Living with…The Arcade Fire…for a week

Breaking Free…with Dolly

“In the suburbs I
I learned to drive
And you told me we’d never survive
Grab your mother’s keys we’re leavin’” (The Suburbs)

Why are there so many songs about cars? Fast ones? First ones? Clapped-out old ones?

Its because they represent freedom to a teenager. From the moment a boy’s voice first starts to break (if not earlier) the image of your own clapped out Ford, Vauxhall, Nissan, Triumph or whatever represents the keys to freedom. The ability to wave goodbye to your Suburbs and flee to wherever you want with friends, boy friends, girl friends. No need to depend on those controlling adults…

In the last month or so I’ve been reminded of those early days of driving whether I’ve liked it or not. Three nephews and nieces have taken their driving tests having turned that magic age of 17 recently – well done to those who have passed, and there is another day for those who haven’t!

But it was a recent trip back to Sussex that brought back all the memories. Mainly helped along by my brother who took us on a guided tour of the sites of my motoring misadventures in the first few years of driving!  He didn’t plan it, it just sort of happened as we drove along.

Where I’d seriously dented my mum’s Allegro when someone went in the back after an emergency stop. They have an anti-skid road surface there now so I can’t have been alone.

Where I’d clipped a mod’s Lambretta at 11pm on a Bank Holiday Friday when they were heading en masse to Brighton for the weekend. They don’t allow crossing of the A23 there anymore.  He was OK by the way, and more upset about the dents to his beloved scooter.

Where I’d reversed in to a tree at 5am on New Year’s Day.  I couldn’t get close enough to see if part of the offside lamp is still embedded in the trunk.

Where I’d attempted a full 180 ° turn on the High Street in one sweep (no three-point turn, I thought) and needed to change the tyre after the impact with the kerb.

I’m not sure that I was over grateful at the time for being reminded (honestly I’m much better now, don’t worry about the night vision).  But it did bring back the memories of that rush of freedom with the first car, the sense of being your own person.  Growing up.  I don’t care how cliched it sounds but as a teenage boy with a car you are defined by that vehicle – in my case the sublime Dolly, a white Triumph Dolomite GFG 384N.  I don’t even have to go away and look up the number plate, its programmed in to my core memory – we had so many good times together.  Despite all her bumps and bruises she was lovingly washed and polished (real chrome, yeah!) far more regularly than any other car I’ve had since.  For the record, she was written off after I sold her to my brother…

Cheers Dolly!

The Suburbs – The Arcade Fire

This week’s music has been supplied by the incredible Arcade Fire. I’ve wanted to listen to The Suburbs ever since it came out the middle of last year, having caught a few turns on 6 Music. And I’ve not been disappointed – its an epic tome. At over 60 minutes, this would have been one of those classic double albums in the 70’s.

The Arcade Fire are the rock critics’ darlings,  a 7-strong Canadian ensemble categorised as indie and playing everything from the guitar to the glockenspiel.  If their first two albums were widely applauded, The Suburbs was positively swooned over picking up many awards at the end of last year.  Live, they draw on further members to make a fair crowd on stage.  The musical style is eclectic ranging from 80’s synth to punk, to mid-range rock to chamber music enthused with a high energy beat. And that’s what I’ve loved with The Suburbs – you never know where they’re taking you musically or thematically. Its been about escape and return for me. The desire to escape from the Suburbs (whatever they symbolically means for each of us) and then how it draws you back even as you want to escape. And the car is that method of escape and freedom – mother’s keys are the keys to life. Even if they are for a square steering wheeled Austin Allegro.

Favourites? Musically the wonderfully melodic title track The Suburbs and the anthemic Rococo have stayed in my head all week. For sheer uplift the penultimate Sprawl II makes me want to really turn the dial up and celebrate – very New Order/ OMD with a Canadian twist. While I’m driving along, of course.

Video of the week therefore has to be Sprawl II performed live at Madison Square Garden, wonderful energy.

“They heard me singing and they told me to stop

Quit these pretentious things and just punch the clock
Sometimes I wonder if the world’s so small
Can we ever get away from the sprawl?” (Sprawl II)

Gleewatch – for once subtlety won the day on Glee.  Kurt’s rendition of the Beatles’ Blackbird stood out for me, with the Warblers at their best as well.

Twotes of the week

@natvalcas: @swiss_german true story: at a star Trek convention I’ve been asked if i was speaking fluent klingon..It was swiss german

@Tinderboxtoys: Tinderbox goes red, white and blue!!

@themanwhofell I am on a train. I am a man. I am 140 characters sent across the Internet via a series of satellites. I am an anachronism

@TwopTwips: RECREATE that Ikea experience in your home by placing arrows on the floor directing guests to the toilet via the kitchen.

@petstourettes: I’m trying to recall the time I lived in a country house, but it’s all a blur.

@RogerQuimbly: And remember children, there’s no such thing as the Daily Mail. Sleep tight.