For the past twelve years or so, I’ve been invited to play the organ at the children’s Christmas Eve mass at a local(ish) primary school. During the collection, while people are getting wallets or purses out, I usually play some soft, nondescript music on a muted organ with only a few soft pipes opened. It doesn’t matter what I play during this time so I usually take this opportunity to play a song that I felt was a favourite of mine throughout the year. I unofficially consider this my song of the year.
For a song to be considered, it needs to meet these criteria:
- It must be a song that I’ve discovered during the year. A song that I’ve been listening to before Christmas Day the previous cannot be considered. This forces me to keep discovering new music, instead of falling into the rut of listening to the same thing over and over again. This doesn’t mean it needs to be released during the year. In fact, many of the songs I grow to like have been released decades ago.
- It must be a song that’s found it’s way into my general rotation. I need to have listened to it more than a few times, which generally means I need to like it enough to listen to it regularly.
- It must be a song that I can play softly on an organ. I can usually slow things down so this doesn’t mean that fast songs or songs with vocals are out of the running. But it needs to sounds good slowed down on a muted organ, which doesn’t apply to all songs I listen to.
This Year’s Nominees and Winner
Here are this years nominees. You will be surprised to know that not all of them are from Mike Oldfield (well, one isn’t at least… which is not all of them 😉).
- The Tunic Soundtrack by Lifeformed × Janice Kwan. This was an early discovery and is now positively associated with Canberra, a place I’ve been to more than a few times this year. Favourite tracks are To Far Shores, Ocean Glaze and Mirror Moon.
- Hergest Ridge by Mike Oldfield. Discovered after watching this video on progressive rock albums. I linked to the 2010 one but I must note that I prefer the original 1974 release, so if you can find a version of that, listen to that one.
- Voyager by Mike Oldfield. I’ve been listening to a few tracks of this before 2022, but this year I actually started liking the rest of the album.
And the winner for this year is: Part One, from Hergest Ridge by Mike Oldfield. 👏
Well, I should say the first 10 minutes of Part One. Things seem to turn a bit near the end in the original 1974 release, where it becomes a bit of a rock song, then immediately turns on a dime back into the traditional progressive soft stuff with tubular bells (or maybe that’s just the version I’m listening on). But even so, Bravo! You have won the coveted privilege of being peformed on a small pipe organ in a Melbourne suburban church.
These are the songs that I consider worthy of the title, but didn’t meet all the criteria (usually point 3). For this year, they are:
- PPPPPP by Magnus Pålsson. The soundtrack to VVVVVV. An enjoyable listen, especially if you like the type of soundtracks play on the audio chips of retro 80’s hardware.
- Retro Grooves Vol. 2 and Vol. 3 by Anders Enger Jensen. Much like Voyager, I’ve been listening to DiscoVision before 2022 but I started poking through the back catalogue of these two albums and they’ve been really good.
This might be the first year I’ve written about this little tradition but it isn’t the first year I’ve selected a song. The past winners, with the associated years if I could remember them, are:
- Rendez-Vous 4 by Jean Michel Jarre (2021 winner)
- Silhouette from the Music Of The Spheres by Mike Oldfield
- Warsaw In The Sun from the Zeitgeist Concert at the Royal Albert Hall by Tangerine Dream
- Return to Ommadawn, both Part 1 (2019 winner) and Part 2 (2020 winner), by Mike Oldfield
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