Tracks Of My Teens: #10 – Roman Ruins

27 Aug

Tracks Of My Teens

It’s been a while since we delved deep into the dark recesses of a musician’s mind and memory to find out what tracks impacted them the most in their youth. We do like a bit of a delve though, so we thought it was about time we brought back Tracks of my Teens.

We’re delighted that on its return we get to hear from an artist who was responsible for one of our favourite albums of 2012, Graham Hill, aka Roman Ruins. His debut album, Homebuilding, is a thing of rare beauty, dealing with his experience of growing a family and home. Delicate ambient sounds blend into soft 80s electro beats while the vocals gently rock you as if a babe in arms. It is simply gorgeous and well worth picking up.

Now though, let’s find out what inspired the man that made that gem of an album.

Roman Ruins TomT

Neil Young – “Alabama”

My Dad is from Alabama, and I spent some good times there as a kid visiting relatives. I didn’t come to understand the political context of the song until much later, but it didn’t matter; I really just liked hearing Neil sing about a place that I knew. In the weeks leading up to getting my driver’s license in high school, I spent hours at the stereo console readying car mix tapes pieced together from my parents’ albums. The morning after I got my license, my sister and I were driving to school for the first time in our Dad’s 86 Toyota Tercel wagon, jamming to one of those tapes. It was a foggy, humid September morning and we were enjoying the freedom of driving on our own. As we made the soothing transition from our long gravel road to the blacktop, Neil was singing “Your Cadillac has got a wheel in the ditch, and a wheel on the track.” Just then, a school bus came barrelling toward us at a clip, wheels straddling the double yellow line, and in a panic I ran the car off the road, through a ditch and ploughed into a wooden fence. When we came to a stop, the song was still playing.


Randy Newman – “Red Bandana”

When our family drove to North Carolina for a beach trip every August, I remember listening to this song in the back of our Toyota Previa and getting so pumped. The voice is so saucy and the phrasing so effortless, it made visions of our breezy, warm Atlantic destination easy to conjure. As a result, the 8 hours in the car passed like minutes; I even felt like driving for a few more days so we might end up in “Hollywood USA.” This song employs many stylistic clichés of the 80s – gated drums, fretless bass, synth horns…but somehow it still doesn’t sound dated. The 2.5 minute length also encourages repeat listens.


The Beatles – “Across the Universe”

This is definitely my favourite Beatles song and maybe my favourite song of all. I still like practicing singing harmony whenever I hear it. The “nothings gonna change my world” refrain captures much of how I felt when I was a teenager living in West Virginia. It seemed like everything important in the world happened outside that place, and so it would never change. It still feels that way when I go home for Thanksgiving each year.



Homebuilding by Roman Ruins is out now and available to buy here. You should get it, it’s sublime. You can also pick up other Roman Ruins releases from the wonderful Gold Robot Records.


Stalk Roman Ruins: Twitter / Bandcamp / Myspace

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2 Responses to “Tracks Of My Teens: #10 – Roman Ruins”

  1. jcverrall August 27, 2013 at 08:15 #

    Excellent choices, I love two of these tracks and now have a new track & Graham’s album to discover 🙂
    Nice work gents!

  2. Name not supplied November 1, 2013 at 11:25 #

    Love that Beatles song he included

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