I remember somebody saying/that one of the things about music/is that it's got the power to make you remember/exactly how you felt at a certain point in your life/and it's true" Spearmint --- 'This is a souvenir'


The random number generator that decides which song to play when shuffle mode is on just happened to pull up that Spearmint song while I was thinking about whatto write for this article. And while I won't be writing about that song orSpearmint, it did seem to be a funny coincidence and it reminded me of the scene in 'Repo Man' where Miller is talking about the "cosmic unconsciousness" (watch the movie to find out more).

Yes, music can bring up old memories quite easily. A concert you went to, a happy event, a sad event, a certain person, a specific place, anything really. I suppose "Oldies Stations" wouldn't exist if people didn't get something from feelings of nostalgia. Just as music can remind one of the past, it can also induce thoughts about the future. What you want to do, be, say, feel one day. Or even what song you want to have playing at some future event - I think all "indie kids" have probably created a tracklist for their wedding day. And to not leave the present out of the discussion, music provides solace, joy, tears, excitement, a sense of connection on a daily basis. Hell, Morrissey probably owes all of his success to depressed teens who feel he has been speaking directly to them - for the past 20+ years!!

That music can be tied to certain times in ones life - past, present or future -seems self evident. My own personal soundtrack spans 70's AM radio, new wave, reggae, ska, punk rock, metal, rap/hip-hop, indie rock, indie pop, shoegazer, space rock, post rock, drum and bass, electro-pop, dubstep, .... So picking just one song or even one album or one band or one genre to write about has been a much more difficult exercise than I had expected. Eventually I narrowed my choices down to the following bands: the Who, the Jam, the Butthole Surfers,Guided by Voices, East Village, and Spiritualized.

The Who and the Jam had me thinking about my Lambretta scooter. My first motor vehicle. Riding around my home town. Being free to "go anyway, anyhow,anywhere I choose". Getting hit by a car. Repairing it on the sideyard. And eventually having it stolen some 10 years later. Good times and bad times. Being young and full of energy - misguided and otherwise.

The Butthole Surfers were one of my favorite bands in the late 80's. Their concerts were epic for the music and weirdness that took place on stage, in the crowd, and in my mind. Fun, crazy, spastic, hallucinatory times. I don't think I could even come close to putting it all into words. "A funny thing about regret is it's better to regret something you have done than something you haven't done".

Guided By Voices might not be my favorite indie rock band (although I'm not really sure who is), but they certainly bring me back to the indie rock era. College radio, lo-fi music, everyone being in a band, going to lots of shows, the indiescene, being a music snob, buying lots of music, making mix tapes, hanging outat the record store. The lyrics didn't always make sense and the guitars weren't always in tune, but somehow that didn't matter. "I am a lost soul, I shoot myself with rock and roll, the hole I dig is bottomless, but nothing else can set me free".

I was pretty set on writing this about East Village. I wanted to interview Paul Kelly last year, but it seems that East Village is part of his past. The band only produced a handful of releases between 1988 and 1992 before splitting up on stage in front of a sell out crowd, but almost every song they wrote is jangly guitar pop perfection. 'When I Wake Tommorow' may be my favorite East Village song for its ability to make me feel happy and sad about some past relationships while also making me feel positive about the future. But I'll have to write about East Village some other time.

Jason Pierce, aka J Spaceman, and Peter Kember, aka Sonic Boom, were the core of Spacemen 3 from 1982 to 1990. Both were born on November 19th, 1965 and were natives of Rugby, England. They met at Rugby Art College, became friends, took lots of drugs and thus was born Spacemen 3. Most of the music they created consisted of only a few droning chords repeated throughout the song - a sound they dubbed "hypnomonotony". They tweaked the formula a few times over the course of the band, but eventually it became clear that the two main Spacemen had different ideas about which direction the band should go.

The final Spacemen 3 album, 'Recurring', was released after the band had split, and it is really more like a split release with Kember's songs on one side of the album and Pierce's on the other. After the split of Spacemen 3, Pete Kember continued making music under the Spectrum and Experimental Audio Research(E.A.R.) monikers - droning keyboards and electronics all but nearly replacing guitars in the latter. Jason Pierce went on to form Spiritualized where he has carried on and greatly expanded upon the sound his side of 'Recurring' presented. While I quite like some of the Spectrum and E.A.R. releases, I love what Jason Pierce has done under the Spiritualized name!

Since this piece is supposed to be about how listening to music can bring up specific memories/feelings, I'll refrain from writing a "Why I love Spiritualized" essay. I will however cheat a bit and instead of picking just one song, I will pick one album, 'Lazer Guided Melodies'. Along with being the first Spiritualized album, 'Lazer Guided Melodies' is truly an amazing album. From beginning to end, each song, each note, each sound is exactly where it should be - yea, even the glitch on 'Angel Sigh' is perfect.

When I listen to this album, one thing that always comes to mind is the radio show I had from 1997 - 2002. For most of that time, my show was on Sunday night from 6 - 8pm and since the station was based at a Jesuit university, I felt compelled to call my show 'The Evening Mass'. And keeping with that theme, I began practically every show with a Spiritualized track (though '6 O'Clock is Rosary' by the Harvest Ministers got the opening slot from time to time). It wasn't always necessarily a track from 'Lazer Guided Melodies', though 'Take Your Time', 'Shine A Light', 'Sway', 'Angel Sigh' certainly got a fair bit of play over the years. And when it came time to have my last show at the station, my show began and ended with songs from 'Lazer Guided Melodies'.

The opening track of my final show was 'You Know It's True'. By the time of my final show, my relationship with a girl who I had met at the radio station had come to a not so happy end - neither of us were happy about it, but time and circumstance were against us. 'You Know It's True' summed up a lot of how I felt at the time.

"You know I've been here before
And I don't like it anymore
You know it's true
But what can I do
You know I've felt this before
And I don't need it anymore
You know it's true
I love
You, I love
You, I love
You."

I played a few other Spiritualized tracks during that show and when it came time to play the final song of 'The Evening Mass', I opted for the closer from 'Lazer Guided Melodies', '200 Bars'. This song also summed up a lot of how I felt at the time and it is one of my favorite Spiritualized tracks. The counting of the first 100 bars and then ending with the "200" seemed especially appropriate.

"(counting 1 - 100)
I've been abused and I've been used
I'm gonna lose my thoughts in 200 bars
You know I've tried but now I'm tired
I'm losing track of time in 200 bars
I get confused, you know I'm used to it
I'm gonna lose my thoughts in 200 bars
I've had my fix, too much of this
I'm losing all my thoughts in 200 bars
I'm losing track, out on my back
I'm gonna lose it all in 200 bars
I'm gonna get me blown, all on my own
I'm gonna lose my mind in 200 bars
I'm gonna lose my thoughts in 200 bars
I'm losing track of time in 200 bars
You know I tried, but now i'm tired
I'm losing track of time in 200 bars

200"

While many of Spiritualized's songs remind me of past relationships, for better and worse, 'Lazer Guided Melodies' was the album that made me seek out all of the Spiritualized releases I could find. I dug through the record bins at Mod Lang, Amoeba, Rasputins, Streetlight, and Radio Free records on a regular basis looking for used copies of hard to find releases and whatever new releases there were. And while I gave up on being a completist, the Spiritualized section of my record collection now consists of some 40+ CDs and 14 vinyl releases. To this day though, I always check the Spiritualized bin whenever I go to the record store just to see if some rare release happens to be there. And not so long ago, I did end up finding another copy of the 'Smile / Sway' 7 inch.

"When you shine
You know you take
A massive part out of me
And when you smile
You know you blind
To all the horrors i see"

One of my favorite songs on 'Lazer Guided Melodies' is 'Shine A Light'. And while the album version of this song is excellent, hearing Spiritualized play this song live has always been a huge thrill. The first time I saw Spiritualized live was in 1997. I went with my then girlfriend, who was also a big fan, and it was one of those concerts where I felt like we were the only two people in the room (though I do also remember it being far too warm in the venue, forcing us to head out to the lobby for a bit). The stage went dark for a bit before a single light illuminated Jason Pierce. As he started playing the opening notes of 'Shine A Light', we pushed forward into the crowd until we were close to the front of the stage. Pierce played the opening part using a slide, letting the notes hang and shift gently. As the rest of the band kicked in, they were illuminated in an other worldly blue light. Visually it was perfect. The way the song built up from the soft, slide guitar to a full on wall of noise was utter bliss.

"When I'm tired and all alone
Lord shine a light on me
When I'm lonesome as can be
Lord shine a light on me"

And that's really the thing with 'Lazer Guided Melodies' - it's one of those albums that can bring back memories that crush me, as well as ones that make me feel very happy to have had certain experiences. It moves from quiet drones and hushed vocals to dense layers of sound that nearly knock you over, while sounding beautiful at all times. As strange as it might sound, I've often thought about what music I would want to be played at my funeral. I think 'Lazer Guided Melodies' would be an excellent choice.


"Slide through the back door
With your life strings attached
I can see the heavens
On my back

Can see for miles
Open your eyes
Can't see what I'm living for
My heads so high

Slip through the back door
With my head in your hands
Well I might not see the morning
But I got no plans

Can see for miles
And I can open my eyes
Well I can't see what I'm living for
Head so high

Sway slow, stay low

Hey mama, take your cool hand away from me
Take it away and let me be
Hey mama, take your cool love away from me
Take it away and let me bleed in peace

Slide through the back door
With your life strings attached
I can walk the heavens
On my back

I can see for miles and miles
Ain't that grand
Well I might not see the morning
But I got no plans

Slip through the back door
With my head in your hands
Well I've seen so many things
That my mum won't believe

This life sure is wierd
But what else have I to know
Well I've done so many things
That my folks don't want to know about

Sway slow, stay low

Hey mama, take your cool hand away from me
Take it away and let me be
Hey mama, take your cool love away from me
Take it away and let me bleed in peace

This life sure is wierd but what else have I to know"












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