Someone somewhere once said that if we have two ears and one mouth, it is to do more listening than talking. In those hectic times, most of us sometimes forget to listen – we hear, we speak, but we tend to listen much less, or maybe in a different way. Reading through submissions for What We Talk About… I find myself listening to people’s stories, shortly finding myself in their world in the same way I empathise when listening to music, and maybe, weeks later, hearing a record and connecting my story to it as well as theirs.
Danielle (The Palpitations)
“Astral Weeks” by Van Morrison
It’s nigh on impossible to pick a favourite album, this is only one of them! but in the end I chose Astral Weeks by Van Morrison. It’s like the old faithful album for me.
I played this a lot when I was pregnant & after Eve was born.
Timeless, cosmic, beautiful.
Usually with an album the ad-libs are edited and straighter lines are sung, catchier bass lines are stuck to but on this record they keep it all in and it doesn’t irritate; it enhances the experience. It’s like a private concert when you hear it, you hear rawness in the double bass, strings, guitar and of course, in the vocals. A few improvisations, a few extra long endings. It’s very rich, pure, it’s uncompromising, it’s on a mission.
My favorite tracks from it would have to be Astral Weeks, Beside You, Sweet Thing, and The Way Young Lovers Do. There’s nothing to say about this special album that hasn’t already been said, although I can’t believe I whittled it down to an album containing jazz flute or that I used the word ‘cosmic’.
Felix Teiretzbacher (I AM CEREALS)
“The Singles 81-85″ by Depeche Mode
It is certainly difficult to pick out a favorite record. However if one assumes that the record which I have, until now, played the most often and which accompanied me through all circumstances is also my favorite record, well then that would have to be The Singles 81-85 by Depeche Mode.
Back then, I was 7 or 8 years old as my older sister came home with it, playing it on and off. At first it was the more playful hits like Dreaming of Me or New Life that moved me.
The sounds of the synthesizer, new to me, were fascinating.
The powerful introduction of People are People must have, at the time, sparked my interest which intensified more and more throughout the years. At first it was mostly about the melodies; lyrics interested me less. Now it is especially quieter, more reflective songs like See You or Shake the Disease that inspire me.
In any case, this Single-Album always has a special place in my life. No matter when I listen to it, there is always at least one track on it which reflects exactly my actual state of mind.
However there was actually a moment in which I put the album aside for a while, shortly after The Singles 86>98 came out. But this is another story…
Euan McMeeken (Glacis, Graveyard Tapes, mini50records)
“Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” by Wilco
There’s one record I couldn’t live without, and that’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot by Wilco.
The year just gone hasn’t been an easy one. And when things are uncertain that’s when music really kicks in. Old records become old friends. And things and people maybe that you took for granted in the past, they mean more again too. In spite of everything I knew I had the love of my parents. And that helped.
My Father was the best man I knew. He was intelligent, quick witted, honest and loving. He was everything. Everything to me and everything I could ever hope to be. In March I lost him. Losing him has left a huge hole inside me.
It’s funny though. We didn’t have all that much in common. Nowhere was that more evident than in music. Everyone has their own way of hearing and seeing. And even though I’m pretty sure that my Dad probably would’ve hated YHF I’ve found myself going back to it these last few weeks.
And I couldn’t work out why. Until I remembered that, not long before it was released, my best friend was killed in a car accident. The record saw me through those dark times, and now it’s just as comforting, uplifting and powerful as it was then.
I don’t think you ever really get over the loss of someone close to you. The original marks fade and you’re left with a scar you somehow have to cover up or learn to live with and music, that helps. It lifts you out of places you don’t want to be, it shows you hope, and you learn that, even though things change, and are hard, there is always a new way to be.
I don’t make any secret of the fact that I love Wilco. I got into them around the time of Summerteeth, and then, when I heard a new record was coming out I got very excited. I was still living at home when it was released. I remember taking it through to my parents’ piano room, and then sitting back and listening to it in its entirety. Even now it’s my favourite way to listen to new music, letting it come alive as the world grows quiet.
YHF marked a definite departure from Wilco’s previous sound. It was dense and complicated music, and in many ways it changed, not just how I saw Wilco, but also the music I listened to and the way I thought of music. Repeatedly on this record they take a simple folk song and then fill it in to shape something totally different. Organs, flesh and skin stretched over the original bare bones of a piece to make it something living and breathing, more beautiful than it would’ve been without.
As we grow the way we see the world changes. And this is reflected in the music we listen to. Now I’ve gone from being a fan of harmony and rhythm to loving noise, atmosphere and soundscape. Maybe it’s something to do with my classical upbringing, but increasingly I find the music that moves me now couldn’t be more different than before. Lately I’ve been obsessed with Ben Frost’s ‘By The Throat’. But always there is this sound of YHF and the solace it gives.
The bond with YHF wasn’t instant though. Sometimes the records we struggle with initially are the ones we end up loving the most, for the longest. I listened and listened and listened to the record, and with each play it revealed itself a little more to me.
And once again I find myself listening to it. My world’s changed, and so has the way I see it. But this, this is the one constant, the soothing sounds reminding me of all the times I’ve listened to and needed this record. I’m thinking of my Dad, of the friend I lost, of all the times I listened before playing gigs.
And more than likely my Dad wouldn’t have liked this record at all. But I know that he’s somewhere, looking back at me, knowing I’ll be ok. And I know too, that Yankee Hotel Foxtrot will always be the closest record to my heart.