2007 - 2021

Carla Easton: Songs From My Formative Years…

Carla Easton from TeenCanteen chooses the music for Bella this week.

Carla Easton: Songs From My Formative Years…

As I am in a band called TeenCanteen I thought it would be fun to revisit my teen years and make a playlist from the songs that informed that glorious, messy hormone time of my life – I guess the songs that shaped me and the music I would go on to make. I find it interesting when people get embarrassed about songs they used to listen to growing up but I’ve never felt that way. Hand on heart, I can say that Kylie Minogue has probably influenced me just as much as George Harrison and so I hold both artists very dear to me – as old friends – with no irony. I also find that a lot of the time it’s assumed that all I listen to is girl groups but it wasn’t until I was in my twenties that this started.

Music has always played a huge part in my life as a result of growing up with a brother ten years my senior. Records and bands he was listening to at 15, I was listening to at 5. He is of a generation where Oasis burst onto the scene and made a huge impact when he was 18. This meant that at 8 years old I had the lyrics for Some Might Say (from the gone but not forgotten Smash Hits magazine) stuck on my wall with a shaky red felt tip pen heart around Liam Gallagher’s face (I might be a bit embarrassed about this if I’m being honest).

I listened back to these songs as I was compiling this list and, for the most part, felt fifteen and full of hope again. I think that’s what music should do.

Kylie Minogue: Hand On Your Heart
This was the first ever 12″ record I was given and sparked a lifelong obsession with Ms Minogue and pop music. I love SAW productions and find a lot of comparisons with them and classic Goffin/King compositions. Its the classic combination of absolutely heart wrenching lyrics with euphoric melodies and I think this is something I subconsciously explore when I’m writing. I remember when the Jose Gonzalez cover version of this came out and a friend wouldn’t believe me when I told them this was a Kylie song. I think that’s what’s amazing about the power of the cover version – the translation of the same piece of work means it can transform. Kylie’s version will always be number one for me. I was fucking gutted when I was 4 years old and she left Neighbours. My life was never the same again. The harmonies on the intro of this song still get me every time I hear it. It’s one thing to say you love me but another to mean it from the heart – what an outstanding lyric.

The Lemonheads: Being Around
The first 7″ record I was ever given was The Lemonheads’ Mrs Robinson which was released in 1992 so I must have been 7. I have vivid memories of jumping up and down on my bed armed with a tennis racket guitar whilst this was blasting out the stereo. My brother was part of this, though he was 17 at the time so didn’t really have an excuse. The B Side Being Around is perhaps one of my favourite songs ever. I absolutely love Evan Dando – I think he is one of the greatest songwriters of all time and a definite influence. On my recent trip to Canada for a Songwriting Residency I revisited the album It’s A Shame About Ray and it just brought back childhood memories of summer holidays and ice creams and having fun.

The Stone Roses: Waterfall
When I was in primary 2, I went round school telling people my full name was “Carla Jennifer Waterfall Easton” because that is what my brother told me. He said it was after this Stone Roses song. This memory makes me realise how much I listened to everything my brother told me when I was younger. Thankfully this is not the case now? We had a converted garage turned into a “den” at our family home. It housed my brothers CD and records and was plastered in posters. You couldn’t see a single bit of the wall. The centre piece was a huge Jackson Pollock print. I couldn’t work out where the music posters ended and the art print began. I still can’t. My obsession with high bass lines probably started here.

Bob Marley: Mellow Mood
I think it was when I was in Primary 7 I really got into Bob Marley. It was definitely before I went to High School. So I must have been about 11. I had been watching an old VHS which someone had recorded the film Swiss Family Robinson onto from the TV (remember when we used to do that?) Someone had left the VCR recording and after the film it went onto a documentary about Bob Marley. I just kept watching. I’d never heard of this man before or been exposed to this music before. It wasn’t something either of my brothers listened to. Anyway, I waited patiently for my brother to get home from work and when he did I went into his room and told him that Bob Marley was cool and I wanted an album. He got me the Bob Marley Legend CD – my first album! This song isn’t on it, but I found it on one of the various Marley CDs I then acquired. I love everything about it. The harmonies, the simplicity of it, the groove and Bob’s vocal is gorgeous on it.

The Vaselines: Teenage Jesus Superstar via Youtube

One day when my brother was at work, I went in to raid his CD collection. I always had to be careful because he alphabetised everything so he could work out if I had been in snooping around and taking his CDs. I found the Vaselines. I was 14. I immediately made a cassette tape and took it into high school the next day to let my best friend Debs here it (drummer in TeenCanteen). I told her Teenage Jesus Superstar was our anthem. She agreed.


Lauryn Hill: Every Ghetto, Every City
Between the ages of 13 and 17 is when me and Debs really got into music. We’d save up money for train trips through to Glasgow to see bands and spend weekends in making mix tapes for the imaginary cars that we would eventually drive once we passed our driving lessons. I still have one, simply labelled the “Debz and Ceej Driving Tape”. It was around this time we both became very obsessed with the album The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill to the point where we could recite it word for word. We went on a school trip to Paris and Lauryn was our soundtrack. This was my favourite song from the album at that time, though now it’s Ex Factor.

Ben Kweller: Wasted And Ready
I love Ben Kweller with all my heart and his debut album Sha Sha is one of my favourite records of all time. Wasted And Ready was the single lifted from it that was on constant repeat on MTV2 when I got in from high school in the afternoon. I remember phoning Debs after the first time I had seen the video of Ben walking around a giant strawberry with his guitar. I told her I was in love. I wasn’t wasted and ready in the literal sense, but something about that song, at 15, made perfect sense to me. The whole album is incredible and I would urge anyone to give it a listen. Definitely a desert island disc.

The Polyphonic Spree: Soldier Girl
Oh Tim. What a guy. The Polyphonic Spree were THE BAND that me want to be in a band. My brother has boxes and boxes of old Melody Makers and NME’s stored up in the loft at our family home. He refuses to throw them out. They would lie all over the house when I was growing up. I used to love reading them. That’s where I found out about The Polyphonic Spree – but this was back in the day when you couldn’t go online to hear what they sounded like, you had to trust what the journalist was telling you about them and then either buy the music or try and catch them live. It sounded like a band I could get into. That summer when I was 16 and Debs was 15 we somehow managed to convince her parents and my mum to let s go to T in The Park for the first time completely unaccompanied. To this day I’m still not sure how we managed this. We spent the entire Saturday standing in scorching sun, completely burning ourselves in the hope of catching Primal Scream. The Polyphonic Spree – luckily for me – were playing that stage and were first on. I can’t describe the feeling I had. The sonic happiness that flowed through me. In 2015 they returned to Glasgow to play their debut album in entirety at SWG3. I took my brother. I had tears streaming down my face with pure happiness and he laughed at me. I met Tim afterwards and amidst ultimate fangirl tears said “thank you” – it was all I could manage to utter at him. Soldier Girl was my first Polyphonic Spree purchase. It has not been my last.

Badly Drawn Boy: The Shining
2000 was a great year for music for me and Debs. As well as getting hooked on Polyphonic Spree and Ben Kweller, it was also the year that Badly Drawn Boy burst onto the scene in a yellow t shirt that said TAXI and that was a lift we wanted to take! When I was 15 and Debs was 14 we went through to Glasgow to see BDB play at the Barrowlands. I – somehow and I don’t know why – managed to get hold of his super sweaty grotty towel at the end of his show. When I got home I didn’t know quite what to do with it so hung it on the towel rail in our bathroom. The next morning my mum used it to dry her face. She was fuming at me. It really was a gross towel.

Chuck Wood: Seven Days Too Long
This was maybe the first Northern Soul record I was exposed to. It was on a compilation CD that my brother had tracked down after going to a Northern Soul night in Glasgow. One of our favourite past times, when I was younger, was to go out driving with my brother. He’d make compilation cassette tapes and we would both grab our sunglasses and drive around the Clyde Valley with the windows rolled down and the sun streaming through the windows whilst we listened to his mixtapes at full volume. This was where I discovered many artists and bands. I will NEVER tire of this song. I pretty much always include it on mix CDs or playlists for friends.

Carole King: I Feel The Earth Move
Carole King burst into my life via one of our Summer Clyde Valley drives and what an impression she made on my young ears! I had been having piano lessons since the age of 8 and I think I was maybe 14 the first time I heard Carole. It was the first time I had heard a piano up front in a mix and it blew my mind. I love Carole’s voice – in a way it spurred me to try singing because I knew and know I don’t have a typical ‘pop’ voice. Neither does Carole and she gives zero fucks. And why would you if you’re writing some of the best pop songs all time! I’d kill to see Carole King play live.

George Harrison: What Is Life
I have loved watching music documentaries for as along as I can remember. In 2001 I saw a documentary on VH1 about the reissue of George Harrison’s seminal Spector produced album All Things Must Pass. I immediately put in a request for my brother to pick me up a copy in Glasgow on his way home from work. The Summer before in 2000 was when my father had passed away. I’d just turned 15 and was sitting prelim exams for my Standard Grades as well as being smack bang in the midst of raging teenage hormones. It’s not a year I look back on fondly. Of my two-disc Harrison album, track one on CD two is the title song All Things Must Pass. I felt like this was the advice my teenage ears had been needing for months. Sunset doesn’t last all morning, a cloudburst doesn’t last all day. George Harrison became my audio friend after that. As well as Mr Harrison explaining the intricacies of our fleeting time on earth he also taught me the wonder and glory of love with What Is Life one of my absolute favourite pop songs ever. The over the top production makes my heart burst. I can’t not sing along to this when I hear it play.

TeenCanteen’s debut album Say It All With A Kiss is available from Last Night From Glasgow Records.

Ette’s debut album Homemade Lemonade is available from Olive Grove Records.

Follow Ette at: @teencanteen @ette_music

SAY AWARD Longlisters Vukovi and Fatherson choose the music for Bella in the next couple of weeks.


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