The idea that music has time travelling qualities is not my own, and I'm not really in the mood to trawl the internet and my book and film collection for references for examples (let's face it, music is pretty self-referential in this aspect too). However, with the release of the latest James record, I've been listening to older James records as a reminder of both why I like them as a band and, consequentially, my youth.
We can get lots of reminders of our youths. First up and simple, shopping. A trip to Game recently revealed that said store has a better recall of my previous addresses than I do. Seemingly, when I bought games for my Playstation in 1997 I signed up a loyalty card using my then address in Poplar, East London. When I was presented with this information I got a little flustered, my memories of that house are not overly great (my flatmates were great, the situation wasn't). Yet, there's an odd connection to be found between the then-me and the now-me, a time travelling man.
Back to James. When I first started listening to them (John Peel, early nineties radio memories, when I listened to lots of music on Radio 1) it was primarily the name that picked my ears. James, named after me. Of course, Peel's description of them and their fans also helped (think he said cult at some point, though it might have been about Ned's Atomic Dustbin). The singles off Gold Mother struck a cord with me and led me to buying that lp. On tape. Now mangled.
Gold Mother and the following two albums, Seven and Laid, provided part of an considerably prolonged soundtrack to my late teenage life. I developed and grew as the records developed and grew. In parallel my life and those records continued to develop over the twenty-four and twenty-two years since, like Brian Eno's Discreet Music, initial shapes forming, colliding and then producing new meanings. Which is why in the last week I have been singing Next Lover in St Stephen's Church grounds and Low Low Low on the way to work (well, not exactly sing out loud).
Most revealing though was Top Of The World. Here was one of my most favourite songs a new, those words, new shapes as I approach being older.
I should listen properly, closely. Music is a good background soundtrack yet sometimes it is nice to have it there, full attention, like a good book, the experience of just listening.
Notes and references
1 - Richard Linklater, 2004.
2 - What, you didn't know? The Girl At The End Of The World.
3 - Did you catch the reference to the Rolling Stones in this blog post.
4 - Fun, Goon Show fact, Ned's Atomic Dustbin named themselves after a Goon Show.
5 - Original release was 1990, though 'my' version came out a year later.
6 - 1992 and 1993.
7 - Fun, Brian Eno and James fact. Laid was produced by Eno, who seemingly worked out how James worked and produced a second album at the same time, Wah Wah. Eno plays on the latest James record, too.