Michael Head and The Strands — ‘Something Like You’

“Isn’t it awful that print journalism is in decline?” I said to myself recently while flicking through some music magazines in the newsagents for a quick free read.

The decline in physical journalism formats and the decline in physical music formats invariably means a decline in their intersection — the CDs stuck on the cover of the monthly glossy music magazines. But they’re still around. They tend to be sampler compilations from new or re-released albums, and many’s the much-loved tune I discovered from such a disc.

While I was free-reading that music magazine (I forget which one) in the newsagent’s at Heuston Station in Dublin, I saw that one of the tracks on its free CD (and they may as well have stuck a horseshoe or an abacus on the cover) was by Michael Head and the Red Elastic Band. This reminded me of another time I was in Heuston Station many years previously, when I bought a music magazine that had a CD which included a song by The Strands, one of Michael Head’s earlier bands.

Why would I remember such a banal thing? Because that song by The Strands, called ‘Something Like You’, is an astoundingly lovely record — one of my favourites. Love happens in such banal ways.

For a short pop song, ‘Something Like You’ packs an incredible amount of detail and feeling. It begins with a mournful guitar riff and a clarinet line that nods to Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody in Blue’, then slips into a giddy, romantic waltz of strings, before ending in another sweeping movement. The whole lovelorn, wistful confection is irresistible.

If I’ve ever made a mix tape or mix CD for you, then I’ll have included this. Mix tapes and mix CDs, another thing that’s now in the realm of historical artifact:

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