The other evening I had a friend over, who insisted that I choose the music that accompanied our visit. I scrolled through my files, currently having access to music only through my laptop, and instinctively chose Kula Shaker, which I haven’t listened to in some time. In fact, I actually have to look up the name of the album Peasants, Pigs and Astronauts, because I simply know it as my “Edinburgh soundtrack.” It wasn’t my soundtrack at all, but it is everything about Edinburgh in my mind.
I traveled to Edinburgh in August, 1999. My sister was living there that year, and I don’t recall whether I purposely booked my trip during the Festivals, but I spent a phenomenal three weeks soaking up the Fringe, Film, Book, Jazz and Blues Fests, and the Military Tattoo, amongst others. I loved exploring the city by foot, and was liberally snap-happy with my trusty Pentax MX, despite the costs associated with film photography. This was my first major trip alone, and after I got over those initial jitters on landing in London, the sense of absolute freedom and adventure sunk in. I haven’t shaken those sense.
My sister shared a flat in Viewforth Square with four other travelers. I’d never heard of Kula Shaker before although the band was cresting in its popular career. Peasants, Pigs and Astronauts must have just been released, and my sister was playing it incessantly in the flat. All. The. Time. I couldn’t stand it! I hated the album, and I hated how ingrained in my consciousness it was becoming. I do recall one of her roommates bringing home the Best of Van Morrison, so that occasionally got played by Noel, but otherwise it was all Kula.
When I left Edinburgh, I was happy to give my ears a break. Within a few weeks I started university, and immediately signed up to volunteer with CJUM 101.5 FM. About a year in, a funny thing happened. I started jonesing for my Edinburgh soundtrack, and especially “Shower Your Love.” Perhaps this was musical Stockholm Syndrome? How could I be longing for that playlist that had so irritated me during those few weeks?
The station had a copy of Peasants, Pigs and Astronauts in its CD library, so I pulled it for a listen. It took me right back to Edinburgh, to every fond memory I harboured, every magical moment. I had to get my own copy, and did. When I felt nostalgic, I had a listen, excepting “Shower Your Love”, which fell into much more regular rotation.
All that is well and good. Prior to the other night, I can’t remember the last time I’d heard my Edinburgh soundtrack. However, it was prior to last month’s yoga teacher training, because as my soundtrack played in the background of my friend’s visit, songs like “Govinda” (having now looked up the title) caught my unsuspecting ear. These were variations of chants we’d sung in kirtan during teacher training. What was this bit of Brit Pop confection doing laced with kirtan? Suddenly, I with the underdeveloped yoga-class-appropriate music collection suddenly had a brilliant new option. My yoga teaching was always going to tend toward the modern and the expressive; it was always going to be tradition with attitude. 15 years later, my Edinburgh soundtrack appeared as the underpinning.