Two Top Tens in one week? Wow... it's like the good old days! Actually, most of this one was compiled ages ago... back when I had free time in which to properly research these things. I've just been waiting for the appropriate time to run it. And as Glastonbury heralds the official start of the UK summer festival season this weekend, now is that time.
I will be watching Glastonbury - I'm particularly keen to catch John Grant (but which numpty decided to put him on at the same time as the Pixies?) - though this year's headliners leave a lot to be desired. Many people are whining about Metallica's headline slot, but while I'm hardly their biggest fan, I reckon they'll be a damn site more interesting than Th'arcade Fire or bleedin' Kasabian. I must be getting old. Where's Stevie Wonder when you need him?
10. The Waterboys - Glastonbury Song
More about the location and its mythic and mystical history than the festival itself, but I bet there's a fair few festival goers who reckon they found god at Michael Eavis's farm...
9. Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros - Coma Girl
Joe goes to a festival "way out west" (Blackpool?) and takes some acid. It starts raining, then things get weird...
8. David Bowie - Memory of a Free Festival
Back in 1969, Bowie was among the organisers of a free festival in Beckenham, South East (that-) London. This was his rather trippy tribute, a great album track that never should have been released as a radio single... even back in 1970 when the radio was a lot kinder.
Many years later, Dario G would steal the hooky chorus from the song's second half for his woeful dance-pop dirge 'Sunmachine'. You have to question why the Dame would ever allow such a travesty... but he does move in mysterious ways.
7. The Velvet Underground & Nico - All Tomorrow's Parties
Not actually about a festival, but they named a festival after it so that's good enough for me.
Plus, it led to the creation of Knee Deep At ATC by Los Campesinos, which is about the festival in question.
6. The Animals - Monterey
The summer of love began here...
Young gods smiled upon the crowd
Their music being born of love
Children danced night and day
Religion was being born
Down in Monterey
The Byrds and the Airplane
Oh, Ravi Shankar's
Music made me cry
The Who exploded
Into violent light
Hugh Masekela's music
Was black as night
The Grateful Dead
Blew everybody's mind
Jimi Hendrix, baby
Set the world on fire, yeah!
5. Aphrodite's Child - Altamont
...and died here, two years later.
Aphrodite's Child were a Greek band made up of Demis Roussos and Vangelis (plus some other bloke). This somewhat satanic response to the Altamont tragedy featured on their final album, 666, considered by some to be a precursor to the prog-rock concept album that lumbered through the 70s like a bilious diplodocus and eventually spawned punk as a direct reaction.
Echo & The Bunnymen also did a pretty cool song called Altamont, but I think that's more metaphorical.
See also An Array of Passionate Lovers by Pete Atkin (and Clive James) which tells the story of this fateful day in far more detail...
That big-mouthed dude in the flash duds
Preached fighting in the streets
But the crowd of kids held an angel with a knife
Who carved himself a slice of another guy's life
And the blooms of blood unfolded from the buds
And the bad karma came down in sheets
And the troops of love got wise, they were paying
Too much for their seats
4. Deep Purple - Smoke On The Water
If you've ever worked in a guitar shop, chances are you've heard this riff on a daily basis. And are now royally sick of it.
The titular smoke spread across Lake Geneva when Montreux Casino burned to the ground during a Frank Zappa concert in 1971. Although this wasn't part of that year's actual Montreux Festival (the fire happened in December, the festival in June), it did force the festival to change venues for the next few years while the Casino was rebuilt. A tenuous link, but good enough for me to crowbar it onto this list.
3. Joni Mitchell - Woodstock
The most famous music festival ever, and the most famous song ever written about a music festival... yet as Joni explains here, she never actually made it to Woodstock. More famous recordings of this record exist, of course, by Matthew's Southern Comfort, Crosby, Stills & Nash et al... yet only Joni can get away with singing "We are stardust, we are golden..." with a straight face, if you ask me.
2. The Hold Steady - Chillout Tent
Probably my favourite Hold Steady record, I love how Craig Finn's vocals mix with guests Dave Pirner (from Soul Asylum!) and Elizabeth Elmore (of The Reputation... who I've never heard of either, but should investigate), playing the parts of the young lovers who have a one night stand in a rather extreme festival chillout tent.
She looked just like a baby bird
All new and wet and trying to light a Parliament
He quoted her some poetry, he's Tennyson in denim and sheepskin
He looked a lot like Izzy Stradlin
They started kissing when the nurses took off their IVs
It was kind of sexy but it was kind of creepy
Their mouths were fizzy with the cherry cola
They had the privacy of bedsheets and all the other kids were mostly in comas
1. Pulp - Sorted For E's & Whizz
As Jarvis explains in his introduction during the song's first public performance at Glastonbury '95, this song was originally written about outdoor raves. Yet it became synonymous with festivals in my mind for a number of reasons, not least because it was this show that cemented the band's reputation as the greatest of the Britpop era. The public spat between Blur and Oasis, arguing over that crown like spiteful schoolboys, sullied both their reputations. Meanwhile Pulp snuck in the back door, stepping in as final night Glasto headliners after the Stone Roses pulled out at the eleventh hour, and history gave them the prize. (Earlier this year, during Britpop's 20th Anniversary celebrations, it was Common People that was voted the nation's favourite anthem: not Country House or Roll With It.)
But the real reason this is my Number One Festival Song is that it reminds me more than any other of my own festival-going days - of watching Pulp live at Leeds ('96?) and experiencing a moment unlike any I'd ever had before... or would again. That was in the days before music festivals became TOO big and corporate... it wouldn't be long before the magic was stolen by giant screens you could only watch from half a mile away, sponsored wellies, beer tents and portaloos, and drunken crowds of idiots who'd never even heard of the headliners. I'd rather watch a music festival on TV these days... I really must be getting old. Still, back then, in that moment, I was one of just 20,000 people standing in a field... and it felt alright.
Those were my festival favourites... which one gets you lining up on the front row?