“As everyone knows, Al Green Explores your Mind is as serious as life gets.”
(Nick Hornby, High Fidelity)
In case you are already familiar with Nick Hornby’s work, High Fidelity (published in 1995) needs no further introduction. A brilliantly entertaining and yet remarkably insightful take on life, relationships and pop music, it remains a classic of its genre. In 2000 it was also made into a film starring John Cusack as the audiophile Rob Gordon. Rob (whose last name in the book is actually Fleming) is the novel’s main character and a music geek who takes pleasure in coming up with top 5 lists of ex-girlfriends, records, films, artists and pretty much everything else.
A big plus to Hornby’s novel are the many musical tips scattered across the text. A whole playlist full of soulful and funky tunes that can still be enjoyed long after the reading is over, and which also served as a basis for the film’s groovy soundtrack.
So here are my all-time, top five most memorable musical references in High Fidelity in chronological order:
1) Solomon Burke – Got To Get You Off My Mind
2) Otis Redding – You Left The Water Running
3) Smokey Robinson and the Miracles – It’s a Good Feeling
4) Donny Hathaway – The Ghetto
Followed by my top five, most memorable quotes from Hornby’s book in order of appearance:
1) “What came first, the music or the misery? Did I listen to music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to music? Do all those records turn you into a melancholy person?”
2) “I reorganize my record collection; I often do this at periods of emotional stress. When I’ve finished I’m flushed with s sense of self, because this, after all, is who I am.”
3) “To me, making a tape is like writing a letter – there’s a lot of erasing and rethinking and starting again. A good compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do.”
4) “You know the worst thing about being rejected? The lack of control. If I could only control the when and how of being dumped by somebody, then it wouldn’t seem as bad. But then, of course, it wouldn’t be rejection, would it? It would be by mutual consent. It would be musical differences. It would be leaving to pursue a solo career.”
5) “How can you like Art Garfunkel and Solomon Burke? It’s like saying you support the Israelis and the Palestinians.”