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Thursday, March 28, 2013

The best records are the ones in your head

In the summer of 1972 I had to go home to Yorkshire to help out at my father's business. He was laid up with a back problem and I had to keep his small textile firm ticking over.

The work was dull, dirty and repetitive. There was no stimulation from the outside world. I dreamed my way from one break to another. The only possible distraction came from a transistor radio over at the other end of the warehouse. It had a crackly medium-wave signal and I didn't control the volume.

That was the year the Eagles "Take It Easy" came out. For some reason it was impossible to buy. On the basis of a handful of radio plays, I developed an obsession with it. That obsession grew in inverse proportion to the number of times I heard it, which was very few.

I'd listen particularly intently during the couple of Radio One programmes that I thought might play it. I'd concentrate hard when they were throwing to the records they intended to play in the next hour. Whole days went past without my hearing it.

In the absence of the actual record I recreated the sound of the intro in my head. There was an acoustic bit, overlaid with a chord from an electric guitar, following which it folded swiftly into a brisk groove which seemed to tumble towards the opening line. "Well I'm a-running down the road trying to loosen my load...."

It was quite thrilling to replay the record in my head. When it actually came on I almost blushed with excitement. I wanted to hear the whole of the record but it was that beginning that I really yearned to hear. On one occasion I came back into the warehouse and it was already playing, which was somehow worse than it not being on at all. It was like missing the opening of a film.

Last night I went to a preview of a new documentary about the Eagles, which comes out in a month's time. "Take It Easy" is used a few times. That intro still does it to me every time. It's partly for now and partly for 1972.