Tuesday, 27 October 2015

知觉 | Music is a time machine (again)

Posted by: Dom Lowth

I’ll be completely honest with you. It’s Tuesday morning, and I still can’t think of anything interesting to write about for a post that should have been up by Sunday evening.

Well, you know what they say: grab the reader's attention with your opening and it’s all downhill from there.

A few weeks back I posted about songs that have connections with memories for me, so I think I’ll do some more of them. Trust me, there are a lot of songs on my iPod, and a lot of memories to go with them. In fairness, a good proportion of these memories shouldn’t ever be relived, and most of the rest of them would provide a read about as interesting as the iTunes terms and conditions, but some of them - a very select few - are actually quite interesting.

So here you are. Why not try giving each song a listen as you read? You may have already heard them, but who knows… maybe listening to them again will bring back some memories of your own.

‘Feather’ by Nujabes

As I’ve mentioned on thunk before, I used to have a YouTube channel. It wasn’t big, never gathering an audience of more than about 700 subscribers, but I had fun with it for a few years. My first ever video on the channel was me, sat in front of a camera propped up on a pile of books, talking about a tedious aeroplane journey. I did a few more videos of that sort, then I filmed some covers of songs like the Goo Goo Dolls’ ‘Iris’. After that I tried a few longer video diaries, documenting camping trips and a Duke of Edinburgh expedition. However, the last few videos I put up before effectively shutting the channel down this year were more arty, montage-type films. I was sick of seeing my own face on the screen, so whenever I was in an interesting place at home or abroad I’d shoot that instead. People, buildings, art, animals, nature… anything that caught my eye I’d save in video format. The result was videos of a few minutes, made up of large numbers of very short clips, usually accompanied by a song. One of these videos was called ‘The People of Muğla’, which I filmed whilst in Turkey with my family, and which was overlaid with Nujabes’ ‘Feather’. It’s a beautifully relaxing song, and every word stays in my mind as the elements of that video still do. Whenever I hear it, the world slows down around me and I can see every face, road, market stall, shop front and scene from the small town as if I was holding the camera there once again.

‘Drifting away like a feather in air,
Letting my words take me away from the hurt and despair,
So I’m keeping it vertical, forever elevator,
Riding the escalator to the something that is greater.’

‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’ by Billy Joel

This song also brings back memories of a family holiday. When I was much younger I spent a couple of weeks in France, and there are three things I remember clearer than anything else from my time there. Firstly, I remember the steak. I remember asking for a ‘medium-rare’ (because my parents said that was what you did), and I remember the stories my dad told me about French waiters, and his explanation about how the sharpness of the knife you’re given indicates how well the steak will be cooked. Secondly, I remember spending hours paddling up and down a river in a rowing boat with my sister by the little house we stayed in. Thirdly, though, I remember sitting in the car as we drove through the French towns with Billy Joel’s ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’ blasting out of the speakers. I didn’t know all the words, and I wasn't a massive fan of Billy Joel’s full discography at the time, but that song was incredible. It just did it for me. I loved it when I heard it for the first time in France because of how it sounded, and I still love the sound of it now; even more today because of the great memories I associate with it.

‘22’ by Taylor Swift

If you haven’t heard this song, I don’t know what planet you’re living on. Even if you don't consider yourself a Swifty personally (in which case I’d be happy to meet you and do what I can to set your ways straight), I think you’d struggle to claim that this song doesn’t make you feel a little something. Something fuzzy. Sure, it is only really conveyor-belt pop, manufactured to hit the charts and stick for as long as possible, but every word of it remains etched in my brain to this day, and I’m not ashamed to admit that it takes pride of place in my iPod’s ‘Top 25 Most Played’ playlist. It’s got one of the best hooks in pop, meaning that you simply can’t listen to it without singing at least one of the many '22 ooh-ooh's, whether you happen to be aged 22 or not. I played this song at full volume at the start of every day I spent at a youth camp a few years ago in Wales. Think what you want about the idea of a youth camp, but this was actually a great week with a great group. I was in a room with a couple of good friends who shared my love for Taylor, so the morning routine was never a drag with her music pounding around us. In short, again, a great song, with great memories attached to it.

As a side note, I’ve heard rumours that Taylor Swift may have broken up with Calvin Harris recently…  if that’s the case, and any of you are in regular contact with her, be sure to send her my way.

Dom's listening to: 'Ritual' by Blood Diamonds

Read my previous post here.

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