Six months ago, I bought a car for the first time. It’s weird to think that I am 26 and that some of my peers are now starting to have children and spend their weekends doing DIY while I am only just experiencing the whole I CAN DRIVE! FUCK THE BUS! thing that’s usually reserved for 17 year-olds in Vauxhall Corsas. But here we are. BEEP BEEP.
My car is red, and it’s a Hyundai. I don’t know much more about it than that and I don’t really WANT to know much more about it than that, as long as it works okay and smells okay (I have a very helpful, car-obsessed dad to take care of the former and a cherry-scented air freshener to take care of the latter, so I guess I’m sorted).
Most people I know have expensive-looking radios with the iPod wire thing, or maybe like a Bluetooth option or whatever it is people use these days. IS BLUETOOTH STILL A THING. I am an 80 year-old trapped in a millennial’s body so I don’t actually know. But that’s probably for the best, because MY car has a little radio/CD player combo.
A CD player. CDs! I know I just said I was old and out of the loop but I possibly exaggerated (I definitely exaggerated), because when I sat in my car for the first time and considered what music would be best to act as a soundtrack for my new four-wheeled adventure, I realised I hadn’t bought or listened to a CD for the best part of 10 years.
When I was a teenager I LIVED for the CD. I used to pull out the lyric sheets and hope that one side was a mini poster, then wonder whether I should stick it on my wall or keep it safe inside the casing. I once got the bus to HMV after school to buy Heroine by From First to Last. I pictured a queue of big-fringed kids at the door who looked just like me and my then-boyfriend, fighting over the last copy. I imagined us leaving with a small group of pals who we’d discuss Matt Good and the perks of wearing red eyeshadow with, but instead I arrived to a normal day and a quiet shop and had to be directed to the ‘metal’ section by a confused-looking sales assistant. I clutched my CD all the way home, feeling like Sonny Moore had just patted me on the head. I listened to Mothersound on repeat in my kitchen until my mum came in and said “This is very oppressive” and I had to turn it off.
Music meant a lot to me when I was a teenager – a whole lot more than it does now, which kind of makes me sad. I don’t jump into it in the same way. I don’t know when a band I like’s album is coming out. I don’t trawl through lyric sites trying to work out exactly what someone’s singing in the bridge of track four and if it’s as applicable to my life as what I thought I just heard was. I don’t hold my finger down on my CD player’s backskip button for twenty seconds – WAIT – then another twenty seconds – WAIT – then another, to re-listen to the same part of a song I’ve just discovered and now know I will love forever.
But in September I went back to my mum’s house, ransacked the cupboards in ‘my’ room (AKA the room I used to live in and still use to store all the things-I-want-but-not-right-now in) and came back with a box of CDs that clanked together in a nostalgic sort of a way. The first car journey back to my flat took the entire duration of Billy Talent I, as if the band had planned the whole thing. I pulled onto the drive just as Voices of Violence was finishing and nearly cried.
I don’t know what it is about teen-years music that still gets me right in the gut. Listening to STEPS or B*Witched – from my cassette-tape-buying days – would probably make me feel a little nostalgic, like I wanted to switch on my lava lamp or do an Irish jig while wearing an inflatable backpack: “SOME PEOPLE SAY I LOOK LIKE ME DAD!” But hearing songs that I left on repeat at 15 or 16 is different. It takes me back to a time when I felt everything more strongly, where I had the least problems but also the most.
ALBUMS FROM MY TEENAGE YEARS THAT I HAVE REDISCOVERED THANKS TO THE ENDEARING OUTDATEDNESS OF MY CAR: