Be Llyrious

In the spirit of full disclosure, today’s tune is not a song which Llŷr or I ever had any real affection for, as far as I know.

I mean, we both appreciated that it’s a classic folk song, but it would never trouble any list of our favourite 100 records.

This one:

Ralph McTell – Streets of London

As you may have gathered, Llŷr and I went to many, many, oh-so-many gigs together. Beforehand, we would often discuss which songs from the act in question we most wanted to hear.

We never planned to do this, but after we did it once, we did it every time.

For when one of those desired songs got played, after the applause had died down, one of us would shout “Streets of London!”, and then the other would do the same, slightly more angrily, followed by the other, and so on, until we collapsed in fits of giggles.

Confused?

We both loved the sketch show Big Train, and in particular this, just shy of a minute and a half of utter comedy genius:

Big Train – Ralph McTell sings Streets of London…again!

Still makes me laugh, that, and I must have watched it hundreds of times by now. And heard it even more; I have the audio of it on my iPod so it crops up every now and then – and in case you hadn’t realised and want to do the same, there’s a link to download an mp3 of it right there for you. (Ditto the Partridge post from a couple of days ago). I’d heartily recommend having things which make you laugh unexpectedly pop into your ears from time to time.

You’re welcome.

(Miss you, dude.)

More soon.

Advertisements

Be Llyrious

When we lived together, before compiling a playlist was a thing, Llŷr and I would often make each other mix-tapes, and later mix CDs, a habitually eclectic mix of stuff we knew the other would like, or already owned but sounded good in the context of the playlist, or wanted to introduce the other one to.

We would take it in turns: I’d do one for him, a week or so later I’d get one back, and so on. There was no one-upmanship going on here, no “Don’t you know this???”, more a mutally respectful “You probably know this, but if not, you’ll like it, I think.”

Often, one of us putting a song on a mix CD would induce the other into putting a different song by the same artiste on the reply CD. It was our way of saying, “Yeh, I know them, that one’s pretty good, but have you heard this…?”

By way of an example, one day I put this on a mix CD, pretty much the only song I knew by the group at the time:

And he came back with this, which I later found out was the very next track on their eponymously titled album, which I didn’t have at the time:

Fountains of Wayne – Sink to the Bottom

Okay dude, you won that one.

More soon.

Be Llyrious

When Llŷr was first admitted and then detained in hospital, I knew boredom would soon take a hold. So I went and bought him one of them there hand-held Nintendo gaming things to help him while away the hours.

He was really happy when I gave it to him; when I visited the next day, less so.

“The nurse confiscated it,” he told me. “Apparently playing it increases the likelihood of me having another seizure.”

Ah well. The best laid plans, and all that.

“You could bring my mp3 player in though…?” he suggested/asked.

I was half surprised that he didn’t already have it, joined at the hip as they had seemed to be.

You’ll note that I don’t say iPod there, as Llŷr refused to accept, as I had meekly submitted, that via Apple Inc. was the best way to listen to music on the go. What Llŷr had was most definitely not an iPod.

I brought it in for him the next day, and before we’d even got through the formalities, he was greedily popping the earphones in.

“Jez, you have to hear this album,” he said, not proffering me an earphone so I could share in his delight.

Even then, in hospital and just diagnosed with cancer, he couldn’t switch off.

Later, he would regale me about the time he saw them at the Reading Festival, in a tent full of delirious fans, but I can’t quite recall if that was before or after he got ill. Probably after.

‘This lot’ were Arcade Fire, and the album in question was Funeral.

And now, whenever I hear them, or specifically anything from that album, I think of him.

Arcade Fire – Rebellion (Lies)

More soon.

Be Llyrious

Regular readers will recall that shortly after my best friend Llyr passed away earlier this year, I wrote a somewhat emotive post about him where I said this:

“See that “There’s No Such Thing As A Guilty Pleasure” tagline? It simply wouldn’t be there were it not for Llŷr.”

That’s still true, but I wanted to illustrate that point.

Shortly after he passed an old friend of ours, Claire, posted on Twitter that today’s song would always remind her of Llŷr.

I’m not going to hijack a prefectly good hashtag now, but Me Too.

For when Llŷr told me he liked this song, I felt an enormous sense of relief. At last, I can admit – without shame – to liking all of those songs that everyone else thinks are shit, but which I think are brilliant.

About a year or so ago, I bought the album on which this is the title song at a charity shop for £1.00. I immediately sent Llŷr a text to let him know of my purchase. I needed confirmation that my meagre sum of money had been well spent. I can’t find the text exchange now (it’s on an old inactive phone), but he happily confirmed the songs brilliance.

The other weekend, I listened to the whole album. It was, predictably, rubbish.

Or was it?

I so wanted to text Llyr to ask him if there was anything else on the album that he liked.

But I can’t. And that sucks.

And, although I have thought about him every day since he passed, for the first time in a good while, I cried. I cried because the realisation that we would never get to share those stupid moments again sank in just that little bit further.

Brace yourselves. Here’s the song in question:

Cliff Richard – Wired For Sound

More soon.

*****

Regular, long time readers will recall that when I first started writing these posts in memory of Llyr, they would be appended by a request to sponsor his younger sister Sian, who was running The London Marathon to raise funds for The Brain Tumour Charity.

I know that I posted something to confirm she had done it, but I’ve not really mentioned it since – an absolute, unforgiveable oversight on my part – so I figured I should rectify that right away.

So for a start, and in no small part because of the amazing generosity of some of you lovely people, Sian raised just over £18,000. So, a very big thank you to any of you who were kind enough to contribute – and I know that very many of you did – for that is so far and beyond her initial target as to make me blink and rub my eyes.

Thank you thank you thank you. I, we, love all of you for helping.

And it would also be remiss of me not to mention her time: a frankly quite incredible 5 hours 13 minutes. I can’t even get out of bed that fast, so I’m genuinely blown away by what Sian did.

Also: Sian is officially faster than Eastenders star Natalie Cassidy, who doens’t have her own show about to have its second series. If you saw the utterly brilliant Hidden on BBC4 last year (or, if you’re way cooler than me and caught it on S4C), this will be good news to you.

If you missed it, I’d imagine the first series will get an airing on the iPlayer nearer the time. Miss it, miss out.

Be Llyrious

One of the first posts I wrote in memory of my recently deceased best buddy Llŷr was one recalling the time in 2015 when we went to Glastonbury together, and sat getting drenched watching Mary J Blige on the Pyramid Stage.

Truth be told, I have at least a hundred memories of Glastonbury and Llŷr. I simply cannot think of the greatest festival in the world without thinking of him, the two are utterly inseperable.

So this weekend has been tough for me, and doubtless for everyone else who knew the boy wonder.

That’s one of the reasons I’m not there this year. See, every year that I went to Glastonbury, it was with Llŷr – and often his sister Hel – at my side, and I wasn’t sure I would be ready to attend again without him, so soon after he passed. Not that I think that will get any easier as the years pass; when I next lug my festival paraphanalia through the gates, collect my wrist-band and Grauniad-sponsored weekend guide, I know I’ll be looking round for him.

The other reason, of course, is that I didn’t get a ticket.

At the reception after his memorial service (note: not a wake), Hel and I were waiting to be served at a fairly packed bar. In front of us was a bunch of Llŷr’s work colleagues, Cardiff girls doing what Cardiff girls do really well: getting some shots in. Suddenly – mostly because they recognised Hel as being Llŷr’s sister, but partly, I think, because we happened to be in their vicinity – a shot of I know-not-what was thrust into each of our hands. We of course dutifully necked them, it would have been rude not to do so.

One of the girls in the group, Hannah, asked what our names were, and after I’d told her mine she stared, open-mouthed.

“Oh my God,” she said, “You’re Jez! He fucking loved you! He was always talking about you!”

Not for the first nor for the last time that day, I forced a smile and held back a tear.

“You’re a lot older than I thought you were,” she continued. “He never told me you were old.”

Holding back the tears suddenly became a lot easier, as my shoulders shuddered in laughter.

Anyway, Hannah had been to Glastonbury with Llŷr on at least one of the occasions when I hadn’t managed to get a ticket; neither of us were going this year, so we made a pledge that we’d do our darndest to go in 2020, and if we managed to get tickets, we would make it Llŷr’s Farewell Tour.

Where am I going with this? Oh yes….

In 2003, Llŷr and I and a whole bunch of friends – there was around ten of us, I think – went to our first Glastonbury. The headliners on the Pyramid Stage that year were R.E.M. on the Friday night, Radiohead on the Saturday, and Moby on the Sunday.

None of us watched Moby (Doves were playing on The Other Stage, so of course that’s where most of us were), the group was split between R.E.M. on the Pyramid or Primal Scream on The Other Stage (you can probably guess where my affiliations lay), but – and if memory serves me correctly, it was the only time this happened over the whole weekend – we all saw Radiohead together.

A couple of weeks later, back at home in at the flat of filth in Cardiff, Llŷr burst into the living room, triumphantly brandishing a CD he had just burnt off.

And on it, scrawled in marker pen, were the words: Radiohead Glasto 03.

“Here you go, dude,” he said as he thrust it into my hands.

And here you go, dudes:

Radiohead – Glasto 03

More soon.

Be Llyrious

Sometimes it’s the simplest, stupidest things which spark a memory.

And whenever I hear this song, in my opinion the greatest record to air-drum to, I’m transported back to the flat Llŷr and I used to share.

And there he is, proudly sitting on the sofa, massive grin on his face, air-drumming along to this, as I sat opposite on my recovered chair with a washing up bowl for a seat, desperately trying, flailing and failing, to do it with as much style and accuracy as he did (I never got the hang of imaginary tom-toms).

Queens of the Stone Age – No One Knows

There’s two reasons I think that’s not only a great record, but also a great record to air-drum along to: Dave Grohl (who actually plays drums on it) and Llŷr (who didn’t but would have made a pretty darned good fist of it, I reckon).

More soon.

Be Llŷrious

This is the series where I try to honour my recently passed best friend Llŷr by posting songs which remind me of him.

One of the shared passions Llŷr and I both had – and, I suspect many of you have too – was losing a good few hours browsing through the racks in a record store, digging out some absolute gems to buy and bring back home.

When we shared the flat of filth and, latterly, the house of no housework in the Cathays area of Cardiff, we were fortunate to have two second hand record shops within walking distance.

One was on a side road off of Albany Road; it had no name as far as I ever managed to ascertain, but it had a box of cheap, crappy vinyl left outside to entice the likes of us in.

The other was Kellys Records, located on what was commonly referred to as Death Junction because of the number of car crashes that happened there, the apex where Mackintosh Place met Albany Road met City Road met Richmond Road met Crwys Road.

We would visit there often, me losing interest long before Llŷr ever did, if I’m honest.

And he was much better at truffling out the pearlers than I was; I lost count of the amount of times he would march triumphantly through the living room door, bag of vinyl tucked under his arm, turning on the turntable and slipping his first purchase onto the deck before he’d even taken his coat off.

Today’s record is one such find.

“Jez, you have to hear this!,” he said as he burst into the living room, 12″ removed from carrier bag, disc from sleeve, onto the spindle, seemingly all in one movement, before I’d had chance to say hello and turn the TV off.

I have no idea what made him buy this, where he had heard it, or of it, prior to his purchase. As it emanated from the speakers, he was already sitting on the sofa, beaming with pride.

It’s a weird tune, and no mistake: over a proggy, dubby bassline and synth flourishes (I’m rubbish at actually describing music, I know, I know) an elderly gentleman – the titular Lionel – reads out letters written to buxom ladies who feature in the sort of adult magazine you used to find discarded in woodland, if you catch my drift. And yes, I used the word ‘titular’ with a knowing wink.

As you might expect from such a source, there’s a bit of effing and jeffing.

Whenever I hear it, I’m back in the flat of filth, and Llŷr is there, plonked in the middle of the sofa, chuckling away to himself, delighted at his latest find.

Man, oh man, I miss those days.

lionel

Drive Red 5 – Yours Sincerely Lionel (Dirty Dream)

More soon.