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  • Writer's pictureWill

wake me up

Photo: St Anton street party midnight December 2013

The 1970s were grim, and ‘73 was the dim light of the decade. It started off with the sick man of Europe begging to be admitted to the EEC and limping in on the third try. The British Army attacked 300 schoolchildren in Derry (NI), and in unrelated news, the IRA moved their bombing campaign to mainland UK. A year of strife and strikes ended with three-day working weeks and rolling blackouts, homework by candlelight.

On the international front, American involvement in Vietnam was grinding to a humiliating conclusion. The Yom Kippur War ramped up Cold War tensions, and the doomsday clock ticked closer to midnight. In Europe, Basque terrorists were on the rampage. In South Africa, the apartheid regime placed a “banning order” on Steve Biko to stop him from talking about banning orders.

I was a highly politicised disgruntled youth in the Young Socialist Party. I marched and I protested, I handed out leaflets, knew the words to The Red Flag, and held my candle outside the South African Embassy in Trafalger Square. In January 1973 this rebel without a pause became a teenager and what awesome song was on the radio to mark the moment? Jimmy Osmond, Jimmy bloody Osmond. How can you start a revolution with “I’ll be your long-haired lover from Liverpool”? How can you bring down the bourgeoisie with my coo ca choo (1), shang-a-lang (2), little willy (3) or a bloke in glitter who wanted me to join his gang (4) … dodged a bullet there.

The world was burning with injustice and cruelty, I was lost and having an identity crisis, and where was our anthem of hope to lead us into a brave new world?

“I tried carrying the weight of the world, but I only have two hands”

Fast forward forty years to 2013, and the song which thrummed in my head was Avicii’s Wake Me Up. The lyrics lifted my heart, and the music begged me to begin my journey. “Feeling my way through the darkness, guided by a beating heart

I can't tell where the journey will end but I know where to start”

The street was jammed with a thousand people. Ice crystals hung in the nose bleed sharp air, it’s nearly midnight but we don’t care. The DJ turns up the volume. The crowd is rocking, 2013 is about to become 2014, and we began the countdown to a New Year and a new journey.

Photo: some of my co-slaves in the industry

We counted down, and when we hit “one” the DJ hit … Hey Brother by Avicii. We danced and cheered and hugged and kissed. The feeling was the moment, a temporary jägermeister fuelled distraction but I didn’t care, I danced and I loved it. I had waited forty years for the music to match my experience, and I wasn’t about to rationalise it all away. At last, I had the soundtrack to accompany my long-delayed but thoroughly deserved teenage existential crisis.

So wake me up when it's all over, when I'm wiser and I'm older

All this time I was finding myself, and I didn't know I was lost

#pilgrim #austria #seasonaire

Avicii - RIP

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