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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Monday, December 12, 2005
    Pillows and Prayers
     
    "I have been to bars in Soho, whose denizens have crossed social and geographical barriers to reach them. In one, I have seen a girl sitting amid musical pandemonium with a book open on her knees and her little finger entwined with that of her true love. Of course, she was not really listening, not really reading and not communicating with her friend in any way that required effort or style. It would be hard to say whether the jukebox caused the death of human speech or whether music came to fill an already widening void - but unless the music is stopped now, the human race, mumbling, snapping its fingers and twitching its hips, will sink back into an amoebic state, where it will take a coagulation of hundreds of teenagers to make up a single unit of vital force - which, once formed, will only live on sedatives, consume itself on the terraces of football stadia, and die."

    - Quentin Crisp, Stop the Music for a Minute, last track on Pillows and Prayers.

    It was a time in my life when I ought to have been flourishing. Five years out of school, a skill, a trade under my belt, world at my feet. But it turned out to be the year I went on the dole. Me and many others of my peers here too: thanks to the regrettably still-alive Thatcher. However there were some small streams of light in the darkness, and one came from the people at Cherry Red Records, who decided to put out a compilation at a dole-affordable 99p. Not too much of an exaggeraation to say that Pillows and Prayers changed our lives. It was lovely, it was funny, it was sophisticated, it was warm. We needed all those things just then. 1983. My tape copy is well-lost, or stretched to past-playing point ages ago. I've just bought it again, on CD, doubled up with the previously Japanese-only 1984 follow-up. It's as fresh (and in Quentin's case, funny) as the day I first heard it. Will brighten up these winter nights.