Readers recommend: songs about ascension – results

RR regular DarceysDad picks the best suggestions from last week's thread, songs about ascension

Somehow, "ascending" implies more than the prosaic "rising", or the accurate-but-clumsy "slanting upwards". There is rapture involved, and in the Concert for the People version of Barclay James Harvest's Hymn, John Lees's yelled YEAHs to the 200,000-strong crowd have that in abundance.

Talking of crowd involvement, Pink Floyd's Fearless finishes its hill ascent to the sound of the choir from Liverpool Football Club's famous Kop. When I was young and fit, climbing that 80ft terrace after a game took little effort, but in Twenty Flight Rock, poor Eddie Cochran has a strenuous ascent before he gets his pleasure. His girl's on the 20th floor, and "the elevator's broken down", so he has to walk up. Maybe he should have checked the lift anyway; he might have found Miles Davis brooding inside. Davis and band improvised the suitably noir soundtrack to Louis Malle's 1958 film Ascenseur pour l'Échafaud, in which a murderer is trapped by a turned-off elevator, which instead becomes his lift to the scaffold. With apologies to RR regular nilpferd, I've chosen exiledMan's nomination of Générique for the playlist.

If I'm going to upset recommenders, I may as well go the whole hog. The good news for the rockers is that Stairway to Heaven finally gets A-listed. The bad news? I haven't picked Led Zeppelin's original! Instead I've sidestepped the issue of whether the lyrics contain enough ascension, and gone for Rodrigo y Gabriela's outstanding instrumental take, an acoustic crescendo that befits the song's title. And on that celestial vector, let's keep going with Korean indie poppets Adultchild up their Stairway of Dreams.

Ascending out of earth's atmosphere completely, we hitch a ride with Colin Vearncombe and Sam Brown, and Fly Up to the Moon. Vearncombe, as Black, was afforded quite a budget for his eponymous 1991 album. With lush orchestrations, guests such as Brown and Robert Palmer, and well-crafted, romantic pop songs bursting with Colin's effusive lyrics about his then-new wife, I've never understood why this album isn't a CD staple of lovers everywhere.

One of our number did make a passionate plea for the inclusion of The Postal Service's Such Great Heights along those very lines, and who am I to defy the happy couple, when "the freckles in our eyes are mirror images, and when we kiss they're perfectly aligned". Let's not ask them to come down now: instead, we'll leave them to Funki Porcini's Dubble (Organ Swell), and try to ignore the moans of "Higher … higher" from behind the bedroom door.

Whew! Is it me or is it getting hot up here? Icarus certainly learned that the hard way, and Iron Maiden lead out our final three songs, covering the duality of ascension and its opposite partner. While Bruce Springsteen's heroic firefighters are climbing the stairwells of the twin towers, they're unaware of the fate about to befall them. Black Flag's righteous anger bellows the message that if you've been trampled down, then surely the only way is up.

The playlist

Barclay James Harvest – Hymn (Live 1980)

Pink Floyd – Fearless
Eddie Cochran – Twenty Flight Rock
Miles Davis – Générique
Rodrigo y Gabriela – Stairway to Heaven
어른아이 (Adultchild) – Stairway of Dreams (The Stair)
Black (feat. Sam Brown) – Fly Up to the Moon
The Postal Service – Such Great Heights
Funki Porcini – Dubble (Organ Swell)
Iron Maiden – Flight of Icarus
Bruce Springsteen – The Rising
Black Flag – Rise Above

Listen to these songs on a YouTube playlist.

• See all the readers' recommendations on last week's blog, from which DarceysDad selected the songs above.

• Here's a Spotify playlist containing readers' recommendations on this theme.

Reading on a mobile? Listen on Spotify


Richard T Clayton

The GuardianTramp

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