We Love the City: Music for Manchester’s streets

Despite it being Bugged month and me having vowed to give my newly developed love for wearing noise-cancelling headphones on public transport a break, I still feel that it is the music that makes traveling through Manchester attractive, interesting and sometimes simply bearable.

I noticed how dreaded journeys like getting the Magic Bus (see previous post) in the morning or walking down Market Street on a busy* Saturday can almost turn into a pleasure when accompanied by the right music. It makes me relaxed, helps me bury my head deeper in my book despite the hoards of noisy students getting on in Fallowfield, makes me feel cooler than everyone else, parading down the street with my headphones, throwing presumptuous and omniscient smiles at people who don’t see me anyway while blasting out and bopping my head to whatever’s coming onto my little black iPod (5 years old and still going strong, bless!), unknown pleasures that only I can hear.

In the prospect of getting sued, here’s my playlist with ten songs for some of the situations you may encounter in the streets of our rainy city – ready to download as a handy zip file. Let me know if you like it. Let me know if you don’t.

2018 update: Here’s a Spotify playlist. Boom.

  1. American Analog Set – Punk as fuck
    Hangover music. Not too loud. Don’t ever remove from player. Good for getting on the bus around midday when it’s sunny and fairly quiet, won’t help covering the noise of loud mobile phone conversations in the seat behind you. Which will happen inevitably.
  2. Das Racist – Shorty said (Gordon Voidwell remix)
    Best soundtrack for busy Saturday afternoons on Market Street. Makes you think you’re down with the kids. Like, totally. Turn it up loud enough to drown out the guy with the creepy duck whistles and the crazy Christians shouting “JESUS CHRIST” at your face.
  3. An Horse – Horizons
    Good for the rare sunny days in Manchester. Leave the house and walk to the bus stop, wearing large sunglasses that look ridiculous. Feel bittersweet, but happy, but annoyed, but ah well never mind. Oh yes I’m doing so well.
  4. Talking Heads – Once in a lifetime
    Listen to nothing but Talking Heads for weeks. Go to Smile at the Star & Garter and get stupidly drunk on vodka while sitting downstairs and waiting for the first people to start dancing. Realise that you’re dancing on the benches two hours later. Ask yourself: how did I get here? Drop your drink on someone. Apologise. Drop your drink on someone, again. Fall down the stairs, blow a kiss at the bouncer, get nearly run over crossing the road to Piccadilly station and fall into a taxi. Same as it ever was.
  5. Roisin Murphy – Ramalama (bang bang)
    Walk down Burton Road through West Didsbury on a Saturday night. Witness the drunken messes staggering home and sing “Ramalama bang bang flash bang bing bang bing bong ding dong dum dum du dum” to yourself. Imagine you are in a Disney musical and do a little dance. Hope that no one has noticed you.
  6. Gui Boratto – Terminal
    Try to break your own personal record walking from West Didsbury to Fallowfield. Convince your house mate that it is absolutely possible to get to the post depot in 20 minutes. Take a deep breath and engage in 17 minutes of power walking while listening to Brazilian techno. Find a huge queue at the post depot. Swear.
  7. The Smiths – Half a person
    Coming from Piccadilly Gardens, walk down Portland Street on a very gray and rainy Saturday, towards the Temple pub and down the stairs. See your friend through the window at the bottom of the stairs, wave and take off your headphones. Wonder how you’ll ever manage to dry your soaked shoes.
  8. Tears for Fears – Head over heels
    Good soundtrack for a bus journey down the curry mile when it’s dark. Watch the people walking down the road outside the takeaways and curry houses. See the neon lights’ reflections in the puddles on the pavement and the rain drops on the window. Think about how 80s synth pop and neon go together so well.
  9. The Shins – Kissing the lipless
    Get off outside the Sainsbury’s in Fallowfield. Walk into the shop. Try and time your movements with the music. Feel sublime if you manage to pick up your bread the second the music gets louder. Block the way in the isle with the crackers, the one that has a pillar in the middle, and don’t hear people repeatedly saying ‘excuse me’. Notice them. Feel guilty. Turn the music down.
  10. Japandroids – Wet hair
    Walk home from Fuel after a far too boozy Tuesday night. Feel the warmth of the pavement that has been heated up by the sun. Remember the crazy hot summer in your home town. Think of your friends. Feel a bit upset. Hope that everything gets back to normal soon. Cross your fingers.

* nightmarish