James Murphy

For a guy who made his name on a single that served as a Hipster Listening Guide checklist, this list of songs that “Saved [James Murphy's] LIfe” is refreshingly within the realm of possibly-already-being-in-your-iTunes. Then, the alchemy of LCD and James Murphy’s taste profile was less about his reference points’ obscurity (obscure as some are) than the way he filtered and juxtaposed them. And so it stands to reason this list is impeccably curated and perfectly tasteful, running the post-disco gamut (from Loose Joints/Arthur Russell to the Rapture); paying homage to horizon-busting icons (Jonathan Richman, Mark E. Smith via the Fall, Nick Cave via the Birthday Party, Bowie); and drawing a bridge from NYC (Loose Joints, NYCC Choir, Suicide, Lou Reed & his Welsh/VU compatriot John Cale) to Germany (CAN, Kraftwerk). You’ve got Leonard Cohen for lyrics, A Flock Of Seagulls for haircuts, the Beatles because obviously, and Roberta Flack for closure (“The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face,” which he recently told GQ is the song he wants played at his funeral). Sensibility aside, though, the most perfectly James Murphy thing about this list of songs he made for a website called Ten Songs That Saved Your Life” is that it is 15 songs. Right? Here it is:

01 Jonathan Richman – “I’m Straight”
02 Suicide – “Cheree”
03 The Fall – “Paintwork”
04 The Rapture – “House Of Jealous Lovers”
05 CAN – “I’m So Green”
06 Leonard Cohen – “Famous Blue Raincoat”
07 David Bowie – “Fame”
08 A Flock Of Seagulls – “Space Age Love Song”
09 John Cale & Lou Reed – “Work”
10 NYCC Choir – “Stand On The Word”
11 Loose Joints – “Is It All Over My Face”
12 Birthday Party – “Nick The Stripper”
13 The Beatles – “Tomorrow Never Knows”
14 Kraftwerk – “Computer World”
15 Roberta Flack – “The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face”

Also in that GQ interview: “I’m a reactive person. Mark E. Smith is a generative person.” And, James is working on a novel. It’s a good read, read it.

Comments (18)
  1. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  2. Thanks for clearing that up…. No more hittin on ya, promise!!

  3. And “All My Friends” save my life. So… No, thank YOU, Mr. Murphy.

    • beat me to it, I would have said the same thing. And maybe thrown in ‘someone great’ at number 10 as well. And now that I’m getting older possibly ‘losing my edge’ at number 15.

  4. I think sometimes people get the impression that our most favorite musicians are supposed to have taste in music that is beyond our comprehension, when really — musicians are just like people just like you and me (except Thom Yorke. He is an alien.)

  5. No Bon Iver? That’s it, I’m removing Stereogum from my bookmarks. Wait what is this list for?

  6. I thought this was going to be Third Eye Blind’s “Jumper” 15 times. Color me surprised!

  7. So are we now allowed to say A Flock of Seagulls was a good band? Because they were, regardless of how silly they may have looked. “Space Age Love Song” was easily one of the best new wave singles any band from that era released.

  8. Really, “Fame”??? Of all the Bowie tunes he could have chosen . . .

    It’s a great song, no doubt, but it’s not even one of the top 3 songs on ‘Young Americans’ — the title cut, “Win”, and “Right”.

    • By the way, ‘Young Americans’ would have gone down as one of the best EPs of all time if it had been trimmed down to those 4 songs. Instead it’s a disappointingly uneven LP.

  9. Related: Songza’s playlist called “James Murphy’s Record Collection” http://songza.com/listen/james-murphy-s-record-collection-songza/

  10. I don’t know if anyone else here saw LCD at Bonnaroo, but that performance of “All My Friends” may have been one of the single greatest song performances I have seen in 30 years of concert going. I get goose bumps just thinking about it. (And let’s not forget, it was around 2:30 am when that song dropped.)

  11. No Talking Heads? I thought this guy lived and breathed Talking Heads.

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