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Saturday, December 1, 2007

Musical Musings ...


Now that I am, ahem, a recording artist (see http://www.shaunthesheep.com/single) I feel the need to pontificate about music.

I have a couple of unfulfilled ambitions in my professional life. One is to have a hit show on US Television. I have come close twice; once with ‘Stressed Eric’ on NBC and then with ‘Creature Comforts’ on CBS. I say close … both were yanked off the air after three episodes but that’s still closer than most people in our business. Third time lucky I say … watch this space.

The other ambition is to have a UK hit single. A number 1 would be great but not essential. Top 5 at Christmas? That would do me.

I realise that when I say ‘have a UK hit single’ it makes it sound like I am a recording artist. I am not. I am an executive producer of television programmes. So my version of ‘having a hit single’ is getting a song into the charts from one of the shows that I have exec-ed.

The Shaun The Sheep single might just make it. GUT Records, to whom we have licensed the rights via their TUG lable, are doing an amazing job promoting it. They did ‘The Crazy Frog’ - which is why we chose them. Not because I liked the Crazy Frog - I just liked the success it enjoyed.

Anyway. Back to now. I’m ‘listening again’ to Pete Tong’s radio 1 show because I’m a bit of a dance music nut - nothing unusual about that but for the fact that I’m 50 next year and too old to go clubbing. I got into the music driving up the M4 on a Friday night when I started at Aardman but still lived in London.

My musical tastes are a bit wild; free-jazz (or stomach-ache music as it is called by my loved ones), techno, electro, trance, house (in all its manifestations), Beethoven, Ornette Coleman, Radiohead, Polar Bear, Trentmoller and so on.


Recently I have been downloading some of the classic albums from my first youth. LA Woman, Transformer and last week, Dark Side Of The Moon. I haven’t listened to it on the headphones from beginning to end for 30 odd years. The instant the heartbeat throb of ‘Speak To Me’ crept back into my head I was transported back to the Saturday afternoon in 1973 when Alan Freeman played the whole album on his Radio 1 show and I recorded it onto audio cassette. The memory of that afternoon is so clear; the head fuck of hearing one of the great albums of all time for the first time - the thrill of getting it for free.

I was 15, at boarding school, in my study skipping ‘games’ to listen to the show. I can see it so clearly - the FM Stereo Radio, the tape deck and amp that I had, much envied by my peers (my dad worked in the Hi-Fi business). Music was everything then, a salvation from the cruelty and mind-numbing awfulness of public school. I guess music is everything now. When I listened again to ‘DSotM’ I realised that I knew every note by heart and that the music had penetrated every fibre of my being.

Right now, as I write this, I am listening to Bodyrox ‘What Planet You On’. it’s a bit of a head fuck too. I wonder if in 30 years time when I am coming up to 80, I will listen to it again and be transported back to this moment with the same clarity. I guess Bodyrox will have to sell 40 million albums for that to happen. But if I’m listening to it when I’m 80 then my life will have meant something after all.

Much as I want it to go the whole way, I don’t think the Shaun The Sheep single is going to have the same effect.