So what have you been doing with yourself during lockdown? There’s a show-off side to social media that can make it look like everyone is baking bread and writing King Lear while teaching their kids Chinese, but of course that’s bollocks. If you’re anything like me you’ve just been going crazy working from home, taking walks, drinking more than usual, and shouting at your kids to stop playing video games.
Time feels like Shrödinger’s Cat existing in two states at once at the moment, simultaneously flying by (it’s August!) while it also seems like we’ve been living this way forever. No wonder we all feel discombobulated and in limbo. Chances are I’m going to be working from home until early 2021 so this is life for the forseeable for me. I’m luckier than most in that I have a job but it’s still hard on the brain and the soul, six months is a long time to live like this and I’ve had my moments of depression and cabin fever — not to mention the anger I feel when I think this could have been almost over by now if we had competent leadership.
There’s something about working from home that is way more tiring than going to an office. Maybe it’s the cheap IKEA chair I’m sitting in, but my brain and body are mush by the end of the day and I don’t have the energy to do anything else. It’s taken me two months just to write this blog post. I’m afraid we can’t all be Charli XCX and Taylor Swift who made us all look like slackers by recording entire new albums while stuck at home. I have designed a few new t-shirts, but mostly when I finish working I just want to lay on the couch, close my eyes, and turn my brain off completely. What I really want to do is close my eyes and not wake up until this is all over.
Some records are just too damn short. I’m sure you all have songs you love but wish they were longer, the ones with the great riffs, melodies, or grooves that you want to go on forever. This is especially true of the pre-Disco 12″ era when records weren’t given extended versions.
Isaac Hayes is no stranger to long records — his version of “By The Time I Get To Phoenix” clocks in at an epic 18 minutes — but for some reason “Shaft” was only 4:37 and, I don’t know about you, but I can’t get enough of that wah-wah guitar and swishy groove. To the rescue comes YouTuber DJDiscoCatV2 who has a page full of his own, home-made extended mixes like this one which stretches out Hayes’ classic to 9 minutes — even that feels too short though.
The new album from superstar producer Mark Ronson is rather good indeed and features vocal turns from Lykke Li, Miley Cyrus, Alicia Keys, and Angel Olsen among many others. Ronson described the album as a collection of “sad bangers” which is one of my favourite genres: melancholy songs you can dance to.
Anderson .Paak is a Californian singer and rapper whose albums are a fabulous mix of sweet 70s soul and modern hip-hop. His latest Ventura is his best yet and features guest stars like Andre 3000, Brandy, and Smokey Robinson (on the above). Sublime, breezy soul that’s just perfect for the coming summer. Dig it.
I didn’t have a bank account until I started college when I was 20. The jobs I’d had before then paid me cash (in those little brown envelopes nicely stuffed with notes) but I got a grant to go to college and I had to put the cheque somewhere. So I opened an account with NatWest who gave me one of those new-fangled cash cards that let me get money out of a hole in the wall anytime I wanted. Quite a radical idea at the time which meant you didn’t have to rush to the bank before 3pm on a Friday to make sure you had enough cash for the weekend.
But giving a student easy access to money is not a good idea and by the time I left college I had an overdraft of £300, most of which went on beer and records so it’s not as if I wasted it. It seems like a piddling amount now but the bank got a bit shitty about it during my final term and took my cheque book and cash card away from me. I had to go to my branch every time I wanted money and tell them what it was for. Saying “I need £40 because they’re having a sale at Our Price” wouldn’t have gone down too well so I had to use it for boring stuff like food. I guess they weren’t confident that I’d be a wealthy, world-famous graphic designer one day. Very wise of them.
I paid it off once I left college and got a job, but then the fools went and gave me a credit card. Uh-oh. Big trouble.
Here’s one of the records I spent my grant cheque on. Super dirty funk music from 1983.