“The paramedic thinks I’m clever cos I play guitar
I think she’s clever cos she stops people dying”
Avant Gardener – Courtney Barnett
A LOT of border crossings are littered throughout this blog and, with a trip around Africa heading up, there are plenty more to come, complete with plenty of hanging around, filling in forms and no apparent activity from anyone involved.
But this is the first border for this journey through my iPod, arriving at the end of A section – all 537 of them.
We’ve gone from A to B and are about to embark on the trip to the C, via 755 tracks (to be honest, the journey’s already started but just haven’t had a chance to catch up on the blog over the past few days).
After last week’s detour on the subjects of my tenants and Gloucester’s sacking of Nigel Davies, it’s back to the main business of the music.
There’s been no real movement on a new director of rugby (although a big-name signing looks imminent), while the cleaners and decorators have been in to my house and, most importantly, the tenants have opted not to contest losing all their deposit – not that they had much of an argument.
So it is back to the music and another trip to Cardiff tomorrow to clear out the stuff they left – with a few therapeutic bank holiday weekend trips to the tip – to help make real inroads into the Bs.
The final stretch before the alphabetical border was, like many actual frontiers, a weird sort of no-man’s land just waiting to reach that final track – Ayla by The Maccabees – with a surprisingly high number of songs beginning Au, Av or Aw.
The aural equivalent of “are we nearly there yet?”
Highlighting that final drag was Avant Gardener by Courtney Barnett – my current musical obsession away from this journey.
It has emerged as my favourite track from her combined EPs, A Sea of Split Peas, as she somehow manages to shoehorn Uma Thurman, pseudoephedrine, asthma puffers, radishes and a chorus about having trouble breathing into a tale of suffering anaphylactic shock while gardening and makes it sound like another mundane Monday.
While agreeing with her view that paramedics are deserving of more credit, as a confirmed non-musician it is hard not to empathise with the view that “the paramedic thinks I’m clever cos I play guitar”.
Anyone who does anything well – particularly those who make it look easy – attracts my admiration, particularly musicians.
Despite a few stabs at tackling even the most basic things, it always proved beyond me – largely due to a lack of patience when younger and the guitar teacher who had seen my sister through a variety of grades insisting on constant repetition on basic classical techniques when all that was in my mind was imitating the guys with guitars on Top of the Pops.
It didn’t help that my childhood fingers barely reached the positions he was seemingly trying to force them into.
“Anyone can play guitar”, Thom Yorke once sang (a song sadly missing from this journey as Pablo Honey only exists in my collection on cassette), but my efforts proved just how wrong he was.
And we are the better for it as a lack of any noticeable musical talent has meant the option has been to listen to it and that’s fine my me.
This section started with listening to Ask – Sharon Van Etten before the better known song of the same name by The Smiths, who have been surprisingly quiet through the opening stretches of this journey.
Ask is not towards the top end of my favourite Smiths songs, although something has to be pretty special to work its way into those higher echelons.
Asleep, which followed a handful of songs later, is creeping towards that level which we will explore in depth at a later date.
Belle and Sebastian have also been noticeable by their absence (without checking, complete up to this point) which was rectified by Asleep On A Sunbeam – again, not in the pantheon of their great tracks but they have a fairly distinguished list of those.
REM have managed to pop up more regularly so far, but have continued the trend of doing so with some of their lesser tracks – generally the ones after Bill Berry left and… that’s a long rant we will save for another entry.
But the boys from Athens, Georgia (which is looking increasingly likely to receive a return, slightly longer, visit on a post-wedding* road trip later in the summer) appeared with one of their better later efforts, At My Most Beautiful, and hints of their early splendour with Auctioneer (Another Engine).
There was more Americana from Bright Eyes (one of the slightly overlooked acts which has piqued my interest so far during this trip) with At The Bottom Of Everything and White Denim, who chipped in with At Night In Dreams.
That song popped up a day before they performed it on Later… Live. Interesting to watch it on the small screen instead of live in Bristol, which would have been the case but for the clash of dates. That’s one for this week instead.
We had two trips to Australia, first with the Manic Street Preachers (whose song of that name was once used to advertise Wales ahead of the Rugby World Cup) and then The Shins, while we reached 500 with The Attack, one of two songs in this stint from Les Miserables. Happily with no sign of Russell Crowe.
And to wrap up the As, we retracked through the three A tracks added to the list since this journey started (been a bit quiet adding music in the last few weeks) – Advance Upon The Real by Perfect Pussy (a mix of noise and ambient background, but be careful Googling them), Algiers from the welcome return of The Afghan Whigs and Amber Veins by Eagulls.
So to B…
*Not mine, think that might have cropped up before now.