2001. So near, and yet so far. Maybe because it played host to such a visceral event of world history, the effects of which we are still feeling, but sometimes it doesn’t seem that long ago. And then I picture myself, packing to go on my year out before university and there being an actual, real life Walkman in amongst the lonely planets and cheese cloth smock dresses, with actual tapes and playlists in biro, and I can’t believe it’s only been nine years.
2001 was, for me, a year of other people’s music. What with all the money belts and tie dye I’d decided I’d definitely need in India, there wasn’t much room left in the backpack for music. Remember, this was back in the days when, on my 18 year old budget at least, storage space was still a physical rather a digital concept. We’d all been given mix tapes as leaving presents by our cheapo mates, and apart from my own ‘rock/indie mega-mix’ which I believe was big on Queens of the Stone Age. My music collection for the next six months consisted of a metal retrospective of the 90s made by my friend Tom. There was Tool. There was System of a Down. It wasn’t made with me in mind.
My travelling companions had varied tastes, ranging from Motown to morose indie via the kind of early millenium chart dance that should only have been heard in aerobics studios. It was the age before the relationship between music and the internet had truly established itself, and this meant that travelling around India and South East Asia we were totally out of touch with new music. Returning from the wilderness in late July (musically, not literally – we were the wimpiest travellers ever and couldn’t have found ourselves if we’d looked) we discovered that things had changed. Coldplay were massive, Jack Black was a singer (sort of) and Damon Albarn had turned into a cartoon. I didn’t know the words. I was an indie outcast.
Then September 11th happened, I left for uni, and arrived in Manchester to find that people there actually chose their mates based on what music they liked. One of the first friends I made, infact, introduced himself to me by saying “let me come in your room and look at your music collection so I can judge you.” And that was really all he wanted to do. But despite the pretentiousness, Manchester, as opposed to Coventry, opened up a new world of live music, proper clubs and other people’s music collections to me. I’ve never looked back. Particularly not at my Staind CD.
Overall though, the thing that really sticks in my mind about that year is that it was the last time I can remember watching a band on Top of the Pops and being so excited by their music that I got the bus straight into town the next day and bought their album from HMV. It was ‘Last Night’ by The Strokes, and I was desperate to listen to it again, but I had to wait a whole day until I could get to the shops. Now you know the times are a-changing when, just nine years later, a statement like that could sound so retro.
So, my album of the year would have to be The Strokes’ Is this It. I’d say White Blood Cells, but I wasn’t that cool then.