Like the assassination of John F Kennedy, or the devastating events of 9/11, everyone remembers where they were the first time they truly experienced the music of Burial…
For me, it was sitting in my living room late one evening. I had already discovered ‘Archangel’ a few months before, tucked away in a long Spotify playlist. Originally I had thought, ‘this is cool’, but not really thought too much more about it as I thought it was just another pretty decent track among many on that list.
How wrong I was.
So back to me sitting in my living a few months later, and I was flicking through the same Spotify list, and I listened again to ‘Archangel’, and I thought, ‘ok, this is actually really good’. And so I hit ‘Go to artist’ and hit play on ‘In McDonalds’…
Every now and then a piece of music comes along that is more than just cool, or beautiful, or catchy, or popular. It’s as if someone has looked into the very core of your being and recorded what they’ve found there for you to listen back to. That piece of music that stops you dead and makes you shudder whenever you hear even a fraction of a second of it. That piece of music that somehow is you. Bon Iver did it for me with ‘Re: Stacks‘. Massive Attack with ‘Protection‘. Even Paul Simon, with ‘April Come She Will’.
And that’s what I felt when I first heard ‘In McDonalds‘. It was more than just ‘chills’ – with those two minutes and eleven seconds of sound Burial had created the soundtrack to being lost in a wonderful moment of nighttime mystery, the exhilaration of being drunk and young and warm and in love and out in the city at 3am, the excitement you felt on that taxi ride home after you’d kissed the prettiest girl you’d ever seen for the first time. And, yes – somehow, something about the essence of being in a McDonald’s in London at the end of a special night out (don’t ask me how!).
The late Richard Griffiths’ character in ‘The History Boys’ said that the wonderful thing about reading is when you discover something right there, on the page, that you thought only you felt. Well that is the great pleasure in reading; but I think it’s also true of music. Every now and then a creative mind will come along who is so utterly unique and special that they can capture feelings you thought only you felt and present them to you through their music. One of those minds is Burial; and personally I think ‘In McDonalds’ remains the greatest thing he’s ever achieved. I am listening to it as I write this, and it still has a power over me.
So that’s where I was when I properly experienced Burial for the first time. Where were you?