…Not a short story today or even one of my usual random streams of consciousness strewn chatter. I was listening to Spiritualized (“When are you not?” those close to me have often asked) and had to write something, anything, to capture the majesty that I first felt at fourteen, and the hair-on-end-standing joy and delight I feel every time I hear this song.
There’s a moment, a defining, unforgettable instant when you get music or a band, and that band that music, that seemingly random collection of notes and harmonies and rhythms, gets to you. It’s not that moment when you get into music, a band, but that instant when everything falls into place, a song or just the briefest snippet opens your eyes to the possibilities of all music. For me it came at the age of fourteen, I was in my parent’s living room on a Wednesday. It was raining outside and I had cheese on toast. My sister, Caff had sent me a pile of records home before she came back from university for the summer and I had gone through each and loved them. But then I came to a record, the first 12 inch from a new band Spiritualized, but the record seemed to have Spacemen 3 written on it. I knew Spacemen 3, I had seen them three times before; drone rock with a soul, but strictly for the initiated. I wiped the record down on the tail of my purple paisley shirt, holding it between thumb and mid finger, put it on the turntable and turned on the Cambridge Audio amp. Wait. Don’t put the needle on too soon, have a last read of the sleeve, pick up everything before you immerse yourself in the opening bars. A song written by a bloke called Reg (people called Reg are always blokes), “Anyway that you want me.”
Reg Presley, the name hit the back of my eye, travelling imperceptibly as my brain riffled through back copies of Sounds and Melody Maker and every record I could remember and then I got it…The Troggs. I’d seen an interview with him, he wrote songs on a ‘cup of tea,’ not like Planet Gong (definitely not like Gong), but he said it was the strongest substance he went near.
Spacemen 3 were a little different; Spiritualized, I recognised the names, all present bar Sonic Boom, couldn’t have changed that much. It is still not time, there is something I had to do first…a final clean, blow the fluff from the needle and then set it down on the groove and wait to feel the groove. I was standing, absent-mindedly, trying to think if I’d heard it before, but then it started. I stopped, sat down and listened.
This was the song that the coda was invented for. I remember first hearing Cannonball by The Breeders and being astonished by how much, how many brilliant ideas forming a collective brilliance, they had fitted in to the first ten seconds of the song. This happened years before, but until you have heard the majesty of that coda, straight, stoned, tripping, loved up, pissed, you haven’t heard music. I had to tell everyone. Anyway that you want it it has something, everything to give you. I listened to it twenty times that first afternoon, evening, and morning and found new, more wondrous depths of emotional assonance every time. There were bits I thought that I got, but then they would slip away like love.