I am calm.
I am at peace.
After the irritation, anger and near Road Rage I have experienced on the previous two trips to work this week I do not feel the slightest need for any exclamation marks.
The reason why is simple – my mp3 player got it right today.
I have something like 10.4 Gigabytes of music on my Creative Zen player (i.e. several thousand tracks) and this is pushed out into my car radio via one of those little FM transmitter thingies with the track selector set to “random”. Thus I am (albeit with a range of only 10 metres or so) broadcasting “Alfie FM 88.1” to the world without any annoying DJ chat.
Sometimes the things it randomly selects are annoying and need putting right – what, for example, possessed me to put a CD of “Sweet’s Greatest Hits” on there? “Blockbuster”, “Ballroom Blitz”, “Teenage Rampage” and “Love is like Oxygen” I can live with but “Co-Co”, “Little Willy”, “Poppa Joe” and “Wig-Wam Bam” have REALLY got to go.
At other times it can make you nervous – not always for any logical reason. Suddenly hammering into one of Gary Glitter’s classics while driving through a built up area with the windows down at school chuck-out time for instance. Even if you aren’t getting funny looks from Mums with children as you go past, you certainly FEEL as if you are. Why should what the bloke is supposed to have done recently affect in any way the music that many people (myself included) enjoyed 37 years ago? It was fun. I bet no-one stops playing the Ronettes or the Crystals because Phil Spector – who did most of the production work on their records – turns out to have been a murderous, gun-toting control freak.
Today, however, there were no issues like that at all.
When I pulled out of the drive at home it kicked straight in with the Beach Boys “Add Some Music to Your Day”, one of my all-time favourite relaxers for driving. I simply cannot get annoyed at another driver while THAT song is playing. That lasted me to the Orton Parkway and almost to the point where I start to get queue-jumper problems. To keep my old school friend Hank happy, I should mention here that it only JUST beats The Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows”.
It was replaced, however, with Neil Young’s “Like a Hurricane” at which point I went completely into autopilot and couldn’t tell you whether anyone cut me up or not. If you saw a grey-haired 56 year old man driving a black Nissan Micra, and doing air guitar in the traffic queue for the A47 with a glazed expression – that was very probably me.
The long wailing guitar solos of that track stretch it out to over 8 minutes which got me past most of the A47 roadworks and into the uninterrupted bit of the journey.
I then had a “Hawkwind moment”. NOT “Silver Machine” which is the only track of theirs that most people have heard of but another track from the 1971 “In Search of Space” album, “Shouldn’t do That”. I haven’t owned that album personally for very long but my lodger, during the between-wife phase of my life, had it and we used to just absorb the sound of it while sat in broken armchairs drinking Carlsberg Special back in 1976. The whole album takes me back to those times and, for all of its weirdness, leaves me feeling good.
Actually it was a “Hawkwind 15 minutes” rather than a “moment” because that is how long it lasts – one of only two tracks on side one of the original vinyl record – and I was almost in March (the little Cambridgeshire town I work on the outskirts of) before it eventually faded out.
I pulled into the office car park (you know, the thing that Noah kept the fish in – “carp ark”, geddit?) surrounded by some classic blues riffs. These were from George Thorogood & the Destroyers “Bad to the Bone” which only dates from 1982 but which sounds like something John Lee Hooker or Muddy Waters could and would have done twenty years before that.
So I began my day as calm and chilled out as I have been in lo these many moons.
Writing this (it’s another slow day here in I.T. land) has reminded me that it is time I revisited a little project that I actually began a couple of years ago but which tends to progress in fits and starts.
I intend to create a CD of “The Tracks of My Life”, starting with the first song I remember and accompanying each track with notes explaining the significance of it to me. Currently there are about 3 CDs worth of tracks and the “sleeve notes”, when typed up, will make a reasonable sized book.
I may well publish some bits here – perhaps some of my readers will attempt THEIR story in music and we can compare albums.
Oh, and did you notice? Not one exclamation mark.