Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Gonna Use My Arms, Gonna Use My Legs

It seems funny to think about it now, but there was a time when I used to spend Saturday nights alone at home, wrestling with the dilemma of whether to microwave a delicious ready meal of spaghetti bolognese or macaroni cheese. I’d then transport the chosen feast (now bubbling with a heat ten times the intensity of the sun) through to the room where the television resides (the ‘living’ room I believe it’s called) and spend the rest of the night surfing through channels looking for old episodes of Cheers or The X Files or Top Cat. But that was all such a long time ago and things have certainly changed since then. Nowadays, I just order in pizza.

And so it was on Saturday night that I found myself once again tackling the tricky combination of operating the remote control whilst picking pieces of pepperoni out of my beard. (Who said men can’t multi-task?) I’d just finished watching Scotland extend their domination of world sport (a rugby triumph over the English AND World Elephant Polo Champions!) and happened to stumble on to Channel 4’s trendy sibling, E4, where Graham Norton was beginning his colourful countdown of the 100 Greatest No. 1 singles of all time in the history of the world, ever!

Bill Haley (avec Comets) was in the midst of rock, rock, rockin’ till broad daylight so I delayed flicking over to the poker channel in order to find out what the next great no. 1 single would be. When it appeared, I became trapped on a thrilling rollercoaster of nostalgia and held on for dear life for the next four hours. There, at no. 94, were The Pretenders singing Brass In Pocket and the sight of Chrissie Hynde sashaying down the street in leather and lace transported me back to a time when buying singles was something akin to a religious experience.

The songs, of course, are a nostalgia trip in themselves, evocative enough to remind you of the sights and sounds, and even smells, of the era. (Hearing Blondie sing Heart of Glass will forever recall a time when I was constantly reeking of Blue Stratos - pretty frickin’ cool, eh?) The music and lyrics provide an indelible yardstick by which to measure the significant events of your life; the first kiss (When I Need You by Leo Sayer), the first job (Billy Joel’s Uptown Girl) and the first time I ever… ahem… never mind.

But as the programme revealed its treasure trove of musical wonderment, I realised that many of the great memories were cemented by the act of tracking the charts week by week and weighing up the myriad of options as to how best to spend our limited pocket money. 7” or 12”? Photo cover or plain white sleeve? Picture disc or coloured vinyl? Regular radio version or Japanese import with previously unreleased B-side?

This was difficult, but ultimately rewarding work. Not for us the easy option of downloading so-called music from that fancy internet thingy or marvelling at the latest Sugadolls/Pussycat Babes ringtone. Crazy as it may seem, we had to physically leave our homes and go to a store which sold music recordings, as in, “I’d like to purchase a record please.” Imagine that kids?

So hats off to Channel 4 and Graham Norton for the journey down memory lane. Pizza, beer and nostalgia are a heady combination at the best of times and for many complicated reasons, I was delighted to see The Police’s Every Breath You Take make it into the top five. If they decide to show the 100 Greatest X-Files episodes next Saturday, I may never leave the house ever again.

Other newspaper stuff here.


At 28/2/06 2:53 pm, Blogger The Other Half said...

what the hell is a record neily? are you on something again? ;-)~


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