Acoustic Lullabies

Ian Broudie – Pure

I was 15 years old when The Lightning Seeds released Pure in 1989. The version I had back then was on VHS video, recorded off the telly. The sound and visuals stopped and started abruptly between tracks and the spool was way too big to be tweaked out smooth with a Staedtler pencil. At the time I just thought it was a pretty song. I couldn’t pick out any tense seventh chords and the words did not describe my adolescent angst. The words didn’t describe or mean anything at all. They didn’t even pretend to.

Almost twenty years later the words came back to me with an unexpected resonance at about 2-am, then again at 4-am and then again at 6. The tempo was slowed and superimposed over the nightly white noise of the extractor hood in the kitchen – the relentless steel whirr which, unfathomably, soothed our new baby. Pure became my favourite lullaby. Each gentle word stress a sway to the left or a rock to the right. Adoring that contented, sleeping half-smile and taking care not to sway too far away from the mechanical source of hush.

Of course, we didn’t know then, as we swapped shifts throughout the night, how sounds would shape our lives; how auditory defensiveness would – in part – structure our days; how quickly sensory (dis)integration and (un)modulation could unground our little boy; or what a rare and fleeting pleasure listening to music would become.

Umbrella was a favourite lullaby of mine too. It stops me in my tracks whenever I hear it unexpectedly and it takes me right back to those Winter nights, long after the burner had died down, rocking by the cooker in the kitchen.

Manic Street Preachers – Umbrella