The joys of The Optimist LP began for me at a Stereophonics gig in Liverpool. It was my first proper gig experience, Turin Brakes where supporting and from the moment they stepped coyly onto the stage, the audience were mesmerised and it was electric. Who where they and what was that catchy number they where playing? At the end, a cassette was handed out, and I went home and played in over and over until the thin strip of tape nearly wore away. With that, the soundtrack to the next 10 years began, I was 16, it was all to come…..
Shortly after the gig, I went and bought the album. I can still remember sitting upstairs in my bedroom listening to it over and over on a red C.D player. Within a week I knew the lyrics and within a month I had pretty much the whole common room at sixth form listening to it. We where young, we where into music, we where optimists.
Like the album, time passed and soon I was a die hard fan, a Turin Brakes gig came to Liverpool and I was there with 11 friends, stood at the front, singing along until hoarse. I met a boy, we bonded over the lyrics and played ‘name the next line’ with TB lyrics, he broke my heart, I played the album constantly-my only comfort in a sea of teenage sorrow.
Months past. I grew up quickly with wise words such as ‘…times are fierce, times are fine, yeah it goes that way’ I met another boy, he was into music, he knew who Turin Brakes were, he could even play their songs on his guitar. He was…….well, interesting.
Like any good ‘life’ soundtrack, if you play it, it fills you with a plethora of memories. I listen to The Optimist LP and am reminded of a thousand things. The strongest is the intensity of that time, of meeting my first real love, of feeling invincible. It was a time of optimism, of things yet to come, of something not quite tangible, but non the less great. Through times of happiness, pain, anger, uncertainty and all the misgivings that life and relationships throw up, the remaining constant has been that album. Each song provided comfort at one time or another, permeating every experience.
10 years on and the boy I thought was interesting is still here as is the album; strong, definitive and just as current. Perhaps it is the wisdom of age, the appreciation of ‘the finer things’ or simply the memories accumulated from the passing of time that make this album so emotionally charged. Whatever the answer, the album chronicles and captures the very essence not only of my relationship, but of me, of who I am, of who I want to be and I could honestly never be without it. Can you define your life, you love, your outlook on an album….maybe. Can an album influence, encourage, inspire? I feel certain it can, but then again I guess I’m what you call an optimist.
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