Thursday, 3 September 2015

this love will last forever: my hometown heroes (part one)

a storm is coming.
(and not just because it's rained for most of the summer.)
change is in the air; static like lightning.

what do you do when you know it's right around the corner? it's coming and there's nothing you can do to stop it, like walking out in front of a car, the jolt of your whole body as it pulls you back from danger.

i turn to music, of course.

i spent so long trying to run away from the city that made me who i am, which looking back was a pretty stupid thing to try to do, because like paul varjak said in breakfast at tiffany's,

"no matter where you run, you just end up running into yourself."

i spend a disgustingly large portion of my time walking around my city with my headphones in, music turned up as loud as i can stand, pretending i’m starring in some low budget, black and white indie flick. i do it now more than ever, given that my days here are numbered before i leave to start my second year of university two hundred miles away from home. i have to make it count.

flash back to 2010 and i hated this city, this town, and the people in it. i wanted so much more, and the bright lights of london were the only thing that kept me going through my tough teenage years.
now nearly four years later, on the cusp of turning twenty, i can’t help but think this was the biggest mistake i ever made.

manchester; a city of contradictions, where old jostles with new. modern sky rise apartments sit side by side with red brick victorian buildings, the majority now derelict. this is a city that doesn’t quite know what it wants to be, fighting to keep up with the times, but to remove all the character would turn it into yet another soulless sprawling mass(hi london). 


i see this struggle written in my own future. do i up and leave for london, the cost of renting becoming more ridiculous by the day, or stay in the city i know and love?


paul evans answered this question for me in an i-d magazine article about the creative people working in manchester(of which he is one):


"i stay in manchester because tony wilson is the inspiration for everything i do. after going to cambridge university, he didn't move 'up' to london. this was back before any regeneration had taken place. he came back and invested a lot of his time and energy into a place that had formed him as a human being. if you are inspired by where you are from, it doesn't matter if it's easier to move, you would just be giving up on your identity and the reasons you do what you do. so yes, while it may be tougher up here, we do it because we love manchester." 

all that aside, our music is pretty fucking special too. oasis, the smiths, and joy division are just some of the legendary acts who got their start on these cobbled streets.

so what do i listen to as i traipse through the city, i hear you ask? 

the courteeners


trying to narrow this down to just one song of theirs that encompasses all i feel towards this city is pretty much impossible, because for me, they are the very embodiment of this place i love so much. it might have something to do with the fact they too hail from manchester, instantly attaching a hefty emotional weight to every song they've ever released. there's a reason i've seen them live six times, and this very well may be it (also this, a moment i am so thankful to have witnessed). 


right now i've recently rediscovered a favourite from their 2013 release, anna. the aggressive drum introduction to here come the young men makes me want to run through the city streets, my destination very much unknown. like many songs i love, it fills me with hopefulness, with the lyric this love will last forever encompassing my feelings for not only the city itself but the people here i know and love, bringing the reassurance that no matter what happens, this will always be home. 


my other favourite track that reminds me of home would absolutely have to be the opener from 2010's falcon, the opening (sorry) guitar being responsible for my desire to learn to play that resulted in four years of lessons but very little progress. (i'm impatient, okay?)something's changed, but the majority stands still, frontman fray sings, and yes, something has changed, but my love for this city still, and will always remain, no matter where i am. 


other songs worthy of a mention: dreamers, good times are calling, small bones, beautiful headthe rest of the world has gone home, sycophant (aka the ultimate "fuck you" to anyone who has ever made you feel bad for daring to be yourself), summer.  


joy division 


my relationship with this - also manchester-based - band went from a casual interest in the odd song to an intense obsession following the first time i watched both control and (the creatively titled) joy divison, a documentary about the band directed by grant gee. they encompass the highs and lows of not only my feelings towards the city, but my own emotions. 


it would, of course, be criminal to discuss joy division and not mention the song that made them "famous" in the true sense of the word, love will tear us apart, from their seminal 1975 release, unknown pleasures. the keyboard, the drums and curtis' haunting lyrics pretty much speak for themselves, perfect for long bus journeys to and from the city. disorder also deserves a mention for being one of the few songs to get me through both the tedious wait for and the seemingly endless bus journey back from my summer job this year.


if it's your walk around the city that needs a soundtrack, might i recommend atmosphere, from 1988's compilation album substance. former bassist peter hook regards this song as the band's greatest, and it's not hard to see why. released posthumously after curtis' death, the song serves as the perfect send off, while its almost calming vibe giving me a sense of possibility and the potential to move forward. 


also for your consideration: islolation, she's lost control, transmission, digital, no love lost, decades


pulp


we've all done it. someone you're crushing on is a fan of a particular band, and in a bid to feel closer to them, or impress them with your knowledge of said band, you give them a listen.


again, my knowledge of this band initially didn't extend beyond their 1995 commentary on the state of the nation at the time, common people, until i became aware that the person i was crushing on at the time (2012-14, if you're wondering) was a huge fan of theirs. 


so i took this knowledge and ran with it, and where i ended up was the middle of an intense, passionate love affair with this sheffield-based, indie rock/pop/something in-between, group. nothing ever happened between me and my crushee (that is now a word), but it didn't even matter because i had the music. 


one track in particular soundtracked arguably one of the hardest times of my life, in which i attempted to gain enough a-level points to get into my university of choice(i did it), and i'll probably never forget the night i discovered this song. my desire to leave the city was at an all time high, and the lyrics of countdown, from 1992's his 'n' hers (also worth a listen) encapsulated this perfectly. 


last summer saw the release of the long-awaited documentary, pulp: a film about life, death & supermarkets, directed by florian habicht, and not for a second did i feel embarrassed about going to see it by myself at the cinema


with no current plans to reform, one of my biggest fears is that i may never get to see pulp perform. the live q&a with jarvis and co. afterwards, however, allowed me to experience a fraction of that excitement. the film exposes the reality of living in a tough, industrial city, while succeeding in a shining a light on its inhabitants and naturally, is well worth a watch. 

see also: death II, underwear, pink glove, secondssomething changed, like a friend, F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.L.O.V.E., do you remember the first time? 


the stone roses


i promise not every band in this series hails from manchester, but one more won't hurt, right? the night i first heard this is the one, from their self-titled 1989 release, will probably stay with me forever, along with the goosebumps it gave me. 


now that travelling back and forth from london to manchester, and vice versa, has become a regular part of my life, this song means even more. manchester is very much the one i spend my life waiting for, as i appreciate it more and more with every visit, clearly making up for all the time i spent hating it and wanting to leave.


the stones roses are a band that has brought communities together, particuarly in the north where the majority of people are working class, and quite often music can be one of the few escapes from the hardships of every day life. this is captured perfectly in shane meadows' - of this is england fame - documentary about the band, made of stone, released in 2013, which charts their reformation and subsequent resurrection. also worth a watch is spike island, the fictional story of a manchester band on the fringes of adulthood and their quest to obtain tickets for the legendary gig


check out: made of stone, i wanna be adored, waterfall, sally cinnamon, elizabeth my dear (short but sweet), (song for my) sugar spun sister, i am the resurrection (naturally).

for me, the power of music is in the way it can bring together people from different walks of life, yet feel so personal to each and every fan.

and isn't that what it's all about? 

(that and the thrill of getting tickets for a gig that sold out in just under an hour.)

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