Thursday, November 06, 2014

Bedsit Disco Queen

It is not easy choosing music as a couple. If you both like music but one is much more enthusiastic and generally curious than the other it is likely that that one will do a lot of the choosing. But then to keep a relationship going it is best for that choosing to be exercised in the interest of both parties, when both are around. It follows that I have a number of albums that must not be played in the presence of Mrs T.

It further follows that we have a few 'special' acts who have accompanied us on our journey together. In about 1996, when we took our first holiday for some years without children, we were accompanied by the Everything but the Girl album Walking Wounded including the Todd Terry remix of Wrong.

We had a sort of where-have-we-been? moment. We had kind of ignored the lo-fi acoustic stuff this duo had produced before but from that day on with the light drum 'n bass feel we were hooked.

We saw EBTG at Wolverhampton Civic Hall which remains the finest experience we've ever had in Wolverhampton and that includes Baggies away wins.

Tracey Thorn (half the duo with partner Ben Watt) is an English graduate and writes like a dream. The prose never gets in the way of the story.

What I love is the ordinariness from which this catalogue of dreamy pop emerged and to which, in order to raise a family and do conventional household tasks, it returned for a while. There are now solo projects which we have enjoyed though.

I've recently read part two of Danny Baker's autobiography and he too demonstrated a wonder that he became who he was without having to do too much to make it happen.

What is it that makes this occur for some people? Of course there is talent. That pretty much goes without saying, but there is also a sense that no decision was ever taken to try to be a star; just a decision to do the next logical thing that came along.

I love Tracey Thorn's pop career so much more than the ones of those wannabees who queue to audition for the latest audience elimination programme; as if saying 'I've never wanted anything so much' makes it more likely. Because what she did was have a voice and some songs and got them out there and we liked them. I'm delighted there was some success but, reading the book, get the impression it wouldn't have mattered that much if there hadn't been. The music demanded it be made.

It was about album seven that the world took notice (the one we heard). She says, 'My greatest stroke of fortune was to be given success when I was old enough to enjoy it and not take it for granted, or fritter it away, or be contemptuous or arrogant or supercilious about it.' I love that. It's a humble book.

Over the last few years I have followed Tracey (@tracey_thorn) and Ben (@ben_watt) on Twitter, have had occasional inter-actions about things as disparate as recipes, footie and bird-watching and feel delighted that they seem to take as much pleasure in the ordinary things of life as the sublime music they have gifted me.

This is a very good book.

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