In our new series, we invite music lovers to share the songs that have soundtracked their lives. This week, we speak to Sarah Thomson, programme director at 95bFM.
Mack the Knife - Dr Teeth & Sam the American Eagle (1978)
The older I get, the harder it is to argue that there is any greater external influence on my entire life than The Muppets. VHS tapes copied from broadcast TVNZ with the ads lovingly cut out were my sort-of babysitter from a very young age. Those tapes were my introduction to the Great American Songbook, albeit via Jim Henson's incredibly irreverent, colourful, felt-swaddled take. It was a world that was inclusive, almost constantly at the point where the wheels are coming off, and always filled with great music. Kind of like my current job, come to think of it.
Se Telefonando - Mina (1966)
I went through a pretty aggressive Dusty Springfield phase at age 13. Her performance power was phenomenal, her song choices were second to none, but it seemed Dusty still felt she had to create this larger-than-life alter ego of blond bouffant and stark eye makeup in order to perform - the creation of a confident alter ego being something that gelled with this gawky fledgling teen. Combinations of hair bleach, liquid liner, back-combing and shift dresses haunted my wardrobe until the early 2000s. I later found out Dusty nicked it all from Mina. And why wouldn't you? This song gives me goosebumps.
Liquid Skies - DLT & Ryad (2000)
I was 15 when DLT's Altruism came out. It rewired a lot of my ideas about what hip-hop was: it started with a karakia, it included a song about the street that ran behind my high school (Madeleine Ave), and it was proud and strong and sad and beautiful all at once. It also started me off on the journey of discovering what came before: Southside Records, Upper Hutt Posse, Moana and the Moahunters. Releases like DLT's, alongside Che Fu's 2b S.Pacific and King Kapisi's Savage Thoughts, morphed 'being into hip-hop' from something almost exclusively American influenced into something that embraced a sense of place, politics and belonging far closer to home.
My Dreams - The Gun Club (1984)
There's a fragility to Jeffrey Lee Pierce at the best of times, but on this track, it's something else. A happy Kid Congo Powers lead guitar jangle and wonderful bass from Patricia Morrison starts off with Pierce horror-vocal detailing an intrusion so complete it "intrudes upon [his] dreams", then devolves into him screaming. There's power in it, but also a heavy helping of sadness and denial. When I was very much into Gun Club and associated acts (X, Bush Tetras) I was running away from home, pretending to be an adult, negotiating various associated threats to my person, and probably a bit fragile and jangly myself.
This is Hardcore - Pulp (1998)
I adore Jarvis Cocker. He's a wit, has a Sheffield accent, is an art-school kid, loves Scott Walker (whose absence on this list is keenly felt by me), is a great radio show host, and I once pulled his hair when he knelt in front of me at a concert. Not cool. I'm so sorry, Jarvis.
All This Love That I'm Giving - Gwen McCrae (1979)
When people are silly enough to ask me to DJ places, 'The Gwens' (McCrae and Guthrie) are not far from the turntable. While The Muppets were still, dubiously, probably my original intro to soul, funk and disco, as I aged I got to explore the original, amazing, broad church of tracks that could detail the dressing down of an ex-lover and make you want to dance all night at the same time. McCrae's vocal on this is huge. The way she spits, "I was so in love with you / I could hardly see", has so much venom, both external and self-directed.
High - Coco Solid (2018)
Jessica Hansell, aka Coco Solid, is a constant inspiration, striving to maintain truth to her own personal ethics while collaborating with others and boosting them up, encouraging the talents of those around her. Her work in Parallel Dance Ensemble meant a huge deal to me in my mid-20s, with every new track landing like a severely cocked eyebrow to the prevailing industry's idea of how a woman with a microphone/platform should be behaving. A constant note to self: what would Coco do?
• 95bFM celebrates its 50-year anniversary at the Powerstation tomorrow with a line-up that includes Beastwars, Coco Solid, Miss June and The Original True School Hip Hop Show.