I would be lying if I said my first memory of this song was anything other than watching the iconic movie scene where four year old Matilda makes herself a plate of pancakes. But since those childhood days it's come to mean a lot more, from leaving school in Year 11 to blissful sunny days towards the end of first year. Just like the song is supposed to symbolise, I guess it has represented a journey through life with meanings that have evolved with me.
Radiating happiness, the song symbolises a certain sense of joy about wanting to run free and live in the now, taking hold of a childish carelessness and running with it. A timeless song, I have no doubt that new meanings will continue to grow for all the years I'm still listening.
I struggled a little bit with this one, but I eventually settled on 'Across the Universe' by the Beatles. I think this just sounds really cool and mystical, with a kind of question in Lennon’s voice and the slow rhythm adding to the mystery. Like most Beatles songs from this time, there are deeper layers to it. The “Jai guru deva om” is taken from a Sanskrit passage, that could either mean “glory to the shining remover of darkness” or “Victory to God divine” amongst other rough translations. Mysterious and interpretive, Across the Universe gets the nod here.
I hate to somewhat dampen the mood with this choice, but it’s a song which, to this day, I still can’t listen to fully. After losing my pet dog Otis to cancer in 2017, I was completely distraught. It’s something that every dog owner has to go through at some point, but when you lose them before their time, at the age of five to cancer, you can’t help but wish you had more time with them. Afterwards, this was one of the first songs that I heard. As I listened to the lyrics I couldn’t help but see the parallels with what happened that day, in saying goodbye to your best friend and reliving the many good memories you had with them. I think there is a positive message to take from the song, as the popular adage “don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened” comes to mind, but I can’t help but get emotional, even to this day, when I hear it.
Ever since I heard this song in The Royal Tenenbaums many years ago, the opening notes just do something to me. No other song makes me feel a mixture of emotions. I'd say it doesn't stoke one certain emotion, rather it just amplifies whatever I'm feeling. To me, the song is about a multitude of feelings. The lyrics point to isolating oneself from the world, regrets, missed opportunities, self-reflection, heartbreak, and the list goes on. There's countless themes, but the overwhelming amount of feeling this track can evoke is impressive. Every version of it is beautiful, especially the Nico version and Elliot Smith's cover, but I'm crediting Jackson Browne, the original writer, because Nico was a bit of a nazi.
This one was one of the tougher picks, I could have picked so many songs for this one. I tend to think when listening to music, but for this song, it's one that means a variety of things to me, the risk of the future, leaving home, amongst many other things. The song has been described to capture the thrill of being unleashed, or being an anthem of escaping. A perfect song for a journey or contemplation, worth checking out, as are the band if you are unfamiliar.
‘God & Satan’ is the kind of song that offers a different interpretation with every listen. Simon Neil delivers an excellent vocal performance, but arguably the genius of this song lies in the lyrics. It encompasses feelings of ambivalence, uncertainty, internal conflict and resignation, but without revealing exactly what fosters the existential quandary at the heart of the song. Maybe it is the religious crisis referenced in the title, but love, fate and the mundanity of life are all mused over quite poignantly throughout this track. Maybe in the future I’ll listen and decide exactly what this song is about, but until then, I’m happy to reflect on the many meanings that Biffy Clyro have imbued ‘God & Satan’ with.
When I was a cringey, angsty teenager I’d listen to ‘Half The World Away’, think about how much I wanted to leave my hometown and identify with all the lyrics. I still think it sums up growing up a shitty little northern town and wanting to be anywhere else but there really well, but now it also makes me feel a bit nostalgic. It’s used as the theme song for The Royle Family, a sitcom I think most northerners really relate to, and it gets the vibe of boredom and familiarity that most people feel for their hometown. It puts forward these seemingly contradictory emotions without them cancelling each other out and portrays the love hate relationship people have with the place they grew up in a way that I think only ‘A Certain Romance’ by Arctic Monkeys gets close to matching.
The life of Kurt Cobain was chaotic to say the least. 'Lithium' encapsulates the chaos of the great man's mind. Vulnerability comes in many forms and that's made clear in this track. The lyrics are a fragmented tour of emotions. Kurt recognises his imperfections, as we all do, and screams to himself over and over that it won't crack him. Our imperfections often rule over us and leave us all over the place. If 'Lithium' teaches us one thing it's that we shouldn't let our imperfections in their various forms tell us what to do.