An Accidental Soundtrack to Grief (Part 1)

This is Part 1 of the story of how 7 songs by Daft Punk have become the soundtrack to my grief.

I liked Daft Punk, back in the day.

I’d bought their compact discs (for anyone under 30, that’s how music used to be streamed). They adorned my CD collection with quiet pride. Homework was one of those ‘of an era’ albums – tracks that defined a time and a place. But the album and the band had faded with time for me. Homework lost it impetuous and relevance and lay on the CD shelf, stacked away in the funky/house/electronic section – Groove Armanda, Underworld, Fat Boy Slim, you get the picture.

Then in 2011 (was it really that long ago?) ‘Get Lucky’ was everywhere and Trace bought the ‘Random Access Memories‘ album. Sure, I gave it a listen, but wasn’t impressed. Nothing stood out for me. It seemed like a album of mediocre tracks sandwiched around ‘Get Lucky’, a defining funk track, albeit played endlessly and to death.


Now roll forward to Friday 19th February 2016.

I stumbled upon aBBC4 documentary Daft Punk Unchained (BBC4 is what I do when there’s nothing else on and it’s late and I can’t sleep and Trace has gone to bed). It was a really rather good doc explaining the backstory to the album’s tracks, the length they went to in conceiving and recording it, even a bit of an expose of the boys in the band, behind the masks, behind the robot helmets. Muso nerds across the country applauded, and like me I’m sure, dusted down their compact disc copy of Random Access Memories and re-spun it in the morning.

All well and good. No harm done.

The following week, Random Access Memories was on repeat. I didn’t listen to anything else. I work to music and I travel to music, so Daft Punk was there for me, constantly – Monday working from home, Wednesday on the train to London, Thursday on the early evening train home.

Lose Yourself to Dance‘  got repeated, repeat plays. It stuck in my head. It struck an optimistic, upbeat, hopeful chord in me. It sounded way better than ‘Get Lucky’ and that week I bored a few people extolling it’s virtues.

On Friday 26th February I went to the gym around 8.30am – as was my newly found want – morning gym sessions before work. I asked Ben, the gym man, for it on the sound system. I bored him with how good it was. It upped my pace on the cross trainer.

It was Friday. It was going to be a good day.

One meeting in the office under my belt and I drove Izzy’s Mini (she’d named it ‘Mario’) to the train station to my next meeting in Leeds. I called Trace suggesting we had some QT tomorrow, Saturday, unusual, she replied, but let’s. I took my seat on the Virgin train to Leeds, lowered the table, got out my Macbook and cranked up ‘Lose Yourself to Dance’ in my earphones to do some prep work for the meeting ahead.

My phone rang. It was Trace.

The signal cut. I started to text her ‘I’m on the train, call u back’ (thinking, ‘she knows I don’t like talking on trains…’). But then she called again, the phone vibrating in my hand. I pulled my earphones out and swiped to answer.

“I need you to come home, now. Right now. Something’s… Izzy and Beth are dead. They’re dead. Come home now, please. Come home. Get a cab. Just come home.”

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