Music of Mourning
In November, I received the devastating news that I had lost my best friend. Throughout our entire relationship music had been at the core. Whether it was hip-hop or psychedelic indie-rock – we could talk about it all, and in fact: I think we probably did. This was a thing common between myself and most of his other friends in the room at his funeral, music was central to his core. These songs (alongside a number of others) have soundtracked the months that followed his death, and have helped to remember and to mourn his death.
Music had always been a central part of our relationship, but for a long while – I was the only one of the two of us that had an interest in playing anything. That changed when one Christmas, my friend got his first guitar. I’m yet to meet someone who was as big of a Beatles nerd as my best friend, so where better to start learning guitar than with this absolute classic? At the funeral, plenty of people referenced hearing him try and learn the song – at the time I would laugh at his efforts, but to this day I still struggle. Fair play, man, fair play.
The first time I heard this song after the untimely news, I immediately attached the emotions in the lyrics, the fact that “someone great is gone”, to what had happened. The weird thing was, I thought about the song’s origins I 100% was under the impression it was about a breakup. One of the first things I said to my friend’s dad was that “I love your son, I’m just not sure whether I love him more like a brother or a boyfriend”, so I was off the hook. Then I found out that the song was actually about the passing of Murphy’s therapist, something of a role that my friend played in my life. A girl I used to be very close to once described the role my friend had as helping to “make sense and explain” my mind to her. I didn’t realise I was that complex, but I guess now – without my friend/therapist – I sort of really do see that.
Before we could legally drink, we wouldn’t know what to do with our evenings. On weekends, we could drink at my house or at whatever house party was going on, but during those boring Cheshire weekdays – we had nothing. Well, we had nothing but each other. What we would do is walk around, aimlessly, for hours on end either talking the big talk or talking about nothing at all. We would call these long, completely fucking freezing adventures our “Night Moves” a name that I borrowed from this song. I will always crack a smile when I hear that acoustic guitar kick in.
It should come as no surprise that when two complete music nerds come together – they just try and constantly provide the other with recommendations, and we certainly did a lot of that. The last time we got to do that was last summer. I remember recommending him Conor Oberst, Elliott Smith, and Bonnie Prince Billy repeatedly as I was convinced that he never actually went away and listened to any of them. However, the recommendation of his that really stuck with me was Joanna Newsom – particularly Emily and this song. I was blown away by the beauty of her voice and the delicateness of the soft harp sounds. In fact, I fell in love with her so much that I drunkenly sent her PR rep an email the other week, but that’s my fault. It’s his fault that I have been playing this song on a regular basis.
The song title is pretty much how I feel. There must be very few people who are as big of a fan of everything Thom Yorke as my best friend was, so this version of the song featuring my favourite person’s favourite person is one that always remains present with me.
I absolutely do wish you were here, pal. I love and miss you. Whether it’s through tears, or through smiles – with these songs I can always enjoy a little slice of my best friend, and carry him with me in my heart and in my ears through every day.