Sometimes, with music, part of the magic, the connection, is in the memory. And part of the memory is in the things that were happening around the music. I had loved the music of The Blue Nile since I first heard it. And the band’s last album, High, is the one that means the most to me. Those early albums – made in the 1980s – are wonderful. I love them. But High spoke to me in a different way, in a different time. It’s connected, too, to me being out in the world in my first full-time job.
So it’s a special record always.
And when my son was born it was one of the albums we played to help soothe him towards sleep. It was absolutely the right tonic for the parents too. We’d gaze at the bundle of screaming joy we’d made. And try to remember our previous lives…we’d clink a drink in his honour and dream of getting through the next day. For those few moments as he drifted off and we stood nearly asleep on our feet we had the music of The Blue Nile guiding us, caressing us. We had Paul Buchanan’s voice.
And then Paul Buchanan released his debut solo album. It was a long time coming.
At first he called me, he had the day wrong and he left this amazing message, all apologetic. So I called him back – and we talked about the interview before actually doing it. We agreed to speak later that week. He was worried he’d woken me up really early, I told him I had a six-month old baby in the house so it wasn’t a worry. Later that week we spoke, at length, about the falling away of The Blue Nile and the long time it had taken for a solo album. We talked a lot about the band and his fondness for at least parts of that career. And the writing of his then brand new album. I told him how much the album had meant to me already and how much I loved it. And he started to sound rather choked up. He said, “I thought about you this week, Simon. I remember you told me you had a small child and it just means the world to me that you’ve found some time to listen to my album. I’m really touched”.
And it was all utterly believable, totally sincere. You can hear that sort of man, that sort of person, in the writing of those songs when you hear them on the record. I was listening to both The Blue Nile’s High and Paul Buchanan’s Mid Air last night while driving.
Hoping for more music from him even as I listened. I know there are little bits and pieces out there. But at the same time it’s lovely to think of so many magic moments within this very finite recording career. It’s so easy to gather up almost all that he’s ever done and listen to it right through in a single night. Or a couple of nights. And then do it again. And again. One of the saddest things about being burgled last year was losing the phone message from Paul Buchanan – more important than the actual phone. Sometimes I’d listen to it. And get sorta choked up at him getting choked up. Weird? Probably. But music does these strangely wonderful things to us. And for us. I often get asked about memorable interviews. I don’t often mention the Buchanan one. Not because he’s not an impressive name or anything like that. But it really was just one of the most special conversations I’ve ever had in my life. Hardly ever do you feel like you connect with someone on the other side of the world over a phone. But, when the right music is on the table eh…
I wrote some of this already and posted it straight to Facebook. I wasn’t looking to have my memories validated. I hold them dear.