Every week, we invite music lovers to share the songs that have soundtracked their lives. This week, we speak to Australian singer-songwriter Julia Jacklin. Her new album Crushing arrives tomorrow.
Leonard Cohen - Suzanne
This is my favourite song of all time, and it has been for about eight years. There's a line in it where he says, "And she feeds me tea and oranges that came all the way from China", and there's something about the way that he sings it – it sounds like he's got a bubble in his throat, or like he's about to burp or something? I don't know what it is but, to me, that line made me really appreciate and understand how important imperfections in recordings are. I have a classical singing background, and it was always about ironing out any individuality. When I heard this song and this line, there was something about it that clicked to me – that it's actually about capturing a feeling.
Leonard Cohen - Memories
I watched Father John Misty when I was maybe 21, and the opening band covered this song, and it was actually my introduction to Leonard Cohen. I just love the way he's able to capture the way being young makes you feel like a total idiot, but in such a beautiful way, and how you want so much, but you don't really know how to get it.
Neil Young - Out On The Weekend
Out On The Weekend informed the whole production style of my new record. It wasn't even the specifics of it, it was just that I wanted to make one of those records where you put the headphones on, and you can just feel like you're in the room, and you can hear everything, and you can hear all of the imperfections and all of the bodies of the instruments. I remember telling a friend this a long time ago, and he was like, "Well, you'd need this amp and that amp, and you definitely need to go back to the 70s and just be Neil Young." So when I made the new record, I didn't tell the producer that, because I was like, it's a stupid reference, he'll probably laugh at me as well. And I was explaining what I was going for, and he was like, "okay, I think we should try and aim for this" – and then he put on Out On The Weekend, without me even saying it. It was spooky as hell. I was trying to explain to him how spooky it was and he just said, "yeah, okay", I was like, "you have no idea, I've literally been thinking about this song for a year".
Joanna Newsom – Emily
I remember listening to Joanna Newsom when I was 16/17, and just thinking, "I don't like this at all". And then I was in the car once with my friend Rosie, driving to the Blue Mountains, and she put something on, and I wasn't really paying attention that much, but I just remember suddenly being like – "what is this? This is incredible." And it was Emily. It really changed the way I thought about songwriting. She doesn't just give it all away; she makes you work for it, and if you work for it, you get the biggest payoff in the world. She's not trying to make music to pull you in immediately; she's making stuff that only people who really stick it out will listen to.
Fiona Apple - Not About Love
This was the first song I learned to play on guitar. I really appreciate – and this is a lot of my new record – songs that talk about the devastation of falling out of love, and how sad it can be to be on the other side of a heartbreak, where you don't get as much sympathy or care – you're the villain. In the past, when I've gone through a similar experience, if I've written a song about it, I've flipped the narrative to make myself the person who got broken up with, because it's a bit of an easier perspective to write from.
Aldous Harding - Two Bitten Hearts
I was in America when I was 24 on this backpacking trip. I'd just finished a degree in social policy, and I was like, "is that even what I want to do?" I knew I wanted to do music, but I didn't know how to do it. I listened to a podcast interview with Marlon Williams and Aldous Harding, with (producer) Ben Edwards, talking about the record they'd made, and then I got the Aldous Harding record. There's something so incredibly haunting and beautiful about it, and I just was like, "I should make a record!" I emailed Ben, sent him a couple of demos that I'd recorded on the road, and I was like, "Hi, I'm Julia from Australia, and I want to make a record, is that something I can do?" And then he replied and was just like, "Yes! Come to New Zealand." Listening to that record, and especially that song, was kind of the catalyst to me even making my first record (Don't Let the Kids Win), which changed my whole life.
The Drifters - Up On The Roof
This song, as soon as those first notes come in, it's almost painful – you know when you hear a song from a time of your life when everything was so different, and innocent, and young? I really connected to it as a child because sitting on our roof was what me and my sister did. We would just sit out there for hours, chatting, looking at the sky. We used to play this game called Roofball, which was standing on the roof, throwing balls off the roof, and seeing if they would bounce back on to the roof. A really fun game before the whole world changed.
- as told to George Fenwick