- Words Notion Staff
To celebrate the release of his new EP 'This Is A Nightmare', singer-songwriter Jack Valero selects us 10 essential tracks.
'American Girl' by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
I chose this song as it signifies my first true musical obsession. I watched the two hour Tom Petty documentary at least once a day for about a year and it was through this band I based my singing voice and songwriting style. It's my ground zero.
"Believe" by DMA'S
Although this is actually a cover of Cher's song and DMA'S have many great songs of their own, I chose this as it's an amazing example of how a simple change can completely transform a song. Cher's version is great as it is, but the DMA'S version with a very stripped back set up takes it to another level of heart-wrenching beauty and intimacy. Sets the bar for how to make a cover your own and I have some very emotional memories attached to it.
'Baba O'Riley' by The Who
This song is a big choice for a lot of people, but this one brings back such strong memories of first learning guitar jumping up and down on my bed imagining I was playing this to a stadium full of people. It also really reminds me of listening to it with my Dad in the car as we loved doing that, it was one of the first rock songs he introduced me to so will always remind me of hanging with him as a 14-year-old kid.
'Time to Pretend' by MGMT
This song was a big one for my generation growing up in the 00s & 2010s. This song was the anthem for me and my friends particularly in my early to mid-20s where we had whole heartedly subscribed to the ethos of 'live fast die young' and nothing can touch us. It reminds me of a simpler time when things seemed so intense and important and all that mattered was living life on the edge.
'Early Morning Rain'' by Gordon Lightfoot
I love Gordon Lightfoot and I feel he is a very underrated songwriter of his time. He managed to make songs sound folky, yet modern and always with a great hook. Along with his beautifully raspy voice. This particular song is so beautiful, it always takes me away to a calmer, happier place.
'Seventeen Going Under' by Sam Fender
During the pandemic I worked at a number of covid test sites and I remember when the lockdowns where over but testing was still on going, this song would always be the sound track to my drive home. It would always make me feel like one day it would be over and I could finally go back to music and normal life.
'Lady Stardust' by David Bowie
This song is a somewhat lesser-known gem of The Rise And Fall Ziggy Stardust album, but it always caught me so hard as it sang about being different and misunderstood at a time when I was feeling utterly ostracised at school. It's painfully beautiful and gives a sense of melancholy hope to those who feel on the outside of the day-to-day norms. Although being a heterosexual male, I loved experimenting with wearing makeup and androgynous or unusual clothes which was of course seen as weird and a source of ridicule. However, this song reached out and I felt told me to not lose faith and embrace the 'otherness'.
'Someone Great' by LCD Soundsystem
I remember first encountering this song and although it is somewhat very simplistic, it brought me to tears. The weird, awkward vibe of it seems to reflect the chaotic nature of experiencing the sudden huge upheaval of losing someone. The sense of injustice, it's confusingly anticlimactic vibe and being forced to face the true fragility of life and your own existence. It makes me stop what I'm doing and listen every time.
'The First Time Ever I saw Your Face' by Roberta Flack
Well this song will 100% make me cry, or at least well up every time. It is sung and played so gently and yet has so much emotion within it. Rising and falling with intensity, just like true love being something so simultaneously powerful and gentle. It will be me and my fiancé's song for our first dance and yes I will cry.
'Do Not Let Your Spirit Wane' by Gang Of Youths
I've never listened to much of Gang Of Youths or heard much about them unfortunately, but this epic of a song is a masterpiece. It describes the melancholy feeling of the life I think most of us hope to gain eventually. Coming to terms with realising the things you scoffed at and never understood as a young person where the very things you wanted all along and will now die for. How feeling you have something so wonderful can come with the price of being forever in terror of losing it. However, as the title suggests it comes with a message of hope and gives me the strength to carry on and let go of the fear.