I was listening to Eliza McLamb’s new album, and I suddenly became aware that I was not giving it the attention it deserves. I was listening to it while trying to read CS Lewis’ A Preface to Paradise Lost, which was a stupid decision. McLamb’s music breaks through Lewis’ chat about angels and corporeality and I am struck by how beautiful it is, how vulnerable it is, but also how GRATEFUL I am that I like writing columns, not music. 

Writing columns, you only have to relive and re-conjure the sentiment that animated the writing once, or maybe twice: in editing or when you dig it out of a notes app. But this is completely different in music. You must perform the sentiment, or at least a sentiment. So, what if it’s a horrible sentiment? Does Fiona Apple perform For Her when she tours? Surely it would be rude to ask her to reproduce the exact sound and emotion of the recording when live in concert? Surely no one would sing along? 

I am grateful that the self-production in writing columns is singular and that each column is unique. Sometimes I feel that writing a column is like writing a song – writing about something that literally strikes a chord in that moment. Its emotionality only exists for you while you are writing it, in its moment of birth, its extended instant. I think songs must be composed the same way, particularly the heartfelt indie ones you suspect were written late at night, mining memories that only surfaced at that moment. Obviously people relate to it – your music is popular – but if you have written a song, you have to sing it on tour, over and over again, mimicking the authentic feeling and connection you perhaps only ever felt at its moment of creation for people who seek out your feeling as theirs. Although the moment of sharing must be great, it must also feel more and more inauthentic over time. 

I feel music is really tied to moments, for its creators and listeners. There are times where I wish I could play the piano – I feel there are some things I could express only by playing the piano, clanging on it like I am Fiona Apple.

When a song comes on that matches a moment so much that it feels an integral part of that moment, the metaphor ‘striking a chord’ makes sense. Everything is harmonised. Sometimes that moment makes you pay attention to a song so intently that it’s like you never really listened to it before. But if You and Song are to have a personal relationship, it can’t just be Song surprising you – You must give it your proper attention. Play it as loud as possible. You must be immersed. 

At the time I started thinking about songs, I was very much enjoying Good Life by Sammy Rae and The Friends, which my friend was obsessed with in early summer. The obsession was only just catching me up. I felt as though I wasn’t really listening before. Then it began to strike a chord, its notes harmonising with my life and mind. Walking to the hairdressers in the Easter vac, it was Time is On My Side by Irma Thomas. When the lights begin to go on in the evening, it is Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow by Amy Winehouse. Recently, my friends have infected me with Lush Life by Zara Larsson. 

I find that if I listen to a song that previously harmonised with my insides but doesn’t any more, then listening to it recalls that time, that feeling, that the song once harmonised with. The soundtrack the moment ran to still transports us back to it, even when the moment has passed. 

The song is a mirror, summary, expression. There’s something about a song that’s a portal. Particularly the way that we take them off other people. I didn’t take Lush Life from my friends: they contaminated me with it. 

Is the music you like changed by the people you love at the time? I think it is. You can see it as you go through my favourite songs. Patches. Best friend, mum, friends, crush, film, friend, crush, friend, boyfriend, uni friend. All now amalgamated into my music taste. But I’ve written this article before. It was about books. Either because I am 

a) dazzlingly unoriginal 

b) I am Having a Phase or 

c) I have found my niche. 

I always thought that the most vulnerable question to answer was ‘what sort of music do you like?’ It is so important to me! And so varied. What I like to listen to and when is dependent on so many things: time, person, need. When I’m going home I always listen to Fake Tales Of San Francisco:

And yeah, I’d love to tell you all my problem

You’re not from New York City, you’re from Rotherham

Even though I’m not really from Rotherham. Kisses of Fire is for times of triumph, even if that victory is only having an ice cream in the afternoon. The finale of Swan Lake feels like falling into a sea; No Other Love like being far away.

So it’s hard to answer. But also because how can I distil what I like with this one offhand question?? If I say I like Disturbia before I say I like Station Approach, you’ll form a different impression of me. And if I say I like both, or a range, or I don’t want to answer the question, you’ll think I am an irritating person who is Too Serious About Music or an anxious one (which I am), hyper-aware of how I am perceived. 

Anyway! So I’ll tell you what music I like at the moment and be thrilled that I won’t have to reproduce those feelings that make me feel an affinity with this song in the future. I’ll be thrilled I’m not performing a feeling I had three years ago in front of many people. Instead, I’ll say it once, and I won’t say it again. 
Here’s all the songs from this column in a playlist. Some songs I don’t listen to any more, some I have on at the moment, some come up when their moment is right. Put them on loud!