If you were to make a film about my 20’s (maybe when I’m long dead and you want to chart my rise to power) there’s one thing I can tell you right now to ensure a certain degree of realism and accuracy. And that would be what music to play throughout. It would be the collected works of Belle and Sebastian.
They’re a band from my home country of Scotland and I can still remember the first time I heard them. It was from my personal music advisor – my brother. He had a copy of the album The Boy With The Arab Strap and was playing the track Dirty Dream Number Two and I was instantly hooked. I bought my own copy of the album, then a copy of the previous two albums, then all the CD singles (they’re always EPs with more tunes on them) and then I kept a watchful eye out for any new releases. I’ve played all the CDs to death but I still love them and whenever I change the CDs in my car I almost always have one by Belle and Sebastian in there.
The thing I love most about Belle and Sebastian is that all of their tunes are the sort you find yourself walking along a road humming the song to. They’re amazingly catchy – if you’ve seen the UK sitcom Teachers you’ll have heard the title track to The Boy With The Arab Strap and must agree how once you’ve heard it you can’t get it out of your head. They’re all like that! Each one feels like a journey rather than just a song – you feel like you’re actually going somewhere throughout. They can seem quite twee while being both uplifting and depressing at the same time with some clever lyrics and the old trick of negative lyrics with positive music.
Anyway, I was flicking through the music channels on TV last night and came upon this song. I liked the sound of it and watched the video. The premise was a guy who’s an athlete and is getting pulled in all directions by his coach, his girlfriend and the band he’s in. They all want a piece of him and he just seems to be caught in the middle bouncing all over the place. I found the song really catchy and watched intently to see who it was by. And guess what? It’s by Belle and Sebastian and I didn’t even twig! A quick call to my brother to say that they had a new single revealed that in fact they’d released an album back in October while I was in the process of going to New Zealand / losing my job / moving into a new house. Five minutes later and I’d ordered it from Amazon – it’s called Dear Catastrophe Waitress.
I still remember driving around to job interviews back in 1999 listening to The Boy With The Arab Strap over and over (and singing all the way). So here I am five years later and I’m going to be doing exactly the same thing with their latest work – how’s that for symmetry? I’ve only got 7 months left of my twenties which is plenty time to play the new album to death…