Friday, 14 October 2011

A traveller's tale: music to my ears

It’s impossible to truly articulate just how important music is to daily commuters.

Newspapers, books, laptops or any other time consuming artefact can be done without, but the thought of getting through the morning grind without the blare of my iPod is, quite frankly, horrifying.

From what I can gather, music serves two purposes for us transient types. Firstly, it blocks out the hum and drum of the people around us. Even then, I am frequently astonished by the decibel levels some folk go to to make sure I can hear them over the squall of Liars.

In fact, there was a report published last week that suggests commuters who listen to music have less problem with reduced personal space, which makes sense. While all those non-music sponging sorts are flustering over their sardine like existence for an hour, I’m blissfully able to switch off from those around me, unbothered by a few stray limbs invading my personage.

Secondly, music brings the thematic of a journey to life. So if I'm having a particularly rushed morning, the howling secration of Deerhoof creates a poignant meaning to the sight of central London rushing towards me at 7.20am.

Likewise, if I’m feeling purposeful and urgent - emotions I tend to encounter during my trek back through the swarm of suits making their way to Liverpool Street Station - then the siwvelling ball-of-the-heel techno-tronica of The Knife is a perfect soundtrack.

And if it’s Friday and I’m slumped on my Network Rail hued chair with a bevy, homeward bound, then there’s few better companions than The Talking Heads’ Remain in Light to dwindle down a journey into the weekend.

Yes, for three hours of my day, music is my lifeblood; the one source of escapism that can evaporate me from the predicament of sitting still with nothing to do or no-one to talk to.

On trains, that talking thing is a no-no. People just don’t like to communicate with the others around them. Eye contact is hard enough to bear (the amount of people who choose to examine their choice of footwear rather than look a stranger in the eye is extraordinary), never mind actually involving yourself in the tedium of a conversation about the weather or the train being delayed.

I once sat next to a girl who decided to start talking to the four other people surrounding us, picking up conversation from the books they were reading or the pens they were writing.

Fortunately for me, I was plugged in. She may well have posed a question, but I never heard her. I wasn’t being rude, I was just in a world of my own. Music that day, like most others, was my saviour.

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