Monday, 17 May 2010

i don't wanna die in an air disaster

Here is the episode of R4's Music Group I was in with James Brown and Rebecca Front. I liked them both a lot. You can listen to it this week.

It was interesting. When I first started thinking about what song I'd take, I thought it would be impossible. Pretty quickly, I realised that it didn't matter very much, so long as I could talk about it. So I picked a song I'd always found funny - an impossibly cheery 1974 song, seriously intended, about the fact that world was on the brink of environmental catastrophe.

Albert was genuinely worried. What I wondered, and didn't say on the show, was this: humans are obsessed, always have been, with the idea that the world is ending; we evolved over millennia to hunt mammoths and work out which berry wouldn't kill us, and in an evolutionary flicker we're having to cope with digital watches and the fact that we know we're going to die, and maybe this does something so crazy to our brains that we can't help thinking that this means everything's going to die. I am sure someone has written about this. I must find out who.

Which leads me to the Albert Hammond song I am currently obsessed with, which came from the same 1974 album as We're Running Out. It's called I Don't Wanna Die in an Air Disaster. It's about being a young guy with the world at your feet and suddenly realising that it will come to an end, and really, really not wanting it to. I think it's sweet, and I don't mean that as patronisingly as it sounds. For Albert Hammond, 1974 was all about mortality.

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