Music has many uses. It fills your head with stimulus that can be used to stuff many a void. But, more often that not, music is about the setting or alteration of mood. Calming when you need to feel calm, uplifting when you’re down. Reminiscing when you need to remember you were once young. I have, over the ten years of this blog, often talked about music I love. There is a lot of it and, as I commute my way back and forth of a morning/evening I am setting about discovering more with renewed fervour. But I always come back to the songs I have loved with years.
In your formative years I think you are more a sponge. You absorb music with avarice, learning lyrics effortlessly. The songs you connect with then make their way deeper into your still forming psyche. They feel important, significant because your teenage brain doesn’t really know what those words mean yet.
And in the midst of all that teenage exuberance, there are some songs that stand out more than others and, more importantly – oh so important – there are those moments…
If music is about emotional journeys then the moments are the destinations, the top of the hill with the amazing view, the welcoming fire at the end of a long walk, a first kiss, winning a lucky dip on the lottery. You get the idea.
There have always been some music I have loved as much for those moments as I have for the tune as a hole. The moments are often crescendos, sometimes pauses, sometimes when things really kick in. You wait for them. Your arms twitch as they get ready to be thrown in the air. Eyes glisten slightly. There is a tingle. As you will discover, I am a sucker for the slow down and crescendo thing.
So, here they are, my musical moments. Unsurprisingly almost exclusively from that time in my youth when I had the time and energy to connect more with music than life There must be more than this but my ageing brain is struggling to remember any more, I may add some as the occur to me.
As ever, the joy of posts like this is the time you spend just listening to the music. This was no different – had a lot of fun discovering the videos.
Propaganda – P-Machinery @ 3:28
You couldn’t really avoid pop/synth sounds in the 80’s. Obviously, when you’re not yet cool enough to have discovered The Fall you seek out the acceptable face of pop/synth. The amazing thing about the first Propaganda album is that it has aged well, something it has in common with a lot of ZTT stuff at the time, the production was pretty special. There was also the added bonus of the ZTT sleeve notes, screeds of faux-intellectual waffle to keep the teenage mind enthralled.
Like most Propaganda songs, P-Machinery is fully loaded with great synth sounds and when they tumble down into a brief moment of silence at 3:27 and burst back in again at 3:28 you hear the 80’s stab back into your head like a long forgotten teenage dream.
Jean-Michel Jarre – Ethnicolor @9:21 ( with a nod to @7:48 )
My love of instrumental music started at a very young age and teenage me was a huge fan of Jean-Michel Jarre. I even went all the way to London by car and bus to see him at Docklands. I remember eagerly awaiting the release of Zoolook and, at first, being slightly confused by it. It’s not like the earlier sequenced tech/synth of Oxygene/Equinoxe etc. It sounds more organic and, in Ethnicolor, goes somewhere different still. A collection of odd noises and mutterings builds to big drums kicking in at 7:48 and then rising to a glorious crescendo at 9:21. It’s worth it, honest. Watched with the lovely footage in this video, even more so.
KLF – America What Time Is Love @4:32
This memory could have been very different. I was driving along in my Mum’s Peugeot 205 Serge playing, as I always did, one of the compilation tapes specially made for the car. This song was on very loud. When the moment came I got a wee bit too carried away and had a wee swerve to myself. I don’t want to over-dramatise, it wasn’t a big deal but enough for me to remember it. It has to be the extended mix. The ‘guitars’ coming crashing back is good in the single mix but the 9 minutes of this mix gives the operatic crescendo longer to build – so when you get to 4:32, hold on tight to the wheel.
Claude Debussy – La Mer @8:22 ( in this video )
This is a later addition into the musical moments firmament. Not really sure when I started listening to Debussy a lot. Certainly a go to when I writing. Debussy was a genius. And La Mer is my favourite of his works. This is a lovely version of it. The joy comes at 8:20 but you need to drift through all the build up to appreciate it fully. The only remaining question is… do you need to have crazy hair to be a conductor?
Radiohead – Exit Music (for a film) @3:27
Acoustic guitar then the best fuzz bass since Think For Yourself and then at 3:27 – bam, take that.
PJ Harvey – Long Snake Moan @The Start
Play it loud. Play it very loud. Polly at her very best and never has her voodoo worked better. The moment, such as it is, is the “Mmm hmm” right at the start before the “swirling cacophony of buzzsaw guitars” ( copyright NME 1986 ) begins.
Suede – The Asphalt World @6:28
My reader will not be surprised to see this in this list. It is, after all, one of my all time favourite songs. A dark, bleak rock opera that wanders into a dark alley only to burst back out onto the street at 6:28.
And while we’re on the subject of Suede, I’d like to give special mention to the moment at 6:57 in the long version of Stay Together. I have no idea what is going on in this video though.
That Petrol Emotion – Scumsurfin’ @4:39
Not the best sound in this clip but it shows why the boys are still my favourite live band ever. And at 4:39 you see what a musical moment is all about.
Beck – Waking Light @3:04 ( in this clip )
You can’t under-estimate how much I like Morning Phase and this, my favourite song from it. This live version is pretty good too. The moment? The guitar solo at 3:04 (in this clip) appears from nowhere in a song that was drifting to end. No idea why I like it so much – maybe because it sounds a bit like the dodgy guitar solos I used to try and play. It’s not quite got the same punch in this live version as it does on the record ( do we still call them records? ).