I first heard 'King of the Mountain' by Kate Bush as I was driving back from hypnotherapy one evening this autumn. I was pretty much tripped out from being hypnotised all afternoon, and it went bang straight in to the cortex. I didn't know it was KB, I just thought 'Bloody hell what's this?'
I know this might be an unpopular choice but I also really like Advertising Space by Robbie Williams. This year I also listened a lot to Franz Ferdinand and I took a liking to Kasabian and Hard-Fi. I have been listening to a lot more mediaeval music too.
A poem can surprise you in the same way as a song. I wish there were more radio programs where they read out poetry. Last night Radio 4 broadcast this excellent New Year poem:
The Darkling Thrush
I leant upon a coppice gate
When Frost was spectre-gray,
And Winter's dregs made desolate
The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
Had sought their household fires.
The land's sharp features seemed to be
The Century's corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
Seemed fervourless as I.
At once a voice arose among
The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
Upon the growing gloom.
So little cause for carolings
Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
And I was unaware.
-- Thomas Hardy
You can hear it read here (program starts about 1 minute in)