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Baker's Dozen

Constant Companions: Matt Johnson's Favourite Albums
Jeremy Allen , October 27th, 2021 07:31

From a teenage encounter with Pere Ubu in a Wardour Street club, to the comforting effect of classic reggae and his love of Marc Bolan, The The’s Matt Johnson takes Jeremy Allen through his thirteen favourite records


Glenn Gould – Bach’s Goldberg Variations

I lived in Gothenburg in Sweden during the 2000s after leaving New York, and then after Johanna [St Michaels] and I separated, I would continue to go up to Gothenburg to see my son, so I was up there a lot. And then Johanna would maybe go off to New York, so I spent a lot of time there when my son Jack was at school. I'd be wandering around the streets; I love Gothenburg, the city, I have a nice time there. But it's called Little London because it can be quite gloomy and rainy, and in those dark autumn and winter evenings, you see the trams coming down the street with the little tungsten bulbs, and I'd often sit outside a cafe, just reading and writing and thinking.

And one day I decided to go and browse around the thrift stores and record shops, and I picked up a second-hand record player and grabbed a bunch of vinyl records, and amongst them was the Goldbach Variations. Now this is the 1981 version, and was a re-recording of a very famous recording Gould did in 1955, which was his debut album and which did very well for him. What I love about this 1981 recording, because I heard this before I heard the original 1955 version, is that it's slower, more thoughtful, more autumnal. You can also hear when Glenn Gould used to hum along when he was playing. So when he's recording, you can often hear him in the background, just slightly out of focus in the microphone. This really reminds me of a very significant period of my life. I was in Gothenburg a couple of months ago, but I used to be there five times a year, so it’s really representative of a very emotionally intense period of my life, and it couldn't have had a more beautiful soundtrack.