Tuesday’s listening

A cup of sugary Lady Grey half-quaffed and finally I can sit down and write. It’s been a long day; my first back at work since being unwell over the weekend, and I spent much of it coordinating a photoshoot. This is usually a pleasure, as the guy we use is great and a pleasure to work with, and his capable assistant today was equally good to talk to, but, frankly, my arse hurts and I get tired easily. Though nowhere near as much as was the case on Saturday.

So, music. Working in the office this morning, and out and about across campus this afternoon, I listened to nothing but the songs that flitted through my brain until 6:30pm. The songs that ran through my brain were, if you’re interested, the second track (and first song) from the King Creosote and Jon Hopkins record, and Perfect Day by Lou Reed. The former was in my head for no discernable reason other than the fact that I’ve played the album a lot lately. The latter is in my head because, when I picked the iPod off its dock this morning in order to stuff it full of Nicolas Jaar and Panda Bear and Mountain Goats, the algorithm that chooses the random cover art on the display had chosen Transformer. And thus a synapse was fired, and pretty much the whole damn song had swung through my head without me thinking about. Annoyingly it was a hybridised version which included the woman from M People hollering.

The first thing I chose to listen to myself was Nicolas Jaar, once again, via my iPhone as I walked the final stretch home from work; I only got to listen to about ten minutes, so only got to about the start of track four.

The second thing I listened to was the first six tracks of Kill The Moonlight by Spoon, which I stuck in the car CD player as I drove out to Sainsbury’s to buy tomatoes and fruit and bread rolls. Yes, I know tomatoes are fruit, which makes the first part of that last sentence tautological, but you know what I mean. I had half a dozen tomatoes, roasted with a sniff of lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, and salt & pepper, for my tea.

I am home alone. My wife is out with some work colleagues at a cocktail making class. As I waited for the tomatoes to cook, and then as I ate them, and browsed the internet for people’s updates about this project, I listened to Tomboy by Panda Bear again, this time via the iPod dock, which is a big Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin, and thus when given some welly, is more like listening via a proper hi-fi than a wee desktop thing. I tweeted about listening to it.

Now, I am in the backroom, where I spent most of Monday and where we have our “second” hi-fi, and I am listening to The Middle of Nowhere by Orbital. I can remember my very first listen to this. I bought it in Woolworths in Teignmouth, which is where I also bought In Sides. I first listened to The Middle of Nowhere at my friend Ben’s house in Teignmouth, on his dad’s “big stereo”, which I know now, some 13 years later, to have been a serious hi-fi with serious, floorstanding speakers. I was… a little seduced… by the thump of the bass drum and the impact of the brass on the opening track the first time I heard it. Recently, I looked at what houses were on the market approximately in a budget we could afford in Teignmouth, and I saw a house on the same road as Ben’s was, and I noticed that there was a serious hi-fi, with serious floorstanding speakers, and I wondered if it was Ben’s house. Ben’s been in Leeds for a decade or more now, and I don’t think I’ve seen him more than once, if at all, in all that time.

But I don’t normally use music as emotional batteries, as a repository, as a reminder.

Or do I?

Which is what this “project” is all about, really. What do we use music for? What does it do to us? There is no right or wrong answer. Dancing, crying, passing the time, distracting, filling space, soundtracking the washing-up, making a journey more bearable or enjoyable, helping us to remember, helping us to forget: these are all valid purposes. I said once (and then twice, and three times, and many, many more times) some time ago that a song doesn’t have to mean something, a song is something. We can and do assign and glean our own meanings, and our own uses.

If i listen to anything else, I’ll edit it into this post later.

Edit. Orbital finished, and I went next door to get the King Creosote and John Hopkins CD, only to realise that it was in the room I’d just left; en route I spied Let England Shake by PJ Harvey, and decided to put that on instead, anyway.


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