When it comes to music, I’m a person who passionately loves certain songs, but my knowledge around that song is sketchy. I don’t tend to listen to albums, so for the majority of my favourite songs, I couldn’t tell you what album it’s from or where it sits in an artist’s discography. For a million pounds, I wouldn’t be able to tell you what album Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right is from.
There are four, maybe five exceptions to this, on a sliding scale of cool. Obviously, Rumours. A Night at the Opera is widely regarded as the best Queen album, but for me, it’s Innuendo. And I will happily fight you over the fact that Taylor Swift’s Red is a great album. Don’t be a snob.
Another example is Kate Nash’s Made of Bricks. God, I loved that album when I was a teenager. I loved it ardently, fiercely – the way you can only do at 15, on the cusp of a more adult life, waiting hungrily for the experiences Nash sings about. I’d never tried to cling on to a trash boyfriend. I’d never fallen so dizzily in love with somebody that I’d liked them as much as all the matter in the world. I’d probably never even watched a sunset on my own. I’d never walked drunkenly through a house party, or skipped the barrier at a train station – I’d never even been in teenage love – but I felt Made of Bricks in my bones. Like a premonition, almost, of things I would feel, one day. And I knew I would return to these songs, again and again, and at different points in my life.
And now, I’ve done all of these things: I’ve despised somebody and yet somehow failed to break up with them, and I’ve watched sunsets by myself, all over the world. I use mouthwash, and I don’t just floss. I have a WaterPik to clean the debris that gathers around my right bottom wisdom tooth. I’ve returned to Made of Bricks time and time again, and I still love it (and Nash) just as deeply.
Anyway. I was bleaching the shit out of my kitchen on Saturday morning when I decided to do another run through of Made of Bricks. I sang along, still word perfect, with almost every song – apart from one. A is for Asthma, which I somehow always used to skip. (I’m not sure why. I do have asthma, after all.) At the end of the song, I discovered a little epilogue. The lyrics struck me as a remarkable summary of the ethos I try, after all these years of noodling around with my self care, to live by – and I thought it’d be nice to share them on this chilly Sunday afternoon.
Don’t get how someone would buy stuff you don’t need,
Too much money, drugs, sleep, sugar, clothes
All of it will make you feel like shit if you have too much of the same thing,
Just balance it out a bit,
Go for walks, read the news, get some good, loyal friends, let yourself be amused by little things,
And remember- be in tact, stay calm and deep breathe.
I loved it. Somehow, after eleven years, my beloved Kate Nash had struck a new chord with me. So much so that I peeled my gloves off (bleaching the kitchen, remember?), restarted the song, and listened to it again. Obviously, I’ve been increasingly thinking and writing about decluttering and reducing my consumption/shopping habits – and a big part of this is an increasing conviction that, above and beyond the levels need for comfort, ‘money, drugs, sleep, sugar, clothes’ can’t make you happy.
But the second part is just as valid. Go for walks, read the news, get some good, loyal friends. Let yourself be amused by little things. It’s the simplest of advice – but in an age where wellness is sold to us from every angle, I thought it was a timely remember that sometimes, looking after yourself isn’t that complicated at all.