In at Number 5: "Silence in the Studio!"
I'm a 6th former, being driven to school in my dad's volvo. It's got a CD player built in, and we're got the AAD un-remastered reissue of Pink Floyd's Atom Heart Mother playing. With the stereo seperation enhanced by the front/back separation of the front tweeters and rear woofers, the music fills the car and feels like a quadrophonic concert hall. We slowed the car down and stopped in the car park to wait until it finished, determined not to start the day until we had finished the half-album-long song. Maybe as an act of autism, maybe as an act of respect for the work.
I can't remember if it's the first time I heard it, but the memory of this particular listening session has been branded onto my memory of the song. It was my father who put up with me putting Jan and Dean's 'Dead Man's Curve' on a loop when I came round, listening endlessly to the same few songs by Elvis Presley and the Human League in his city-centre flat. But by the time I got to 6th form I was hunting more deeply into my parent's music collections; trying to understand The Smiths beyond the hit singles, taping Trout Mask Replica for friends, scrabbling for meaning amongst the tapes, records, and cds. This track felt like absolute pay-dirt, and I argued with everyone who would listen about how it was the best thing Pink Floyd ever did, and they were wrong that meddle was better that was rubbish.
It may be the song that showed me what instrumental music is capable of; in fact made me hold instrumental music in the highest regard, as 'true' music, unsullied by cheap sops to expressionist lyrics (I don't want to know what's going through your mind, I want to know how you feel). It definitely influenced particular tracks of mine, such as 'New Boyfriend'. Every time the refrain is played, the orchestration is different, and while it's massive, expansive, patient music, the structure is fairly simple; and so satisfyingly ordered, it feels like a musical landscape painting. It feels like exploration. the return to the opening section near the end, and then into the final coda of the refrain, feels totally suicidalyptic, like superman throwing himself into the sun to save the universe. It makes me feel important, and mortal.