“The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat” is a book by Oliver Sacks and contains very interesting accounts of his work as a neurologist. The title of the book concerns a man who at one point thought his wife was a hat which he tried to put on his head. The condition that this man had is called visual agnosia and can be a result of someone suffering brain damage. This condition means that although a patient can recognize facial features and emotions, face recognition is almost impossible purely from visual stimuli, even for faces of friends, family, and ones own self.
Luckily, for the moment anyway, I don’t have brain damage but I often wonder if my inability to remember faces is some mild form of this condition. If I’m watching a TV show and there are two male actors who have no distinguishing facial hair or haircuts, there’s no way I can tell them apart. I just have to pause the show and annoy Roo by asking something like “Is that the bloke who is married to the girl with the long hair?” This used to be a problem when I was teaching. I was reasonably proficient at remembering girls’ names because I was able to link their name with their hair. One year I taught two boys named Harvey who sat opposite each other. They were both tall, slim, good looking with neat black hair. They were both very polite, hardworking and intelligent. I often looked at them and tried to tell myself how I could distinguish between them. I could see that they weren’t identical but I couldn’t find any feature that I could use to make a connection with their name. It got quite awkward on parents evening when I had to be able to let their parents know their son’s test scores and I wasn’t sure who it was that was sitting in front of me with their parents.
So, the only way I think I can tell people apart is by their hair styles. My hair grows very quickly and until today I had not had a haircut for nearly four months. My hair was longer than it has been at any time since the late Seventies. Luckily, a month ago, the barbers started taking appointments and so today I bravely ventured inside and sat in Benn’s chair (that’s how he spelt it – with two n’s) while he butchered me. I had to wear a mask – Benn also wore a mask which, humourously was a Halloween mask; I had my temperature taken before venturing into the shop; I had to use hand sanitiser but, to be honest, the other barbers in the shop didn’t seem that bothered about social distancing. I expected a full visor from Benn but he just wore his mask. It didn’t matter because they knew I was a Brighton supporter so they put an iPad in front of me showing the Norwich v Brighton game which luckily ended in a 1-0 win.
So, I had a haircut today and Brighton won. I felt very emotional.
LCD Soundsystem are not the sort of group I normally like. Their genre is defined as being “Dance-punk”, “Electronic-rock” or “Alternative-dance”. I bought “American Dream” because “Uncut” made it the album of the year in 2017. Other albums of the year include “Lost In The Dream” by The War On Drugs (2014) and “Double Negative” by Low (2018). I found the former brilliant and the latter underwhelming. You win some, you lose some. Hey ho.
LCD Soundsystem were formed in 2002, released three albums between 2005 and 2010 before splitting in 2011. The farewell concert at Madison Square Gardens features a really wonderful performance of a song called “All My Friends” which is from their 2007 album “Sound Of Silver” (which was also UNCUT’s album of the year). This song builds and builds and builds until the tension is so unbearable everything falls apart.
Track 6 is called “Tonite” and I really like it. There’s a really strong synth bass line, electronic drums in the form of a synare and spoken vocals by the leader of the group, James Murphy. It’s got one of those driving beats that I really like. On the recorded track, there are only two players but on the very exciting clip from “Later”, there are seven players.
“Call The Police” follows “Tonite” on the album and is equally exciting. It has been described as a “post-punk” song. Other exponents of this genre include Public Image Ltd, Gang Of Four, Soft Cell and The Human League. This sounds nothing like any of these. I wonder if my sound recognition is as weak as my facial recognition at time. This is fast paced, electronic, and expressing great emotion through a metronomic beat with very few but quite pronounced chord changes. As with all the songs that I have heard by LCD Soundsystem, the vocals are spoken, not sung.
The first lines on the following song are “I caught your eye when I stepped outside with my emotional haircut. It seems that I’ve been misunderstood.” That’s funny because I’m sure that all I got were admiring looks. Maybe these were more facial expressions that I didn’t understand.