day 06 – a song that reminds you of somewhere I have to admit: I’ve been agonising over these ‘reminds you’ song choices. It’s no coincidence they’ve both been written uncharacteristically late. But once I’d thought of this one, it seemed obvious. Radiohead – Fitter Happier* See, I’ve probably mentioned it before, but I have this totally pretentious formative moment from when I was like 16. I’d recently bought The Bends and OK Computer, slapped the two CDs, a walkman, and a load of batteries in a coat pocket, and went-a-walking. I ended up climbing to one of the higher points on Cannock Chase in search of a radio mast I’d been able to see on the horizon, and looking down over my hometown. I’ve never been one for sights: touristed to a load of famous things, not impressed. But it was a bit breathtaking. It was all about the atmosphere, of course. Back to back, on your own, two albums of Radiohead throws an inevitable … fog over you. The stuff I’d seen helped: it had briefly snowed, and some deer darted out in front of me while I was walking through the forest. It was one of those experiences that was almost self-consciously defining. It was the start of thinking in albums as the primary unit of music; it led to my habit of chasing big filmic Moments; I’d gone out with the aim to write a short story, and came back with one in my head, which I knocked out to more Radiohead**. It was so neat I could’ve planned it, almost. But, no, I was just standing there, kicking big old rocks around and looking out over my hometown to these weird, alien noises. …Almost immediately afterwards, my batteries died and I was left to walk home, as it got darker, in silence. *Amusingly, listening to this song on Spotify, it came immediately and inexplicably followed by Would I Lie To You? by Charles & Eddie. A slight shift in tone there…**For a few years, I wrote exclusively to OK Computer. I tried it the other day and it didn’t work.
day 19 – a song from your favourite album Ahh, the complex question that is what’s your favourite album… Radiohead – Idioteque I’ve touched on my relationship with Radiohead already in the list, and promised I’d get onto it properly later. They’re a band who made me, as far as my attitude to music is concerned: the walk I took climbing to Cannock’s highest point while listening to The Bends followed by OK Computer is a good summation of certain parts of my approach to music in general, for all its quirks. Kid A‘s the one, though. The story of Radiohead’s metamorphosis from mopey guitarband to mopey sound-manipulators is what cemented my love for them, and started a teenaged me looking for similar patterns in other bands, valuing ‘change’ and ‘growth’ above all in a discography. This is probably best summed up in Idioteque, which is why I picked it. Everything done for a reason, here. It just sounds … alien. The lyrics don’t make much sense, except giving the sound something to weave round, and the odd nuclei of sense helping better evoke the mood. It’s dance music (listen to this in a dark room and marvel at those limbs as they involuntarily jerk, commanded by the song) but it’s not dance music. Not for colourful dance floors but for darkened living rooms. Not dancing to attract mates, but twitching because you can’t help it. The song is an ode to the human body as a failing clockwork machine, slowly winding down. What makes it work where Radiohead v1.0 might’ve seemed adolescent and miserable is that v2.0 make it so your body is a conspirator, nodding along to the song with every jerk and twitch as you dance yourself down to the knees. * * * Checking last.fm for my most-listened-to albums according to their scrobblings provided a baffling picture of my ‘favourite albums’, Kid A being distantly beaten out as my favourite Radiohead album by OK Computer, apparently my second most listened-to album. In fact, Kid A comes in at a pathetic 76th, somewhere behind The Ramones’ Ramones and a Manic Street Preachers greatest hits collection. Last.fm’s weird, and I probably need to write about it at some point…
day 24 – a song that you want to play at your funeral Hmm. Pick-’em-up cheeriness or out-and-out heartbreaker? Radiohead – Videotape Heartbreak it is, then. More on my relationship with Radiohead later in our scheduled programme of events… Videotape‘s one of the few Radiohead songs I can listen to out of its album context. Partially because I got my hands on the beautiful Thom Yorke version seen above while I impatiently waited for In Rainbows to happen. I was frustrated with myself when, looking across the 30 posts I’d have to make, I saw the funeral song day. I know I have an answer to it, possibly one truer and better than this, but it never came to mind. Nevertheless, Videotape is an almost perfect choice: it’s reverent enough, all pianos and strained vocals, that I can’t imagine too much vicar-wincing. It projects into the future well enough: the kind of music that’ll hold up, both in the world and my tastes. And, bonus marks, it’s actually about death, Thom Yorke communicating from beyond the dead in words in scraped-thin vocals. It’s never going to start a mass break-out of singing (good, I’m bloody dead, you can save your merriment till you’re drinking my booze at the wake). Hey, it’s such a good choice I almost want to be there… For bonus morbidity, check out Radiohead’s New Years Eve 2007 podcast Scotch Mist version of Videotape, which comes accompanied by a poem about a graveyeard.
Without some dope words to step to.* It’s been my birthday- a week-and-a-bit long extravaganza of partying, consumption of food and alcohol, and occasional self-harm. Which means I’m 21- taking stock of my life time, I suppose. But more importantly, each day flowing into the next and threading an endless canvas of hangover, I haven’t been able to update here. And I’ve got some really stuff kicking around on the internet, and specifically at my beloved Redbrick. First up is (co-produced with beautiful co-ed Erica A Vernon), my 60-minute round-up of 2009’s singles. Generally speaking, the best, but sometimes just the most important-seeming. I say a lot of vaguely controversial things like “DIZZEE RASCAL – DIRTEE CASHYeah, it’s not Bonkers (overplayed) or Holiday (failed single pushed until people believed they must like it). There’s a little something more to Dirtee Cash; the playful Rascal of old striking out at the world at a speed that mean you don’t notice. And that title can be only be a dig at the haters.” Though our photo-collage doesn’t seem to have been put up online, trust me when I say it was beautiful. Read the lot here. (And in the interests of multi-media content, a complete Spotify playlist.) Even more excitingly, our Top 40 Albums of the Decade comes to a close. It kicked off back in October, all the way back here. But if you’re just looking for a quick fix, and find out who was #1, check here. (For anyone keeping track, I wrote #21: The Libertines – Up The Bracket #19: Los Campesinos – Hold On Now, Youngster… #14: Daft Punk – Discovery #4: Radiohead – Kid A) I’m really proud of this list; it had a few WTF moments, I suspect, while the top end of the list was probably a bit generic (which is not to say wrong), but there are some really good you-should-listen-to-this-becauses on there. And you should listen to most of them. *A quick Google to double-check the lyrics (before bending them) proves that this is pretty much the go-to heading for ‘haven’t posted in a while’ blogs. I am no beautiful, unique snowflake.