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I'm an Irish guy living in France. I like music, books, creative writing, art, history, vegetarianism, people, and chocolate.

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Monday 21 July 2008

The Sound of Place


Découvrez Neil Young!


You've probably noticed how smells and odours can bring back memories of people, places and events that were sometimes long forgotten. For example, the smell of certain types of manure always reminds me of Ireland, because that was always the first thing I smelt coming out from the aeroplane once it had landed in Belfast International airport. Or the smell of rice boiling in milk brings me back to when my late grandmother would serve me steaming hot rice pudding in a tiny bowl with a blue flower pattern when I was a child.

Well, lately, listening to music has had more or less the same effect on me. It didn't bring memories back to me, but it made images of places pop up in my mind. For example, listening to Nick Drake's third and last album, Pink Moon, brought to my mind the picture of hilly woodlands under a dark starry sky, with the slender trees bending in the wind, and the top of a church steeple somewhere in the distance behind one of the taller hills. Joni Mitchell's Ladies of the Canyon painted a Provençal landscape in my mind's eye, with its blue mountains, proud poplars, lavender fields circling a quiet little market town waking up to the soft morning sunlight. My favourite Neil Young album, On the Beach, reminds me not of the coast or the sand, but of the open sea ; the ocean, dark but not agitated, failing to reflect the pallid sun ; the impression of loneliness, sadness, but not despair. It's probably no wonder, because the album itself is rather melancholic and bleak.
You might be wondering what I've smoked. But that's what music does. It sings to parts of us which are beyond our intellectual reach, beyond our conscience.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

In my current job I have access to pretty much ‘all the music in the world’ to listen to… so ive been taking the chance to listen to music I’ve always meant to get but never did. Pink Moon was one of them… excellent. Along with Lots of Bjork and led zep and Blind Willie Johnson (cause he was featured on a West Wing which got to me… bit sad I know)

Groovy Shamrock said...

I love Led Zep & what I heard of Björk. I heard OF Blind Willie Johnson but never listened to him, I'll have to check him out. I love Robert Johnson, though.



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