Mixtape #2 #13for2013: A time and a place

15 Feb

This month’s #13for2013 mixtape theme comes courtesy of Tom, who suggested that we do a list of 13 songs that instantly conjures up a time and a place. I found this mix pretty challenging, just because there are hundreds of songs that mean something poignant and that sweep me off on a wave of nostalgia. Having spent most of last night sucked into a nostalgic musical wormhole, here is the final list that I chose, and the reasons behind it.

Queen – I want to break free

I come from a musical mishmash background, my dad loved punk, ska, Bowie & Hendrix (this must be in my genes and to this day I think is a good argument for nature vs nurture), my mum loves 70s disco, motown and soul and my step-dad Steve loves Queen. Being one of five kids, my ma and Steve spent ages trying to keep us all entertained of a weekend (and did an amazing job!) and a big part of that involved driving to parks or the coast for days out, accompanied by a soundtrack of Queen. We also had a phase of all signing along to Celine Dion’s Think Twice, shouting out ‘Nononono!’ from the back of the car, so that always made it into the mix but for the sake of your ears I left it out. I since went on to fall in love with My Chemical Romance, and my Queen-based childhood probably had a lot to do with that.

Shampoo – Trouble

This was the first single I ever bought, on tape, from Woolworths in Mexborough; also known as Sexy Mexy, the one-time teenage pregnancy capital of Europe and my birthplace (those last two points aren’t related, by the way”. I got the bus there with my friends Becky and Louise from school one Saturday in first year of school and with £2.50 burning a hole in my pocket, I rode the 296 bus back home with Trouble by Shampoo on casette and a wella colour mousse jangling about in a carrier bag. I played the tape to death, in between recordings of Emma Scott’s alternative show on Hallam FM.

Sleeper – What do I do now?

When I was younger, my younger sister Laura and I spent virtually every moment that we weren’t at school with my older cousins, Shelley and Ryan. My cousins got satellite TV well before anyone else I knew and we’d spend hours hanging out at their house, watching MTV, listening to Ugly Kid Joe, Aerosmith, The Cranberries, Nirvana and Guns ‘n’ Roses. Then, as we got a bit older, they started to get into indie, buying Oasis, Blur, Stone Roses, Suede and Ash records. That was when I really fell in love with music. I remember getting a record token for my birthday from my auntie and going to HMV with my cousins and buying The It Girl by Sleeper. I played the record to death and know all the words off by heart, having spent many a night moodily pouting in my attic bedroom, pretending I was Louise Wener. This song was my favourite off the album and I still play it now. Great indie pop.

Less Than Jake – All my best friends are metalheads

Less Than Jake was the first gig I ever went to, as in a proper gig with no adult supervision and no clue as to what to expect. That probably explains why I was trampled to the floor within seconds of the show starting, having gone to the front. However, some nice ska types helped me up and it turned out to be one of those amazing nights that sort-of pours cement into a mould of how you’ll spend your next few years.

Inspection 12 – Secret Identity

When I (finally) passed my driving test, after five -yes, five, attempts, one of my best friends Ian made me a tape to play on the deck of my Corsa. This was a mix between the New Found Glory’s ‘From the Screen to your Stereo’ and various Inspection 12 records. This song always reminds me of bombing down the Parkway from Rotherham back to Sheffield on summer nights with my windows down, singing at the top of my voice, trying to hit the harmonies (and failing).

Busted – Crashed the Wedding

Before you start, can I just say that I don’t do irony. Nothing I do, or like, is ironic. It’s because I want to do it, or because I genuinely like it. This extends to Busted, and fortunately, also extended to my amazing housemates (mostly Cath) when I lived at 109 in Sheffield. I was trying to think of songs I could put in here – amazing musical moments from Corporation, songs that my friend Greg put on a tape for me that I listened to until the tape wore out, songs from bands that my friends and I were either in or putting on at the Cricketers Arms. However, I couldn’t decide which to choose, so you can have this one, which pretty much epitomises the very height of the sort of thing Cath and I spent three years getting up to. This is a photo of one of the rock concerts we put on for ourselves in my bedroom one night (roping in her workmate to be our reluctant audience of one). What larks.

Pavement – Range Life

When I was 22, I went to America and hired a car with my three best friends and just drove around for the summer. I picked up two records from Amoeba Records in Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco (I wanted more, but couldn’t carry them). One was Analphabetapolothology by Cap’n Jazz and one was Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain by Pavement. The four of us took turns driving up and down Big Sur and around Northern California and when we weren’t listening to California by Phantom Planet, I played Range Life pretty much on repeat until we got to the East Coast and we switched it out for a Warped Tour compilation. This song still takes me back to golden days of drinking neat whiskey in pool halls in Santa Cruz, huddling together against fog around the bay in San Fran and kicking through surf at sunset with my best friends.

Gemma critchley travelling america mixtape blog

Saves the Day – Shoulder to the Wheel

I was desperately racking my brains trying to decide which song best summed up the period of 2004-2007 that marked the golden years of Juvi Hall and Hospital (Hozzy) Radio, two of my favourite club nights ever that not only spawned a whole scene in Leeds but delivered a whole set of amazing friends and good times, and was one of the deciding factors in me moving to Leeds. I was torn between Weezer, Hot Water Music, Braid, The Promise Ring… The list goes on. Brilliant people, brilliant times.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Date with the night // Phil Collins – Easy Lover

I had my quarter-life crisis (!) throughout 2007 and into 2008 where I spent a great deal of time thinking I was in Skins/Party Monster and dressing like I was Cyndi Lauper and flitting between Sheffield, Leeds, Manchester and London in search of the next party. Warehouse Project and, to a greater extent, Razor Stiletto were pretty much my reason for living during that time. I’d spend the entire week planning my outfit, finding out about pre and after parties, arranging meet-ups, rummaging in charity shops and making mix tapes and then the whole weekend partying, or embarking upon party-related adventures. I listened to Yeah Yeah Yeahs, DFA, Klaxons, Soulwax Daft Punk, LCD Soundsystem and Justice all year long. Loads of mental stuff happened that year and I don’t regret a single second of it. At the end of Razor Stiletto, if you were still alive, they would always play you out with Easy Lover by Phil Collins. To this day, that song still makes me miss those dancing days and Date with the night just embodies that marvellous messiness that coated everything around that time.

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Vampire Weekend – M79

When Andrew and I first got together, I remember driving around a lot in his old Fiesta that had a broken Bass button on the stereo, listening to Vampire Weekend in the sunshine. We spent a lot of that summer sitting in parks, doing nothing but enjoying each other’s company. Neither of us had an iPhone back then so it was a screen-free summer of just getting to know each other, sunbathing, eating icecream and rolling around Chapel Allerton like we owned it. Heady and lovely and this song always takes me back to that time.

Frank Turner – Eulogy

When I worked at an Ad Agency in Leeds, I had such an amazing team. We were a tiny digital enclave and liked to pretend we were in a band called The Digits. Anyway, we had a great time playing music as loud as we could get away with under the excuse that we were ‘creative’. We spent a lot of time listening to Baywatch, Brand New and playing a game that called for us to select a band based on some code that my friend Chris wrote. One of the songs from this time period that really sticks out for me is this one, and in particular, the line ‘On the day I died I’ll say at least I f*cking tried.’ That made me want to give London a go and take a leap into the unknown – it scared me to think I might spend time in the future talking about the time I almost did this or that. I just wanted to do it, so I did.

And here we are.

What are you twelve songs that take you to a time and a place?


5 Responses to “Mixtape #2 #13for2013: A time and a place”

  1. thomhoops February 15, 2013 at 5:41 pm #

    I have The It Girl as well, and I also still rate it. It’s great! Great choices as ever Gem x

  2. thomhoops February 15, 2013 at 5:41 pm #

    I’ve put ‘great’ twice there. GOOD WRITING SKILLS. Great.

  3. vinnatron February 16, 2013 at 2:21 am #

    Yes, The It Girl is a quality album – I only gave them a proper go after reading the singer’s first book (which is amazing by the way) but yeah!

    • beatifnik March 1, 2013 at 3:04 pm #

      Ooh I meant to download her book to read, I’ll give it a go on your recommendation! x

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