It’s both predictable and surprising, typical and out of character – but then that’s our resident blogger all over. Good to have you back SMM.
The adventure had started with Dire Straits’ Making Movies at about 6.30am on a dry July morning in Newcastle and ended 18 days later to the strains of Five Live and its football team commentating on the Community Shield as dark, brooding clouds greeted our return to the North East.
In between, we listened to everything from Cliff Richard signing “Summer Holiday” to Avenged Sevenfold’s Nightmare with obligatory renditions of UFO’s Strangers In The Night and liberal pickings from the rich catalogues of Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Neil Young, REM, Kings Of Leon, Deep Purple and a host of my favourite artists.
I use the word “my” quite deliberately because deciding what music is played on the Murtagh’s annual vacation is not a democratic decision. Not when I’m the chauffeur on our European piligrimage to Italy and the South of France (For the record, 3,349 miles of which my wife drove five!!!).
Summer Holiday, by the way, was a joke selection by yours truly to get everyone in the mood, not that it was appreciated by my three sons.
And Avenged Sevenfold was a concession to my 11-year-old, who took a break from reading and watching DVDs in the car to put in a request for his favourite current band.
But most of the time, from Newcastle to Troyes, Troyes to Turin, Turin to Como and then a week later, Como to Avignon before heading home via Rheims, my iPod dominated.
And it was the same at our two villas with my reward for spending hours behind the wheel being that my musical choice held sway about 90 per cent of the time.
That meant that as we crossed the border from France into Italy on Day Three, U2s Joshua Tree was being played, Stevie Nicks’ excellent new album launched part two of our holiday from Como to Avignon and the last album featured before we arrived back in England via the Channel Tunnel was Rush’s underrated Roll The Bones.
Sychronising one’s iTunes library and then clicking into the “Recently Played” section is perhaps the best way to recall what you were doing at any particular time on holiday.
And so I can reveal that we stopped for a toilet stop at precisely 10.38 French time at a service station just outside Nice on the second Saturday. How do I know this? Because I distinctly remember my wife telling me to turn down the volume as the car doors opened with Claire Torry wailing her heart out on Great Gig In The Sky from Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon.
Oasis’ Heathen Chemistry and Derek And The Dominoes’ Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs were the two albums that were on during the two longest traffic jams of the period.
We entertained guests at our villa just outside Avignon two days later and during an excellent night’s entertainment featuring several bottles of red and rose, beers, my son James’s quiz and the juiciest steaks imaginable, our mate Nick was allowed to choose the music and what an impressive collection he opted for, reliving his youth to pick early material from The Scorpions and UFO before allowing his own son Jonny to choose The Killers’ debut album.
Day 10 was a rest day, one in which I decided to burn off some cheese-induced calories with a few lengths of the pool and with our villa boasting a music system which included speakers in the swimming area, I decided some Joe Bonamassa and Arcade Fire were the perfect companions.
A week earlier, during two blissful hours on the sunbed with Lake Como no more than a stone’s throw away, I’d inevitably gone for Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here, Neil Young’s depressingly brilliant On the Beach and Tommy Bolin’s Teaser to send me to heaven.
It sounds geekish, perhaps even weird to sit in front of a computer on returning from holiday and looking at the playback list from the past fortnight.
But it’s a practice I’ve done for years and will carry on doing because while for some, photographs provide the perfect holiday memories, for me, music informs where I was, how I was feeling, what I was doing and when Son No. 1 demanded an emergency stop because his bladder was full once again!