Once upon a time, a golden oldie referred to a song released in the 50s, 60s or 70s, and modern music doesn’t really go much further back than that.
More generally, it’s the music your parents would listen to if you’re around my age (early/mid thirties). You know, you whippersnappers wouldn’t know good music if it slapped you in the face, you kids don’t half listen to some tripe these days. Classic get-off-my-lawn commentary from the older generation.
It’s only a matter of time before the latest cohort of unruly youth passes their first decade of onboarding and sees _me_ as one of the older generation.
Look at this, I’m already rambling aimlessly. Ahem.
So, I’ve been binging all the music I used to listen to as a kid that now makes me all teary and misty-eyed. Good old nostalgia. Some albums have such a strong association with parts of my past life that I can practically travel back in time and relive those moments in full technicolour.
Continue reading if you’d like to join me on a musical trip down memory lane.
Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest (2009)
Two Weeks was arguably the hit single from Grizzly Bear’s sophomore record and it got major play time on XFM and BBC Radio 6. I would eventually get massively into this band and see them play live in Leeds, but that’s not what I remember so vividly.
I worked as a cashier and early-morning change-runner at my local Tesco back then, and during one break time received a Facebook message from the cousin of one my friends, who was from Sacramento in California if I remember correctly. She asked if I could pick her up from Manchester Airport and I thought, heh, why not? This was the beginning of a whirlwind romance that ended just as quickly as it started (blink and you’d miss it) and Veckatimest was the soundtrack to it all.
It was the height of summer and the weather was glorious. I showed her the sights around Manchester, she showed me how to dance the way she did back home. It was wild and not meant to be.
Whenever I listen to Two Weeks I’m instantly transported back into my little blue Ford Ka, scooting down the M61 towards Chorley with the windows open, the cool breeze, and the blazing sun bearing down upon us.
This was probably one of the first times I really embraced spontaneity and went with the flow, although it was also a point in time where I was unaware of several issues that I would later struggle with. A lot.
Oh to be ignorant.
Arctic Monkeys - AM (2013)
I was hooked by the Arctic Monkeys as soon as I heard their first single, I Bet That You Look Good On The Dancefloor, a little bit before they released their debut album in 2006. I can still put on Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not and recite the lyrics from heart, as I’d sing along with it in the car so much when driving home from sixth-form, or from meeting friends further up in Lancashire.
AM, however, is something else. I lived in Poplar in East London then and would commute to work from the DLR at All Saints, passing through Poplar and then into Bank or Tower Hill. By the time I got past Poplar, Arabella would begin and I’d stare out of the window towards Canary Wharf as the DLR pootled past, watching the strange new Crossrail station come to form as each diamond-shaped glass panel was fitted into place across the days, weeks… months.
I’ve always enjoyed riding the DLR over using the Tube or traditional trains, and I wonder if part of it is because of moments like that.
It was also the time I worked at an agency called New Bamboo, which was my first job in London and still my favourite. My best friend and I connected quite a bit over this album.
Milky Chance - Blossom (2017)
Blossom was released while I was living in and working remotely from Jūrmala, Latvia. I had an appointment to get my hair cut in Rīga, which was about 20-30 minutes away on the train depending on the timetable that day.
While I worked remotely, I didn’t work very much from my flat at the Dzintari side of Jūrmala. I did a fair bit from the train and from various coffee shops in the capital and near the flat.
On this day in particular, again in the middle of summer, I had my Discover Weekly playlist on and Doing Good started as I walked through the city to my appointment. I was just passing Latvijas Nacionālā opera as it happened and felt compelled to take a quick detour towards it, and the nice garden in front.
This is one of many memories, but it sticks in my mind because I moved to Latvia after spending two years in Barcelona, and I did it fully knowing that I would be leaving my BCN friends and support network behind and essentially starting anew.
Of course, that’s not how it works. You can’t leave stuff behind like that - you’ll carry emotional baggage with you whether you like it or not. But since I moved to Barcelona in part because of a romantic interest, I did want to move somewhere else without pinning my hopes on another person.
Returning the the music, I returned to the beach that same day and worked quite late. Walking home just after midnight, I was astonished that it was still light outside.
I miss that feeling.
The Killers - Hot Fuss (2004)
Hot Fuss was the first album I ever bought with my own money. It’s hard to point to one specific moment for this, but it takes me right back to my teenage years.
I grew up in Salford, in the north west of England, and so most of my formative years were spent between Manchester and Bolton. A bit of Lancs and a bit of Manc.
Manchester in particular is an amazing cultural hotspot for music and The Killers themselves sought to emulate that with their debut album. There was Joy Division, New Order, Happy Mondays, The Stone Roses, and an entire scene known as Madchester. That was itself a bit before my time as I was only a toddler when it all kicked off, but it has left an indelible mark on the city.
Elbow might be one of my absolute favourite Mancunian exports. Oasis is often met with a sigh but they did put out some pure fuckin’ belters.
But I digress. Mr Brightside is the song of every night I went out clubbing with my friends, or with workmates from Tesco at the time, or both.
It’s the song of the foam parties at 5th Avenue (fondly known as 5th Chav) we’d feverishly anticipate on every bank holiday, starting at around 8pm on the Sunday night and ending in a taxi trip home at 3am smelling like washing up liquid mixed with £1 vodka red bulls. It’s the song of more expensive, foamless nights at 42nd Street (fondly known as 42s), but 5th Ave was where it was at.
Towards the end you’d get Mr Brightside and I Am The Resurrection, practically a Manc anthem, and just as the beat dropped and built back up the floodgates would open and unthinkable quantities of lathered up soap would be splattered across the dancefloor, soaking into your clothes, getting into your eyes, tainting your cheap drink, and coating your lungs as you yelled along to the lyrics and bounced blindly across the room to link arms with whoever else was nearby. It was romantic in its own way.
It’s the song of practically every single night I spent on the town, visiting the handful of indie clubs we had between Manchester and Bolton.
Well, that and Scooter. Happy hardcore was huge back then.