Post Five. Music & Dad & ME.

Initially this was going to be a short Instagram and/or Facebook post commemorating what would have been my dad’s 75th birthday today. But then various other thoughts starting pouring out. This is also the anniversary of seeing one of my favourite bands live for the first time, and for me, these two things will always be inextricably linked.

Almost all the music I like can take me back to a particular place or memory. I sometimes wonder if I really do like what I like, or do I only like some particular songs or artists because, for example, they remind me of my dad, like Glen Campbell. Do I only listen to him for the nostalgia, for my my desire to relive happy memories from when my dad was alive? Or am I a bona-fide Glen Campbell fan? I can live with either. I saw him live during his farewell tour in 2011, three and a half years after my dad died. It was an extra emotional concert, because I knew my dad would have loved to have been there, but also because Glen Campbell also had/has Alzheimer’s Disease, like my dad did.

But this post is about a different band, a band my dad had never heard of, I hadn’t even heard of them until 2014. But I now associate my dad with one of their songs more so than any other (and I actually just learned that this song was released the same year my dad died, in 2008 – spooky).

It’s been exactly two years since I first saw Agent Fresco live at Iceland Airwaves Music Festival in Reykjavík. I heard their song Dark Water on the Iceland Airwaves Spotify playlist and that was enough for me to add them to my festival schedule. They were performing three times at the festival. I missed their first concert at Gamla Bíó (that queue!) and I missed the next one (2am and I was sleeping). So, on Saturday 8th November I made sure I got to the venue (Slippbarinn) in plenty of time. It might only have been a half hour set but it was my highlight of the festival. In particular, Eyes Of A Cloud Catcher. A song about the last moments of his (Arnór Dan Arnarson, singer/songwriter) father’s life, with all the family by his side. The event that inspired this song was so familiar to me, and I had quite an emotional reaction to it. I now can’t hear this song without thinking about my own dad, and the last days of his life, with our family sitting by his side. That day, the day I heard Eyes Of A Cloud Catcher for the first time, would have been my dads 73rd birthday, and that made it all the more poignant.

My dad had never heard any of Agent Fresco’s music, but I now associate that song with him more than any other song. It’s weird, a song he never heard, a song that no one else will ever associate with him, but I’ll forever think of dad when I hear it.

Iceland Airwaves Music Festival

I’d been a fan of Icelandic music for a few years and this festival was my opportunity to see so much of the music I’d loved, but never seen live. It also helped me get through a really difficult few days. It was October 2014, my illness was still undiagnosed, and the day I should have been leaving for Antarctica (had I not gotten ill) for four months was looming. I was dreading the day that I was meant to begin my journey South to live with the penguins, and I needed a distraction. I’d been tempted by this music festival for a couple of years but had never been. When I realised the dates coincided I decided to go for it and booked everything with a couple of weeks to spare. Instead of moping alone in my flat in Edinburgh, distraught that I wasn’t on a plane (followed by another plane, then another plane, then a ship) to the Antarctic Peninsula, I flew to Reykjavík and discovered Iceland Airwaves Music Festival. I didn’t see penguins but I did um, eat a puffin (not a whole one I might add, and I’ve since started eating a vegan diet, FYI). I obviously wasn’t functioning as well as I would have pre-ME, I had to rest a lot, have afternoon lie-downs, I existed on pain-killers and I didn’t see nearly as much as I wanted to. But in terms of my emotional well-being, and finding awesome new bands, it was the best possible thing I could have done at the time. It also gave me something to always look forward to.

I returned to Airwaves in 2015, again Agent Fresco managed to be my highlight of the festival with their incredible acoustic show at Fríkirkjan, a lovely old wooden church next to the pond in Reykjavík. Very different from their ‘usual’ live show, it was incredibly beautiful, and emotional. That heartbreaking rendition of Eyes Of A Cloud Catcher will stay with me forever. This year’s festival was last week, I would have loved to have gone (Björk!), but my health wouldn’t have allowed it. I have my fingers crossed for 2017. 🙂

Eyes Of A Cloud Catcher, by Agent Fresco

Try to sleep
You should
Try to sleep
You’re in every single part of me
I hope that you know

Try to sleep
You should
Try to sleep
Sister wet his lips
Mother bless his trip

I hope that he knows
We’ll follow

We are, we are
All here by your side
We are, we are
All here tonight
We are, we are
Old here by your side
We are all here
In mourning light

Try to sleep
You should
Try to sleep
Warm summer wind
Blows these white sheet sails
The sundial ship awaits him

Try to leap
You should
Try to reach
Into highest air
You’re almost there
As long as you know
We miss you

We are, we are
All here by your side
We are, we are
All here tonight
We are, we are
Old here by your side
We are all here
In mourning light

We are, we are
All here by your side
We are, we are
All here tonight
We are, we are
Old here by your side
We are all here
In mourning light

PS Happy Birthday dad. x

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