It’s impossible to know how you’re going to react when someone dies.
In early February, my good friend Lee Brackstone sent me the January 30th episode of Andrew Weatherall’s Music is Not for Everyone. After listening, I sent back links to a couple of tracks with the message, “He’s a genius. John Peel of our times”. Ten days later news came through Andrew was dead. I immediately went back to that episode, and the ones surrounding it, searching on Spotify for some of the tunes Andrew played, and there started a project – one into which to channel the grief of losing someone I knew only a little, but whose company guaranteed incandescent laughter and who had shepherded us through many nights of ALFOS and the rest. A way to spend more time in the company of The Chairman, to hear his gently sardonic voice; a way to share the beautiful, obscure music Andrew played on MNFE.
Methodology was trial and much error before I landed on listening on Mixcloud (best for scrolling back and forth), identifying ones that caught my ear on NTS Radio (almost-reliable track lists) and transferring to a Spotify playlist called, simply, ‘weatherall’. Finding the tracks on Spotify is not always easy, it would be wrong if it were otherwise: some are just not there, originally pulled for the show out of the depths of Andrew’s immense vinyl collection to go no further – dub tracks in particular; some are elusive but can be unearthed with persistently calibrated searches; many are by artists who only have a couple of tracks up there; The Woodleigh Research Facility is largely evasive, as you’d imagine.
Ranging back through this soundtrack for the End Times, I listen in my kitchen, I listen getting dressed, mostly I listen tramping along the emptying streets of Coronatown, jettisoned into a psychedelic kaleidoscope of gnostic sonics, pausing on corners, scrolling forward and back to find the anchor of Andrew’s voice. When I had travelled back to the beginning of 2019 – fifteen episodes, thirty hours of music – I revisited ‘weatherall’ playing everything again to select the final tracks for the first release of this playlist, now five hours twenty-seven minutes, show by show in the order Andrew played them on MNFE and uploaded to Spotify on March 9th. There was an instant response. Three days later, the day of Andrew’s funeral, I started on 2018, journeying through eight hours as I walked around the local park in my daughter’s maroon fake-fur coat – mad, sad and grateful, hanging on to the edge and not taking up too much room. It is the most sane thing I can think of doing at the moment.
And so project continues, to be uploaded as each year is completed, back to the beginning, July 2014. Sisters and brothers, please don your ceremonial robes and headgear, huddle round your devices and let invocation commence. If you listen to this, there’s no way the grubby little opportunists can get you down.
Image: Andrew Weatherall Lino-cut gifted to Lee Brackstone in 2012