Life Props:Natalie Imbruglia's 'That Day'

Life Props

Natalie Imbruglia's That Day

When I was commuting to work in Manchester, each day four things kept me sane. Writing this weblog which I began ironically just as I had less time write anything but also when I had a massive number of things I could write about. The sure decision going into the job that I would be there for one calendar year, until the same day one year later. The Guardian newspaper. The music. It actually took me a few months to buy a portable cd player, a Matsui which was cheap but suited the purpose. I carried with me a selection of albums in a pouch, picked mostly randomly from my collection. It was a broad mix from the Deacon Blue best of compilation (the first cd album I bought) to Mike Figgis music for his film Leaving Las Vegas. An average train journey was fifty minutes which was the length of most of the albums which was just perfect.

After a while I began to vary the music and actively looking for things I wouldn't listen to usually because I had the time to experiment. The lamented and sometimes lamentable Travels with Matsui articles on the weblog were a reaction to this as I trundled through Pink Floyd and Britney Spears. It was an interesting experiment, but after only a few weeks it began to annoy me. I needed music I could hide in for those journeys, envelope me from the madness of the packed train or the misery of the delays or the sheer tiredness. The sheer unfamiliarity of what was happening in my ears did help matters. So instead I started looking for things which were new but familiar, which I was still discovering but which sounded like they were written to appeal to me. It was about here that I first discovered World Music with Verity Sharpe's Late Junction compilations, and fell for Shelby Lynne's second album after reading a really good interview with her in The Guardian. Again as a form of synergy I put together a soundtrack for the weblog which to a degree reflects how my musical tastes were changing during that time.

Then there was Natalie Imbruglia's song That Day. It's from her second album White Lilies Island. If ever there was an unsung hour of music. Second records are always tricky and many artists fall apart. Not this one. Her first Left of the Middle was a fairly big hit, largely on the back of her recording of Torn, ironically the only thing she didn't write herself. Predictably the rest of the piece is nothing like that, sometimes dark, sometimes deadly. So the inevitable follow-up was also dissimilar to the hit and was ignored by critics and the public alike. As is the way of things, I thought it was brilliant. I suppose now I should be careful not imbue it with a mythic quality it can't withstand if you happen to hear it, but for me, during that time, it was a transporter, away from the man in front of me across the train table whose long legs kept crunching into mine (for example). I'm listening to it right now and wonder if it had been released this year during the Norah Jones / Joss Stone era if it would have found a richer audience - it has that quality you see of winding down and luxuriating.

But to return to That Day. It's the first track on the album, but I discovered in on the late pop and comedy tv station PlayUK which I'd watch before going to work, while I ate my Crunchy Nut Cornflakes. For about two weeks it was on every morning just before seven o'clock, just before REM's Imitation of Life. It's actually not that remarkable. Imbruglia appears in a dark green corridor - like an old fashioned subway. Silhouetted passers-by walk away from us as the singer steps forward, brilliantly lit, sometimes looking at us sometimes away. But it wasn't the video I was looking forward to, it was the song.

A conundrum of words. That aren't sung. It's quite close to rap, but not in an angry or aggressive way, like poetry without the beats being too obvious or in any kind of order. Hammering out the rhythm on a table it sounds more like morse code. It also doesn't adhere to the pop regime of two verses, chorus, two verses, chorus, bridge, chorus repeat to fade The second time I heard it was so that could work out what the words all were. The third time I just about managed, and by the fourth I was addicted. Like REM's It's the End of the World ..., it's there to be mastered, keeping all those words in place as deftly as she does. When I bought the single I played it over and over trying to drag myself through it. I remember standing in the kitchen making dinner, the cd single's inlay in hand working my way through the lyrics, marveling at her verbal dexterity. To this day I still can't do it. I always trip over 'Sad, scared, small, alone, beautiful'.

It wasn't until I was sitting on that evening train home, ('which had been delayed by approximately thirty minutes due to a points failure') utterly depressed, that the lyrics finally sank in ...

That day, that day
What a mess what a marvel
I walked into that cloud again
And I lost myself
And I'm sad, sad, sad
Small, alone, scared
Craving purity
A fragile mind and
A gentle spirit
That day, that day
What a marvelous mess
This is all that I can do
I'm done to be me
Sad, scared, small, alone, beautiful
It's supposed to be like this
I accept everything
It's supposed to be like this

That day, that day
I lay down beside myself
In this feeling of pain, sadness
Scared, small, climbing, crawling
Towards the light
And it's all I see and
I'm tired and I'm right
And I'm wrong
And it's beautiful

That day that day
What a mess
What a marvel
We're all the same
And no one thinks so
And it's okay
And I'm small
And I'm divine
And it's beautiful
And it's coming
But it's already here
And it's absolutely perfect

That day, that day
When everything was a mess
And everything was in place
And there's too much hurt
Sad, small, scared, alone
And everyone's a cynic
And it's hard and it's sweet
But it's supposed
To be like this

That day, that day
When I sat in the sun
And I thought and I cried
'cause I'm sad, scared, small
Alone, strong
And I'm nothing
And I'm true
Only a brave man
Can break through
And it's all okay
Yeah, it's okay

It's those final two lines. 'It's all okay, Yeah it's okay.' I know that they're not supposed to have the same resonances I was getting from them (probably for her a handy way to step away from the mic for a few moment while the band plays). But the little tired man hiding at the back of my mind agreed with her. Actually, yes it will be ok. I've heard other people tell stories like this, how the right song, at the right time can save them. And I'm sure my family and friends had said something similar to the lyric before. I don't understand why some singer I've never met in a song I'd heard many time would be more convincing. But Natalie Imbruglia was. Yes, it was all okay, yeah it was ok. I was going to be ok.

Its power comes and goes. It's there on my hard drive and WinAmp will pull it out of the many days of music now and then. Sometimes it drifts through un-noticed and sometimes, like the other day, it'll break through the fog when I think it's all going wrong to remind me that it actually isn't. That the end is in sight that the next good thing is on it's way and I shouldn't worry because ...

'It's all okay, Yeah it's okay.'

A woman standing in from of Admiral Benbow


A woman standing in from of Admiral Benbow
Originally uploaded by feelinglistless.

What is she looking at because she's not looking at the camera. She posing but doesn't seem to care. And what's with the plant pots which seems to be hovering just off the wall? Who was Admiral Benbow and what did he do to get this establishment named after him?

Links for 2004-11-11 []

Links for 2004-11-11 []

  • Sorry Everybody
    I should think so too. Really. Now go and clear it up yourself. No, no I'm not doing it.
  • Michael Moore to shoot sequel to ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’
    Opening line: "What the hell were you people thinking. Didn't you see the first film?"
  • Brad Dourif
    FameTracker's Hey! It's That Guy! column visits Wormtongue ...
  • Branston Pickle
    There isn't a shortage -- it's all on Ebay.
  • bl a th e r
  • What it is is...
  • Film of the Day: Cabin Fever (2002)
    Bonkers deconstructed splatter horror. But funny.
  • "Total."

    Life The two minutes silence at eleven o'clock today only re-inforced how actually very lucky I am. Despite my supposed lack of forward motion, I'm alive and healthy. The only thing I'm fighting is boredom; we were remembering people for home the age I've reached was an unfortunate impossibility. It's difficult to express how grateful I am that I can sit here at this table writing these words because of someone else's sacrifice. Anything I saw is facile and stupid. The problem is the war continues -- somewhere in the world people are taking up arms to defend an ideal, in some cases without having a choice in the matter. It's horrible and sad that at no point in our history has everyone everywhere known what total peace is actually like. And for some reason I've a feeling it's going to get much, much worse. And as usual I'm hopeless and helpless.

    Some more people outside


    Some more people outside
    Originally uploaded by feelinglistless.

    In some cases with these photos there is the thin end of the wedge. At no point do these people look like they're having a good time. Like Withnail they seem to have gone on holiday by mistake. This is one in which we get to see -- what? An anonymous wall and doorways. What does that tell us about how this all went. What happy memory is this capturing?

    Links for 2004-11-10 []

    Links for 2004-11-10 []

  • How Much is Your Personal Library Worth?
    Excellent cataloguing option. But who has the time to sit down and do this? Plus -- prices in dollars...
  • Channel 4 fined for interrupting a movie for commercial break
    The Swedish Channel 4 actually. And you'll never believe what for. Reminds me of the time ITV ran ads during the shower scene in Psycho...
  • Portrait enter i-film's territory by broadcasting the odd short film. This one features Minnie Driver. Not that my dial-up will let me see it. But the concept is the thing ...
  • Darth Vader and Heidi Klum
    Sith Lord meets model.
  • Two of Me
    Man appears twice in same photo. Spooky.
  • New Star Wars pictures
    I'm only posting these so that I can ask a question. What's gone wrong with the haircuts. Ewan looks like a mid-eighties Noel Edmunds.
  • Film of the Day: Control Room (2004)
    It's all about the message.
  • The family man at home with murder and mystery
    Decent local interview with Paul McGann which covers Doctor Who amongst others. Unsually the Big Finish plays are mentioned in passing.
  • Links for 2004-11-09 []

    Links for 2004-11-09 []

  • Football great Emlyn Hughes dies
    "Hughes earned 62 caps for the national team and led Liverpool to a string of honours while at the Anfield club."
  • Shakespeare's Kings and Queens: A Timeline
    An excellent way to track who died when and where, and sorts out who each of the Henry's were.
  • ‘Choice’ Words At a Finnish Design Seminar
    "A 1969 version of Gaetano Pesce’s Up5 & Up6 chair and ottoman inflated when the PVC bag the pair came in was opened. The designs were meant to symbolize how women are tied down by the social constraints of gender."
  • Firefox 1.0 released
    I downloaded the pre-release a few weeks ago and up until now the only change I can see are some of my extensions have stopped working. But now it's left beta it can set about conquering the universe...
  • National Geographic Greatest Portraits
    Preview of looks to be a stunning new book.
  • Narnia Poster!
    Glimpse of the poster for 'The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe'. Aslan! Solidiers!
  • Film of the Day: Firefox (1982)
    Clint Eastwood directs the dramatic development of a web browser with tabbing. No really.
  • Do Men Have Hearing Problems?
  • 'I'm waiting for her head to spin 'round...'

    Film He mentioned the difficulties he was having writing the synopsis the other day on the radio, but now we can all glory in Exorcist: The Beginning as reviewed by Exorcist expert Mark Kermode. Forget the usual sobering look at a film from Sight and Sound, a magazine which found positive things to say about Pokemon: The First Movie:
    "Harlin's hamfisted horror-show offers an hour and a half of tooth-grinding boredom followed by 20 minutes of all-singing, all-dancing, knees-up stupidity involving supernatural wrestling, CGI spiderwalking and the kind of drop-your-popcorn demonic dialogue ("Don't you want to stick your rotten cock up my juicy ass?") not heard since Showgirls. If only the Exorcist-spoof Repossessed (1990) had been half as funny."
    He also talks about the history of the film in The Guardian:
    "Schrader showed his first cut of the movie to Morgan Creek - and all hell broke loose. According to press reports, executives were outraged by the lack of shocks and gore, prompting Schrader to speculate that they hadn't actually read the script. Things turned nastier still when a widely circulated 'private' email attributed to Caleb Carr accused the director of conjuring 'one of the most inept, amateur, utterly flat excuses for a film that has ever been concocted' and declared that the film would only be salvageable with 'another 10 million in reshoots'."
    In the radio version of his review he said that he hasn't seen the Schrader version yet, but that even if it's a blank screen for an hour and a half it can't be as bad as the Renny Harlin. Harsh.

    [Incidentally, The Exorcist Revisited is a weblog about the films and features new photos the actual locations.]

    Links for 2004-11-08 []

    Links for 2004-11-08 []

  • ScreenSelect search page
    Why does ScreenSelect's search page feature material from an old News page from the BBC?
  • Keeping an eye on Europe
    My first Viewropa post ...
  • Peel's widow could finish his last work
    "The autobiography that John Peel began last year may now be completed by his wife, Sheila."
  • Images from the Other Side - a photoset on Flickr
    Photographs of people taking photographs
  • ITV to ruin Trisha's launch on Five
    ... by saving some of their own new episodes to run when she launches on Five. "The move means that new episodes of her show will be on two different channels at the same time."
  • BBC News presenter profiles
    That's what those radio people look like
  • Firefox as MyIE2
  • Elton's foul-mouthed rant on Radio 1
    Stop swearing on the radio. It's not big and it's not clever. Well, then again ...
  • Serenity Surprises Whedon
    Apparently making the movie is just as difficult as running three tv shows at the same time. The man who doesn't sleep still doesn't.
  • Londonist
    It's a weblog about London.
  • 'It's good revenge'
    "The 411 don't write love songs - they'd rather attack rotten boyfriends." New pop music that's about something. Rare.
  • Film of the Day: Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)
    Finally got to see this on dvd over the weekend. What a great film and I wished I'd seen it before all the other Eighties teen comedies which aped it. 'You dick!'
  • Before Sunrise / Before Sunset [1995]
    ... and the Region 2 release. It's a vanilla but I'll probably take a punt and buy it anyway -- I'm not sure we'll get a special edition soon...
  • The Sail to Beijing

    The Road to Beijing Sailer Laura Baldwin was in action this weekend at the penultimate event in the Holt RYA Ranking Series 2004 in Rutland Water: "Laura Baldwin was in her element sailing in the light conditions that she became so used to during the Olympic Games in Athens. Discarding a second she won every other race, some by nearly a leg. The fight for second and third was much closer as Andrea Brewster and Lizzie Vickers went head to head with Brewster finally finishing on top by just one point."

    'Well we've been without Sky for a fortnight and haven't missed it...'

    TV We called and cancelled our Sky subscription yesterday. It was actually easier than I thought it would be, but I did feel like I was letting an old friend go. As I might have mention before we have a communal dish on our roof which services all the flats. Being on the roof, and the roof being high up it has a tendancy to go out of alignment in high winds or else fall over completely and it takes up to a week for the signal to go back on. It happened again a fortnight ago and never returned. Ours was the flat which apparently it never returned to and over the past couple of weeks we really haven't missed it that much. It was expensive, really and after the initial excitement of a couple of years ago it slowly becoming clear that exciting new things were become few and far between. So we took the decision to turn it off.

    We rang them. My Dad's the account holder so he went through the security check and then he passed the phone to me. I was passed through at least two other people before I spoke to a girl with a Glasgow lilt. I told her we wanted to cancel. She asked why. I told her, that it was massively expensive really, about the technical issues and dropped in the clanger, 'Well we've been without Sky for a fortnight and haven't missed it...'
    Her: I see that you've been having problems with your system. I can offer you the family package (which it the one without movies) which is usually £19.95 for £13.50 for three months.
    Me: No thanks. We'd just like to cancel.
    There followed a rather strange conversation about how Freeview is no good and that Top-Up TV isn't worth it. It seemed more than her job's worth to let us go. But I was firm.
    Me: We'd just like to cancel.

    I've been reading today that new Sky subsciber numbers are dropping quarter on quarter. I wonder what their attrition rates are.

    Thirty days notice and that's it. Gone. It's only TV but I remember when we first got the system in August 2002. I sat for four hours working my way through the available channels. After being stung by ITV Digital we were a multi-channel family and it was going to be great. But then week after week I'd be scanning the TV listings and the same films would keep cropping up, and tv shows and anything I'd want to watch was on BBC Four. I have my own Freeview box in my room so I have access anyway. The final straw was joining ScreenSelect and having the choice of watching anything released on DVD ever mostly when I wanted and Sky just stopped having appeal. I'd witness the slow decline of Mtv and I didn't need it anymore.

    Three women on a porch again


    Three women on a porch again
    Originally uploaded by feelinglistless.

    They're still there drinking tea.


    Film I can't decide if the new Star Wars trailer is a master stroke in retro-cool or a poor indicator of what is to some. Frequently in the past, the trails for sequels would use lots of footage from the first film with voiceover advising that they're back. Or if a film was by an actor director who'd had a previous success they'd have clips of that instead of whatever they're selling, usually indicating that whatever that is can't be very good. Here we have one of Alec's best speeches over footage from A New Hope. The trick they play is, yes, introducing material from the other two prequels then slowly building in new material of Anakin looking angry, effectively explaining that he is going to be Darth Vader, followed by the slow rise of the newly generated Dark Lord. It's all very exciting, although it does feel like they're trying to pull in the viewers who've become jaded by the last two. See this really is like Star Wars this time! Darth! Chewbacca! C-3PO on a consula ship! Old Ben! We'll see.

    'Six O'Clock Already I Was Just In The Middle Of A Dream ...'

    Life First day back to work from holiday. Alway tricky. I'm always amazed at how quickly I can carry on having not thought about anything for two weeks, but there I was after ten minutes as though I hadn't been away. Except I felt changed by this holiday more than usual. It was fairly momentous -- turned 30, met new friends, saw old friends leave (for now). I just feel more positive than I did that there is something to look forward to, that this isn't for the rest of my life and that deep within the version of me which goes to work nine to five, the person I like is still around. I'm not this job after all. And look -- I can write paragraphs again.