Greatest Hits: Liv Francis-Pape | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Greatest Hits: Liv Francis-Pape

Liv Francis-Pape talks us through the five tracks that have shaped her music life

It is said that music is medicine for the ears. I prefer to think it is medicine for the maintenance of sanity. I paint my identity, my auditory history as it were, in songs. If I mapped out my life, it would be silvery, mellifluous, dirge and everything in between.

Don McLean- ‘American Pie’:

With parents who had not long exited the hippie era, my prepubescent phases were knitted together with Supertramp, Pink Floyd and Billy Joel. When I imagine this array, I think of Don McLean. Some of my first memories arise from this man’s voice. His conversational tone, the casual piano, the almost obvious rhymes all combined within the mind of a static-haired child sitting in an orange camper van. Family holidays were licked with the lines of this classic; from Europe to simply dancing upon the heels of my dad’s sandals in our lounge. For me, McLean’s song intertwines my toddler, later and adult years all in one circular homage.  It still surrounds my musical world, yet it is remarkably disparate to the song I heard as a fuzzy-haired five-year-old. Now it connects me to a new realm of music, a form of emotion and family life all forgotten.

Louis Armstrong - ‘What a Wonderful World’:

Moving from the subtle rock of 1971 to the jazzy symphony of 1967, Louis Armstrong’s ‘What a Wonderful World’ is one of those songs that seems to pop up in every stage of my life. I was first introduced to Armstrong’s dulcet tones during the classic 1998 movie ‘Madeline’, but it wasn’t until last year that I finally heard just how exquisite this song is. There simply aren’t words invented to describe the combination of bittersweet lyrics and mellow, infectious melody. I was invited by my father to a concert at Millfield School and sulkily expected tone-deaf choirs and pitchy violins, but as a young boy took to centre stage, shakily gripping a microphone and sang this classic, I was hypnotised. It wasn’t until the last ‘oh, yeah’ that I realised my face and neck were tacky with drying tears. Since then I listen on repeat, when I’m bored, when I want to remember, when I want to forget.

Pink Floyd - ‘Wish You Were Here’:

Returning to the world of rock, Pink Floyd had to make an appearance in this article or I might have to question my entire sense of being. ‘Wish You Were Here’ makes me happy, downcast and wistful simultaneously. Written to commemorate the crippling addiction suffered by previous band member, Syd Barrett, it has become an anthem for those of us who struggle to engage with reality. Gilmour’s twelve-string guitar opens with a distant chord progression, crackling in and out until a solid, second guitar melody joins the mix. I have had my fair share of battles with instability and this song is always a proverbial plaster on my brain. It’s more than a release, it’s pure emotion in the form of incredibly designed lyrics. It’s a humbling and heart-rending reminder of our own mortality and futility. I truly think this song is as good as music gets and we will never hear anything like it in our lifetimes.

Adam Pascal - ‘One Song Glory’:

Taking a complete shift in musical genre, my third choice comes from the theatrical side of the tracks. As a pre-teen I was, shamelessly (okay, there is a bit of shame), a musical theatre nerd. Jonathan Larson’s ‘Rent’ is one musical that has since never left me. I could write a tome on this musical but would have to choose ‘One Song Glory’ as my favourite song. Originally performed by Adam Pascal, this song explores drug addiction, loss, and the affliction of being a floundering artist with writer’s block. Pascal’s rough rock voice was made for this song and is for anyone familiar with grief, fear of insignificance, illness, or being a struggling artist. Pascal went on to perform an acoustic version; his haunting falsetto adding another layer, pulling us along on a rollercoaster of suffering until the climactic statement that ‘time flies, and then no need to endure anymore’ as we are reminded of our transient existence.

Tegan and Sara - ‘Where Does the Good Go’:

My final choice strays from my usual music taste, but sentimentality keeps me coming back. ‘Where Does the Good Go’ first made my leg tap when it provided the soundtrack to an emotional goodbye for Grey’s Anatomy character Dr. Cristina Yang. Being a diehard fan of the show, this solidified the song into my hippocampus, however it wasn’t until my real life paralleled the show that this song upped the ante. Prior to leaving for university, my closest friend and I were having a last day of drunken antics. I pressed play on the song and the upbeat tempo and addictive rhythm emanated from the speaker, we closed the end of an era the same way as our fictional counterparts, by flailing our limbs around like headless chickens. A bittersweet song brimming with memories, it has earned its place in my top five.



5th July 2018 at 9:00 am

Last Updated

4th July 2018 at 11:18 am

Images from

Capitol Records