In the summer of 1998 I took a trip to Poland and back to Portugal, by bus, that lasted two weeks. Six months before that, I met a girl named Joana who became my girlfriend (and later, bandmate) until today.
Back in the day, one of the ways of showing you cared about someone was to record a mixtape (an actual cassete tape!) made of songs you loved, hoping that the other person would love them as much. And this way you would eventually bond, through music and through an object you could hold dearly in your hands.
Well, that was exactly what Joana made for me a couple of days before that trip. We had never been so much time appart (and never have since) so we could feel in advance the pain of being separated that long, which would get worse each day of the trip. Don’t forget that at the time there were no such things as smart phones and we didn’t even own a cell phone… The way for me to cope with that feeling of loss was to pick up my Walkman and listen over and over again to that mixtape Joana gave me, during the endless drives on the roads of Spain, France, Germany, Austria and Czech Republic.
In my late teens my musical taste was more rock oriented, with the likes of Sonic Youth, The Cramps, Joy Division, The Pixies… On the contrary, Joana was more into pop, with her favoutrite bands being Blur, REM and The Cardigans. For some reason, most of the mixtape included “slow core” bands, like Spain, American Music Club, Dakota Suite, Low and Red House Painters. Maybe she was trying to put together songs that would reflect her (and mine) antecipated longing…
I absolutely loved every band on the tape and that 90 minutes really took me to new musical places, but one tune that really stuck was Katy Song, by the Red House Painters. It’s a song Mark Kozelek wrote about knowing you have surely lost the one you love to someone else. And so, for fifteen days, right before a four minutes long mantra-like instrumental, I would quite appropriately sing along: “Without you what does my life amount to?…”.
Jerónimo Ricardo – Birds Are Indie