It’s Rise and Shine, Good Morning Y’allPosted: April 4, 2011
Wake up unusually tranquil and have absolutely no desire for music to interrupt the remnants of that quiet solitude of sleep. Whether it’s the explicit connection with the outside world that’s listening to the radio, or the personal positioning of mood in the context of the world that choosing what music to listen to involves, I want to maintain peace and quiet, at least inside my head, for as long as possible. Normally I’d cycle in, and wouldn’t listen to anything, but I’ve got some books to take in to work, and despite the sun, don’t really feel like the bike ride this morning.
At Hammersmith Station they’re blaring out classical music, as usual. Not sure what it was, apart from being clearly post-Romantic (2nd half of 19th C wd be my guess) and possibly Russian. This is started, what? 10 years ago or so? as a way of stopping youths gathering in areas where their presence presumably is considered problematic. Clearly it is thought, or someone thinks, and no doubt there have been exciting experiments to show, that Young People do not like classical to the point where they will physically avoid it if possible. It seems borne out by some of the comments I’ve heard over the years – although is surely unlikely to be universally true. Why is it important they’re kept away? Well, large groups of them combining in transitional areas probably isn’t very helpful sometimes, and clearly their high-jinks can get on some other people’s nerves. That music is used to do this shows an understanding of the social importance of music to these teenagers, and also indicates one of the public physical spaces it occupies (public in a way that my musical consumption as a teenager never was). It also indicates This is music as social control, that it is classical with its class and age baggage, brings a whole lot of other freight with it. The music itself is of more or less of an audio quality that is unlistenable and sounds like the prelude to a propaganda speech.
And where are they going to go? Where are they desirable and undesirable? Are authorities going send classical music from the skies, like Lt Col Kilgore? So that teenagers with their phones and tinny speakers and disruptive behaviour are confined to the aural shadows?
The Heptones – Why Must I
Can’t read with a coffee on the bus, somewhat reluctantly put on the headphones, and suddenly realise that what I want to listen to is Why Must I by The Heptones – melancholy reggae fitting with my slightly drifting mood and the sun outside. Find it on spotify on my phone, on album called Party Time, bizarrely (the sad plaintiveness of the song may well be the sort of thing I sometimes get at parties, but it’s surely hardly the thing to make it go with a bang). The sound quality is dreadful, but the charm of the song still comes through. I realise towards the end that I’d wanted to listen to the ‘version’, which is on Arkology, but it’s not on spotify.
Flo and Eddie – Keep it Warm
There are fine judgments involved in sustaining the right mood in the morning. It’s clearly a case I’m using music, not to listen to as such, but in order maintain or provoke or mood or a frame of mind that is seems congenial. I guess I often decide what that mood is through music, but it also involves quite fine aesthetic judgments about yourself. In this case a combination of the sun, the American anthropology book I was reading on the tube and again, a repose of mind that hasn’t fully shaken off sleep, makes me think of LA for some reason, intellectual hippies, chilling out (god alone knows what cultural assumptions goes in to making these ludicrous fairy tales – the final LA chapter of JG Ballard’s The Kindness of Women, which I finished last night might have something to do with it as well). Flick through the two LA Burnout compilation download albums (via ilm) looking for a song I was listening to the other day that seems like it might fit the bill.
Oh god! Take it off, that’s not right at all. Completely the wrong thing, I may not be sure what I want to listen to right now, but that’s not it.
Warren G & Nate Dogg – Regulate
I was aware vaguely of this when it came out, but I would certainly have completely dismissed it had I been forced to listen to it. Much of my teenage years were spent defining myself against this sort of thing – more of which another time I think. Regrettable that it took his death and subsequent internet appraisal for me to enjoy this song’s sweet-voiced laid-back fun properly. Still, it’s not quite right – I’ve been listening to a lot of early ’90s hip-hop recently, and need a bit of a break, listen through, but don’t really pay attention.
Teenage Fanclub – Shadows
Whispy, dreamy melodic songs, at other times almost too characteristic of some of my teenage listening, are just right for today, and form a sort of time travel. I’m not with it enough for this not to feel too silly and drift with it, until the third song when it’s time to get off the bus. Need something with a bit more pep to get me into the office.
Hank Snow – Golden Rocket
The song isn’t going to quite finish until after I get into the office so I loiter momentarily outside until it gets to the ‘rise and shine, good morning y’all’, which has a breezy cheer to it, unhook the headphones and go in.