It was a second date. We’d got on well enough during the first and I’d even made rash predictions to friends that this could be ‘the one’.
We’d talked lots about music as we drank and ate curry. She was obsessed with Morrissey and hilariously tried to justify his more outlandish views as she gingerly cut her Chicken Jalfrezi. It was in the days before I wrote about music. “People who write about music are wankers”, I declared in between bites of Biryani.
We agreed that the next time we met we’d take in a gig. We wouldn’t plan it. This was a city that had fine gigs on every night of the week and we’d go and see something random, something that neither of us knew much about.
That was how I found myself first watching Wakey! Wakey!. I don’t recall much about the gig itself except that it was surprisingly busy with people singing along to every word of every song. At the bar somebody told me that Wakey! Wakey! was essentially the work of Michael Grubbs and that he’d found fame by contributing music and acting skills to One Tree Hill. I was none the wiser.
I took no notes. I didn’t write about music then. I didn’t have to. We dated a few times more but drifted apart as the nights became longer.
Fast forward to today and I’m listening to a song that’s been sent my way by a PR company. It’s a cover of ‘Lean On’ by Major Lazer and it’s by Brooklyn’s Wakey Wakey. I smile to myself as I recall how our paths crossed once before. It’s a smile that turns into a beam when I realise just how odd this is. I’m out of the loop with mega-hits (and I’m sure that the original version of ‘Lean On’ was a mega-hit) and so I have nothing to compare this Wakey Wakey version to. Here’s a man I know a little about covering a song I know nothing about. And I’m sure that this isn’t meant to be my listening experience.
I’m supposed to be marvelling at the creative way that Grubbs has taken a pumped-up dance track and made it his own. I’m supposed to note the creative brilliance that has transcribed a synth line in the original into an emotive sounding violin line. But I don’t get these things because my knowledge isn’t up to scratch. I’m reminded again that there’s something quite lovely about not knowing things because that’s the path towards discovery.
For what it’s worth, I do think that Wakey Wakey’s version has more emotional appeal. It stands up to scrutiny and it’s definitely the sort of tune to listen to on a second date.
But what do I know?