Do You Remember? (Teenager of the 90’s)

Times change. And so does the music. But more than that, it breaks your heart- like The Bluetones singing where did you go? Or Garbage singing stupid girl, or Whale singing happy in you. I got old. And so did you. But we didn’t really. It’s only on the outside. If we didn’t look in mirrors, we wouldn’t remember that we got older. The music though…it likes to take us back. It grins and teases. Takes us by the elbow whispering; do you remember?

Do you remember fish and chips in the car? The car-park at the beach. We never got out because we didn’t want to be around other people. Let them have the beach. We had the music. It was always us and the music. We still do it now; leave the windows rolled down in pride. Yes, this is good.

I am older, and so are you. Jaded. More cynical. You didn’t used to worry about anything, and you still don’t, but you don’t care either. The world proved you right. I got older, but I fight hard not to get old. I insist the child in me remains loose. Vigilant at all times. In charge of my soul. No mortgage or nine to five for me. No hamster wheel or human treadmill. Music makes everything better.

Do you remember mix tapes? Personalised for the one you loved. But it wasn’t just about love or loving them, it was about telling them what music you loved, letting them in on a secret, telling them what music they should love too. I wish I’d kept them all, but times moved on. I can still see your neat handwriting, black biro, letters perfectly formed. I can picture you in my head; lying on your bed where you kept the hi-fi just above your pillow, so that when I slept over, the music was right there. I can see you writing out the songs one by one. Telling me who I should love. You gave me The Stone Roses and I will love you forever for that.

Do you remember love letters? Passed back and forth. Lyrics and hearts in smudged biro dotted around the edge of A4 lined paper. Ten Storey Love Song – I built this thing for you.

Do you remember The Beach Boys? First music we played in our first home. I remember a younger us in a teenage bedroom; wouldn’t it be nice if we were older, then we wouldn’t have to wait so long? But we didn’t have to wait long at all to get older. That happened in between songs.

Music is our connection. It links me to you and to everything that I see in my head when I look back. To every song I hear there is a scene, a memory, a feeling. Gomez singing get myself arrested after you did get yourself arrested. A thousand songs in a thousand moments in cars, bedrooms, clubs and festivals. Me and you. Cider and Hooch and Two Dogs. Empties lined up on the bedroom window sill, curtains blowing in the wind. Select magazine on the bed. TFI Friday on the telly. Ocean Colour Scene and Kula Shaker and Cast and Supergrass and Portishead and Massive Attack and Tricky, and I always preferred a slow sad song, and you always preferred fast and happy. Then you’d write me a little note before you left.

You can be yourself when you find the right music. Remember that? Remember that it was our time. And its so funny now when we find it again; when we find ourselves in the record shop, not drawn to the vinyl that was before our time, but to the cds in the flimsy plastic cases, to remembering how cool they seemed compared to tapes, until they scratched and jumped and jittered. The artwork, the song list, the lyric sheet. In an instant, we are excited again, worries forgotten, age meaning nothing. It’s just you and me and the music, set free, eyes wide, let loose, fingers flicking amidst exclamations of ‘we had that one on tape’, ‘we had that one but it got scratched’, ‘I’ve still got that one but it doesn’t work’, ‘do you remember this one?’ For a few moments its perfect joy.

Then in the car on the way home. Everything is made better by music, whether its new or old. Smiling without knowing that we are. We’ll be high on it for days. Classic finds. Cheap and cheerful. Would rather spend money on music than anything else. And I look at you and I think do you remember that you’re the same as me? That we see things they’ll never see?


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