Archived entries for Staying In

Playlists of the Past

Don’t you just love, sometimes, to listen to those pieces of music which will throw you back in time and enable you to relive memories, to feel the same as you once did, provoked by listening to music that made up your playlist at the time? The handy thing about having a digital music player is that in an instant you can call up a song which perhaps you haven’t listened to for months, even years, without having to root around in the attic for that long-lost CD or record. Digital music also avoids that once-familiar problem of remembering that you lent the CD to someone who is now taking a year out, in Siberia.

There’s something about music which for me encourages memories that are much more vivid than if I were to look at an old scrapbook of photographs. This is because, I suspect, I am one of those people who always has music on the go, in addition to being someone who listens to a particular favourite playlist, consisting of the same three or four artists, for weeks at a time. So the events that unfold are mostly accompanied by music, and I think it’s this entanglement of my thoughts and the things I listen to that enables me, later on, to bring back those thoughts and feelings through music.

The resurfacing of old thoughts and feelings can be quite useful, I’ve found, because, provided you can take a step back it’s an interesting self-experiment. Especially examining, through memory, the characteristics of that situation you’ve remembered. To look at what it was about those particular circumstances that produced those emotions. Observing how one reacts emotionally to different circumstances is, of course, difficult in the chaotic arena of Real Life, in which we are forced Deal with Things As They Happen. Looking (or rather, listening) back, though, I’ve sometimes found that it’s possible to stumble across another perspective on things that, although useless in changing the past, enables me to learn that little bit more about myself, the way I react to things, and might hopefully lead to a more cautious attitude in the future.

“Where everything flows…”

It was reading the review of the album in the Guardian on Friday that clinched it. That and being the sort of fan that owns a copy of Ian McDonald’s Revolution In The Head . If you know that book then, chances are, you too have rushed out to buy the same album. If you haven’t, well, you’re missing out. In this book you can discover everything from how much marijuana the group smuggled into Rishikesh, India, on their retreat, to who played the Cor Anglais on Penny Lane . Beauty, details, etc.

If you’re still with me, and haven’t rushed out of your room, computer lab or detention centre at the first sight of Beatles Details (…Beatails?…), you’ll have guessed that, yep, I’ve gone and bought the new Beatles album, Love , remixed and remastered by George Martin (who else?) and his son, Giles.

The songs – there are 26 of them – have been remastered in 5.1 Surround Sound. I was unsure whether the album would “work” for me, because I’ve got permenant moderate sensorineural hearing loss (try saying that with a mouthful of peas).
You’ll be pleased to know it worked brilliantly.
Even I could tell on the first listen how clear and distinct the vocals, drums and other instruments were, from the haunting echoes of Lennon’s voice on Tomorrow Never Knows to the gentle acoustic intro of Here Comes The Sun and the powerful distortion on Revolution. There’s a fresh energy in songs like Lady Madonna or I Wanna Hold Your Hand now that the stomping piano chords and lively backing vocals are that much clearer.

What of the editing? Well, it’s a goldmine for Beatles’ fans, and generally a very uplifting album for those of you who don’t know what happens at 2:58 on Hey Jude (it’s been edited out for this album, by the way). Mixing different parts of loads of Beatles songs must have been a challenge and a half, it’s quite rightly been described as the “best job in the world” by Giles Martin and, of course, one that you’re only likely to get if you’re some sort of music producer genius…or the son of one.
It’s fantastically done, though, and you’re in for a feast of surprises; You’ll hear Ringo’s string-backed “Hovis Advert” vocals at the beginning of Octopus’s Garden, parts of an early rendition of A Day In The Life, George Harrison almost reciting the words of While My Guitar Gently Weeps and, if you close your eyes listening to Yesterday it’s as if you too were backstage watching a young McCartney sing it live for the first time. One of my particular favourites is a three-in-one mix of Drive My Car, What You Doing and The Word. It captures the Summer of Love vibe really effectively with it’s beautiful harmonies and upbeat tempo.

In fact, the mood of the whole album is joyous, because you’re essentially listening to old favourites, in much better quality, with pleasing little changes that keep you listening in anticipation. It’s a bit like having an old auntie round for tea, realising that she’s looking healthier than you’ve ever seen her, and discovering it’s because her knew hobby is off-piste snowboarding. You’ll be smiling for a long time afterwards.

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