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Thursday 15 April 2010

Teenage Fanclub 'It's A Bad World'

They say that the sense most closely related to memory is smell, but sound must run it a close second. I posted some Teenage Fanclub a couple of weeks ago, and inevitably one thing led to another, and I ended up listening to their Songs FromNorthern Britain album, for the first time in years. I used to have a copy on cassette which lived in the car. Back in 1998 our son I.T. was diagnosed with a very rare genetic disease, aged 8 months. He needed a bone marrow transplant to give him some chance of life, although BMT we were told was swapping one set of problems for another, though if it worked it would ensure he lived. At the time success rate was 50%, and there was a 20% mortality rate, so it didn't look great. We also had to wait ages for a suitable donor. After spending the summer of 1999 in hospital we didn't get a donor until spring 2000, and we were told they wouldn't transplant after his second birthday (November of 2000), so it was all pretty tense. In September 1999 I went back to work and all the way through to April 2000 I found myself drving home from work with all kinds of thoughts running through my head. It became pretty Pavlovian- I'd get in the car and for the next 40 minutes the same thoughts attacked me, usually what we'd do if the BMT didn't work, how we'd cope, and how on earth we'd go about organising a funeral for a one-year old. I tried to block this out with music. I'd forgotten about this until recently, and Teenage Fanclub's Songs From Northern Britain opened the lids off some jars I thought I'd put on very tightly. The three albums I remember listening to mainly on those car journeys were the Teenage Fanclub one, Primal Scream's XTRMNTR and Sugar's Copper Blue. There's a song off each one I can't listen to now without the exact feelings being triggered and flooding back. Off XTRMNTR it was Keep Your Dreams with a line about 'I believe that when we die our bodies become dust' (you can see where that one was going), Man In the Moon off Copper Blue ('There's a man in the moon, he's a good friend of yours, he's a good friend of mine': not sure why that one hit me), and this song It's A Bad World, which is a beautiful song about it being a bad world. Which at the time it was.

I.T.'s BMT failed but he survived it. He had a second BMT in the summer, with me as a half-match donor, which worked. Which brings me back to memory. I heard It's A Bad World a couple of weeks ago for the first time in years, and it took me straight back instantly. Bizarre. The chords, tune, words, everything were fresh in my mind and triggered the whole thing off. I daren't listen to Keep Your Dreams or Man In the Moon. I think I'd probably dissolve or something.

On top of this I visited Auschwitz on Monday, and while there's no real way a pop song can adequately express what I saw there and what happened there, this song kind of fits. While we there, there was a march, the March of The Living from Auschwitz 1 to Birkenau, celebrating survivors and survival. I don't want this to sound crass but, it is bad world, but we do get through, because people can survive. I'm not sure this is a well thought out response to Auschwitz but there you go.

Sorry if this has been a bit heavy folks, but it's been bubbling away for the last two weeks and I needed to get it off my chest. Tomorrow, some lovely reggae and rockabilly escapism.


hsd said...

Whats blogging for if you can't bare your soul :D
Keep up the excellent posts and writing.

Ctelblog said...

Country Feedback for me.

The Lines

"Self help, self pain,
EST, psychics, fuck all"


"It's crazy what you could've had"