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The Hills Are Alive With The Sound Of Music: Benjamin Myers’ Favourite Music
The Quietus , September 29th, 2021 09:41

Music journalist-turned-novelist Benjamin Myers shares the music that made him a writer from The Slits to Slipknot – and why almost all of it is impossible to write to…


Can - Inner Space

I rarely listen to music while writing, but I do regularly take music breaks, and the rhythmic repetition and subtleties of Can have been a constant.

I made a concerted effort to ‘get into Can’ after I had moved into a flat in Peckham in 2001, which was comprised of one grim room, yet had a communal heated swimming pool in the garden. Such a strange contrast of claustrophobia and decadence. I discovered Can by purchasing the cheapest album of theirs I could find, which is how I often discovered music - by only ever being afford to buy the cheapest options, such as this £2.99 CD release of two albums on one disc. It’s universally acknowledged as Can’s creative / career low-point.

In the age of Spotify, it’s often forgotten that not all music was freely available and the route into back catalogues was rarely straight or obvious. This twin collection not only features a version of the famed ‘Can-can’ (otherwise known as the favoured music of strippers) but also twenty-three seconds of the band playing ping-pong in the studio, and I take perverse pleasure in the fact such ideas were not only executed but actually released. No-one thought to say no.

I’ve always prided myself on having dubious music taste anyway and almost every band I ever backed when I was music journalist failed, but I am at least untainted by snobbery, which feels liberating. My love of Can almost makes me feel like the type of adult who cooler people who would invite to parties (even though they don’t, thank Christ).

One of the great pleasures of the pandemic lockdown for me has been sitting and zoning out to Jaki Liebezeit’s drumming. I’m not a muso at all, but it’s truly transportive. Entire novels have been written to Can.