Arcade Fire and Life Sound Tracks

A minor coincidence set me thinking today. Along with countless others I am now the owner of the new Arcade Fire album, Suburbs, greedily gobbling up the music, hoping it will have a similar effect to the first time I heard them (almost inevitably not). Bouncing through Tweetdeck tonight and up pop a series of fevered tweets from @hernameiscalla, a band that also help recreate in me that elusive sense of excitement, the sense of something new and to be discovered. The tweets, once joined up , read as follows:

“my thoughts on the new #arcadefire – i do really like it, but a big part of this is cuz of how important the band is to me …and how an album on suburban life & growin up makes me think of the band soundtracking my exams, feelin lost at uni, loneliness & boredom…… only arcade fire & broken social scene have followed me from gcse & school, to my halls, lonely houses & then love & working life…”

Isn’t it strange the effect a band, an album or sometimes just a track can have? How looking back they become inextricably associated with a moment, a period, an emotion? I am afraid that Arcade Fire don’t take me back to my school days, you have to travel a wee bit further for that.

The guilty pleasure of my teenage love affair with Yes ironically came right back around when, years later, Heart of the Sunrise became the unforgettable, and deeply appropriate, audio track to the journey home at 1am after the birth of my son.

Writing now I realise how impossible it is to try and succinctly attach specific music to life stages without writing a book and boring everyone to death. But the attachments are there, and sometimes only really clear after the event. The Joni Mitchell album Hissing of Summer Lawns is an unexpectedly durable example, at the time my introduction to elements of jazz and the as then unnamed ‘world music’ elements, later to reflect as it did in Harry’s House my own experience of becoming dislocated from home life through the pressures of ‘business’ life.

More recently music has again become centre stage. After years of not going to gigs, the Lad hit fourteen and off we went. Anally I track all our gigs, the supports, the experience of the night, the triumphs, the lesser nights. With the valued input of @binmouth and IDS we share new hopes and passions – The National have and will keep one of those few treasured places in our hearts – all the new bands that come and go, the impassioned early days of bands, those other artists that stay and grow and don’t grow stale.

The thing that has changed of late is the ability to discover bands and musicians from around the country and the rest of the world. It seems only yesterday that discovering new music was asking to listen to a 45rpm in a booth in record shop down town. The internet has revolutionised all that – it is almost impossible to keep track of all that is out there, trying to find the music that will connect with you, resonate and embed itself, become that part of your own soundtrack. But what a damn fine problem it is, this is a blessed time.

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