Sunday, 27 May 2018

Factory Radio

My entire life in music could be encapsulated in a factory radio.

Or, rather, it was a radio hoisted outside a factory of some kind, and I would see it going home or sleepily groping my way to the University studies. It was not the highest point of engineering. It was a megaphone hanging from a pole, a very Soviet-looking artefact. 

But it looked so out of place. Everything else could be explained, from the half-empty parking lot to the newly-built trade centre, but you could never quite crack the mystery of that radio. It looked so out of time.

Down to the fact that whatever music it was playing, I would perceive it as something written and recorded ages ago. The vocals gave the impression of a vinyl needle running havoc and every modern pop tune sounded like it was sung by Anna German or Mark Bernes. The music was uniformly bad, there was no getting around it, and neither German nor Bernes could save it. 

Still, the effect was mesmerising, and I was never able to pass the factory radio without making a mental note: yes, but... what will it play next? It was just so incredibly intriguing; whatever the radio was playing now, whatever it was playing yesterday and whatever it was playing three months ago, I was always looking forward to the next song. What will it be? 

Oddly, I fantasised about "Venus in Furs" by the Velvet Underground. In my mind, it was entirely possible - to hear Lou Reed's voice oozing sneeringly through the factory radio, going on about whiplashes and shiny boots of leather. I was ready to wait, I had all the time in the world. And besides, when it finally happened (not 'if' - 'when'), wouldn't that make it all worth it?.. 

But of course - it never did happen. 

Years later, the place is overflowing with things that can be explained: newly-built parking lots and half-empty trade centres. The old radio is no longer there, replaced with the impeccable sounds of headphones, portable speakers and music from the cars. Everything seems to be in place, and it's become a challenge to try and find that mystery, that sense of anticipation. These days, I can only conjure it up occasionally - when I think of the factory radio.