I make no apologies- as if I ever do- for the content of today’s blog. Today is the day that Jo and I celebrate the 7th anniversary of the beginning of our 21st century romance. Don’t worry though, I’m not going to get all slushy like a puppy on you. But I am going to talk about a couple of the key albums that soundtracked my fall into the arms of a south Londoner.
The first thing to say here is that had it not been for Massive Attack’s excellent forum- a which was a proper community- around the time of the 100th Window release, it’s extremely unlikely Jo and I would ever have met. Yes, in true 21st century style, I knew almost everything there was to know about Jo before I knew what she looked like. Although, I suppose with the advent of webcams and, in particular, cameraphones… But, despite some brilliant songs, 100th Window was nobody’s idea of a seduction album, not with its cold textures and soundscapes.
So, what really helped grease the wheels? Well, being pretty big Radiohead fans, 2003’s Hail to the Thief was something of a Godsend. As the gems on Hail to the Thief revealed themselves one by one, the song that seemed to cement feelings that felt pretty irrational when directed towards someone I had yet to met, was the brilliant Where I End And You Begin. Colin Greenwood has performed some rather decent basslines throughout his Radiohead career, but the Joy Divisionish effort that propels this song has got to be a standout. The line
“There’s a gap in between, there’s a gap where we meet/ Where I end and you begin”
seemed to sum up our feelings, our situation, perfectly. Or my feelings anyway, I can’t really speak for Jo. I remember sitting at home watching Later on the night Radiohead performed 4 songs from Hail on the show- they shared a bill with Martina Topley-Bird as I recall it. They played the magnificent There There, Go To Sleep, 2+2=5 and Where I End… It felt like they were playing just for me and this girl who lived across the other side of London. Especially when they played Where I End… I always remember feeling disappointed that they released three of the four songs they played that night as singles. You can guess which one was left out…
At this point, you’re probably wondering how I manged to fall in love with a girl I’d never met, didn’t know what she looked like or anything. Two things; firstly, I guess that- having been run over by a girl the year previously- I needed rescuing and I think I knew, if only on some subconscious level, that Jo might be the girl for the job. Second, I think there’s an element of truth in the High Fidelity maxim that what you like matters more than what you are like. And Jo and I had a fuckload in common. She didn’t even seem to mind that I was obsessed by Arsenal, which is something of a rarity I think.
I have to say that Jo wasn’t so keen on rescuing me to begin with, I think she thought I was some kind of nutter- imagine! And so it took a while for me to convince Jo that my intentions were honourable, which they clearly weren’t. I think the turning point came when I convinced her to purchase Andrew Roachford’s first studio album since 1997, The Heart of the Matter Vol I. I was supposed to buy a Damien Rice album as part of that deal, but didn’t. I have always loved Roachford. I talk about The Clash and Depeche as though they are my favourite bands ever- which they pretty much are- but my love affair with Andrew’s music goes all the way back to his 1988 debut album which I got for Christmas that year. Along with albums by Martika and Bros, but we don’t have to talk about those!
Anyway, although the Heart of the Matter is a more r n’b inflected album than anything Andrew had put out previously, I reckon you could make a case for it being the best album of his 23 year career. Songs like Ghetto of the World and Money combined social commentary with great tunes. And I’m not an r n’b fan, not by any stretch of the imagination. Basically, I persuaded Jo to come and meet me at the Camden Jazz Cafe and watch him perform. Like an idiot, she agreed and so it came to be that on the 21st November 2003, we did indeed meet and go and watch Andrew put in a brilliant live show. The highlight of which was something that sounded a little bit like this:
The eagle eyed amongst you will have noticed that the 21st of November was, in fact 7 years and 8 months ago. Let’s just say that I had some issues to get through- one of which was really being able to trust another woman ever again. I made it through (although it took a while) and 7 years later I can look back and say that Jo really has, in the words of Masterchef, changed my life for the better. And if we do ever get married, then we might just have found our first dance song already.
Love you, babe.