A much needed event during a challenging year for music lovers.
Like many other events in our lives, this year’s Record Store Day was different – at least for me. There was no early wake-up call to go to Berwick Street, no queuing in front of Sister Ray Records, no excitement, no shared enthusiasm. As my intention was trying to maintain a glimpse of my old life through a tradition I’ve had since I’ve moved to London, I waited in front of my computer for the remaining titles to become available online.
Back in March, when lockdown rules were about to become effective, an article by Mark Beaumont on NME stated that a difficult time was coming for people used to attend a gig every week. Whilst this wasn’t exactly my case, it still applied to my habits in a certain way: I’ve never experienced a prolonged amount of time where I didn’t have the chance to catch my favourite bands in concert. Throughout the years, London has offered me so many opportunities, that it was only natural to fill my life with gigs.
Last February, as I left Sheperd’s Bush Empire after seeing Devendra Banhart, I felt a strange mixture of happiness and longing, as if I knew that the one I’ve just attended was going to be the only gig of the year. The first news of the pandemic coming from China made the atmosphere tense, as we ventured into what were, until then, unknown territories.
In July, after the lifting of Lockdown, I watched people welcoming back a sort of normality as pubs and restaurants reopened, while I was still left in the darkness with no live music in the immediate future.
Listening to records has been what fuelled me during this time without concerts; as the world all around me collapsed, I found relief in a not too well known album, that now holds the same importance for me as Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band or Patti Smith’s Horses.
John Cale and Lou Reed’s Songs For Drella was essential in helping me facing these months of isolation and uncertainty. Released in 1990 to commemorate their mentor and friend Andy Warhol, Songs For Drella is a double LP in the form of a musical, encompassing all the feelings I was missing from real life: above all, excitement and adventure.
Coincidentally enough, Songs For Drella was one of this year’s Record Store day releases; so now, while the world is settling into a state of perpetual decline, I listen to John Cale and Lou Reed’s voices, finding comfort and hope. That is all I can do until I can be where I belong once again– under a stage, singing my favourite song, leaving this dreadful year far behind.