Top of the Profs: Dario Sinforiani

Dario talks childhood, HMV bags filled with potatoes and Lou Reed being a dick.

Dario Sinforiani Stirling film stirling media stirling university

We’re putting Stirling University’s tutors under examination as we ask them what their favourite eight songs are. This week, we’re exploring Dario’s musical memories. 

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NAME: Dario Sinforiani

DEPARTMENT: Film & Media

I’M THE ONE WHO: watches.

THE FIRST RECORD I BOUGHT WAS: The Specials by The Specials. I would have been about nine or ten, I think. So, there was one place you could play a record in the house and it was a piece of furniture – it was called the radiogram. I remember playing it in the front room of the house, this thing bought from some wee record shop which no longer exists.

MY FAVOURITE EIGHT PIECES OF MUSIC ARE:

“Coloured Stone” – The Orchids

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(The person who uploaded this to YouTube put the wrong title on it.)

This is the only commercially released piece of music that I’ve played on. They’re a Glasgow band,so I knew the band and they knew I could play the piano. So, the last thing they recorded on the album was me playing the keyboard. I hadn’t even heard the song before but there was lots of people standing about and they said “see if you can play along to this.”

Later on, they played a gig at King Tut’s that was absolutely full. They played this track last and they shouted me up on stage, so I’ve played to a full house at King Tut’s. Nobody was there to see me obviously, but in the end they had to.

“Freak Scene” – Dinosaur Jr

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I’ve just realised that I like a lot of white guys playing guitars. It’s slightly heavy but it’s got a good melody going. I think it’s probably got just about one of my favourite set of lyrics, it’s very simple and it reminds me of being young: “Sometimes I don’t thrill you. Sometimes I think I’ll kill you. Just don’t let me fuck up will you. ‘Cause when I need a friend it’s still you.” Now, a 20 year old version of me thinks that’s fantastic poetry. That, in particular, just always kind of got me. And of course there’s a radio cut that instead of “don’t let me fuck up” it’s “don’t let me freak out,” which completely and utterly ruins the sentiment as far as I’m concerned.

“Movin’ on Up” – Primal Scream

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I would have been at university around about that kind of scene of that first Stone Roses album coming out, Happy Mondays and Screamadelica by Primal Scream. Obviously they were mainly a Glasgow band, so I had known them as a real guitar, indie type band. Then Screamadelica came out and it kind of felt like that in particular changed everything.

That album in particular just kind of reminds me of that time, about a change of music scene; it reminds me of very loud music at parties as well, neighbours from downstairs knocking on the door and all of that type of thing. So it was very depressing to see some sanitised version of it in an advert recently. There’s nothing you’re gonna do to stop that but it felt like they’d taken part of my youth away from me.

“Come Rain or Come Shine” – Ray Charles

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It’s specifically a live version of this song. A lot of times going to see somebody who’s a sort of musical hero live, I feel like I’ve been kind of let down. I saw Van Morrison once and somebody else sang three or four of the songs and he was very, very bad tempered.

Lou Reed was terrible. He was mainly playing an album. Then he started playing – kind of murdering – some Velvet Underground songs. Somebody shouted, quite loudly, “turn it up,” and he stopped the entire gig and tried to find this guy and just berated him. He said, “we’re not playing any louder, you asshole. If you want to go I’ll make sure you get your money back, but get the fuck out of here.” The thing that really got to me was, at the end of his tirade, the crowd applauded Lou Reed. There was this reverential treatment of somebody who’s actually just treating you with contempt.

But when I saw Ray Charles it was in a small hall at the SECC. I suppose he plays the type of music that it doesn’t matter so much that you’re getting older. It was amazing. This song reminds me of my wife; it reminds me of my wedding. I had to edit my own wedding video because one of my friends got two students to shoot my wedding video and they made a total mess of it. So, I had to edit the whole thing myself and I put this song on top of it.

“Lisa Says” – Velvet Underground

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This is despite my later bad experience with Lou Reed. I grew up in Kilmarnock and the ultimate in cool would be if you had a 12 inch record bag that either said Virgin or HMV, because it meant you’d been to Glasgow to buy a record.

People could have been walking around with a 12 inch piece of cardboard, but because it said Virgin or HMV they were considered cool. In fact, I remember my Italian grandmother, I don’t know how she ended up with it, but she had one of those Virgin or HMV bags filled with potatoes. Velvet Underground were one of those bands that you had to discover at some point in time. They were very… Lou Reed had a reputation for being quite a difficult person and they’ve got lots of difficult music. But I realise that I like a tune, and there’s lots of very melodic stuff.

This is live from that 1969 live album. I wish I’d seen Lou Reed live in 1969, rather than when I did! I like how it’s got a few mood shifts going on and it kind of shows that… well, I found out when he died that he was actually a doo-wop singer in the 50s! After he made Transformer, which had Walk on the Wild Side on, he became, for the first time, a bit of a pop star. So after that, he made Metal Machine Music, which was actually just machine feedback noise – possibly a double album’s worth of it. He deliberately set out to make an album that no one could listen to.

“Rock n Roll Suicide” – David Bowie

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I remember being in my early teens and David Bowie would have been the David Bowie of Let’s Dance – somebody that I saw in a slick music video that I didn’t particularly like. Then I went round to somebody’s house and heard an album of David Bowie from whatever number of years ago. I probably spent two years listening only to David Bowie and buying all of that back catalogue.

This song in particular reminds me of a friend who died about three or four years ago. He was the smartest guy that I ever knew, by a mile. He had a humanist funeral service and in the middle of it there was songs and poetry. Everybody’s there from his friends to his parents and older relatives and stuff like that, but the coffin got wheeled out and this is what it got wheeled out to.

I just remember this song goes on and gets bigger and bigger and by the time it gets to the end lots of people have left. Some people are listening to this and it’s making them really emotional and I just found myself smiling through the end of this because it was never before heard in the funeral parlour in Kilmarnock, this screaming type of thing at the end.

“I’d Rather Go Blind” – Chickenshack

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This is a song that’s been recorded by lots of people. But this is recorded by a band called Chickenshack from the ’60s. The singer is Christine McVie, one of the singers in Fleetwood Mac. There’s something about that voice singing a sad song. She just edged out Dusty Springfield, because I like a big, 60s, female voice. This version just captures the emotion, I think.

“Common People” – Pulp

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This got played at my wedding by the wedding band, which was a father and son team. I remember asking for Common People. The father is now my brother’s father-in-law. His cousin is Brian May from Queen, so they’ve this great musical kind of heritage. Everybody getting up and dancing to this is a good memory.

I remember the first time I heard it. Pulp had been a band who had been on the go forever, and roundabout the mid-90s was the time they finally made it. I was in HMV in Edinburgh one lunchtime and it just came on from start to finish and it instantly became one of the top three or four songs I have ever heard. I just immediately went and bought it, right there and then. I do love Jarvis Cocker, in terms of his all round Jarvis-ness.