This week I have been mostly listening to …

In fact not so much what I’ve been listening to this week, but this year. I’ve been meaning to do this for ages and have only just got round to it. As I write I am listening to the radio, but it is just starting to jar with my thoughts so I’ll swap it for listening to bits and pieces of what I’m writing about. I feel slightly anxious about writing about the music I listen to just in case anyone reading decides to judge me negatively as a result. However, I feel that way about everything I post to my blog so I might as well just get on with it.

I last created a playlist in the middle of February (Feb 2011 playlist) and was listening to it regularly until the beginning of April. It starts with ‘In the House in a Heartbeat’ which I love for its foreboding and its sense of accumulating unease, very much in tune with how I was feeling at the start of this year. I first heard that track as part of the soundtrack to 28 Days Later (the ‘orrible zombie film) and it stuck with me despite not hearing it again for several years. My thoughts when I made the playlist were very much on the recent break-up of a relationship. I can see clear links between the overall sense of this playlist and my attempts to work out my thoughts about feeling adrift, both abandoned and liberated. Back then listening to it was a good way to create a bit of space to ponder what was bothering me as well as putting boundaries around it. By the end I was usually ready to come back to the real world and do something useful in it again.

Back in March I bought Adele’s 21, which I love. I had heard ‘Rolling in the Deep’ and also ‘Rumour Has It’ on the radio and really liked both. My Mum gave me a copy of 19 a couple of years ago and that gets played a lot. One of the things I particularly like about 21 is that many of the stories of the songs narrate a strength of character and tenacity, even if this is not immediately apparent. I feel that the music accords with this and carries it through. Also she has a fantastic voice, which helps! I often listen choose to listen to this while I am in the bath and it is a favourite on the bus to work as well.

I have, by now, also been persuaded to use spotify and I thoroughly approve. I love being able to explore music I wouldn’t be willing to buy on the off-chance that I like it. Being able to share music through spotify is also brilliant. A couple of weeks ago I played spotify tennis with @rblandford after he put an open invitation on twitter. For an explanation of Richard’s spotify tennis game check his blog, here. Here is the playlist we created. I found his turns fascinating and I enjoyed the discipline of trying to make mine relevant but not too obvious. My most memorable point in the game was finding the theme from ‘Ghostbusters‘ in my inbox, having posted ‘Cloudbusting‘ by Kate Bush on my previous turn. I was giggling away to my laptop as I listened, it was a masterful stroke on his part. I hope he enjoyed playing as much as I did and didn’t think my choices of music too pedestrian. You can find Richard on spotify by searching for spotify:user:rblandford and you can find me under spotify:user:pinkyandnobrain, if you fancy a game then send one of us a track. If it’s me and you decide you hate my taste in music … well sod ya then! 😉

There were two other albums I wanted to mention. As the weather has improved I found myself reaching for Ladyhawke’s album of the same name. I like its 80s feel with the mix of synthesiser and voice and the fact that the balance of the two will vary considerably through the duration of each track. This is a favourite for on the way to work as it wakes me up and gets me ready to tackle the day ahead. I have a really vivid memory of listening to it several weeks ago while sitting on the top deck of the bus, the world through the window bathed in gloriously bright sunshine, as it sped along the A27 and feeling ready for anything the day could throw at me.

Lastly, I have been listening to ‘Bang Goes the Knighthood’ by The Divine Comedy. I’d not actually listened to any of their albums before and only heard the chart hits,but I have resolved that I must buy a copy of the album as it is wonderful. I love its whimsical timbre; the lyrics are intelligent, witty and insightful; and I could listen to Neil Hannon’s voice for hours on end. Each track seems to be a reflection on things that I find so very recognisable. Some are quite gentle, many are satirical and some have a real edge to them. The upbeat sound of ‘Neopolitan Girl’ sets up a serious discord with its lyrics, parts of which bring me to the verge of tears if I dwell on them.  The sounds and layering on this one work really well and it has really grown on me.  I’m also very fond of ‘At the Indie Disco’ and not just because it is about some guy musing on fancying a girl. I like the tangible story of it, the gentle self deprecating humour (especially the dated references) and its simplicity. The Guardian has a great video of Neil playing a piano version. I will leave you with my favourite lines as they never fail to gently amuse me.

“And when its over and I’m freezing on the night bus home/I think of her and I sing the words to my favourite song, oh yeah/She makes my heart beat the same way/As at the start of Blue Monday”

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2 thoughts on “This week I have been mostly listening to …

  1. I’m a huge Divine Comedy fan and loved the last album. I wish Neil Hannon toured more often, as he’s a fantastic performer and has a great rapport with the audience.

  2. Hi Steerforth, I am somewhat impressed by having you leave a comment on my blog! As you may have guessed, I enthusiastically follow yours.

    I would love to see him perform, I must keep a look out for any future tour dates. I’m glad to find someone else who is a fan of the Divine Comedy.

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