When I saw that this month’s theme was Leeds, having recently realised that 2012 marked my 10th calendar year in this amazing city, there was only one route to go down. This playlist attempts to sum up my life as a(n inter)Loiner thus far, year by year… Each and every one of these songs for me carries one of those intense memories you feel in the pit of your stomach: some good, some bad. It’s been a hell of a decade.
- 2003: Jammin’ – Bob Marley The year I arrived in the bright lights of Leeds as a fresher. There was a lot of irresponsible drinking in terrible nightclubs, and dancing to bad music. But my overriding memory is of sitting outside Starbucks on Otley Road in the sun with my halls flatmates, Sam with his guitar and Felipe with his little ukulele thing, all bellowing along to their rendition of Bob. We even had some passers-by join in for the BUP-SHU-WA-WA-WAAA bit.
- 2004: You Saw It All – Herbert The first year in my first proper student house (situated right by the co-op on Cardigan Rd and called Pammum for reasons that none of us can quite recall…). I renounced my fresher bad club ways and rediscovered the wonders of proper dance music, a former drum’n’bass fiend introduced to the wonders of house and techno. One weekend I had to miss Herbert playing at Mint Club because I was cat-sitting for my folks. Inevitably, I ended up driving five hours from Surrey to arrive at Mint just in time for Herbert’s set, returning to a peckish cat a little after lunchtime the next day…
- 2005: Time Has Changed – Codec & Flexor One of the most gorgeous house tracks ever. This was on DJ Kicks: Tiga, in heavy rotation during my second year living within Pammum’s strange crevices. Twitchy beats that get your feet tapping with a strange air of melancholy, it pretty much sums up my third year of uni. Working and partying hard, and facing up to some pretty grim demons – a bit of a dark time, but one which left me much healthier and happier in the long run.
- 2006: Hayling – FC Kahuna A year of upheaval. I live in three houses over the year, was working five jobs at once at one stage, and getting nowhere as a recent graduate whilst still fending off those demons. One early morning, on an insomnia-led walk through Hyde Park watching the sun rise, this track appeared on my ipod and suddenly everything fell into place. Sounds cheesy – is cheesy – but it’s true. To this day, whenever everything gets too much, I find a beautiful view and get this on my headphones: “Don’t think about all those things you fear: just be glad to be here”.
- 2007: 54-46 – Toots & The Maytals This year I finally whittled the jobs down to one, made peace with the demons, and moved into the best house I ever lived in. May 2007 was the most glorious weather, and in my memory it feels like the entire month was spent sat in a grotty back garden, on skip-salvaged sofas, eating Booze Bin samosas and drinking rum and ginger beer whilst Toots blasted out. Somewhere, there’s some grainy phone footage of my friend dancing on top of a wheely bin to this particular number. Happy, happy, happy memories.
- 2008: Hallelujah – Leonard Cohen In the summer of 2008 I went off to Benicassim Festival in Spain with my housemates (we’re now two or three houses on from the Toots house). It was a strange year, with many close Leeds friends moving on to pastures new whilst my own roots here settled ever deeper. Benicassim saw another of those “everything’s ok” moments we first encountered with FC Kahuna. With the sun setting behind the stage, Leonard Cohen belted out Hallelujah, with not a dry eye looking back at him. Beautiful.
- 2009: Archangel – Burial Looking back, this was the year that I really started to feel like Leeds was home and not just the uni town I hadn’t yet got around to leaving. I did quite a lot of solitary sight-seeing, getting to know Yorkshire a bit better, and more often than not Burial was on my headphones. I remember particularly vividly the first time I listened to this album, on a train, looking out through rain splashed windows, from Leeds to Sheffield. Couldn’t recommend a better way to listen to this song (which incidentally is definitely in my all time top 5).
- 2010: Runaway – Loleatta Holloway The first of two years spent living in the sticks in the beautiful little village of Bramham with two of my best buddies. This song was played a LOT. My fondest recollections involve sunshine, the beautiful back garden, the kick-ass barbecue sizzling away, big bean bags, gin, and some funky disco tunes blasting out.
- 2011: Runaway – The National The less said about 2011, probably, the better. It sucked. I spent the best part of the year battling hopelessly against circumstances way beyond my control and driving myself a bit crazy in the process. One night I was supposed to go and see Theo Parrish in Manchester, but had done my back in and couldn’t move. I spent the night in bed, spaced out on painkillers, listening to the National – and realised just how much these lyrics described exactly what was going on in my life. It’s all moved on now, thankfully, but this song’s still tough to listen to.
- 2012: All The Heavy Lifting – Mastodon Now, I’m back out of the sticks and living on my own on the edge of Leeds city centre. Last year, I was ready to pack up and leave Leeds for good, but everything has settled down now and I’ve fallen back in love with the place. It’s too soon to say what song sums up this year – but so far, this is definitely a contender. My most-played song so far this year, I’ve also been lucky enough to see it live. And in the context of the transition from 2011 to 2012, the lyrics about soldiering on in hope of a brand new day feel just about right.
So – that’s the last ten years of my life in Leeds. It’s been a rollercoaster. But all things considered, Leeds – you’re bloody ace, you are.