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Readers recommend: eccentric songs | Peter Kimpton

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Oddballs to the outlandish, it's time to define, refine and name songs that express and celebrate eccentricity in all its forms

"Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric," said the philosopher Bertrand Russell.

"I am not eccentric. It's just that I am more alive than most people. I am an unpopular electric eel set in a pond of catfish," protested the perfectly normal poet Edith Sitwell, who just happened to dress in turbans and black velvet embroidered with gold lions and unicorns. In 1922, in her cut-glass accent, she performed a series of abstract poems through a megaphone protruding from a huge head painted on a curtain that concealed her and a seven-piece jazz band.

Eccentricity can certainly be a life force, a drive to be different, a restless river of creativity. But what defines such characteristics, and how can you identify them in song? The word comes from the Latin eccentricus, derived from Greek ekkentros, meaning "out of the centre". So that certainly points to those who move away from the conventional, make unusual decisions, express themselves in an usual way, whether that across an entire song, or during just one particular moment within it. It may be in subject matter and lyrics, odd sounds or ways of playing, unconventional mixes, sounds or rhythms.

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