696 Songs

Otra Vida’s bow slices through a seascape of uncomplicated purity.  The water foams and sprays either side, during the day cresting white on perfect Yves Klein blue, while at night sparking with the glitter of bioluminescence.  We’re well over half way through our passage from Ecuador to Easter Island, 14 days at sea so far, another 8-10 days to go.

A few days earlier I decided to create the mother of all playlists, going through every piece of music on my computer and selecting the songs that I liked.  696 songs was the final count.  Of course there are songs I like that are not on my computer, and some songs that I decided not to include but which held some resonance for me at some point in the past but no longer.  But overall those 696 songs cover a lot of my life.

What captures my attention as I start playing the list is the vivacity of the memories.  So intensely felt, even more so in this pristine part of the planet, more lived hallucinations than mere recollections.

Ah, those memories.  I noticed a few themes.  Women featured a lot, not surprisingly, both lovers and friends. Mountains and sailing.  Alcohol, in the form of parties, meals, or occasionally hangovers.  And travel, of course travel.

Barcelona (Freddie Mercury and Monserrat Caballe) finds me driving into Barcelona for the first time on a grey morning before Christmas 1989, not especially liking the city.  No inkling of how crucial Barcelona would become to me … and that years later, living there and loving it, Hey Man! (Nelly Furtado) accompanies me jogging along Barceloneta´s beachfront before meeting Rufus and Cris for a memorable Sunday lunch.

Comedy Waltz (Fairground Attraction) and Please Forgive Me (David Gray) catapults me back to three crazy months in Covent Garden in 2001, newly single and free and very much enjoying it.

La Vie en Rose (Edith Piaf) recalls a hungover day shared with Anett after a typically decadent dinner party with good friends in my Budapest apartment in 2009.  Reni dancing round and round to She’s Electric (Oasis) whenever and wherever it was played. Born Slippy (Underworld) as the seminal anthem of Sziget festival in 2005.  Budapest memories …

The Tide is Turning (Roger Waters) is etched in my soul as the final song of his Wall concert at Potsdamer Platz in mid 1990, a welling up of optimism and hope and freedom animating the still-communist night air, under a Berlin sky once again painted with searchlights, searchlights for peace this time.

Muscle Cars (Mylo) takes me to Carneval in Maastricht in 2007, tiny glass of Dutch beer in very cold hand, dressed in a clown costume, standing outside a bar with work colleagues and friends watching the parade, boere music playing, Limburgs dialect temporarily replacing Dutch as the lingua franca.

Massivan´s version of Refazenda recalls passion fuelled days anchored off Platja Migjorn, Formentera – white sand, turquoise water, beautiful lovers.

And Jimmy Buffett, unsophisticated sophisticate of Caribbean beach music, triggers avalanches of Colorado mountain memories.  Driving up the Roaring Fork Valley, sunburn blisters on my face from the previous day´s abortive attempt on Mt Elbert cut short by a terrifying lightning storm, for the first time really hearing the lyrics of Changes in Latitudes.  Sharing local beers with friends each May at our Beach party at Arapahoe Basin, buzzing from skiing Pallavicini in shorts, Volcano playing from someone´s pickup truck, smoke from the grill obscuring the inflatable palm trees against a backdrop of sun and snow.

I could go on.  The memories rise up – I taste and smell them, feel them as if they are happening again, here in this blue on blue world of Pacific sailing. Yes, these pellucid reveries are another magical aspect of beautiful long ocean passages.  Who needs TV?