A few years ago now, after a series of, shall we say, unfortunate events, I went off music completely. I bought nothing new for months. And I didn’t really listen to anything from my (pretty extensive) library either. I didn’t play records in the morning while getting ready, or in the evening while winding down. I rarely put my iPod earphones in my ears, unless I was listening back to recordings of my stories or listening to podcasts.

And that’s a strange thing. For as long as I can remember I’ve loved music. And I mean LOVED it. I’ve made no secret that, before I was going to try to be a writer, I wanted to be a musician. Before I wrote stories, I wrote songs (and some of them were even pretty good). And a good chunk of my happiest memories are music related – from shaking Joe Strummer’s hand, to watching Suede play on their first tour after releasing a post Bernard Butler album. To simply having a soundtrack to happy times, and associating songs with things I’ve done and sharing beautiful, funny, happy, great moments with people. Music was like hair; always there and something that defined me.

So, to go off music in such a big way, was strange for me. I know I had my reasons, and I know that those reasons were valid, ( Perhaps that associative thing was one of the reasons I did go off it – nobody likes to be reminded of what they’ve lost or of not so happy times.) and I know that, in a big way it was reflecting my state of mind at the time, but looking back I just don’t know how I did it. It was like not eating cake. Or not reading.


Those quieter days happened a long time ago now. I’m sure you’ll all be very happy to know that I’m back to enjoying music, properly, and in a similar way I think I’m allowing myself to enjoy life a bit more too. Perhaps it has something to do with being happier being me.


So, I wanted to share with you a handful of the songs I’ve enjoyed of late. This isn’t a best of 2011 or anything like that, it’s just a bunch of stuff that I think’s great and that you can celebrate with me if you like. And let’s not forget, it’s Christmas, it’s the party season – and parties need music, and people do too…


I hope you find something you like in there.



For starters, Russian Red’s ‘Just Like a Wall’. It’s simply beautiful and is about the song in the world that I’d dance to. Slowly. But probably not on my own because I would look very stupid.



And another Russian Red song. This off her brand new album (which only arrived this morning). Perfect.

A discovery from this year, is Rosie Thomas. This is a little heart breaking.

And here she is again. With something a little more optimistic.

I loved this for a few weeks back in the summer. While the album was a bit of a disappointment (too many references to Jesus for my tastes) I still think this is pretty much exactly what the elation of being in love sounds like.

And another band who were new to me this year. The album’s great too.

And last, for now – something a little more up tempo, from Lisa Mitchell, another recent discovery whose album is fantastic.

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