If you asked me what my favourite band was, I would pause and then reply, The Beatles, Massive Attack and Oasis.
If pushed I'd say Oasis just top it. Why? It's a cliché but it's because their melodies coincided perfectly with a period of my life. I was there, if you like.
I can remember exactly where I was when I heard my first Oasis song. I was sat in the back of a mate's brother's car heading down the pub on a Friday night. Whatever (It's Good To Be Free) was playing. I loved the song and that was followed by an evening down the pub listening to Oasis songs on the Juker.
I can remember exactly where I was when I bought What's The Story (Morning Glory). Our receptionist at college had just rushed out to buy the album for her son. I hadn't realised that the album was out and I promptly rushed down to Our Price and purchased the CD.
But more importantly, I can remember what I first saw when I heard What's The Story (Morning Glory). That weekend after the album was released I took a train to see a friend in Nottingham. I listened to a tape I'd made of the album for the whole journey. There and back. Over and over. And so therefore, for me, What's The Story (Morning Glory) will always, always, look like this.
(Picture taken from Waddie with huge thanks, usual stuff applies)
I'm deadly serious. That's like a screenshot from my brain's PVR. That typical British rainy Saturday. The way the view is slightly blurred because of movement and also because of scratches on the glass. The mixture of green and brown tinged with grey that you only get in Britain.
When I was 13 I went on a school skiing trip. The weekend before the trip my cousin gave me a copy of U2 's Rattle and Hum on tape. I had been given a Walkman for my birthday. The trip was mostly by coach through the long winding roads of the Italian Alps.
And so, for me, Rattle and Hum will forever look like this.
(Picture taken from ngvirtz with huge thanks, usual stuff applies)
Always black and white, which is probably something to do with Phil Joanou's wonderful imagery. That cold, clear light you get in the mountains. Crisp shapes. Moody landscapes.
All those mental snapshots took place when I was listening to the music concerned. But this one is a little different.
In the summer of 2005 I spent two weeks in LA. It was about 3 weeks before the Coldplay album launched. LA was covered in billboards for X&Y. Everywhere you looked, Chris Martin and the other 3. I think they recorded some of it in LA too. Either way every time I listen to X&Y all I see is this.
(Picture taken from aggleton with huge thanks, usual stuff applies)
That lovely orange streaked with tail-light sunset that LA does so well. The long straight lines. Lines everywhere, not a curve in sight. The glow of constant traffic.
Does that make sense? Does it ring any bells? Does anyone else experience this? Is it because I'm a visual person (and have the disease)?
What does everyone else see when they listen?
That's a damned brilliant post. I'm in complete agreement with you about What's The Story..
I think I'd have been about 11 when that was released; so it reminds me of 5-a-side tournaments on Sundays, trips in the car to school and generally playing more football than ever before.
Paul Simon's 'Graceland' reminds me very vividly of taking a trip when I was about 3 or 4 up the Malvern Hills. To this day it remains my favourite album.
I was late getting into the Stone Roses, but a compilation of their songs reminds me of the summer before beginning University. Similarily, The Smiths 'The Queen Is Dead' reminds me of the summer during my first year at University. Some good times there.
Interestingly, Massive Attack's 'Karmacoma' reminds me of a grey, overcast day in Leeds - because that's where I saw them at last year's Wireless Festival.
Check out my music chronology posting for more on this:
As I said before - great post Ben.
Posted by: Will | Jan 14, 2007 at 19:09
Yes, I get it too but only with certain things, not always predictable. Doves - Lost Souls is driving up a B road in South West Scotland, The Bees - Free The Bees is going towards the Fife coast, Primal Scream - Screamadelica is my old bedroom in Belhaven Terrace. It's funny how it's only some records while other, more significant ones don't conjure up anything. Thanks for summing this up.
Posted by: Anne | Jan 14, 2007 at 21:49
Yes, I get it too but only with certain things, not always predictable. Doves - Lost Souls is driving up a B road in South West Scotland, The Bees - Free The Bees is going towards the Fife coast, Primal Scream - Screamadelica is my old bedroom in Belhaven Terrace. It's funny how it's only some records while other, more significant ones don't conjure up anything. Thanks for summing this up. I also wondered if it was just me. It will be interesting to see the results.
Posted by: Anne | Jan 14, 2007 at 21:50
Early- to mid-ninties British indie looks like the scenic parts of South Wales from the driver's seat of my dad's seven series Volvo estate.
I was an American just engaged to a South Walian. As we drove to all the romantic spots in South Wales she introduced me to British indie via here Polygram TV double cassette compilation called True Brit -- Cast, Dodgy, Sleeper, James, etc. I still think 'Sit Down' is one of the finest pop songs of all time.
Posted by: Jeff Gill | Jan 14, 2007 at 22:25
I meant to type: via her sister's Polygram...
Posted by: Jeff Gill | Jan 14, 2007 at 22:27
amazing how songs bring back big memories and emotions... Coldplay's Yellow always reminds me of a girlfriend who unfortunately suffered Hepatitis. And she did turn that colour.
Posted by: carl | Jan 15, 2007 at 04:32
Yes it rings bells to me too. And, I do believe it has to do with two things you said: a trip in an unknown place with a walkman helps a lot, and the second one is the "I was there" effect.
The first one:what I see when I listen to the Specials' album is my grandparents (very) small town under the snow where I was staying for the winter holidays. No friends here for the teenager from Paris, just a few tapes.
The second one: MC Merlin will also stay connected to a trip I made in England to improve my english language (whadayamean' by It didn't work?).
I had a home-made mixtape with a single I used to really appreciate (man, what a voice) and in a pub that was our headquarters, I saw written on the chalkboard that he was performing live here… las week. I've had been so close from the real hip-hop thang (from a french point a view). So now MC Merlin always reminds me of that place - even if you don't hear much of his tunes these days.
Posted by: Bureau L'Imprimante | Jan 15, 2007 at 08:16
Lovely stuff NDG.
'Drive' by REM will always remind me of the journey back from a party in my final year of 6th form. The journey home took us along winding country roads that passed through a huge wood. The car was a Beetle - the distinct sound of which I can still hear. The sun was coming up on a beautiful Autumn morning, we'd been up all night, we were knackered, we were young, and no one will ever know how weird and wonderful we felt.
I can see the picture in my mind now (quite like this game).
Posted by: Colman | Jan 15, 2007 at 08:39
I totally get it. The Stone Roses' first album is a graveyard in Kent where we used to smoke fags and try to do skateboard tricks. 5th Dimension by The Byrds is driving to Spain with my Dad and smelling pine trees through the open windows. Urban Hymns is the flaky plaster on the ceiling of a house in Indonesia. And Blissed Out by Beloved is a massive posh back garden with accompanying crab apple fight at 6 in the morning after a heavy night of cheap wine and prank calls.
Anne is right - it doesn't work for everything. These aren't necessarily the most important albums in my life, but they somehow got stuck in the sight-meets-sound bit of my brain.
Posted by: dan at innocent | Jan 15, 2007 at 09:18
Ben, the correct answer to your question was,of course, The Beatles. Oasis don't come within light years of them (and I'm a Manc). If you'd been around in 1967 you'd have definitely remembered the Sgt Pepper album as large parks within big green open spaces, lush trees and bright sunshine. I don't even know whether it was a great summer weather wise, but it seemed that way.
Posted by: grahamsalmon | Jan 15, 2007 at 09:52
When I look back at the records I've loved, there are a few like this, where I can almost see them and feel them.
Pulp's "This is Hardcore" and REM's "Fables of the Reconstruction" are being a seventeen-year-old, sitting at three in the morning, feeling desperately alone, on a coach going somewhere you don't want to go with people you don't want to be with; everything blurred and opaque.
Radiohead's "The Bends" is the view from the window of my old bedroom (http://www.flickr.com/photos/covert/336604005/), the furniture I'd outgrown and the pile of NMEs and guitar tab-books in the corner.
Mogwai's "Come On Die Young" is lying on my bed staring at the wall during the end of my first and start of my second years at university, trying as hard as I could to pretend that everything was OK. (It wasn't, then, but I lived through it.)
Radiohead's "Everything In Its Right Place" - and hence Kid A - is Lissajous plots from an oscilloscope, projected onto the sides of an enormous, ridiculous, beautiful tent in the middle of Glasgow Green.
Ulrich Schnauss' jaw-dropping record, "A Strangely Isolated Place", is walking out of a gig at the Portland Arms in Cambridge into one of the crispest, clearest nights I've ever felt, feeling like anything was possible, feeling like everything had changed; it's still my favourite record.
I really, really love music.
Posted by: Andrew | Jan 15, 2007 at 13:27
Yeah, I think every memorable tune has a visual (and not just the album cover)...for me, Oasis (Morning Glory) struck the visual of looking out my bedroom window of my parents' house. Bright skies, fond memories. And that's always a good thing.
Posted by: Blake | Jan 15, 2007 at 14:06
Graham - this was a much longer post that I edited down. The bits that didn't make the cut weren't about design / visual stuff.
The Beatles are, of course, the best band ever. But they're not my favourite because they don't have the "I was there-ness" of Oasis. For me anyway. They don't feel like "my" band.
'Love' is brilliant by the way. Have you heard it?
Posted by: Ben | Jan 15, 2007 at 14:10
Simply Red's Stars will remind me of being stuck in the back of a car on a motorway with no chance of changing the tape.
Idlewild's first album reminds me of our local library as I borrowed it about three times because I loved it so much.
Posted by: Rob Mortimer | Jan 15, 2007 at 14:32
I know what you mean about the 'I was there' bit. And I have listened to the Love album but I'm too much of a purist to get into it. The only improvement to the old catalogue has been 'Let it be - naked' which has a real genuine sound. The rest of the regurgitations have all the hallmarks of moneymaking exercises.
Posted by: grahamsalmon | Jan 15, 2007 at 16:41
Probably their accountant told them to release it.
Posted by: Ben | Jan 15, 2007 at 16:52
Funny, music affects me that way as well. Whenever I hear The Wombles I'm immediately transported back to Wimbledon Common.
Posted by: davidthedesigner | Jan 15, 2007 at 17:09
For the 'visual' ones out there, here's Wimbledon Common http://www.windmilers.info/galleries/0411_common.jpg . Can anyone spot the Womble?
Posted by: davidthedesigner | Jan 15, 2007 at 18:18
I can't make even my most powerful music memories that sharp and clear visually.
I can get a vague feeling of place, light and colour but my memory of my internal state (how I was feeling, what my mindstate was) overpowers and distorts the vision.
Posted by: Helen | Jan 15, 2007 at 20:12
Hey Helen, it's a man thing (look at the comments - well, apart from Anne that is) - don't worry about it.
Posted by: davidthedesigner | Jan 15, 2007 at 21:15
First song I remember is "I Can See Clearly Now" by Johnny Nash.
My brother and I were in the back yard playing with our dog. It was a sun-shiny day, too!
Great songs live on.
Posted by: Joe Moran | Jan 16, 2007 at 05:23
For me it's mostly music and girls. Led Zep always takes me to a bedroom in Birmingham where I spent hours snogging Jenny Schubert. More recently, Teenage Fanclub's Grand Prix takes me on a drive from a Leicestershire village to Birmingham after dropping off my now wife. An exception to the girl thing being Elastica's debut album which always reminds me that I'm too old to be in the mosh pit, after "nearly dieing" in one during the tour.
Posted by: Richard | Jan 17, 2007 at 14:11
Uhhh, not to rain on your parade or anything, but that picture for LA, well... it isn't LA.
It's actually Melbourne, Australia. Specifically, LaTrobe Street, looking down the hill towards Swanston St and, further on, Elizabeth St.
Posted by: jez | Feb 16, 2007 at 01:36
So it is!
Well spotted Jez.
Posted by: Ben | Feb 16, 2007 at 09:18