Wednesday, 13 October 2010

I'm Only Happy When It Rains

As Allison has already mentioned, Radiohead's Creep played a significant part in bridging the geographical distance between the three of us, so our relationship with music seemed like a good topic to write about. I shall definitely be using her categories of therapeutic music in future. I must stress though, that I know very little about music compared to Allison [Queen of I-Tunes Playlists For All Occasions] and Lauren [the all-singing, all-dancing Musical Advice Columnist], so bear with me, because I'm going to go off on quite a tangent. Hold tight please, and keep your arms inside the vehicle.

"What sort of music are you into?" is, in fact, a question that I dread. I remember once answering with a description of what I then thought was an impressively eclectic taste in music, to which my friend replied, "Oh, you've got no passion then." No passion for a particular genre, I think she meant. And she'd be right, my music library isn't the most extensive, it follows no real rhyme nor reason and its guilty-pleasures-to-respectable-tunage ratio is rather worrying - but it's important to me nonetheless.

Allison and Lauren have exquisite musical tastes that often shine through on their blogs. Meanwhile I, watching enviously from the shadows, tend to keep what's on my iPod under wraps. It's not that I'm ashamed, I just don't feel like an authority on the subject - other people are far more qualified to speak about music because they know about music. I don't know about any particular genre in any detail, but have scratched the surface of many.

Instead, I've amassed a collection of random tracks that evoke certain memories or feelings because of when and where I heard them, and the people I heard them with. There are songs that can lift me out of a bad mood, others that can drown me in misery. Some take me back to a place or time I'd love to revisit, and others to a somewhere I'd rather forget. Given my unorganished and passionless method of building a music library, I tend to attach more importance to the memories or feelings a song evokes, rather than to the artist or genre, which leaves me with no real knowledge of anything.

For example, every now and then I'll hear a song that gives me a flashback to a blurry house party (1), or reminds me of that uncomfortable, stomach churning feeling I'd get while getting ready to go out before I was of legal drinking age (2). Others take me back to the time in my life when I was able to clear an Italian karaoke bar in three songs or less (3), and to the day my parents first dropped me off at university (4). I remember what I listened to after I found out my mum had been diagnosed with MS (5), and what was played at my uncle's funeral (6). Other songs remind me of working late at a job I hated (7), following Fulham FC to the Europa Cup Final (8) and sunbathing by the pool in Greece (9). And of course there are the songs you share with other people, like those that recall the excitement and euphoria of the first months of a relationship that's still going strong (10).

So this is how I rely on music, through good times and bad. While I'll never be able to hold my own in conversations about up and coming artists, the best guitarists and most influential albums of the 20th century, I know that if I'm ever stuck in rut, I can be reminded in seconds that I am actually capable of having fun, or that things could really be a whole lot worse. It's true that to anyone but me my collection of music lacks clear definition. But contained within my little red iPod is an entire spectrum of emotion and a hundred memories both good and bad that have played a part in making me the person I am today. In short, it's the soundtrack to my life. Over to you, New Wave Teddy Bear.

1. Basement Jaxx - Good Luck

2. Artful Dodger - Movin' Too Fast (I was young, don't judge!)

3. The Mamas and The Papas - California Dreaming

4. Morcheeba - Slow Down

5. Eric Claption - Wonderful Tonight

6. Simon & Garfunkle - The Boxer

7. Biffy Clyro - Mountains

8. John Denver - Country Roads

9. Fleet Foxes - Mykonos

10. Metallica - Nothing Else Matters


  1. First off, I'm hardly an authority on music. I just care about the stuff I like...a lot. But don't ask me about Lady Gaga or Eminem...because I just won't know.

    I know what you mean about certain songs forever being attached to major life events. It's hard for those songs to ever mean anything other than how they made you feeling during those moments.

    Kudos on the photo. Is that Elvis on a Confederate flag?

  2. I don't think I have to be a music connoisseur, so to speak, to enjoy it with a passion, even if that passion isn't in any one genre. The fact that you can connect songs to memories is an amazing thing and it speaks to the power of it.

    I appreciate some good Metallica every now and then. I think you have inspired me to dust off some classics, though I don't think mp3s collect much dust...

  3. The guilty-pleasures-to-respectable-tunage ratio on my ipod is rather disturbing as well. I hate it when someone I don't know that well looks at my ipod because it contains way too much 90's eurodance for someone that's supposedly a hipster. And like you, I also completely associate songs with things that happen in my life. It's cool how music can bring you right back to something that happened years ago.

    Anyway, loved the post (as usual). Will have mine up soon. :D

  4. Lauren - Have you been abducted by hippies? I'm looking forward to your music post...even if it isn't Friday anymore :P

    To both of you - We need a theme for next week. If you have any ideas email :)