Thursday, 5 March 2009

Music to slit your wrists to.

“No-one listens to me – I might as well be a Leonard Cohen album” Neil the Hippy.

I know when Lisa’s annoyed – I can tell by looking at her iPod (and she let slip this morning too) and seeing if she’s listening to “The Holy Bible, by the Manic Street Preachers.

When I was younger, and living with parents, it was useful to have a method beyond the usual slamming of doors (occasionally punching holes in them) and shouting about how much I hated them (I didn’t really) to show how upset I was. I’d generally put on my 7inch single of Alice Cooper’s “Poison” – at full blast. Later I graduated to Bon Jovi (I know) and eventually Nirvana. Anything loud and shouty seemed to extend my own anger and share it with the world. This is not, it seems, how Lisa sees it – as she isn’t a 14 year old on the top deck of a bus (walking along in the street, sitting on a park bench) she doesn’t play her music loud on her phone for the world to hear – neither, as she said she would certainly do when she first moved in with me, does she hide in her room with it on the stereo at full blast. No. Headphones are fine – this is personal anger, and this is how she deals with it. This morning it was cancelled trains, and arriving at work to meet the new boss an hour later than planned, and I imagine, not as well prepared as she might have liked.

Meanwhile, I locked myself out of the house this morning – with only my car key for solace – no phone, no money, no axe (I tried a brick to the window – basically my home insurance is only going to be useful for fire damage – no-one is getting in without the key. I ended up driving to Kingston to meet my father in law, who found the spare key they have (thank goodness) which I then used to get in. I was frantic and fuming and generally in a right old state – I tried putting the radio on, but DJs don’t know how I’m feeling and nothing seemed suitable (the kooks when you are pissed off are even more annoying than when you are in a good mood!) so it went off again.

I needed something hyper – something loud and fast and funky, a soundtrack to my frantic quest for the spare key – music to drive a mini round the streets of south London with a mission to. I’m thinking Pendulum, the Propellerheads, or the Prodigy (who all begin with a P – so do the Pet Shop Boys, but they wouldn’t have been right for the moment).

I love The Prodigy – when you are in the right mood, they are the perfect soundtrack. I was once late for work in Bristol as I was so carried away by their noise and their beats (at full volume in the car with me singing along – the Fat Of The Land album) that I missed my turning on the M4 and had to go an extra 10 miles to the next one, before doing a U turn and doing another 10 miles back. I loved it.

I usually like my music to reflect my mood – when I’m in a good mood. Pendulum are great for open road driving – or walking to Upton Park on match day. Does it Offend You? Yeah? Likewise.

However – when I’m feeling depressed – I don’t reach for the Cure, Leonard Cohen, or the quite superb White Lies (a fantastic album about death and its associated subjects, murder, suicide, the afterlife). Recently I’ve been far more likely to reach for Lily Allen’s “it’s not me, it’s you” with its jaunty beats, happy melodies, and jolly subject matter such as having boyfriends who don’t satisfy her in bed, or “fuck you” which kind of speaks for itself. I want music to change my mood, to bring me round. Not to enhance my feeling of gloom or anger.

One album I keep coming back to is My Chemical Romance – “The Black Parade”. Not a duff track on it, and every song is a rock anthem about what its like to be young, having no-one understand you, deliberately upsetting parents (Mama is my favourite track – “mama – we’re all gonna die, mama – we’re meant for the flies, and right now they’re building a coffin your size, mama – we’re all gonna die” ) its loud for when I’m angry, it’s funny for when I’m happy, and I love it because it can take me between one and the other – which is exactly what I want it for. Cracking stuff.

Usually – I listen to music because I want to listen to it specifically – I very occasionally will use the shuffle feature on the iPod, but if something isn’t high on my agenda, I’ll skip it, and skip the next one until it plays something I want to listen to – by which time I could have scrolled through and found something myself. Apple’s Genius feature is pretty good though – analysing your and other’s listening habits, it creates a playlist based on a song of your choosing – listen to Belle and Sebastian, and it suggests Franz Ferdinand (also from Scotland) Camera Obscura (also mellow and indie) Los Campesinos (also someone no-one else has heard of) and others of a similar nature. It will (if you let it) also recommend other music you might like, although if I bought everything I liked I’d have rooms full of unlistened to CDs, and no money.

Originally I was going to use this to review a certain album, but we’ve had a glut of good ones recently, and the concert season is underway soon too – starting with Franz Ferdinand on Monday in Hammersmith. See – I do do things other than running – I’m trying to focus on some of them too – otherwise this will just end up as another running blog – but I’m more interesting than that. I hope.

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