The best music interviewees usually also turn out to be massive music fans. The litmus test question for me when I was part of the music writing hustle was what are you listening to and what records do you recommend.
The answers were always hugely revealing in a pop psychology way. You never knew what gems you'd find when you followed the answers up. You’d also know that the answer might reveal a lot more about the interviewee than the preceding 30 minutes - especially if they’d nothing to say.
I am fairly sure Jason Pierce from Spiritualized spent as much time talking about other acts that summer afternoon as he did about his own album, when the interview turned to music recommendations. We talked about Little Jimmy Scott and that spinetingling lost album of his. We talked about Jim Sullivan and those UFOs in the desert.
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And he talked about Jerry Lee Lewis and Somewhere Over the Rainbow. You’ve never heard anything like this, Pierce said. The ache in his voice, the notes he emphasises, the way he makes the song seem so sad and lonesome and stricken.
It’s a track I’ve played to death. It took a few years to find a decent version (big up an old Oxford American compilation CD). It’s the last track on this vinyl version of his 1980 album Killer Country which I found in the secondhand racks for a tenner last week. It still sounds marvellous, a singer getting under the skin of a song and finding unexpected emotions and pain.
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