As it’s half-term this week on Wednesday the Bisto family took the train to Birmingham to buy some new clothes. Not for me of course, my primary role was to dispose of my income on behalf of the progeny but my eldest daughter did manage to convince me to buy a pair of Vans, not Bedford or Ford Transit, but a pair of canvas shoes that apparently are quite popular amongst the young folk. I’m quite pleased with them to be honest, the most comfortable canvas shoe ever to grace the Bisto trotters. While in HMV she bought herself a Rolling Stones T-shirt. Before agreeing to the purchase I insisted she tell me her 3 favourite tracks. Quick as a flash she came back with Paint It Black, Gimme Shelter and – and this one really took me by surprise – Fingerprint File.
“It’s sooo funky and good to dance to” she said.
My eyebrow suitably raised she explained that one of her friends comes in to her after school dance club every week with her portable turntable and a box of records and in between rehearsals she plays old records in the changing rooms by the likes of the Stones, David Bowie, T-Rex and many others. She then confided that they have an Instagram group where the friend with the turntable starts a live video stream of her playing LPs, 12″ and 7″ for the benefit of their homework group. Thinking this was all very cool and nodding my approval I suddenly realised that we’d gravitated to the turntables in HMV and that she now had that wistful, hopeful look on her face that says she’s hoping dad is in one of his overly generous moods and will splash the cash on one of his great big gesture purchases. I wasn’t.
Anyway I digress. Nature called so I toddled off to the public conveniences. After a few moments I realised that the music of Harold Budd was being piped through the speakers overhead which rather caught me by surprise. Openly astonished I had one of those moments where you catch yourself grinning and turning your head from side to side in the hope of catching the eye of someone else having the same jolt of recognition. Possibly not the best move in a men’s public urinals.
I was reminded of the last time I heard music in a public space that normally I would only hear at home. It was a holiday about 25 years ago on Thassos. My wife (then girlfriend) and I were walking back from the bar (The Full Moon Cafe it was called) suitably oiled from large G&Ts and Retsina. As we approached the entrance of our hotel at around 1am I heard the distinctive opening chords of Genesis’s Watcher of the Skies wafting from the open window of an upstairs apartment across the road. It’s the only time I’ve ever heard that song being played by someone other than myself and on a Greek island of all places.
So my question to you all is what’s the strangest or most unexpected location you’ve heard a song or an artist you like – one that’s not a staple of radio playlists – being played in a public space?