In an attempt to shake up the relentless monotony of lockdown, I’ve been digging out and listening to some of my old albums. Hearing some of my favourite tracks that I’ve not heard for a while as I work has added a whole new dimension to being stuck in the house. And yes, I realise how desperately basic this sounds. But hear me out.
Music is so incredibly timeless and personal; the power it holds over you is immense. Your musical tastes and favourite songs have the ability to transport you back to a specific memory and moment in time. And so that’s what I’ve been doing on recent afternoons in lockdown. Oh, these trips down memory lane have been quite something.
Although I have many memories of listening to these albums, the likes of The Rolling Stones’ Let it Bleed and Leonard Cohen’s Songs of Leonard Cohen instantly take me back to being 14 when I would finish school and spend the rest of the night warbling along to them in my bedroom (whilst no doubt wishing I was a grown woman living in London or Paris). Joni Mitchell’s Blue transports me to Christmas-time of that same year after I finished seeing a boy and wondered why I didn’t feel as heartbroken as Joni did in her bell-like voice on The Last Time I Saw Richard.
Anything by The Beatles still takes me back to being a family of five in my childhood home before my dad passed away; and Neil Young’s Harvest and After The Gold Rush reminds me of being 15, when my brother (who was travelling at the time) and I would email back and forth about his lyrics, while simultaneously discussing Walk The Line. Tom Petty makes me think of driving around the USA; Nick Drake reminds me of young love; and Arctic Monkeys’ AM reminds me of a time in my early ‘20s when I definitely wasn’t my best self (I can still listen to it though, just about). Anything by Billy Joel makes me think of my sister; Arcade Fire of Glastonbury; and Bright Eyes’ I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning of drives to school with my mum and one night when she came to visit me in London when we chatted in Hyde Park until late with a few drinks and the album playing on our early-edition iPhones in the background. Meanwhile, Bruce Springsteen prompts me to think about every single family party from as far back as I can remember.
My point of mentioning these artists and recollections is to highlight the power of listening to your favourite albums—especially the ones you haven’t heard for years—whilst being confined to the house and separated from loved ones. It’s almost like watching old home videos and going through photo albums, connecting you to specific people and points in time. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to realise this and shout out about it.
At the risk of veering off-topic, I’m a little protective over my musical interests. Having grown up mainly listening to artists from the ‘60s and ‘70s, it’s always grated on me when someone assumes I shouldn’t understand a certain artist because of my age (this happens a lot less as I get older—thank god). While I’m all for the importance of recognising eras and subcultures, I strongly believe that those that heard said song on its release date have no more ownership or connection to it than those who might have heard it 30 years later. Who knows what that person’s been through, and where, and with whom? And who can predict what the hell they were listening to when they did so? My point exactly.
Music is ageless; it transcends time. And whilst it’s provided the backdrop to many societal, fashion and political movements over the years, it’s for everyone to enjoy. And especially so during these unsettling times. Now, that’s my queue to stop typing and dig out a bit of Graceland.
Speak soon x