Today twenty years ago, I was still in secondary school. As true Dutch children, my friends and I would cycle to school everyday. It was just about the time almost every town still had a record store, but things were about to change. Anyway, I remember there being sunshine that day, I remember knowing Painkiller being played on the Dutch MTV New show a lot and hyping me up. And I remember cycling after school to the only record shop in town with my best friend to pick up Ether Song.
I remember being WOW’ed by the interesting packaging. I remember us both trying to rip off the plastic on our bicycles on our 11 km ride home and looking inside, looking at the track list, looking at the artwork and being intrigued by the bonus disc. I remember getting home, going into the attic and putting on the record in my cheap stereo set. I remember hearing the drum computer and the cackle that kicks off Blue Hour.
I remember being in London in late 2002 and buying copies of the Long Distance single to take home. I remember wanting to build a website where I only wrote about good music. I called it “THISISGOODMUSIC”. I then made a list of artist that I thought were GOOD. It had several bands and artists but only one artist was actually actively making new music at the time. So by May of that year I pivoted, as they say in the start-up world. My Good Music site became a Turin Brakes site. And because there were already some other fansites, I gave mine a distinct name: Ether Site, in honour of the new album. I found some scans of the Ether Song artwork, I opened Microsoft Paint and tweaked the letters around: and thus Ether Site was born.
This album and this website started a journey for me. Sure, I listened to The Optimist LP. Sure, I liked Mind over Money and Underdog (Save Me) a lot. But it took some getting used to this style of acoustifolkyrocky music for me. It was Ether Song, and Ether Site that really started my Turin Brakes journey.
So today I remember, and I play the album again. A few years ago I finally tracked down a vinyl copy of the album, which I’ll be listening to today. I’ll listen to Painkiller for the millionth time. I’ll have memories of worse times gone by during Panic Attack. I’ll float away on Falling Down, Full of Stars, I’ll remember attempting to learn Rain City on the guitar even though the vocals are too challenging for me. And I remember the catharsis of Stone Thrown and Long Distance. And after all that, the epicness of Ether Song, the hidden track.
Happy 20th birthday, Ether Song.
[Note: we’ll do much more to celebrate the album this year, no worries. For today though: let’s enjoy the album. Feel free to share your Ether story here or on the socials. Or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And for those of you who are seeing the band in Birmingham tonight: please shout your favourite Ether Song requests at the band! :)]