Thursday, 12 November 2009

1. No Danger, The Delgados (2000)

Here it was, then – the year 2000. The promise of this moment had hung over my childhood like a neon-lit spaceship from a comic book. It had winked at a little girl in astronaut-speckled pyjamas from the depths of the midnight sky. But now it was here, of course, it was very different. To this 21-year-old, all grown up and grouchy, it was just as Blur had predicted in my mid-teens. End of a century? Oh. It's nothing special.

That night, I didn't party like it was 1999, not even remotely. I sat in my parents' front room crying into an orange juice, three separate twists of fate keeping me away from London, a good friend away from town, and sending another to a hospital where her grandmother's heart had decided to give way on a rather inopportune afternoon. Not knowing what to do, I had joked to my parents that I may as well stay sober that night to drive their friends home. They missed the joke. When midnight came, there were no fireworks for me. There were no bangs, only whimpers.

That year continued in a similarly grumbly vein. A heartbreak from the previous summer still leaving its scars, the readjustment to a new life in London still taking its time. I retreated to the music of my recent past for comfort, before the first song of that century worked its way into my bones.

The song was by The Delgados, a band that made me think of that boy from the previous century. But this time, again, things were different. It came from their new album, The Great Eastern, which I bought in April, and listened to all year. It had a strange, ghostly figure on its cover, with which I felt an odd sort of empathy, drifting between my old life and my new one, feeling on the edges of everything, not really knowing where I fitted in. No Danger was track six, a song which talked about the desire to do something new, the comfort that came with being cowardly (these lyrics beinge full of misty references to heroin, rather than the fags and cheap beers that were my innocent vices), but there were pockets of hope also popping up alongside them.

These lyrics became mine as the year went on. "'We don't know we're strong enough"; "but people, people, we're not in love". I clung to them as I left him behind, and let me come through.


  1. In the summer of 99, I met a boy in Trafalgar Square in the summer. I was climbing on a lion, and he was a Hungarian who was studying at Cambridge. We got together although I didn't like him that much, we had nothing in common and I was still trying to be a callow youth: I remember saying to him the day before I went to university 'I don't want to be overtly preoccupied with being faithful to you.'

    Awful. On NYE, he asked me to meet him beneath Big Ben at 8pm. I'd been to London (aka Dream Town: I had a postcard of London above my desk when I was growing up) so didn't know how hard this would be. He didn't have a mobile phone. My friend and I spent hours wandering around the packed streets, a bottle of champagne in a bag bruising my legs with every step. Eventually, we made contact and he told us to wait for him in the ten pins (?) at finsbury park, right by rowans. At midnight, there were six of us in the pub. Then my friend got very angry and insisted we drove home.

    End of A Century played in my head all night. As a Blur loving teenager, I'd hoped by 2000 that I would have met someone who could stop me feeling alone, but I had to wait quite a while longer....

    Lovely idea, Jude! My favourite Delgados song was always the middle name one - call & response vocals are great!

  2. This is literally one of my favourite songs: it formed the soundtrack to
    my first year at uni, which began in 2000. Great start to the new blog, looking forward to reading more!

  3. the 'kids choir' version of No Danger is even better than the original, if that were possible!

  4. Thought you'd want to know I am kicking off the week with the Delgados. Have forgotten how great this song is.

  5. The delgados were one of the first bands that I discovered via the now sadly departed Planet Sound. I was so pleased to discover such, to my 16 year old ears, a strange sounding band that evoked the sounds that were coming out of the USA at the time that I had barely began to tap into in the year 2000. In fact I remember buying Mercury Rev's Deserter's Songs and The Flaming Lips's The Soft Bulletin in April 2000 when we moved house and that summer and wet autumn were sound tracked by those two ex-NME albums of the year (the reason I'd bought them in the first place) by this one.

    This particular song though takes me to a different place though, it reminds me of March 2008 when I made a solo trip to Oslo and having been to the Kon-Tiki and Viking Ship Museums I was standing on the icy jetty waiting for the boat to take me back to Oslo and I remember feeling like I hadn't heard the song in years as he seemed so much more evocative as the cold sea rolled around beneath me.

    Really enjoying reading these Jude and finally having time to add some of my memories to them.

  6. Every so often, I get in the mood for some different music to play in the soundtrack of my day. Today I searched "Best Songs of the Decade 2000" and after several that were not to my taste, I found your blog. What fun this was and no, I am not cool, so yes, most of these were new to me. (During the 2000's, I was building a marriage, a family, a business - country style!) Thanks for taking the time to do this and for the 8 new songs now in my I-tunes.