Who the fuck is this? My opening thought on this opening line of a song that sneaked its way on to a compilation made for me by my best mate. It’s 1995. Cassette tapes are barely clinging on, but quality control standards are upheld. The production is built on a fragile combination of reverence, timing, phantom-crescendo before-dropping-the-tempo-a-gear-before-finishing-with-the-show-stopping-finale rules of compilation assembly. A delicate art form. Alchemy in the hands of a human emotional tuning fork. Excuse me while I have a moment to stare into the middle distance for some spontaneous nostalgia…
(20 seconds later)
If you haven’t clicked on the link for a listen, then do so now. It’ll open in a separate page so read on while you listen to some seasonal greetings from our friend Jonathan Richman. Imagine this flanked by Massive Attack’s Unfinished Sympathy and Nick Cave’s The Ship Song. What better place to parachute a throw-away tickle of a tune into a compilation than between two self-consciously serious classics. Ambush the unsuspecting listener neither half way up nor down with a commercial break for happiness to pave the way for contemplation at the piano.
That’s one of my most vivid sounds of summer. A few others that trigger a rapid flick through the cartoon sketchbook of flashbacks.
The flint for firing up the fryers in the chippie and the smell of stale grease on ill-fitting polyester uniforms. Dreading the response from my folks to the impending Leaving Cert results but not giving a fuck about them one way or another. Nothing mattered except piling into the delivery van after the late-night shift and all back to whoever’s till dawn. Round and round, up and down, through the streets of our town. The rain was on its way – the results arrived.
Datsun Stanza. Toyota Carina. Volvo. Petrol. Diesel. Four-door. Five-door. Hatch-back. Cassette player. CD player. All that changes is the model of my folks’ car, my hairstyles, and the pixel quality of the memory of bringing that 12″ to the local disco (as they were called then) and the floor emptying when the DJ played it. Devil may care. It’s still belt on, shades down, volume up, and playing the shit out of it along the quickest crooked coastline I can get to. 3:59 – 4:35: my heart overspilleth.
Got a favourite summer sound to share? Take it away there…