Podcast Pick: Brian Eno

Here’s another in the occasional series of podcasts I’d like to remember having listened to: Brian Eno as guest DJ at NPR’s All Songs Considered. These guest DJ podcasts can be a bit hit-or-miss for me, in that they can often function as proof positive that some musicians are far better at making interesting music than interesting conversation. Brian Eno, however, has that rare quality of being able to give a thoughtful and distinctive answer to a question without rambling, trying to impress, or being boring.

You have to listen to the podcast to fully appreciate the following Interesting Things Said By Brian Eno in the context of the conversation, but I’m just writing them down here for my own recollection of the bits I enjoyed:

  • He grew up in Suffolk listening to the doo-wop, southern gospel and R&B which was popular in local coffee bars serving the two large American airbases nearby, and didn’t realize until years later that everyone who’d made his favourite music was black.

  • In response to host Bob Boilen’s observation (probably articulating what every podcast listener was also thinking) that doo-wop, southern gospel and R&B more or less sound like polar opposites of Brian Eno’s own work: “What you choose to do isn’t necessarily the same as what energizes you in the first place – you do what you can.”

  • He is a member of an amateur a capella group formed on the firm promise that they will never record and they will never perform.

  • Describing his voice as sounding like “a pencil” as opposed to a “brush full of wonderful colour”.

  • His daughter introduced Portishead’s The Rip to him, first playing it while they were in her car. He insisted they just keep driving around so he could listen to it again and again.[1. Michelle’s Made-Up Rule For Life: any time The Rip is brought up, the Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood cover must be linked to.]

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