Iris to Ivy

HAVE been on a few lengthy  journeys in the last decade or so. That’s actual journeys, not the ones people go through during a few weeks on reality TV.

While chasing a lifelong dream to succeed in a show which did not exist for much of their lifetime.

In my reality, there has been London to New York without flying. Ten months from the north to south of Africa and back again. An uncompleted circle of South America. And being a Gloucester rugby fan.

But one journey has lasted longer than all of those combined (bar the Gloucester bit, that’s been going on for decades, currently on a largely upward curve) – the one through the I songs on my iPod.

A lot has changed since the start of that journey though songs beginning with I, towards the end of a (possibly ill-conceived) drive to write a blog post a day for a month with the only live blogging entry of listening to my iPod.

One is more likely to be repeated than the other (although, with the assistance of time, both have their merits).

Back then (May 2019), Gloucester had just lost in their first play-off semi-final for far too long and are still in with a chance of their first since, having changed coaching staff, lost a lot of big-name players, flirted with the wrong end of the table, blooded a lot of young players, returned to the play-off flight and still have Billy Twelvetrees in the midfield when necessary.

And, oh yeah, they scored more than 130 points in two home games against Bath. Just thought that needed mentioning.

More important stuff has happened in the wider world – the dog years of Trump and its ridiculous aftermath, the equally ridiculous ongoing Johnson Government, Covid, the fallout from Brexit, the war in U…. oh, just trust me on this, a lot has happened. it is all getting downbeat.

The UK even managed to go from zero points to second in the Eurovision Song Contest.

Seriously, it happened.

Personally, went from working out my notice at the start to journeying overland most of the way around South America, meeting someone along the way (she reckons she is the star of this blog so apparently has to be mentioned somewhere), being forced home from Colombia by Covid, working predominantly as a reporter for the first time in many, many years, keeping up a long-distance relationship, heading back to the newspaper production and getting engaged.

And listened to a lot of songs beginning with I (with several long breaks along the way).

The last blast took us through about 160 tracks from The Goo Goo Dolls (one of those songs which always seems to have been there and have no memory of downloading) to Taylor Swift.

There were plenty of frequent visitors, topped by four versions – two of them live – of It’s The End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine) by REM, which is a lot back to back even for such a great song.

Is This It by The Strokes popped up twice while there multiple entries by Half Man Half Biscuit (Irk The Purists and It’s Easy To Be Cynical at Christmas), Belle and Sebastian (Is It Wicked Not To Care? and It Could Have Been A Brilliant Career) and early career Billy Bragg (It Says Here and Island of No Return).

And it would appear Evan Dando has a penchant for writing songs beginning with It’s as there were appearances for It’s A Shame About Ray (title track of one of those albums which revisiting always brings happy feelings), It’s All True and It’s About Time.

The latter has one my favourite moments in any song- when Juliana Hatfield echoes ‘Sunshine’ to herald the band kicking back in and manages to spread a little bit of exactly that – which is always worth anticipating as it approaches and then savour as if drifts off into a tune which deserves more than being remembered for a single moment.

Other old favourites popping up to wave farewell to I included Echo and The Bunnymen (It Was A Pleasure), The Undertones (It’s Going To Happen), Jason Isbell (It Gets Easier), The Pogues (in tandem with The Dubliners on The Irish Rover) and John Grant (It Doesn’t Matter To Him).

There were less frequent, but nonetheless welcome, visitors The Streets (It Was Supposed To Be So Easy) and Let’s Eat Grandma (It’s Not Just Me), who will pop up with their latest album on the catch-up before we start cracking on with K.

There was also It’s All You from Sebadoh, which takes me back to a summer when the album it came from seemed to live in my car stereo (1999 apparently).

And we had two first-time appearances – one welcome, one not so much amid a debate over my self-imposed rules.

The welcome one was the first track from the Hamilton soundtrack – It’s Quiet Uptown – after a very enjoyable night out on a post-engagement few days in  London.

Less so was a second song called Iris – this one, complete with the brackets (Hold Me Close) from Apple’s less than appreciated dumping of U2 tracks in my collection a few years back.

Have ignored them by not downloading them, but a change of iPod – not sure how many more times can do that – brought it in automatically and after much debate with myself, opted to follow the rules and listen to it on a walk along the canal to Sainsbury’s

Which is pretty much all that sticks in the mind.

So that, after all that time and the largest number of tracks for one letter, is that and on to J… well, almost.

Over the three years it has taken through I,  a lot of new stuff has dropped in that needs mopping up from A-I – a late burst of new releases in recent weeks taking that diversion up towards 600 tracks.

Better get started…

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