Musical Memories

by Elias Blum

My wife and I were reminiscing about music from way back, and spent a happily nostalgic evening listening to stuff we each used to listen to in our undergraduate days.

This led to a conversation about which 12 tracks would be most representative, memorable or iconic from that time in our lives. Here’s my (tentative) list, in no particular order:

1. Oasis: ‘Champagne Supernova’ – I was never really into Oasis, but it was such an icon of the era and it was played everywhere. This beats Wonderwall.
2. Pulp: ‘Disco 2000’ – 2000 was our year of graduation, and I seem to remember this as a sort of theme song of our year’s cohort. It was also played everywhere.
3. Nitty Gritty Dirt Band: ‘Buy for me the rain’ – I first heard this at 2am, sitting in my car in the rain outside a kebab shop, with two good friends. It launched me into a deep exploration of all sorts of bluegrass, old timey, southern folk and country music, which eventually led to my road trip around the southern US and by decision some years later to try and learn the banjo (not a success).
4. R. L. Burnside: ‘Rollin’ Tumblin’ – I remember sitting in halls of residence, looking out over a rain-drenched Arthur’s Seat, sipping hazelnut flavoured coffee, getting hooked on the guttural sounds of deep down and dirty delta blues.
5. Alabama 3: ‘Ain’t Goin’ to Goa’ – It would be hard to isolate just one Alabama 3 track, and there are several other close candidates from their first album, including ‘Converted’ and ‘Peace in the Valley’, but Ain’t Goin’ to Goa’ was the first track I heard, and it’s the one that got me hooked on their unique brand of sweet pretty country acid house hardcore gospel techno music. Now I need it every hour.
6. Barenaked Ladies: ‘What a Good Boy’ – as an angsty 19 year old, this seemed like a really profound track at the time; it probably has not aged as well as some of the others on this list, and wasn’t perhaps as groundbreaking musically, but it still deserves honourable mention because of the amount of playtime it got on my old walkman.
7. Alanis Morissette: ‘Ironic’ – I don’t have much to say about this, except that I remember playing the whole Jagged Little Pill album on continuous loop for about a week during the first summer of uni, while doing the Fringe for the first time. I don’t know, looking back, whether they were actually happy days – I think, in some ways, they weren’t – but they were certainly formative days, mostly thanks to eye-opening conversations with my Italian flatmate.
8. Morcheeba: ‘Shoulder Holster’ – This pretty much always seemed to be playing in Elephants and Bagels, which was a favourite haunt of mine. I can almost taste the bacon, cream cheese and jalepeno, on toasted plain bagels, that I used to order.
9. Bjork: ‘Big Time Sensuality’ – I never really found Bjork easy to listen to, and I’m not even sure if I like her music, to be honest, but whenever I hear this track or others from the same album it reminds me of those years, so I guess that’s a reasonable basis for inclusion in this list.
10. R.E.M.: ‘I Believe – R.E.M. have some great tracks that have stood the test of time, but lyrically this song spoke to me at the time – it spoke to my questing uncertainty in matters of faith. The line ‘Be true to your calling, be sure that your calling’s true’ has stuck with me.
11. Rammstein: ‘Wollt ihr das Bett in Flammen sehen?’ – It was around this time that I was getting into gothic music. I could probably make a list of ten tracks in that genre alone, including Sisters of Mercy, The Mission, Joy Division, Inkubus Sukkubus etc, but this Rammstein track was a musical turning point for me, that opened up a whole fascinating subculture.
12. Vineyard Music: ‘Hungry’ – I sort of blame Nicky Gumble for this one, and for all that ‘Soul Survivor’ and ‘WOW Worship’ stuff I listened to as well.