There was a nice piece by Suzanne Vega in today's Times about Lou Reed and how he'd changed her life. She mentions the Berlin album and how she'd been listening to it on the Sunday afternoon in August 1984 when she wrote the song Luka.
I've been thinking a lot about the Berlin album over the past few days. It came out in 1973 when I was an eighteen-year-old would-be rock star living in a flat in Belsize Park. The album had a huge impact on me and is probably the reason I wrote so many depressing songs over the next few years. (Listen to On the Other Side of Town and you'll see what I mean.)
1973 was an amazing year. Look at the albums that came out that year and ended up in my record collection: Foreigner (Cat Stevens), Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player (Elton John), Pin Ups and Aladdin Sane (David Bowie), Band on the Run (Paul McCartney & Wings), There Goes Rhymin' Simon (Paul Simon), and Berlin, of course.
But it was an amazing year for other reasons. I wrote the music for my first show, The National Youth Theatre production of The Children's Crusade. Written by Paul Thompson and directed by Ron Daniels (and featuring one Dan Day-Lewis in the cast) it was a life-changing experience. Soon after I met Stephen Lipson who had such an influence on my music. He turned up on my doorstep after answering an ad in Melody Maker for someone to help me perform some songs I'd written for Jonathan Marshall's A Wet Winter Night's Dream which was the Christmas show at the Bush Theatre that year. We also performed it at Brixton Prison but that's another story...
A few months ago I attended my uncle's funeral in London and by chance stayed at a hotel in Belsize Park. I couldn't resist walking down Lambolle Place past the flat where so much happened in such a short space of time in 1973. 'It was very nice'.