Over the latter half of 2016 I had enjoyed curating a short playlist of songs that evoked a particular memory of a place or feeling at the time. The process itself was so interesting (never truly knowing which songs would still be melting my iPhone headphones many months later) that I thought I would repeat the process all over again in 2017, adding, deleting and re-adding to my Apple Music playlist over the course of the entire year.
As before, the criteria for inclusion was simple: the songs had to have spent a substantial amount of time getting played on my Apple Music account over the previous 12 months, whether they are from 2017 or not.
As for 2017, it was a lot less weird for me on a personal and professional level, but completely eclipsed 2016 in terms of bizarreness at time
Right Stuff by Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
I feel that over the two years, not only have I been guilty of neglecting Noel Gallagher’s solo material, but I feel there has been a bit of a tendency by the music press to be quite reductive in describing his ability to be musically diverse.
Upon to wstartingork though his back catalogue, I found this track and was heard a number of things that caught my ear: the jazz-like drumming; the soulful shared lead vocal with a female vocalist, Joy Rose; a step away from the Oasis-era jangly acoustic guitars in favour of bassier flavours; and an overall much more blissful vibe.
I can’t remember exactly when I first heard it, but its soulful positivity served as the first song of the day on the walk to work quite often in 2017.
Zina by Babylone
There’s definitely something about Essaouira, a small Moroccan town on the Atlantic coast, for making me fall in love with random Algerian songs. Last year it had helped to kick-start my near-obsession with Cheb Khaled, this year, on a quiet day of not doing much before heading to the small village of Sidi Kaouki with Cous Cous and Amy, this song had come on the aging sound system on the ground floor.
It perhaps fits with the low-key vibe of a place like Essaouira whilst having an Darja (Algerian Arabic) chorus that is so catchy that even I know the words off by heart. It is a love song, or rather a song about someone who is looking for the girl who has stolen his heart, but can't find her.
Redbone by Childish Gambino
A good friend first played me this song years ago, but I it hadn’t lived long in my memory for whatever reason. It was on the sun terrace at Equity Point in Marrakech, whilst listening to a soul playlist in the late afternoon sun on Apple Music, that it came back into my consciousness.
At first, I thought it was a Macy Gray song, but going onto YouTube (a mission in itself with slow internet) I discovered it was in fact a stage name for the actor Daniel Glover. Beside the feisty bassline and beat, the refrain ‘Stay Woke!’ screamed in Glover’s falsetto should be a timely reminder to do exactly that as the world goes mad around us.
There isn't an official video available for the song in the UK, but the song does the talking. Warning: has some language that may offend.
Smash by Avishai Cohen
Early in 2017, my good friend Jonesy found love and figured it was time to introduce her to me for judgement. His choice of venue included food in a Shoreditch restaurant followed by a trip up to the Vortex Jazz Club in Dalston to watch his favourite Ronnie Scott’s late show band, Fletch’s Brew.
Towards the end of their set, Laurence Cottle, the band’s bassist launched into a few bars of a jumpy baseline, before the rest of the band, led by the heavy snare beat of Mark Fletcher on drums, joined in. The song was their cover of Smash.
Later, when I searched for the original online, what I found was an equally punchy jazz track driven by Avishai Cohen’s double bass but with raw and evocative sound of the oud appearing mid track in place of a guitar or sax. This song perhaps became the sound that best defined the year for me and seeing Avishai Cohen live is high on the priority list for 2018.
Unfortunately, there isn't a music video for the track and some of the live versions without the oud don't do it justice, so here is the official audio from YouTube.
There are of course many other songs on my 2017 playlist. These songs include: the stripped back funk of Miles Mosley (Abraham), Coldplay at their most motivational (Miracles) and in conjunction with the Chainsmokers (Something Just Like This), the gritty Steve Earle (Feel Alright) who will now forever remind me of the ending of Season 2 of The Wire and the ever-amusing Nicki Minaj who, on her collaboration with Major Lazer and PARTYNEXTDOOR tells us all what we really wanted to know – that she doesn’t put sugar in her spaghetti sauce (Run Up).
The full playlist can be found here: Ayohcee 2017 Apple Music Playlist
Finally, a quite significant mention should go to one of the last tracks on the playlist Encore/Numb by Jay-Z and Linkin Park. This year Chester Bennington of Linkin Park took his own life. Their album Hybrid Theory was a massive favourite with my friends and me at Aylesford Sixth Form, and I’ll always be thankful for the contribution to those fond memories that Chester and Linkin Park’s music made.
I can't really write anything profound enough here, but you can never be sure what personal battles someone may be silently fighting, so, however your day is going, always give someone the time of day.