Quickfire Questions #25: Editor Mary Chang

By on Friday, 25th November 2011 at 11:00 am

So we’ve shared with you the Quickfire Questions answers from our writers and I was thinking some of you might be wondering how I would answer them…

1. What song is your earliest musical memory?
My dad was a crazed maniac when it came to fidelity of sound; the house I grew up in is still littered with the many speakers he bought over the years, after painstakingly researching each one through geeky audiophile magazines including one from this company that came into existence before I was in existence). So it’s really not surprising that my first musical recollection is something from his classical collection, probably ‘Nessun Dorma’ from Puccini’s Turandot (aka Pavarotti’s big number).

2. What was your favourite song as a child?
Madonna’s ‘Borderline’ was the first song I learned all the words to. I still know all the words, but it rarely gets played on radio these days. At the time, I didn’t understand that Madonna was this sexualised being that girls wanted to emulate and boys wanted to be with. All I wanted to do is sing along to it on my hairbrush. And dream about being a pop star one day.

The Rolling Stones’ ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ was my favourite when I got older. The awesome guitar riffs are there, the lyrics that you want to sing along to loudly at the top of your lungs are there as well. It came back to me years later in a introductory biology class in uni, when the professor was discussing respiration and said in passing, “it’s a gas, gas, gas!” and I sniggered loudly. With both pride and embarrassment, he identified me as the only person in the cavernous lecture hall to have gotten his joke.

3. What song makes you laugh?
Fine Young Cannibals – ‘She Drives Me Crazy’. There is a good way to do falsetto. (Exhibit A: Hayden Thorpe of Wild Beasts.) Roland Gift, he’s an example of someone with an embarrassing one that will now go into history thanks to the record-buying public. It’s not that he was a bad singer. ‘Good Thing’ proved he could sing, given the right material. In the right key. Generally anything by Art Brut also guarantees sniveling and snorting of the good variety.

4. What song makes you cry?
Coldplay – ‘The Scientist’. This probably sounds odd, as I don’t like Coldplay and think they’re massively overrated. When the song came out, I was very ill and I wasn’t sure I was going to live. I don’t care what anyone else says: coming to terms with your own mortality is the single most scary thing you will ever have to do in your life. I remember hearing it for the first time, breaking down in tears, thinking, “does this mean I am going to die before I’ve ever fallen in love?” The melody’s not great, but the lyrics “tell me you love me / come back and haunt me” gives me a lump in the throat every time.

5. What song reminds you of the first time you fell in love? (It’s up to you if you want this to be sweet, naughty, etc.)
Stephen Duffy and the Lilac Time – ‘Salvation Song’. My first love dedicated this song to me. He said I gave him great inspiration for songwriting. And he gave me a glimmer of hope, a beacon of light when everything in my world was dark. I have no idea where he is now, but I would think he would get a kick out of finding out I now run a UK music blog and play bass.

6. What song makes you think of being upset / angry? (Example: maybe you heard it when you were angry with someone and it’s still with you, and/or something that calms you down when you’re upset, etc.)
I blame both my parents for this: I have a really bad temper. Crossing me is not advised. I cannot sit through Hoobastank’s ‘The Reason’. The last time I sat through this song, I was in my car, trying to find the hospital where paramedics had taken my father after he had collapsed at work, and this stupid song was mocking me. Seriously, every time I hear it now, I want to put my fist through a wall. Or a window.

7. Which song (any song written in the last century) do you wish you’d written yourself?
The Stone Roses – ‘She Bangs the Drums’. Mani’s thudding opening bass line, the minimalist taps on the drums, then the melodic guitar into Ian Brown’s sweeping vocal. I don’t know why it took me so many years to realise how dirty the song is (!) but it’s a prime example of being able to write a very good rock ‘n’ roll song that can mean different things to different people. It’s also very weird to me now knowing that the Stone Roses have reunited and are touring next year. In a good way of course: anywhere close to Washington they decide to gig, I am there.

8. Who is your favourite writer? (This can be a songwriter or ANY kind of writer.)
I really don’t read as much as I should. (I’m listening to music. All the time.) I think Stuart Maconie’s dry humour in both his music and UK heritage books is great. The writers I aspire to be like are Dorian Lynskey and Dave Simpson of the Guardian. It doesn’t matter the topic: I know when a piece has either of their names on it, I’m in for a balanced, intelligent, wonderful read.

9. If you weren’t writing for this blog right now, what job do you think you’d be doing right now?
I’m a science editor, which is as good a job as any if you still want to remain in the sciences but you can’t be a wet bench scientist (working in a lab). If I could give it all up, I’d pack up my things and move to a major city in England and be a music journalist. My dream job when I was little was to be a singer; I was in choir and did all the things in school you could do to prepare yourself for a career in music. Unfortunately, I just don’t have the voice for it anymore.

10. If God said you were allowed to bring only one album with you to Heaven, which would it be and why?
If I died tomorrow, I’d chose Mystery Jets’ ‘Serotonin’ (pictured on top, review here). Admittedly, I’ve listened to it a whole lot since it came out last summer. There aren’t too many albums that distill love and lost love in pure pop form as perfectly as this one. Listening to it, I’d never forget the people who had graced my life over the years.

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[…] still gets to me every time I queue it up, as it has such personal meaning for me; when I did my own answers for the Quickfire Questions 2 years ago, I didn’t hesitate to list it as the album I’d […]

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

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TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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