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A brief history of my ‘work music’

2011: Live Forever — Oasis

These were the heady days of youthful exuberance, when any idea seemed
like it was worth pursuing — all the world’s problems could be solved
with code, y’know? — and the internet was new, exciting, and as yet
relatively uncommercialised. I was going through a major Britpop phase
and this anthem seemed to best capture the spirit of the age.

My favourite member of the band was obviously Guigsy, the bassist.

Maybe you’re the same as me
We see things they’ll never see
You and I are gonna live forever

There were no limits back then, no wary old voice at the back of your
head saying “someone must’ve written a library for this before”, or
“if this is worth anything Google would’ve done it already”. Bus route
finders and blog aggregators just sprung up, with hopelessly naive yet
somehow (barely) functioning code that got the job done.

2012: A Certain Romance — Arctic Monkeys

My final year of uni was happening, and there was a real chance of me failing.

In retrospect, this might’ve been an overreaction to the statement by a
lecturer that last year’s batch had done awfully, and half had flunked their
finals. But I was fed up of the years of uni I’d already been through, and
wanted to finally be a salaryman. No chances were hence taken, and no quarter
given. From the end of the day’s lecturers right up until 8 PM when the library
closed down, I would be in there studying. Every. Single. Day.

There were some perks. Pretty librarians, and even prettier girls. Nothing
(obviously) came of it, but I got introduced to a lot of good music: Hendrix,
Clapton, and the Monkeys from Sheffield. I still consider their debut album
— chronicling a night out clubbing— one of the finest ever crafted. Alex Turner
was barely 20 at the time.

Alex ❤

Well over there, there’s friends of mine
What can I say? I’ve known ’em for a long long time
And yeah they might overstep the line
But I just cannot get angry in the same way
Not in the same way

Oh, and I passed. 🙂

2017: Don’t Stop — Fleetwood Mac

Was it even a break up if you didn’t listen to Rumours
by Fleetwood Mac at least 6 times?

I was trudging through my second job like a British tax inspector through a cold
thunderstorm. The project I was working through had been through 6 weeks of hell
and back — all to deliver a product that would’ve taken n number of weeks in
half the time, all because it had been sold to the client as something that
could be done.

Everyone involved in that sales pitch had disappeared, and a team of mostly
greenhorns had to spend late nights and weekends, clocking up 100-hour weeks for
this impossible goal. There was a week where I had spent 6 midnights in a row at
the office. We’d go home at 2 AM (on a good day) and be back at work at 9 AM for
the morning client call with the team in Brisbane.

As 2017 ended, and I spent Christmas ‘holidays’ in an empty office working, my
mind was set on quitting as soon as possible. The only thing keeping me going
were the breakup songs playing through my tinny headset.

Everyone needs some of that coke in their lives.

If you wake up and don’t want to smile
If it takes just a little while
Open your eyes and look at the day
You’ll see things in a different way

Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow
Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here
It’ll be, better than before
Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone

2018: Renu Renu — Rookantha Gunathilake

2018 was an year of catharsis in many ways. I was able to leave my second job
and transition to my third, work with a group of people whom I enjoy being
around, and work at my own pace. I listen to a lot of Rookantha and Synthwave
these days, when I need to get deep work done and block out the distractions of the
co-working space we operate out of.

Renu Renu is the 7th track from Roo’s seminal 1988 release Bambara Pahasa.
With such evergreen hits like the title track, the patriotic anthem Indunil Gangulel,
Sithin Sina Sisi (one of my favourite love songs ever), Anatha Maruthe,
Suwanda Dena Mal Wane and Lande Mula Wee, the Bambara Pahasa cassette (which I
grew up listening to) marked a high point in the Sri Lankan popular music industry.

One year later, its greatest ever songwriter Premakeerthi de Alwis was killed in the
midst of an extremely gruesome war between Marxist insurgents and government death squads
that were ready to match and amplify the savagery, marking the start of a slow but steady
decline in both the commercial reach and the artistic achievements of the industry.

As for the work itself — it isn’t the most exciting in the world. I’m no longer working
with the latest cutting-edge tech and writing code in a language that came out 6 months
ago and Babel transpiles into 16 different varieties of Javascript, but sometimes
boring is good.

This beautiful track is like 3-songs-in-one. Also, Rupavahini should bring back
Saxophonists in naval suits.

රේණු රේණු මල් මිටේ රේණු
ඈට පෙම් කරන්න මට බෑලු
රන් සමනල තටු මට ලැබෙන්නෙ නෑලු
රොන් පිරී සැලෙන්න මල් රේණු

සඳවත දෝ මා දුටුවේ
ඔබෙ ගත දෝ මා දුටුවේ
සිතුවම් දෝ මා දුටුවේ
හැබැහින් දෝ ඔබ දුටුවේ

Bambara Pahasa Album Cover

Greatest Sri Lankan album cover design ever?


Originally Posted on Medium

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