The Strokes guitarist Albert Hammond Jr. is bred from musical royalty thanks to his father being a songwriting behemoth who has penned tracks for Diana Ross, Whitney Houston and Willie Nelson. Most musicians would struggle to step out of his shadow, but not Hammond Jr., who has successfully established an impeccable career on his own terms.
While studying at a boarding school in Switzerland he met his future bandmate Julian Casablancas, and the seeds were sown for forming The Strokes. It wasn’t until Hammond Jr. moved to New York to study that he reconnected with Casablancas, who invited him to join his band, and he was the final piece of the jigsaw they needed before going on to conquer the world.
Although his work with The Strokes is firmly in the realm of rock ‘n’ roll, Hammond Jr.’s pallet extends far beyond that. His list of favourite songs cultivate to create a fascinating portrait of the music, which makes the guitarist tick.
Hammond Jr. has spoken extensively on this topic, including an interview with The Line Of Best Fit about his nine favourite tracks. It’s an eclectic mix which flirts between genres, but one thing all of the selections have in common is the significant role they’ve played in his life.
One of his picks was ‘To Ramona’ by Bob Dylan, which first appeared on 1964’s Another Side Of Bob Dylan. Hammond Jr. said about the deep cut: “What’s so great about him is he’s a master of writing a bitter song, but he makes you want to be a cooler man and for some reason, it’s out of understanding.
“He makes you feel like Humphrey Bogart, where it’s like this romantic notion of staying with a person, but knowing that you have to go or understanding the flows of life.”
Another interesting selection is ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’ by Etta James, which Hammond Jr. calls “the ultimate song”. He explained: “I never thought I’d have a favourite song, but I think “I’d Rather Go Blind’ might be my ultimate song. It’s like when I first heard Sam Cooke’s ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’, it’s just perfect, a masterclass in songwriting, it’s eternal.”
Elsewhere in his list, Hammond Jr. also heaped praise on David Bowie, Guided By Voices and punk legends, The Misfits. Furthermore, in 2015, the guitarist spoke with Shortlist about pivotal musical moments in his life, including George Michael’s ‘Careless Whisper’, which he named as his favourite song from childhood.
Additionally, he also revealed ‘Despair in the Departure Lounge’ by Arctic Monkeys is his go-to sad song. Hammond Jr. also said the line, “You are what you perceive,” from The Velvet Underground’s ‘I Found A Reason’ is his most beloved lyric of all time.
Listen to a playlist of his selections below.
Albert Hammond Jr.’s favourite songs
- Misfits – ‘Hybrid Moments’
- Wire – ‘Champs’
- Wipers – ‘Wait A Minute’
- Bob Dylan – ‘To Ramona’
- Built To Spill – ‘Twin Falls’
- David Bowie – ‘Life On Mars’
- Etta James – ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’
- Guided By Voices – ‘Always Crush Me’
- Jay Reatard – ‘No Time’
- George Michael – ‘Careless Whisper’
- Arctic Monkeys – ‘Despair in the Departure Lounge’
- New Order – ‘Blue Monday’
- The Velvet Underground – ‘For A Reason’ *not on Spotify
- Guided By Voices – ‘Liar’s Tale’
- The Beach Boys – ‘When I Grow Up To Be A Man’