What’s your first musical memory? Ours is hearing Eric Clapton’s Tears In Heaven in the back seat of our parents car and being told the story behind the song, a track just as likely to raise a tear now as it was back then. This is probably quite similar to how many people first remember music; good, bad or indifferent, for many of us it is the music of the parents that is our first introduction into the joys of recorded sound.
We’ll always be incredibly grateful for those early musical offerings, more often than not experienced on long journeys on faceless roads. The sound of Ry Cooder and his culinary themed classic, One Meat Ball, whose message of privilege and status has only become clear to us some twenty years later. The Travelling Willbury’s tales of Monkey-Men and collapsing walls, with its hidden message of crooked cops and crooks with questionable morals. Then there were The Kinks, we’d always go back to The Kinks, as kids we loved their funny voices, picture painting lyrics and tales of plastic men, but only now truly understands the Tax-Man, the dead-end streets and just what the heck was going on with this Lola character.
Those road trips, those early tapes, they shape not just the music we listen to but the people we become. Music’s power to educate and inspire, passed on from generation to generation is quite frankly a beautiful thing.
With a name as good as Hero Fisher you’d be forgiven for assuming it’s a stage-persona, but it’s not; the British-born, French-raised and London-based songwriter is actually called Hero Fisher. Hero released her debut album, Delivery, back in 2015, a record good enough to win her fans in Blur and The Horrors, as well as seeing her support Neil Young and The Rolling Stones. After a couple of years out of the spotlight, Hero is set to return early next year with her second album, Glue Moon, and has recently shared a new single, Push The Boat Out.
Hero has suggested that Push The Boat Out is inspired partly by scenes from Marilynne Robinson’s seminal novel ‘Housekeeping’. A book she describes as, “full of lush idyllic and affecting lyrical imagery, it’s a dream-like nocturne set by a lake under a big pale green moon”. Musically, Push The Boat Out is delightfully low-key, Hero’s vocal is accompanied by little more than a gently plodding, heavily processed piano, but it carries so much emotion and melody it needs nothing else. Throughout, strange noises seem to permeate the mix; distant whistling and what sounds like a muted choir harmonising on the other side of a wall. It’s all so perfectly and tastefully judged you could be forgiven for not noticing it at all, only truly revealing itself on repeat listening.
Today, Hero has put together a mixtape of some tracks that remind her of youthful car journeys with her father, featuring the likes of Muddy Waters, Bessie Smith and Carl Perkins, which Hero explains below.
When I was little and “asleep in bed”, I would hear my dad play records from his studio. He would paint in to the night and the sound would drift up through the floorboards in to my room. Because the music was muffled, travelling between floors, I would imagine the bits I couldn’t hear in my head. The songs would distort into new songs, almost hallucinatory, like playing some variant of Chinese Whispers. The memory of this is probably better than the reality/the songs I was making up, but it’s how I remember it, which is all that matters.
My 2nd album Glue Moon has a hazy/dreamlike quality to it. I thought I’d make a mixtape of songs I remember my dad playing in the car. As he used to make mixtapes too, here’s a memory of a mixtape.
1. Charles Trenet – ‘La Mer’
2. The Louvin Brothers – ‘Tennessee Waltz’
3. Al Bowlly – ‘Guilty’
4. Pat and Becky Egan – ‘Kilkelly’
5. Jimmy Reed – ‘Honest I Do’
6. The Ross Hanford Trio – ‘ Rainy Night In Georgia’
7. The Easybeats – ‘Friday On My Mind’
8. Carl Perkins – ‘Sure To Fall’
9. Willie Nelson – ‘What A Way To Live’
10. Sonny Boy Williamson – ‘Fattening Frogs For Snakes’
11. Bessie Smith – ‘Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out’
12. Elmore James – ‘It Hurts Me Too’
13. Captain Beefheart – ‘Sure ‘Nuff ‘N Yes I Do’
14. Muddy Waters – ‘Rollin Stone’
15. Hank Williams – ‘I’m So Lonesome I could cry’
16. Takashi Hirayasu & Bob Brozman – ‘会いたいな (Altai Na)’
Push The Boat Out is out now. Click HERE for more information on Hero Fisher.