The Comforter – Laughing Stock by Talk Talk

An interesting band Talk Talk. I remember them being a synth pop band, they were OK, quite liked Such A Shame and even bought Talk Talk the single, then kinda forgot about them. Then sometime in the early 90’s I was introduced to the later albums, Spirit Of Eden & Laughing Stock. Sometimes music just hits you right between the eyes and both these albums do, especially Laughing Stock. I’m listening to it now and it still sounds as warm, soulful and full of wounded wonder as it did 20 years a go.

It’s hard to explain the sound of Laughing Stock, a post jazz, minimal, melancholic, smoky vision of another life, another world. It hazily passes by with no real choruses, the lyrics are abstract and convey only illusions of narrative. But it feels so alive. Every note is just perfect, it washes over you in waves of emotion, pulling you in to it’s heart, on the verge of joyous tears, knowing every passage but discovering new sounds every play.

It’s not an album to stick on at a dinner party, it’s one for late night contemplation and meditation. It has atmospheres that fade in and out but that demand your full attention, drifts then swells into forceful passages that leave you giddy before drifting away again.

Laughing Stock has become my favourite album. I never get tired of listening to it. It’s seen me through some dark nights, it’s deep humanity keeping me going when my depression has made me very vulnerable, pulled me back from stupid actions a couple of times. I’m very much not religious but this takes me as close to the spiritual as I get. The music is enough, it’s pure human spirit, fragile and unsure and angry and at peace with itself.

It also has been a massive influence on my own music, the search for that drifting sense of nostalgia and humanity. I’ve not come close to the majesty of Laughing Stock or the genius of it’s leader Mark Hollis but that’s what keeps me going.

So turn the lights down low and take a wonderful emotional journey to the heart of the human spirit.

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The Comforter – Submarine by Peter Astor

A proposed series of posts about tracks that have helped myself and others through difficult times. A bit like ‘Our Tune’ I guess….So to start the ball rolling…

Submarine by Peter Astor

This always reminds me of when I was really ill with neuralgia and being off work for 7 months, I worked in the shipyard in Barrow, building submarines and living in the flats on Barrow Island with my girlfriend. The neuralgia caused the most astounding pain – I had Right Trigeminal Neuralgia to give it it’s Sunday name – and was often found with my head about 3 inches from the gas fire to try and stop the pain, a bizarre thing but it kind of worked.

The medication (Carbamazepine) I was on didn’t really shift the neuralgia but gave me a list of side effects like loss of balance (as in I would just fall over a lot),  I was liable to burst into tears at any point, drowsiness after taking them, until the pain came back after a short time. It really was a horrible time – having a combination of headache, toothache (all teeth), and the rest of the right side of my face very sore to the touch.

So this song became one I came back to quite a lot in this period – I was unsure of going out much in case I either started being in too much pain, or I’d fall over or burst into tears, the sentiment of the song just fitted my general low mood – I was pretty suicidal for chunks of the time I was ill, but tracks like this always let you know there’s other’s out there, that you are not alone. This may sound cheesy to say but it’s true – I still feel a warm glow when I hear this song and that I eventually recovered, it took quite a while as my depression was triggered as another side effect of the medication.

Full lyrics copyright Peter Astor

I’ve done all that I can do…
I feel like I could sleep for several years.
I’m drinking in these lazy days,
Trying to make the real world disappear.
Reading through the afternoon,
I can lose the ache of what to do.

I stay inside
Where I can dream.
No one can touch me
In my submarine.

Like a river running by my door…
I sit and watch the traffic flow.
I see people traveling,
Going where I don’t have to go.
And I know my money’s all run out,
But that’s something that I can’t think about

I stay inside
Where I can dream.
No one can touch me
In my submarine.

Late at night when I can’t sleep,
I go outside into the yard
And listen to the factories
Humming underneath the stars.
And when the sky turns a dirty red,
That’s the time that I go back to bed.

I stay inside
Where I can dream.
No one can touch me
In my submarine.

If you have a track that is a great comfort to you and would like it to be featured on the blog please contact me at info@shaunblezard.com with a link to the track on youtube etc and a small piece of writing that tells us why you find the track comforting. There’s no payment only the knowledge that you might have helped someone somewhere to find something that might comfort them during a difficult time.

A Safe Space – Soundrop Playlist

Blue Hills

This is a playlist looking at what music people listen to when they want to be calm.

I’m researching links between recovery from mental health problems & music so your input is most welcomed – add tracks and please comment on the list

thanks – Shaun

Or click HERE to go to playlist in Soundrop so you can vote and add tracks. (This is a pretty early version of what I’m trying to do so if any developers out there have any ideas please let me know about a better system)