During this holiday season, I’m sure that many of you will be stepping out to all sorts of gatherings, ‘do’s, shindigs and knees-ups.
And when one is considering what sort of evening one might have at such an event, what is it that gives the game away?
The venue? The dress code?
Nope. You won’t be at all surprised to hear from me that it is the music which maketh the moment.
Consider my two studies for today: Madeleine Peyroux; and Madonna. If you had two identical events, exactly the same down to the last sequin, the only difference being that each one featured the music of these two talented artists, it is not difficult to imagine how very different the evenings would be.
Not difficult, unless, that is, you do not know about the music of either singer. So let’s sort that out quickly.
The American singer, songwriter, actress, and entrepreneur Madonna perhaps does not need much of an introduction, having been in the public eye for many years? I’m not that interested in her more recent material. But I have her Immaculate Collection greatest hits album (1999) which includes a range of her original releases, plus GHV2 (2001) and Confessions on a Dance Floor (2005). The combination of these albums presents the most fabulous set of dance tracks. The older songs lose nothing of their power, and the more recent ones are classic pop. Perhaps my most favourite track is Hung Up, a song which samples the ABBA track Gimme, Gimme, Gimme (readers of my very early posts will not find it a surprise at all that I like this one!). Madonna had to virtually beg for permission to use the sample – there is some nice history in this Wiki entry. Talk of confessions – I have played this track about 20 times while writing this post!! It’s fantastic for a good old fashioned disco toe-tap – even while you are sat typing.
And so to Madeleine Peyroux. Also an American artist, but she sounds English-French, in a cigar-smoking, velvety sort of way. Her style might be described as jazz-blues, and the biography on her website charts her journey as a street-singer. But does any of this really matter when one settles back to the strains of a track like her cover of Leonard Cohen’s Dance me to the end of love from her Careless Love (2004) album? Hailed as the next Billie Holliday, Patsy Cline etc etc – I should think Ms Peyroux would like just to be known as being herself, and for having a cracking jazz voice. And I have to say that she has got the best backing band ever. Make sure you listen out for the pianist and double-bass player on her tracks – man, they can play!
So, take your pick. Grooving down on the disco floor, or smouldering over a whiskey-sour. Or perhaps both? It’s a magical time of year, you know. If Santa can get round to all the world’s kids in one night, I bet you could take in a couple of different moods if you set your mind to it….