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charlie, computer cat

December 2017

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charlie, computer cat

Inheritance tracks

We wake up on Saturdays in time to hear the second half of Saturday Live, which always includes the inheritance tracks slot. The premise is simple - pick one track you've inherited from your parents and one to pass on to your children, taking the prompts any way you like, and then talk about them while the track is playing. Simple enough that we often end up discussing what our picks might be afterwards and therefore surely simple enough to turn into an internet meme, yes/no?

The track I inherited from my parents is Tweeter and the Monkey Man by the Travelling Wilburys. It could have been a huge number of things - both my parents are very into music and listened to a huge variety of things. In the end, I chose this track because I also associate it very strongly in my memory with us as a family. It was on a mix tape we had in the car (called Road Songs by me and my brother) which we always wanted to have put on when we were driving home. I particularly associate it with driving home from the round trip to both of our sets of grandparents to exchange presents just before Christmas. For years, we didn't really listen to the verses, just sang the chorus lustily from the back seat, sometimes in our pyjamas if we were driving back late and supposed to be sleeping; in fact I thought it was called "When the walls came down."

It wasn't until years later that I was listening to it and said "I could swear that's Bob Dylan" and Mum or Dad explained to me who the Wilbury's actually were, by which time I was awed to think of these incredible musicians getting together to play in one group. I loved imagining what it would have been like to be a tech at that recording studio, listening to them jam. These days, I love the ballad verses of the song, the pace of it, the weird story. It's very evocative and I almost see it as a comic strip in my mind as each verse plays out. It's a track that reminds me of how much I love music, both to listen to and to make, and that's definitely something I inherited from my parents.


This is the best vid I could find - all the YouTube ones are of a cover. It cuts out before the coda verse but you get the idea.

The track I would pass on to my future imaginary nephews and nieces is Mr E's Beautiful Blues, by Eels. I first got into Eels when Alex gave me a mix tape of tracks progressing alphabetically through the music he'd bought to college with him that term containing Novocaine for the Soul (that was also the tape that got me into Drugstore and Alabama 3). I bought the album, was too ill to go see them when they passed through Oxford, much to my distress, and although I wasn't so into ElectroShock Blues, continued to keep an ear out for them, as it were.

I can't remember now where I first heard MEBB - it probably wasn't on the radio which means oxfordhacker or coalescent probably played it to me when it came out, but I immediately fell in love with it. It's just one of those tunes that you can't help grinning when you listen to - there's something about it that just picks you out of whatever state of mind you're in and pushes you into a kind of laid back, alert happiness, too cool and worldly wise to be perky but coming from the same sort of place. It's partly the bounce of the tune, which should be cheesy but somehow isn't, and partly the content and tone of the lyrics. "Goddamn right, it's a beautiful day." I can't sing that without feeling like actually yeah, it is. Corny, I know, but there it is, and that's something I definitely want to pass on. Not just that feeling, although that's pretty important, but the knowledge that music can be transformative. That when you're feeling tired and grumpy, you can put on your bouncy playlist and within five minutes you'll be belting things out and grinning again. OK, it may not last, depending on what caused the mood in the first place, but just for a while you can get lost and feel good.

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