As we enter a third week of lock-down in Britain, markontour’s isolation playlist is growing nicely, now topped up by some wonderful on-line live sessions, Jarvis dj-ing from his living room, and the daily pleasure of Chris Packham and Megan McCubbin’s nature livestreams. The whole playlist is available here.
Smells of Spring
Broadcasting live from their garden every morning, naturalist Chris Packham and his step-daughter, Megan McCubbin (clearly destined to be a nature broadcaster herself), spot visitors to their garden bird-feeder, throw out an animal skull quiz, and generally chat about nature. It’s life affirming stuff and a reminder that spring is still beautiful, however messed up things are in the human world. My favourite episode so far is obviously the one with Iolo Williams, checking in from his mid-Wales home and gently bragging about having seen a Peregrine Falcon that morning.
Jeff Tweedy Live from the Lavatory
As Wilco were unable to play live on the Jimmy Kemmel show, Jeff Tweedy assembled his sons in their bathroom to provide a beautiful rendition of ‘Evergreen‘. This has now turned into a daily ‘Tweedy Show‘, including a lovely episode featuring ‘Ill Take You There’ by the Staple Singers purring out of the Tweedy Jukebox.
The ‘Poet Laureate of Twitter’ has been rhyming out advice for how to work from home. I feel I have mostly benefited, however, from his erudition concerning what not to do with mints and cordials, in ‘The Explosion’:
NEVER put a Minto
in a Vimto
That’s how the dinosaurs
Have You Ever Seen Peaches Growing on a Sweet Potato Vine
This song gets on the playlist on the strength of the title alone, but Jake Xerxes Fussell also has a great name and a mellow country sound that is perfect for a Sunday.
Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour
The Elbow front-man’s show is my favourite thing on the radio in normal times, but he has stepped up another level still during the coronavirus lock-down. If you just want to relax for a few hours in the company of great music and rambling anecdotes then last Sunday’s show was a gem, starting with the Velvet Underground’s ‘Sweet Jane’ is going and moving on through Nick Drake’s ‘Cello Song’ and Stina Nordenstam singing ‘Little Star’. I would only change one thing – the Jon and Vangelis version of State of Independence Guy played is clearly inferior to the Pretenders’ version, which was a staple end of night choice at the Beetroot, Nottingham, in the early 1990s.
Christine and the Queens
I can’t remember where I heard it first now, but I have been enjoying Christine and the Queens’ ‘Je disparais dans tes bras’. It makes me wish I’d done better at learning French, but I believe it means ‘I disappear into your arms’.
Caught By The River has long been one of my favourite websites, mixing writing about nature and music, and Jeb’s Jukebox is undoubtedly my most frequent reason for returning. Last week in his irregular column, musician Jeb Loy Nicholls was musing on isolation in the Welsh hills and chose two exquisite ’45s to accompany his solitude, different versions of ‘No Man is an Island’, one by Dennis Brown and the other by The Van Dykes.
In addition to music and books, spending time at home means more opportunity for board games. There are four of us in our Welsh isolation, and so we’ve been able to enjoy a couple of sessions of the gorgeous Kodama, a game where points are scored by growing trees to please the Kodama spirits. It comes courtesy of the world’s greatest game shop – Spirit Games – from my home town of Burton on Trent. They’re still selling online..
Domestic Disco with Jarvis Cocker
Finally, thanks to my friend, Helen, for alerting me just in time last night to see Jarvis cocker spinning discs in his living room and dancing away on Instagram. I don’t know if you can re-watch it, but look out for a repeat performance.