Thursday, November 22, 2007


I organize my CD collection a little oddly, at least right now. (NB. "right now" = "since I moved in to this apartment, in 2004 or so") My large, wall-mounted Ikea CD shelf fell when I was first moving in (you have no idea how much that upset me), and when putting stuff back on it, I decided this was the perfect opportunity to try and pare down the old CD collection. As I believe I've mentioned on TMW,TMW previously, I felt I had more CDs than I needed, and my new scheme was to only keep CDs that I would actually play. CDs I respected, even liked, that I never had the urge to listen to? Gone! I wanted to be someone who loved music, not just a collector, and I wanted my CDs to reflect that. I love the Beatles, sure, but I barely listen to them; Sgt. Pepper's and maybe Revolver should suffice. That sort of thing.

The piles of CDs adorning my desk, kitchen table and stereo shelf out in the front room of my apartment suggest that I've backslid on that a bit, but the spirit of the thing is still pretty important to me. That would be why only three and a half shelves of my CD collection are actually ordered, the rest a sprawling mess awaiting my decision as to whether or not I'll keep it. Oh sure, there are albums in the mess I know I'm going to keep, but I have a method! Since I keep some of the best/favourite tracks from every album in my "real" collection on my computer, I have to go through them, listen to them again and decide what to add to my massive "Sorted Music" playlist on the Mac (something that is rather rigourously guarded by me, and I guess constitutes my own personal radio or whatever). In the back of my head is the idea that when I have more free time I'll sort through it all, sell a shitload of it off and organize the rest (I've thinking recently of dividing by genre, and then within genre sticking with my tried and true and boring "alphabetical by artist, then chronological by title" structure). And I used to use the now seemingly defunct site to keep track of what was actually "in" my collection (I desperately need a replacement, hopefully a public one; Delicious Library looks neat, but I don't have a webcam). But I've let it, erm, slide.

What, you may ask, does that have to do with "Slide," another track from Low's debut I Could Live in Hope? Honestly, not that much. But this record is the only Low CD I own (well, it and the Christmas album, on which obviously more at a later date) that has yet to be filed in the "official" collection. It's going to be, of course; I long ago decided that Low are one of those bands, maybe the one band for me, where I am in addition to (and because of) my love of them also a collector. I didn't buy the "Dinosaur Act" CDS because it had any tracks I didn't have, after all. But aside from the two obvious standouts ("Words" and "Rope" - I already have the demo of "Lullabye" from the box set in iTunes) I have no real idea what to cull from I Could Live in Hope, so I'm leaving the matter open until I'm done the album in TMW,TMW. Since my normal practice is to play the song on repeat as I write about it, as I'm doing now, that means I'll have heard the whole album many times over, hopefully enough to pick a few more tracks to save for the playlist.

I'm not sure yet whether "Slide" will make it. Like most of Low's debut I find it pleasant but not exactly gripping, although there's some interesting stuff to find in it if you dig. Alan wrote of it, mim doing harmony to me works well, but my first attempt to harmonize to her isn't so hot. i remember this song hurt my hand to play on guitar. i like the echo-y dub drums. i love the half-spoken "you wait. . ." mim vocal.

Well, wow. I wouldn't have picked up half of those things, to be honest. I don't play guitar and so nothing about the clear, trembling, bright guitar notes struck me as anything painful to play, and I don't find the drums terribly dubby. I'm not sure I'd consciously noticed either Alan's slightly off-kilter harmony (which I actually love; they still kind of mesh, but sound separate as well, which sounds incredible) or the fact that in the second verse Mimi dips into spoken word for about half a line. I actually don't like that bit; if she'd done the whole line I think it would have been more effective. As it is, except for those small touches it's pretty standard for their work at the time; a minute of softly beautiful intro, then some brief, inscrutable lyrics, then an outro. The song makes me think of waiting in line at the third floor of the University Centre to fill out some paperwork:

They tell you come tomorrow
Nothing for you now
You listen so intently
And slide

Hearing only yourself
You wait for the truth
How can you get it
When all you do
Is slide?

Those first two lines of the second verse remind me, sadly, of too many undergrads (from both my own undergrad and now that I'm a TA), and mark an interesting shift in emphasis from the first verse. The blame, if there is any, seemed to be on the "they," and now it's on the "you." I've been doing a fair amount of sliding myself, in terms of thesis work recently, and the reproach of the second verse seems fair enough to me. Although one thing that's not quite fair is how warm and comforting and inviting Alan and Mimi's not-harmony makes that "slide" sound when they sing it.

PS. Interestingly enough, there are two other songs that I absolutely love by different bands both called "The Slide Song." Spiritualized's version, from their great Pure Phase album, is one of that album's most heavenly, smack-kissed drones of heartache. The Afhan Whigs' is one of the highlights of the second half of the perfect 1965 album, with a totally fucking undeniable chorus. Neither of the very different tracks ever actually use the word "slide" in their lyrics.


Inverarity said...

But Ian, your site is named after the leadoff track of Hope - you can't get rid of it!

I really like Slide. It's uncharacteristically direct, even for the debut. I agree with Alan about the spoken word. It's a cathartic song for me - possibly the most cathartic song under 20 bpm in my collection ;)

Ian said...

Oh, I won't be - I just have to get around to picking some tracks out to go on the Mac, and then up on the shelf it goes. Cathartic, eh? There are Low songs I'd call that, but it never occurred to me about this one... that's pretty interesting.