Shortly after their overpowering passage at Rocktoberfest (read all about that here), I got the chance to ask Bliksem frontwoman Peggy about her Songs With Stories. In my review for their album 'Gruesome Masterpiece', I already mentioned one of the artists on her list, one who definitely influenced Peggy's vocal performances, and I'm quite glad I got that right. It proves that a decent metal vocalist doesn't necessarily needs a full-metal background, but an amalgamation of high quality music. She wanted to include so much more, like Diablo Swing Orchestra, Babe Ruth and Red Hot Chili Peppers, but rules are rules and we made her restrict her list to just five...
Very simple, I grew up with a brother who was crazy about Queen and I got addicted to this song. I played it for hours on end. In fact, I think it was the very first song little Peggy could sing front-to-back (be it phonetically). My love for Queen has always remained, although I have to admit that I like their seventies ('A Day At The Races', 'A Night At The Opera') stuff more now. In the end, I think there are worse bands to grow up with, don't you think?
'Auntie' Janis is my biggest idol and I think she always has been. I discovered her when I was about eight years old. I was immediately impressed by her voice. Ever since, it has been my dream to become just like her (minus the drugs and her untimely death, obviously). Each time I hear her, she impresses in by the way she sings from her heart. It's not always perfect, but always sincere. All her songs are my favorites, I just selected this track because it was the first one I've ever heard (and strangely enough not 'Mercedes Benz')
When I was fourteen years old, I started listening to metal, when TMF (TV Station in Belgium) played 'The Unforgiven 2'. At that time, I stayed in a home for children with problematic parents. One of my monitors was a big Metallica fan. She got me a few tapes, including the infamous black album. As a somber adolescent, the lyrics of The Unforgiven deeply touched me. It seemed like it was written especially for me. I've always found music to be some kind of exhaust valve, but from that moment on, it became something to flee into. Everything you feel can be translated into music, that's what Metallica teached me. From then on, music was no longer something that was just fun, but also a kind of therapy.
Before I heard this song, I never really was a Porcupine Tree fan. Because of this one, all the pieces of the band and Steven Wilson solo seemed to fall in its place. I'm usually not very fond of this clean, almost sterile, use of vocals but this song has everything a good song needs: a good build-up, appealing lyrics, and a sensitive but heavy sound. By now, I own everything Wilson ever released on CD and I have to say that his shows are some of my all-time favorites. Everything seems right with this band, including the visual aspect, the build-up of the songs and even the (to me) somewhat limited vocal qualities. Being an Opeth fan, I also hear the influences Mikael Akerfeldt has had on the later work. Somehow, Steven Wilson touches my inner geek, who still wants to be sturdy.
This is the best example of music that touches you because it's universal. I've seen them at Roadburn several years ago, because of this song, and I cried from start to finish. Not because I was sad, but because their music did something to my heart. It's a simple song, no note-fuckery (I think this means not over-the-top-technical-mumbo-jumbo - ed), but damn touching. Sometimes it's good when music isn't polluted by language but just speaks for itself. I've been looking what the text actually means, and I'm not going to spoil it, but it still is a song that I listen to when all other music fails.