Wednesday, December 11, 2002

God. I was watching a video my friend loaned me this morning which had, amongst other things, a fairly comprehensive collection of all the news reports from when Dusty Springfield died. It still gets to me like it did back in 1999 - I sat there on the sofa, tears rolling into my latte.

Then I came upstairs to check my email and discovered:

Mary Hansen, member of Stereolab, 1/11/1966 - 9/12/2002

I immediately thought of the first time I heard them. Spring 1992, Lasbastide Marnhac (near Cahors), France. I was on a 3-month exchange and starting to seriously regret agreeing to live in a village after being so used to city life. The only record shop in Cahors stocked variete francaise (Elsa, Mireille Mathieu) and a bit of Mano Negra. I wasn't allowed to travel on my own, and trips to bigger cities weren't really on the agenda. So apart from my stash of music brought from Canada, my only access to new music was Les Inrocktibles, a late night radio show and pretty much the French equivalent to John Peel. I'm sure some people will be familiar with the magazine, which in its earlier days boasted some of the most exquisite black & white photography around. (Later, it would change format to a more NME - style mag and I lost interest. But that's a different story.)

I seem to recall it was on 3 or 4 nights a week. I would steal Sophie's tape player from her room and stay up every night recording anything that sounded promising. And frankly, it was the only way I survived that trip. I couldn't buy records anywhere, but at least I stayed informed. And one night, they played an amazing song with droning organs and bright, classy vocals. It was Super Electric by Stereolab, and I instantly fell in love. For about 5 years onwards, they remained one of my favourite bands and are probably one of the key sounds that would trigger a wave of nostalgia for the early 90s.

p.s. I wouldn't bother reading the contributing posts that follow the statement, unless you think things along the lines of "Wow. I am sad. I once blew smoke in Mary's face" is a fitting tribute.


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