suggest her album, A Creature I Don’t Know.
Jamiroquai “You Give Me Something” This playlist needed a little ‘funk’ so I have added this excellent track by Jamiroquai. Fronted by Jay Kay, Jamiroquai had some hits in the U.S. during the 90’s with “Virtual Insanity” and you may remember the single “Canned Heat” from Napoleon Dynamite. When his record company first signed Jay Kay, they thought he had so much promise, they signed him to an unprecedented 8 albums and the band is still going strong, 20 years later. I love this sound because the Australian Didgeridoo is routinely included on the band’s recordings. Not to mention that Jay Kay has worn some of the world’s coolest hats, does anyone remember Buffalo Man?
The Clash “London Calling” This song will almost close out my playlist. The lyrics to this song capture the emotion and attitude of the British Punk scene but speak to many other aspects of the country’s culture.
After writing this article, Mr. Curtis challenged that I neglected a large genre of English music in rock and metal. He wanted to know how I could possibly leave out groups like Zeppelin, Queen, and Deep Purple? He’s absolutely right. There are a tonne of holes in this playlist. But, as I told him, I could teach a class on this stuff and still miss some really big, important groups and genres such as glam rock. Here are a few names and songs to help fill some of the gaping holes I left.
Black Sabbath “War Pigs” Ozzy’s voice kills it.
Queen “Somebody to Love” This song makes me want to sing along.
Led Zeppelin “Kashmir” Mr. Curtis was right, how could I have missed this. Sorry.
Deep Purple “Soldier of Fortune” Most people know “Smoke on the Water” but even hard rockers have softer sides and this song is proof.
Judas Priest “Breaking the Law” Plain and simple, this is rock.
So, that’s the end of my playlist. I know what you’re thinking, “Where’s Bowie? How about Robbie Williams or the Stones? Maybe you’ve noticed the lack of Henry Purcell or Edward Elgar. Here’s your chance, let me know who you think should have been included on my playlist. Take the opportunity to right the musical injustice caused by the holes in my musical meanderings and leave me a comment. I’m all ears.
We’re just trying to share some of the interesting and strange things we learn about the world around us. This article is from Miss. Tadey, who will be traveling with TAP for the second time this summer. Miss Tadey is the group’s musical genius – she really is, however considering most of the TAP teachers are just trying to get the 1-877-KARS FOR KIDS song out of their heads, musical genius of this group isn’t the compliment you might think. Seriously, she knows the difference between a tuba and a trombone and everything.
If you are affiliated with Minooka TAP (student, teacher, parent, family member, or past traveler) and you’d like to submit an article, please email us at Minookatap2@gmail.com
Mr. Curtis’ 2 cents: Normally I wouldn’t barge my way in to another teacher’s article, but I like this topic so much that I thought I’d share a bit too. I was going to add my picks in the comments section, but it wouldn’t add the links. So here I am, barging in to Miss Tadey’s space. Nothing she can do about it, only I have the password for the website. (insert evil laugh here)
Anyway, Miss Tadey’s list is awesome, but here’s a few more Britishy songs I’ll have on my iPod for the trip…
Got to have House of the Rising Sun by The Animals, because no song in the history of rock has been better at creating an eerie, unsettling mood.
Baba O’Riley by the Who, Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd (starts 40 seconds into the video), Pour Some Sugar On Me by Def Leppard, and Sometimes Always by The Jesus and Mary Chain were all on the soundtrack to Mr. Curtis’ high school years (even though only 2 of those came out while I was in high school).
Old Main Drag, Lullaby of London, and Wild Cats of Kilkenny by The Pogues were always some of my favorites, and even though they have an Irish sound, they’re actually from London.
Dire Straits is one of my favorite English bands. They had a bunch of hits in the ‘80s, but their best songs are Sultans of Swing and Romeo and Juliet. They do a live version that is just about the most beautiful song I’ve ever heard. Just close your eyes, listen to the words, and get taken away by one of the best story songs of all time.
My last pick is a Scottish band, but close enough, since it’s the same island. Stealer’s Wheel could have been great. I think Gerry Rafferty and Joe Egan could have been the next Lennon and McCartney, but it wasn’t to be. Still, I can’t get enough of their harmonies and pop sensibilities. Star is my favorite, but Everyone’s Agreed That Everything Will Turn Out Fine, and, of course, Stuck in the Middle With You are fantastic sing-a-long songs too. Happy listening.