The greatest music of all time: from Nicholas Gruen (Cultural Icon)

A few weeks back I was rather taken aback to receive an email which I took to be a hoax:

Hi Nicholas

We would like to invite you on the Greatest Music of All Time podcast. The episodes are a good opportunity to promote upcoming or new projects in front of our audience. They feature conversations with cultural icons about music, current affairs, culture, lifestyle, entrepreneurship and more.

Guests have included Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart, Dionne Warwick, Chick Corea, Chance the Rapper, Kevin Bacon, Jeffrey Archer, Rose McGowan, Christina Hendricks, Rachel Bilson, Smokey Robinson, Earth, Wind & Fire, The Temptations, Kool & the Gang, The Pointer Sisters, Sir Cliff Richard, Lynyrd Skynyrd, David Crosby, Pixies, Johnny Marr, The Hollies, Toto, 10cc, Seal, Chris Rea, David Guetta, UB40, Boyz II Men, Don McLean, Gloria Estefan, John Oates, Jon Anderson of Yes, Sean Paul, Tito Jackson of The Jackson 5 and many more.

Would you be interested in coming on the show?

So there you have it. Nicholas Gruen, cultural icon. In any event, pathetically easy to flatter with however implausible a proposition, I replied and it turned out to be for real. I listened to an earlier version with Peter Singer whose greatest music of all time was unashamedly lowbrow so I followed suit — though I did supply the names of some of my favourite classical pieces which, from memory didn’t figure.

Anyway, the interview was a blast, indeed started off with one, and went for much longer than they usually do. Tom, the host is a man after my own heart which is to say that he likes doing things, not just talking about them. He seems like a wonderfully positive, open minded guy. And he seemed genuinely interested in what I was going on about — no prizes for guessing that that was the fast-foodification of the world starting with pop-music and radiating out to most of our lives, most alarmingly our whole public and political life, then leading on to what might be done about it.

Here’s an extract from the email I sent Tom which I include so you can follow up the links to some of the music discussed should you wish:

    • As I mentioned in our phone chat, one of my favourite songs of all time is Boy in the Bubble from Paul Simon’s Graceland and I play it as I run down the runway each time I’m going on a long international trip. I also tweet it!

Other faves include

    • Everlasting love by the Town Criers — which I heard as a kid — and I just loved the melody and somehow this fantasy that one’s life would somehow turn out perfectly.
    • Silent worship is a similar song in its way — by in the classical genre.
    • Don’t throw stones — by The Sports who were the most exciting band when I was at uni. Listen to Steven Cummings vocals!
    • Boy George and Culture Club — what a wonderful explosion of fun and originality. Karma Chameleon, Church of the Poisoned Mind and Victims were favourites.
    • A little after uni I got into New Romantic disco stuff with Human League being a highlight — particularly “Don’t you want me” by Human League.



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Antonios Sarhanis
2 years ago

Was a good listen.

Your talking about fast-foodification had me thinking about a great book with a terrible title, Enlightenment 2.0:

I’ve recommended Joseph Heath to you before, and that book is exactly on fast-foodification and is pretty excellent.