I Love You Baby
Before Euro 2016 we had the pleasure of spending an evening in the company of Wales Online’s entertainment correspondent David Owen, not only a big Wales fan but a man of exquisite musical taste. We collaborated on a Euros-themed Spotify playlist which we discussed for podcast #31.
In the aftermath of the Euros our Hywel Picken likened the World Cup campaign to a band’s ‘difficult second album’ . So, never missing an opportunity to crowbar music and football together, in a similar vein, Leon Barton has put a Wales-themed Santes Dwynwen’s Day playlist together.
Santes Dwynwen is the Welsh patron saint of lovers – the Welsh equivalent of St. Valentine. It’s a bit of a strange one, given that according to legend she was granted three wishes by an angel and one of them was to remain unmarried. And she died as a hermit. But there you go. She is celebrated on 25 January, so while in Scotland it’s Burns night, in Wales it’s carpet burns night (BOOM!).
To mark the occasion I thought I’d put together a little playlist of great love songs from Wales, a little something to soundtrack whatever romantic endeavours you and your cariad might have in mind for tonight. Each is dedicated to someone/thing related to the national team.
Incidentally, Santes Dwynwen is also the patron saint of sick animals….
Meic Stevens – Mor O Gariad
Mor O Gariad translates as ‘sea of love’ but as a non-Welsh speaker I can’t say I understand any of the rest of this. No matter, it’s still a stunningly beautiful song from the ‘Welsh Dylan’. Hailing from the tiny picturesque village of Solva/Solfach in Pembrokeshire/Sir Benfro, Stevens first gained attention back in the 1960s. But having turned his back on recording in English, was largely forgotten until Welsh-speaking acts such as Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci and Super Furry Animals emerged in the 1990s, naming him an influence. Talking of which….
Dedicated to: The Red Wall. Or should that be ‘the red sea’…?
Super Furry Animals – Fire In My Heart
It is perhaps testament to what this band means to people who grew up in and around Wales in the 1990s that I have been to more than one wedding where this song has soundtracked the first dance. Often willfully obtuse – whilst still totally charming – this is the Super Furries at their most straightforward. Mass commercial success eluded the album this appeared on (third long play release Guerilla) so they abandoned any attempt on the mainstream and recorded their next album, Mwng, entirely in Welsh.
Dedicated to: Chris Gunter. A man with fire in his heart who appears to love us as much as we love him.
Datblygu – Y Teimlad
Having been aware of the Super Furry Animals cover for over fifteen years, it’s to my eternal shame that I only recently heard the original version for the first time, thanks to my Podcast Pêl-droed comrade Russell‘s recommendation. Superbly stark, it’s a rough diamond of a track from a band who, like Meic Stevens, were under-appreciated for years until being name-checked by younger, more successful acts. Singer David R Edwards, is one of Welsh language pop’s more revered practitioners, and his mental health problems over the years have added an extra layer of melancholy to the Datblygu story. Out of the darkness of the band describing the disillusionment of 1980s Wales under the destructive policies of Margaret Thatcher were some genuinely lovely moments, of which ‘Y Teimlad’ (The Feeling) is perhaps the loveliest.
Dedicated to: Gareth Bale. A man who gives us all a warm gooey feeling inside…
Spencer Davis Group – Gimme Some Lovin’
Okay, possibly a a bit of a cheat in that the bands most famous member – young singer Steve Windwood- is a Brummie, but Davis himself is from Swansea and he co-wrote this, one the 1960’s great rock’n’soul tracks. A massive hit five decades back, the song enjoyed a second wind when included in the hit movie ‘the Blues Brothers in the early 1980’s. The royalties from this, together with the fact Davis lives on beautiful Catalina island off the coast of California and is a fluent German speaker (something that continues to elude me despite living in Austria for the past seven years) means he is a man I’m not ashamed to say I’m profoundly envious of.
Dedicated to: Joe Ledley. So glad you made it to the Euros after that leg break Joe.
Catatonia – You’ve Got A Lot To Answer For
Long, long ago, when 6 Music was but a twinkle in the BBC’s eye, Cerys Matthews sang in a band called Catatonia, a group who produced two albums of sparkling guitar pop (1996’s Way Beyond Blue and 1998’s International Velvet) and two distinctly average ones once the spark had gone (1999’s Equally Cursed And Blessed 2001’s Paper Scissors Stone). Taken from their first release ‘You’ve Got A Lot To Answer For’ always struck me as beautifully and quietly profound in its meeting of the romantic and the realistic. Let’s face it guys, we’ve all got a lot to answer for….
Dedicated to: The Welsh football team. As David Owens stated in podcast #31, “‘You’ve got a lot to answer for, but baby I love you” sums up the general feeling among fans for our team.
60ft Dolls – Hair
‘I love your hair and everything below it. I don’t care if you cut it or you grow it’
Isn’t that a lovely line? Like an indie rock Smokey Robinson. The Dolls hailed from Newport (as did Dub War, Flyscreen, Novocaine and Elastica’s Donna Matthews, leading some magazines to name the town the ‘new Seattle’ by the mid-nineties). ‘Hair’ is one of the highlights of their superb LP The Big Three, sadly the only album the band released. “For about five minutes in 1996, we were the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band in the world” stated singer/guitarist Richard J Parfitt (who once mistakenly sent Status Quo’s Rick Parfitt’s tax bill). He’s right, their star burned fiercely bright before abruptly disappearing. Two decades on, they are still much missed.
Dedicated to: Joe Allen, of course.
Donna Lewis – I Love You Always Forever
Okay, one for all the nineties ladies out there. The third selection from 1996 (obviously the golden year of the Welsh love song), this one of that years’ biggest hits, only failing to hit the top spot on the American Billboard chart thanks to that summer’s massive novelty smash ‘La Macarena’ (La Macafuckingrena to give it the full title). Despite the production giving this a Sophie B Hawkins/Wilson Phillips-esque American feel, Lewis hails from the Welsh capital and my favourite aspect of the track is that you can clearly hear her Kairdiffian accent in the chorus. A one hit wonder, yes. But surely that’s better than being a no hit wonder, innit? Oh, and her debut LP was called Now In A Minute.
Dedicated to: Gary Speed. Never to be forgotten.
The Velvet Underground – The Gift
Yeah, that’s right hipsters, the Velvet Underground were Welsh. Well, one quarter Welsh anyway, thanks to Garnant-born John Cale. Cale narrates this short story of a lovesick youth called Waldo who decides to mail himself to his lover Marsha, with disastrous consequences. Actually penned by Lou Reed (and based on a short story he’d written in college), this gets on the list thanks to Cale’s deadpan delivery in his lovely lilting Carmarthenshire/Sir Gâr accent. Quite a contrast to all the noise and feedback of the music. Genius.
Dedicated to: James Chester. That he has a Welsh mum and took to international football so comfortably was a truly wonderful and unexpected gift for Welsh football.
The above Spotify playlist is open for additions so please add your Santes Dwynwen Wales-themed songs and use the comments section explaining your suggestions.