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Not Fade Away - the Bonus Track: Over the Border, by Saint Etienne

One more tune before we go then.

It's been more than a year since Hank Williams kicked off Not Fade Away. In the weeks and months that followed we've travelled from the birth of rock 'n' roll to the birth of grime and beyond, from the Beatles to Bowie, folk to punk and disco to trip hop, from (alphabetically) ABC to Wiley. We've dropped in on the last great sigh and gasp of the American songbook as sung by the greatest of American singers (excepting Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald). We've featured 30 English, 25 American, three Scottish and three Scandinavian acts (plus one from Jamaica). Some of those singer, musicians and stars are no longer with us, some of them have grown old and are still making music. The most popular choices turned out to be women - Madonna and Sandy Denny; would that they could have met in real life. What would they have talked about?

Really, though, this blog has only partly been about the acts I've chosen to represent each year. It's as much been my story. And your story too, presumably. It's been about how and why music matters to each and every one of us.

Earlier this year I spoke to the BBC broadcaster Sally Magnusson about the book she had just written about her mother Mamie who, before her death, suffered from Alzheimer's. One of the last things to disappear into silence was song. Mamie could still recall a lyric when she couldn't remember a face. It's an indication of how deep wired music is in us all.

Pop music gets reported in terms of sales and scandal. It's on the business pages and in the gossip columns. And both of those have their place. Half the fun of pop are those moments when Lennon claims the Beatles are bigger than Jesus or Boy George claims he prefers tea to sex (even if it wasn't really true in either case). We can all get giddy on the bubbles of pop. But in the end - on the dance floor or in the darkness - it's how a song moves us (in every way) that matters. You don't need me to tell you that. That's why you popped round in the first place, isn't it?

It feels appropriate, then, to finish with Saint Etienne, perhaps our finest pop archivists. Bob Stanley's thrilling history of pop. Yeah Yeah Yeah should be required reading for all Not Fade Away readers, but it's a bit of a monster and if you haven't time right now at least listen to Over the Border, the opening track from Saint Etienne's last album Words and Music.

In five minutes it tells the story of pop more or less. The story that I've tried to tell here. From Genesis and Top of the Pops to Paul Morley in the NME, Postcard Records and the "strange and important sound of the synthesizer", via first kisses, growing up and growing old. It's the moment where the New Order/Pet Shop Boys style synthetic choir bursts through - deep and rich and resonant - that gets me every time I listen to it, makes me think of my youth and what I've lost and gained since then.

"When I was married and had kids would Marc Bolan still be important?" Sarah Cracknell asks near the end of the song.

Turns out, I've learned, he is.

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