I love music.
As statements go, that wasn’t the boldest I know. It’s not like I just blurted out “Hi, my name is Dan and I like attaching crabs to my nipples whilst having my backside thrashed by a 3ft midget with a riding crop.”
Now that would be a bold statement. A quite possibly a fun weekend as well. But I do indeed love music. Love, love, love, it.
But I don’t just love it because it has a funky beat and you can dance to it, oh no baby. I love it because to me, music is far better than any photograph at taking you back to a certain time or a certain place in your life. When I hear the first few bars of particular songs that mean something to me, I am instantly transported back to that moment.
When I am happy, I stick on happy music. When I am sad, I stick on sad music. When I am cooking dinner, I stick on cooking dinner music. When I am walking down the street, I stick on …..You get the picture?
So over time I have built up a collection of songs that pinpoint exact moments in my life with almost perfect clarity. Some of them are important moments; others are so insignificant that they probably wouldn’t mean much to anyone else, but for some reason have stuck in my mind and hung around since then. And its brilliant, it really is. A photo can show you an image of a time, but it can never express exactly how you were feeling or what your emotions were. But a song can instantly do that like an audio time machine. That's why I have a decent photo collection, but a huuuuuuge music collection.
So if it is OK with your good selves, I’d like to share some of my memories. You don’t have to listen to the songs, but if you do, even if it is for a few seconds, then me and you will have had a connection and in some way might understand better what I am fumbling to write? You may hate the music, and that's fine as well, as this is not about the music, but the moments it meant to me.
So, self indulgent as this may be, are you ready?
*Everything goes swirly as the mists of time are parted.*
Common People- Pulp
I am going to start at the tender age of 17. I had just started college and was stepping out into the big wide world on my own. It was scary, yet incredibly exhilarating at the same time. I could leave behind my old persona from school and reinvent myself as a totally new person. And that's what I did. Admittedly that person was still a complete idiot, but he was my complete idiot. And for the next few years, I managed to get myself into new situations and disasters that sum up the sheer chaos of growing up. And I loved it.
During the mid nineties there was a music phenomena sweeping the UK called Britpop. Basically a mash up of classic sixties music, with up to date guitar based musings, all with a distinctly British flavour. It was huge. For about three years you couldn’t move for some fey indie type person screeching at you about how nice it was to have a cup of tea. And I have to say, I was a massive fan.
This particular track takes me back to my very first week in college. I was sitting with a group of people in the college’s courtyard, most of them I had never met before, and we were all just talking and getting to know one another. Somebody had a little portable radio and this song was playing. It was a huge track at the time and you couldn’t escape it. And the reason that it has stuck with me was for the first time in my life, I felt as if I was growing up a little. I was making new friends, planning nights out, doing new things, and I felt as if I had the whole of my life ahead of me and everything was going to turn out OK.
Felix- Don’t You Want Me
Now this one is also tied into the time when I first started college, as it always takes me back to the very first time I went to a nightclub.
Up till then, my only experiences of nightclubs were what I had seen on Hollywood movies. So needless to say, I was quite excited to see the topless go go dancers dressed up in S&M fetish gear that these movies always seemed to have.
The slow queuing up was a nightmare. A big fat bouncer stood at the end of it, just waiting to turn you away if you looked under 18, which I was. When it got to my turn to go through, I swear he looked through me and into my soul and could quite clearly see I was underage. But with a small nod, he let me through.
As I walked up the stairs to the club on trembling legs, I could hear the above track playing loudly, but not as loud as my hammering heart. With a small sigh of trepidation, I pushed open the door, just as the chorus of the song reached its crescendo, and walked into a totally alien atmosphere.
There were no topless go go girls, but there was flashing lights, dry ice, a pumping bass, and above all, girls. Loads and loads of girls. I had come from an all boys school, so my first reaction was to run up to them all and prod them, just to make sure they were real (A tactic I still use to this day). Behind me, I could hear my four new friends I had come with go “ohhhhhh” like the cute little aliens from Toy Story.
We didn’t know what to do, and felt awkward just standing there, nodding our heads to the funky beats, when someone came up with the wonderful notion that they actually sold alcohol here. Like four startled rabbits, we shot off towards the bar.
“Four bottles of Bud, please” I said to the barman in my deepest voice.
“What?” he yelled back over the music, unable to distinguish my deep voice with the music's bassline.
“Four bottles of bud, please” I replied back in my normal, squeaky voice.
And he actually served me!
We spent a good portion of the night standing by the bar, getting quickly inebriated, trying to look mysterious for all the ladies, but looking about as out of place as four nuns in a brothel, when the pounding music became too much and I stupidly said the words.
“Shall we dance?”
Now I don't dance, and I didn’t normally drink much either, but the drink I had consumed convinced me I could. So I found myself on the dance floor, busting out some power moves.
I was the Lord of dance!
I believe I attempted the worm, the running man, some early 80’s robotic dancing, and at one point, tried to get the whole dance floor into a rousing rendition of “Oops upside your head”. It was after that, things started to get a bit spinney.
I remember a cab ride back to my friends. I remember singing “Wonderwall” at the top of my voice down his road. I remember getting up from his sofa saying I needed some air. I remember running towards his garden pond. And the last thing I remember is someone shouting “No, not in there!”
When I woke up the next day, I had a hangover, and my new friends dad looking very pissed off at me. Apparently I had thrown up the spaghetti bolognaise I had for dinner, and all the alcohol I had drunk that night, into his pond, killing one of his incredibly expensive coy carp he had in there. He said it was probably toxic shock that had done it, I think it was more the shock of my face looming into view, then uploading the contents of my stomach over the helpless fish. That would finish off anyone.
So, to cut short this ramble, hearing this song take me back to that night (what I can remember) and always brings a smile to my face.
Mew- Comforting Sounds
If I ever hear this song, it immediately makes me think of meeting my girlfriend for the first time. Not the moment we actually met, but the uncertain time after it.
We had been circling each other for awhile, when I finally managed to persuade her to come out on a date with me. It still remains to me to be the best day I have ever had. Period.
I was deep in the smit. I couldn’t do anything but think about her for days afterwards. It was that awkward time right after a date where you don’t know if you made a good impression. This song summed up that feeling of excitement, trepidation, hope, and the sensation of meeting someone new that had just blown your socks off. I remember sitting on some steps near my work, listening to it on my iPod, and just thinking I would do anything to be with this person.
Lucky for me she said yes to a second date.
Now even hearing the first few minutes of this one has already brought a huge smile to my face.
Lucky for me, Kates could see that the winning combination of my good looks, sparkling personality, and ability to tell who directed any film, and what year it was in, made me one hell of a catch.
So we started dating. And every night, coming home from London, I would sit on the tube with the most gormless, beautiful, expression on my face and listen to this. No other song could describe how wonderful I was feeling at the time than this one. I fell for her so hard that even to this day, I am still waiting to hit the ground.
Plus no one ever sat next to me on the tube when I had an expression like that. No one.
I have got hundreds of these little moments, hundreds (dont panic, I will stick with sharing just four). And I love every single one of them. I love how I can catalogue my life through a few simple songs. I love that how I can just close my eyes and listen to them and be transported right back to that time, so I can remember a breeze on my skin, or the smell of the rain, or how someone looked.
No photo will ever do that for me.