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The Soundtrack To My 20s


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…

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Creator of John's Background Switcher. Scotsman, footballer, photographer, dog owner, risk taker, heart breaker, nice guy. Some of those are lies.

16 Comments Join the Conversation

  1. Dear Catastrophe Waitress is a great album…. as good as Tigermilk & “The Boy with”

    Can’t believe you’ve not got it yet…….. some fan you are!


  2. Not a bad analysis old chap

    Castrophe has been out for a while – since before Xmas. One thing you should note about this one is that they get Trevor Horn to produce the album.


    I hear you cry….

    He’s the guy who made “Video killed the radio star” under the guise of Buggles, and also produced “Relax” by frankie – mixing about 5 versions to come up with the legendary song.

    Anyway…. when you hear the first track you may think you got the wrong disk, till Stuart Murdoch starts singin that is, then you’re in for a treat.

    It’s a better album than the last one though probably not quite as memorable as “When you’re feeling sinister”.

    Also worth a look is their DVD, “For Fans Only”, which came out last year and has just about all the TV and gig appearances on it along with quite a lot of videos.

    Good stuff, go and buy it now


  3. I don’t know much Belle and Sebastian but I loved “Legal Man”. I don’t suppose you like The Divine Comedy do you?

    Only seven months left of your twenties? I’ve got exactly one week left!


  4. I wouldn’t say I was a big fan of the divine comedy but I can certainly listen to them.

    And John, I’m sorry to hear that. You have my condolences… 🙁


  5. Just a point of order for Ade, Trevor Horn produced some good stuff as well as the more popular rubbish that he is known for. On the whole, you’re right though.


  6. B&S also form part of the soundtrack of my life. Just recently I read “A Star Called Henry” by Roddy Doyle whilst listening to D.C.Waitress and if they ever make it into a film, that should be the soundtrack. Great book, great albumn!

    Never posted in response to something you’ve said before John, but like/agree with a lot you say. Hope the job hunting is going well.


  7. You have my deepest sympathies – first you lose your job, then Belle and Sebastian release a new album … surely life can’t get any worse?


  8. Now jon, I know for a fact that you secretly love Belle and Sebastian – in fact you love them with such passion that you pretend to hate them!


  9. I have always known “Belle and Sebastian” from an animated story of a young boy and a big white dog; on a journey across many lands to find his true mother.
    I also understand that it is also a really old film from the 70’s; which oddly enough, inspired my mom so much that she named me after the character.
    (hey, it could have been worse)


  10. It won’t surprise you to learn that they got their name from exactly the same place…

    It’s a class album by the way – still learning all the words!


  11. I’d just like to point out that the majority of your readership are called John or Jon

    I’m off to change mine by deed poll so I can fit in more!


  12. Oh – I like buggles by the way – it’s a great song.

    You can tell cause when I mention it, yuo instantly know the tune!

    But there again, when I say “Saturday night” by Whigfield, you instantle know that too…..

    hmmm – time to rethink that theory


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