Stuck in the house with nowhere to go, I’ve listened to more music in the last month than probably the rest of 2020 combined (Just look at my last.fm profile if you want to check). I can’t be alone in this, it’s a shitty situation to be in and even the slightest sign of ‘normality’ can be a comfort. New albums from Laura Marling, The Weeknd,a Brandy Clark released over the last few weeks have taken on more of an importance to me than I think they would have otherwise.
I also know that many of us have found some sort of solace in rediscovering our record collections, Fran and James have been sharing their deep dives into forgotten albums over on Twitter and I’ve definitely been doing similar things.
Why is it that at a time of discomfort and fear we rely on familiar and nostalgic things to keep us going? That album you loved when you were 14 not only still sounds great now it makes you remember everything about that time. Your childhood friends, the smell of your Nan’s roast dinner, sitting up all hours listening to it on your walkman; memories like this have been so big for us all right now.
I’ve fund myself diving into specific years, reliving the Eamon vs Frankee chart battle of 2004, or that moment in 1997 when I would recreate the ‘Men In Black’ routine in my parent’s back room (I was 6, give me a break). Maybe it’s the isolation sending me round the twist, but I even added the objectively terrible Toploader hit ‘Dancing In The Moonlight’ to my Apple Music library in a moment of madness. Reminiscing, all while playing through a remake of a game we all played on the first Playstation (Final Fantasy VII for anyone who doesn’t know what I’m on about); I’ve been on a nostalgia kick for weeks.
The thing I keep coming back to are the songs that remind me of home. Like everyone else, I’ve only seen my mum, dad, and brother through my iPhone’s screen, which has been tougher given that my partner and I literally bought a house a week before the lockdown started. This strange place that is now where we sleep, eat, work and walk around a few times to make sure we don’t sit around all day doesn’t quite feel like home all of the time yet.
The moments it does? When I’m listening to George Michael and dancing around my kitchen to ‘Fastlove’ like my mum has done for decades. When I listen to the first Norah Jones album on vinyl and can picture my dad having a smoke in the garden while the food is cooking. When I delve into my CD collection and gush about the third Britney album with my brother at the other end of the country over text. When I start listening to Jazz singer Stacey Kent to a puzzled look from my partner David and just remember singing along with my mum as a kid. When I catch David singing along to Belle and Sebastian in the kitchen while he does the dishes. Listening to The Circus by Take That followed by Jay-Z’s ‘Empire State of Mind’, I get the feeling of being back at home with my family at a time where it’s clearly not an option. I go back to the countless gigs we’ve experienced together, the number of albums we listened to in that breakfast room as a family and it’s like they are here with us.
Music has started to make our new house into a home at a time where it has made more of a difference than ever.
Words by Sam Atkins