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    • CommentTimeNov 6th 2010 edited
    I guess everybody knows the phenomenon how a song or an album can catch and preserve a moment in your life, and transport you there even years later.

    Since this place is brimming with verbally talented music lovers, let's see if this works: link a song, and write a short mood piece or description of where it takes you.


    Fever Ray - Concrete Walls

    I live between concrete walls
    when I took her up she was so warm
    I live between concrete walls
    in my arms she was so warm

    It's January this year. I've had a weird few weeks, which have taken me from diving in the Red Sea through playing a gig in an illegal underground club in Latvia to Germany, where we are doing recce with the Iron Sky movie crew. We've spent a couple of days stacked into a small van. It's the middle of winter, there's snow and sleet everywhere and we are basically driving from one weird location to another, snapping photos and taking video.

    It's Saturday or Sunday morning, I forget which. We are back in the van, everybody's tired and quiet, just staring through the windows as we drift through the industrial areas and into the downtown with all the skyscrapers. Outside the sun is just rising and the snow covered streets are almost empty apart from few huddled people, breathing out silvery clouds of vapour. Slowly the city starts to stir back to life around us.

    The song links:


  1.  (9153.2)

    I can't find the Crime and the City Solution original of this, so it's Mick Harvey's version, but every time I hear this, I'm back in 1992, probably late October. I'm 19, with my first serious girlfriend, we've only been together a month. I'm insanely happy and excited. I'm also in my first car, a 1978 royal blue Triumph Dolomite. Lovely old car, wooden interior. I'm feeling on the verge of adulthood, things are starting to happen for me. We've been out for the day, just driving. We've been to Weymouth, where I'd never been before. She's shown me the old hospital where she was born, we've been watching the sea, cruising along the coast. I am wearing an old naval jacket. Late into the evening, we reach Poole, and drive to Sandbanks, a beach on the edge of the harbour. We walk along the beach for a bit then sit in the car. In my memory, this song is playing in the car as I'm looking out at the lights of boats winking in and out in the harbour, and listening to the wind whistling in from the sea. It's a very bittersweet moment, because I know this happiness is going to end, but while it lasts, it's wonderful.

    We lasted another three years. I wrote the car off a week later, after some dork in a plumbers van pulled out of a side road. I still love this song to pieces.
  2.  (9153.3)
    Just The Way It Is, Baby - The Rembrandts

    It's the start of the summer holidays in 1990. I'm lying on the bed in my room, reading a graphic novel adaption of the Dragonlance Chronicles. The bright sunlight is streaming through the windows and the room is clean and organised (since my parents have forced me to spend the last two days cleaning it). I'm reading about the ancient civil war of the elves, the radio is on and two school free months stretch in front of me. Life is good.

    (Yeah, sorry, the Rembrandts, I know)

    Hey - The Pixies

    A long haul flight from Australia to the UK in 2004. We took off from Dubai an hour ago and are cruising thousands of feet above the Arabian desert. I'm cramped in my economy seat, I haven't slept in 20 hours, my eyes are gritty and I feel like I'm being mummified in my own filth, but I'm too tired to care. Too tired to even sleep. Out the window a gigantic full moon, stained red by the desert dust, hovers hypnotically over the endless dunes as the twanging guitars of the Pixies on my CD player echo inside my skull.
    • CommentAuthorMono
    • CommentTimeNov 6th 2010 edited
    This was a couple of years ago.

    Me, lying in a small, ill-equipped hospital in rural Mexico, with a nasty lung disease. A few hours earlier I had been informed that they did not have the means to verify the source of the nastiness, nor the proper meds to treat it, and incidentally transport to a better equipped clinic in the county state capital -- several hours' drive away -- could not be arranged, so sorry, talk to you in the morning.

    So I lied in the bed at night, running a high fever, breathing spare oxygen, occasionally going into a long-lasting coughing fit that felt like it would tear my ribcage apart and leave me unable to draw a breath ever again. At some point the thought started to creep in: how the fuck am I going to survive this?

    Then, a tune began to play in my head.

    Garbage: The Trick is to Keep Breathing.

    More specifically, the last twenty seconds of the song, where Shirley Manson repeats the line again and again while the music fades away.

    It was so absurd that I giggled aloud. I mean, it's a song about emotional problems, and here I was, humming it and thinking "yep, that's the trick, keep breathing and it's gonna be all right."

    A perfect moment of the grotesque comedy of life.
  3.  (9153.5)
    Twenty years ago, in the suburbs of Knoxville, TN. It's wintertime, replete with snow on the ground and in the trees, just cold enough to keep it all in place. I'm visiting Andy, my friend who lives in the 'big city'. We've come to pick up his friends Beth and Stephen. We all climb into his beat-up Ford Tempo and we're headed fro some place for warm beverages and conversation.

    I'm 20 years old and rudderless and quite frankly not thinking about taking the wheel. All I know is the smell of the winter air, the oncoming warmth of my friends in that old car, the piles of snow on the sidewalk and 'In Bloom' rolling through my ears. Nirvana hadn't 'hit it' then, it was a band Andy had picked up from his friends back from Sacramento and it was something very personal then, shared between only me him and me. I don't remember the date, but that day is burned eloquently in my head, one of those small high points we all keep for ourselves to define who we were at the time...

    • CommentTimeNov 6th 2010
    It's wintertime, 2006. I've been at work and school all day and night, and by the time I get off the train to go wait for the bus to go home, it's 10 pm. I've been listening to music all night to try to keep moving, which isn't really working. As I ascend the stairs from the subway to the street, I see my bus driving away and I flip the fuck out. I've now got 2 minutes to run three blocks in the freezing cold over to another bus station and hopefully not have to walk a half-hour home.

    I'm 100 feet from the bus station. I have a bag full of books hurting my back, and I see the bus RIGHT next to me. This song kicks in on my headphones, I take a breath, and bolt down the block to the station.

    I made it. I guess it's why I have a tattoo from this band.
  4.  (9153.7)
    The year is 2007.

    I live in Western PA and it's September or October. The time is 7 to 8 p.m., and I'm talked into going to Wal-Mart with a friend of mine on public transportation, since neither of us can drive. I'm having girl trouble. The girl was having emotional issues of her own.

    I'm riding in this decrepit bus with the lights flickering on and off. It's already dark outside and still snowing. The circuitous route takes us past all the assisted living and mental health facilities. My friend is on my left. No one makes eye contact. A person sits down next to me that looks like an Alien extra. I see the people in shades of blues, greens and shadows, while the snow keeps coming down outside us. And through this, I'm listening to an advance of the Crime In Stereo record, Is Dead. It's as we're rolling into another mental health facility that Animal Pharm comes on.

    The bubbling, persistent bass and the "keep moving forward" drums are constant throughout. Lyrically, this is one of the more Phillip K. Dick-esque turns the band has taken. But we're on the road out, uphill, winding past smaller homes, when the moment hits:

    I want you
    I want you to see
    That I'll be there when you're trembling;
    that I'll be there with you relapsing into madness.

    I want you
    I want you to see
    That I'll be there when you're trembling;
    I'll hold you up when you're collapsing into sadness.
    I can stand it.

    I'm trying not to cry on a bus to Wal-Mart.

    Once we arrive at Wal-Mart, I get less dramatic, but, whenever and however I hear that song, I visualize that alienating and cold suburb-scape.

  5.  (9153.8)
    It's this summer, and my ex-girlfriend's first performance at the Rocky Horror Picture Show. She strips for the crowd, there's nobody in the audience I want to associate myself with, so I leave after her number. It's hot, so I'm hot, so I've got the heat of the world in my head. I need to burn off some steam, but all I've got is my ipod and, what's this? a discarded piece of metal sticking out of a trashcan? Perfect. It's two miles of midnight shuttered stores and iron grates between me and my house, and all I do the whole walk home is yell and bang around to Titus Andronicus' The Monitor, more specifically this song.

    By the time I reach home, I've left my trail of noise behind me and my head is clear. I slept like a baby.
      CommentAuthorAlan Tyson
    • CommentTimeNov 10th 2010
    I've got two. Hope that's alright.

    The Hotel Room With Two Naked Girls and an Old Wizard

    I'm 18. It's my freshman year of art college. This story is hard for some people to believe.

    There are two girl friends of mine that have invited me to go galivanting madly about town. Except that's not precisely true - one girl invited me, and one decided to tag along before the first could invite me. The town in question is Savannah, Georgia, which I now see as a small, foggy, cold and almost self-loathing town, but to a kid who's only a few months into the biggest adventure of his life, this is a city of magic and, more importantly, a city of magicians. One of the girls does magic. She is magic.

    We sit on the riverfront, smoking a hookah. This is the first time I've smoked anything, and while I still enjoy the occasional cigarette to this day, nothing ever compares to that first taste of black cherry mu'assel tobacco. I remember thinking that it tastes, incredibly and unmistakably, like Cap'n Crunch Crunchberries, something I haven't tasted in years. The girl who is magic tells me about it. She does a trick where we touch the tips of our fingers together, and I can feel a tingle in the tip of my ring finger. The other girl doesn't feel anything. A freighter passes down the river, its shape black and slightly predatory, its matte skin reflecting the pale orange lights of the street. If magic is to have a color, for me, it will always be that pale orange.

    The girl who is magic has a friend who's in town for the night. He is older, much older, and his is staying in a hotel off the riverfront. He is also magic. We go there, not without a quite a lot of reservation from myself. I don't know the man, and I don't trust him, and I'm sure I don't want to know why he is associating with a girl young enough to be his daughter. Later, I'll come to realize that the girl who is magic has lots of these older friends, and that this is not an odd occurrence. Now, though, with all the foolishness of an 18-year-old boy who is only just discovering that maybe, just maybe, there's something strange and amazing in this world, and that it is embodied in an 18-year-old-girl, I feel like the girl who is magic is, somehow, mine, and that I have to protect her from this old lion.

    He's not an old lion. He's an old wizard.

    There's not a lot I remember about that night. I'm not sure why. I know that, at some point, both girls got naked, yet without any kind of sexuality to it. It felt like a ritual of sorts. The old wizard doesn't chant, or take drugs, or pick up a wand. He talks about music with me, and about beer, and cars. Yet he is, somehow, talking about magic, too. The girls play cards on the hotel bed.

    Now, four years later, I am fascinated by the power of music, the art of brewing, and the romance of automobiles. It is as if the old wizard told me my fortune.

    It is nearly dawn. The old wizard goes to a massive stereo system that he somehow brought up to the hotel room. "You ever heard of Leonard Cohen?" he asks. I tell him I haven't.

    "That's a damn shame," he says.

    "We ought to fix that."

    He goes to sleep in one bed. The girls sleep in another. The girl who is magic invites me to share the bed. I shake my head. Somehow, the room has become too small, and too dark, but even more than that, I feel the need to watch the sun rise. I slip on my beat-up, stitched-together trench coat, tug my fedora onto my head, and make sure I have my wallet, phone, and lighter. I slip out of the room while everyone else sleeps. I watch the sun come up, and I think. And I start to really, truly believe in magic.
      CommentAuthorAlan Tyson
    • CommentTimeNov 10th 2010
    Showing Chicago to The Mad Bosnian and the Kazakh Beauty

    I'm 22. It's this past summer. This story is of one of the most perfect nights of my life. Its sort of a long story, though.

    I've been working at a summer camp as a counselor. This camp, for whatever reason, gets a lot of foreign counselors and staff, the director himself being a Scotsman who has transplanted himself to the States considerably well. The counselors, as I'm sure all counselor staff from summer camps all over the world do, have gotten together for a weekend to be adults together, and to unwind after a week of keeping other people's children amused and occupied. We go to a rodeo show, which I've never been to before, and I have a surprisingly good time at it. Afterwards, we go over to one of their houses for the night. There is beer involved, and I become friends, rather than just co-workers, with the other counselors. There are two in particular, whom I shall refer to as The Mad Bosnian, and The Kazakh Beauty, who are part of the reality of this story.

    Everyone has gone to bed, except for me and the Kazakh Beauty. I call her this because she truly is one of the most beautiful women I've ever known, and I've had a gloriously painful crush on her from the instant we met. We are sitting outside on a porch deck, protected from a pissing-down Iowa thunderstorm by a table-umbrella. We're drinking cheap Bacardi mojitos, bottle after bottle, we must have put away a six pack each over the next two hours. She tells me they do not have storms like this in her country, and that Iowa is the most beautiful place she's ever been to. I've never heard Iowa described as beautiful, but somehow, now, I can see it through her eyes.

    It's beautiful.

    She tells me that she wants to see the rest of America. She came here through New York, and has seen that, but wishes she could see Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, all the big cities. I tell her that Chicago is only six hours away, and before I can think about it too hard, I promise that, before the summer is out, I'll take her there.

    Now, Fringe the Mad Bosnian doesn't just latch onto the trip. Never think it. Once I really get to know him, and we become friends through the power of liberal politics and Marlboro cigarettes, and he becomes friends with the Kazakh Beauty through the power of English as a Second Language and Gosh Americans Are Fucked Up, its like he's always been part of the plan to go to Chicago.

    The trip is something of a disaster.

    I get a speeding ticket on the way there. The Mad Bosnian cheers me up by telling me that American cops are meaner than Bosnian cops, which I find pretty hilarious. The trains are never on time, and we miss three of them in a row. I manage to lead us through Chicago fairly well, but it seems like every landmark they want to see is either unfindable somehow, packed with people, or undergoing renovations. I apologize to them, thinking myself a very bad host.

    "Well," The Mad Bosnian says, "there is always bar, and pub."

    The Kazakh Beauty smiles and rolls her eyes. The Kazakh Beauty never, for the rest of the summer, says more words to me than she did that night we watched the storm together, but that smile is new, and I'll see it plenty.

    We find a place, a good, decent dive with loud drums and off-key singing coming out of it. I order us all rounds of 312, a beer dedicated to the city of Chicago. "Best beer I've ever had in America," The Mad Bosnian says. The Kazakh Beauty smiles again as she finishes two 312s before The Mad Bosnian and I even finish one.

    The bands switch out.

    They start playing this.

    It's not the original band (they're the Bigfellas, out of San Diego), and its probably illegal for them to be performing it for money (God knows I tipped them well enough by night's end) but really, the bar was small enough and they were good enough that no one could possibly have cared. By the end of it, the entire bar is singing along with the chorus, and there are two encores of the same damn song before they convince us to move on to another one.

    The Mad Bosnian, who I'll later find out is as pan-sexual as they come, kisses me roughly on the cheek, and says I am a brilliant host and native guide. The Kazakh Beauty orders us all another round of 312s and test-tube shots, and gives me that smile.

    The night fades into song, and the smell of wheat beer, and that beautiful, Kazakh smile.

    When I die, if I've been good, I'll get to re-live that night over, and over again, each time new. Except this time The Kazakh Beauty will kiss me, too.

    Good night, Whitechapel. Sorry for the long post.

    (These memories brought to you by Leonard Cohen, the Bigfellas and the Nameless Bar Band in Chicago, three shots of Jack Daniels, and two bottles of probably the only 312 that exist this far east of Chicago)
    • CommentAuthorMono
    • CommentTimeNov 11th 2010
    More, please! Reading these makes my day.
    • CommentAuthoricelandbob
    • CommentTimeNov 12th 2010 edited
    Here's a tune that brings back memories

    Alone in a cold flat in Iceland...

    It's May 2007. I'Ve finally arrived in Iceland after Sigga had moved here 5 months earlier. I arrive sick and hunover (thanks to a going away session with my Brother the night before). After receiving a lift, i'm dropped off at my new home, a flat on the outskirts of Reykjavik.

    Alas i'm alone and lonely. Sigga is working a summer job as a hotel manager in the East, hundreds of miles away. And my flat is empty. There is no TV, fridge, food,bed or sofa. And i have no money. I feel fairly crap and despondent.

    But there is an old radio in the flat. As I try to get comfortable on an old, dirty mattress, i tune into a station and luckily enough, this was the first track that i come across. They were playing this on heavy rotation that summer. Initially i thought it was a track from Mother Love Bone but of course i was mistaken. I still have a very soft spot for this band...

  6.  (9153.13)

    Puberty hit, and my athletic ability plummeted. (In retrospect, this was the beginning of my long term health decline issues.) I was 13, and I had to run the mile for gym class. I have always been terrible at distance running. In the late 80s, my father gave me his walkman, a huge and heavy thing the size of a brick, and duct taped together, and with it, a tape of one of our favorite bands, XTC. I listen to this, and I am running the mile, my lungs tasting like rust, determined to make my dad proud of me.... but simultaneously, I am also sitting beside my dad in his junkyard car, where our frequent weekend drives (from mom's, to dad's, to gramma's, to dad's, to church, to gramma's, to mom's) were always a place of music appreciation lessons (That is, before he got remarried, started a new family, and went from "Crazy Uncle Larry" to the most conservative member of my extended Catholic family and totally gave up trying to teach his children what good music is). Blasting music, driving down back roads, watching my dad drum at the steering wheel while excitedly exclaiming to me "check out this KEY CHANGE!" as he cranked the volume. My favorite memories.
    • CommentTimeNov 13th 2010
    yeah, okay.

    the first time i suspended was to Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante. i think it was the third movement. this wasn't by choice; my ipod was on shuffle for a good hour before i finally lifted off the ground. but it was right at a certain swell in the music, and it all seemed to come together quite nicely.
    (video footage.)

    a wave of nausea overtook me after about two minutes in the air, and i asked to put back down (this same process has occurred each time i've suspended). after a minute of deep breathing, "Bris" by the Kaizers Orchestra came on, and it made me smile, so i went back up again.
    (video footage.)

    short but sweet. i think all the relevant commentary is within the videos, actually.
    (i'm unimpressed with tumblr's video-upload qualities, so, apologies if it's something i haven't set correctly yet.)
    • CommentTimeDec 2nd 2011 edited
    This isn't a single song, but a whole album: Tin Hat's "Sad Machinery of Spring".

    A year ago I was in Frankfurt / Germany and we were filming Iron Sky. It was a very very weird time with a whirlwind of things happening. I was living out of a suitcase for a month and a change in my room in our production office, which was in an abandoned bank in the middle of the Frankfurt red lights / junkie area. In the morning I woke up early, grabbed a quick coffee down at the office which was bustling with people and activity, then crammed myself and my camera gear into a car, or walked into some weird location where we were shooting that day. The days were long, and the evenings were when this music came to the picture. I generally came to the room late and pretty tired from the day. I usually just spent a couple of hours reading a book, playing Echo Bazaar and listening mainly to Tin Hat, while digesting the weird and wonderful chaos of the day, and feeling very self contained and uprooted in a great way. Just me, this one room, my suitcase and my laptop, and something new and intense happening every day.
    • CommentTimeDec 2nd 2011 edited
    ive got a million predictable ones about some crazy night of bleeding and the bands i saw and then the cops etc etc blah blah blah

    but the one i think about frequently is 'starlight' by MUSE. i totally fell in love with a crazy girl, and the moment i realized it was watching her walk back to my table after putting this on the jukebox and mouthing the words to me. she still doesnt know how much i truly cared about her, and she never will since we shared a few hectic and fun months and then parted ways (and i married someone who i like more and is not an insane trainwreck). but every single time i hear this song i get a lil choked up and think what mightve been and wonder where she is and hope that she has found some way to deal with life. its been like 5 years and i still worry about her. dear god i dont want to anymore.
    • CommentTimeDec 2nd 2011 edited
    It was the summer of 1992. I was a fucking mess.

    I was seventeen years old, just graduated high school. Rudderless. Way overweight, still denying my feelings about my parents' breakup, my lack of direction, the needy ache in my balls when the pretty girls walked by, never ever noticing.

    I had some good friends, though.

    We were the Metalhead Kids of our Catholic high school, growing out our hear and wearing Metallica t-shirts in what felt like the ultimate rebellion against The System. We drank. We smoked cigarettes. We smoked pot. We were The Bad Kids.

    Once "Smells Like Teen Spirit" hit big, earlier that school year, we started experimenting with other kinds of music. I was leaning towards industrial, Paulie was a punk, Wilson was becoming a prog-rock dude, and Bella found Too Much Joy.

    It was a wild departure from the stuff we usually listened to, but good.

    He picked me up one night, on the way to get the other fellas, and he looked at me, in the way youths do when they've found something profound.

    "Hickey, man. You gotta hear this." He popped in a tape, rewound and fastforwarded until he'd hit the right spot. I'll link the song because I suck at adding videos here: Too Much Joy - Pirate

    It's about somebody who's imprisoned in his life, but who lets his imagination out to find a better one. The guitars kind of dusted over me, the drums kicking me in the ass.

    When it was over, he looked at me as if to say, "Well?"

    I think I just nodded at him. Yup, I got it.

    That's what that song reminds me of. Driving around, windows down, wind tickling my undercut, and enjoying the last warm nights of summer before adulthood kicks you in the teeth.
  7.  (9153.18)
    I loved this thread... surprised it didn't take off more.


    I was in my mid 20s, probably late 1997. Had split from my partner temporarily, and was in a bit of a state. My weekends consisted of coming back from work on a friday, sinking a bottle of wine (usually sitting on the floor in the kitchen) and heading into town for a random night of drinking, crashing parties, ending up god knows where and god knows who with. One night, following this pattern, I ended up with a few people, a couple of whom I sort of knew, another couple that I'd just met, in a flat. Drunk to hell, three in the morning, weather foul. Someone kept putting on 'The Good Son' by Nick Cave, on vinyl if I recall, and I've an enduring memory of the main piano riff to Sorrow's Child crashing out of the stereo as winter rain lashed against the windows of the old victorian building. I'd had that album for years at that point but had hardly listened to it - was too gentle for me up til that point.

    I still know most of those people now, some I've parted from, and we've been through stuff together. When I woke up the next day, sometime in the afternoon, in my damp, cold room, that piano riff was in my head. It took me a while to remember what it was and where it had come from. And when I did, I played that damn album until it hurt.
    • CommentTimeDec 9th 2011
    This song just came up on shuffle as I was working on some art, and now the memory is right there and I can't think about anything else, so I'm going to share it here.

    I was lying in bed with my sort of boyfriend at the time. We'd basically gotten back together at this point after a rather harsh break up, but weren't really acknowledging it. Just sort of doing what we wanted to be doing together, spending as many nights together as we could. So there we were, spooning on his tiny dorm room bed. I told him I wanted to sing to him. He said okay. So I sang this song, practically whispering it so as to not disturb his roommate in the next room. It was long after the dorm curfew, everything was quiet, and my voice put this song out in the air as softly as possible while still retaining some tone quality. After I was done, the boy hugged me a little closer. He told me that I had a beautiful voice, and thanked me for the song. For the few hours we were silent and content, and we fell asleep with nothing more needing to be said.
    • CommentTimeDec 9th 2011
    At some point into this album she sprouted wings.