Thursday 18 July 2013, 15:59
Always make time for music. When you’re young – and I mean in your teens or early twenties (I confess those days are beyond even me now) – the road seems endless: a constant stretch of musical landmarks laid out before you, in the buildings and on the side streets, down the main pathways and off the beaten track, all ripe for discovery. Hours and days are lost to adventure. For me, it feels like whole weeks and infinite summers were spent as a young man in the company of travelling companions like Dylan, Teenage Fanclub, Wilco, and Springsteen. When you get older, however, things start to get in the way; the road gets busier. There’s more traffic. You lose sight of what it is to be curious about what might exist around you, and instead start to think about the horizon ahead. To quote Tom Waits’ bartender Benny in Francis Ford Coppola’s Rumblefish, “time is a very peculiar item.”
I haven’t had much time to listen to music over the last few weeks, and it’s been getting to me. It’s peculiar too, because although life can be understandably hectic for all of us, my life revolves around music and all its heavenly pursuits. I’m lucky enough to have my Thursday night radio show for BBC Radio Scotland, and in my other job I’m in a band, and so we are constantly rehearsing and gigging. But the past few weeks have been pretty chaotic for a number of reasons, and although I have been keeping up to date with all the new music filtering in to the radio show (such is my sworn oath and duty to you, my dear listener), I haven’t had a chance to pause and catch my breath. It made me wonder: sure, I’ve heard music of late, but have I really been listening? Music is all around us after all, and I suppose sometimes this can be the problem: so bombarded are we by TV shows, adverts, and Internet postings, that what we hear can become a sort of white noise. It’s no damn good for your wellbeing if you don’t take the time to stop and listen.
This general malaise was cured recently, and in stunning fashion, by the songwriter Alela Diane and her new record “About Farewell”. The album was sent to me last week, and although I had a cursory listen (and indeed played a track on last week’s show), I got distracted by other matters and didn’t have time to make it through the whole thing. More fool me. This week whilst working on bits and pieces – including prep for some delightful depping on Ricky Ross’ Another Country over the next four Fridays – I put the album on, and it stopped me in my tracks. Delicate, refined, articulate, sparse, raw and emotive, it is an album that deserves your full attention.
So on the show this week, Alela Diane is my Record Of Note, and we’ll be talking the great break up albums and tracks of all time. Add to that Ray Charles as our Undercover Writer and some Live on Arrival from the Beach Boys