Paul Young – Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home)
I remember this song being really popular when it was released, and being faintly surprised as I couldn’t fathom the appeal. Paul Young just didn’t seem as cool as the other acts around at the time – Nik Kershaw, Howard Jones, etc. I think I thought of it as being a girls’ song, the sort of thing that was slow danced to at school discos. He certainly didn’t seem to be the kind of rogue sowing his wild oats depicted in this song.
Listening to it now, there’s a vaguely nasal tone to his voice, though it’s a strong voice that follows a melody not led by any of the instruments in the song, and for almost the first minute, only accompanied by the baseline and pattering drum track. For the last minute and a half, he deviates from the lyrics and extemporizes, which may or may not be a good thing.
Coincidentally, I’m writing this blog at my parents’ home, over in the UK for a couple of weeks. I’ve my life, they’ve lived in different countries, as have I. In a way, this song typifies my peripatetic life – getting used to different cities, towns, villages as work or study called me to move on from a place of settlement. Right now, I’m living in a place where I’ve been for the longest time since my childhood. I left the house I’m in some 13 years ago and have been back once or twice each year since then, for short breaks. Each time, it feels like the same place, the same furnishings that make it close to the home I grew up in. But looking back to the early 2000s when I left, the subtle alterations each time I came back have amounted to substantial changes to who I am, who my parents are, and to the place itself.
Look away and time moves on, decay sets in and when time comes to look back, dust has settled, the layers of life building up incrementally. The time when Paul Young was in the ascendency is long gone and of short duration. Unearthing this artefact doesn’t bring back more than vague memories of pastel shades and ankle socks, idle boasts from others of disco night snogs with local girls on school high jump mattresses. I’m happy to leave such things in the past.