I don’t normally listen to music while out on the trail. Walking brings its own rhythms that I find are best complemented by attention to other melodies: to birdsong, to the wind singing in the trees, to the tune being hummed by my own rambling thoughts. However, spending weeks alone on the trail is a different proposition, and as I wove my way across France this summer I found that music was often a welcome companion. Some of it had a visceral energy that brought renewed vigour to my footfall as I began to flag on a hot afternoon. At other times a tune or song stayed with me as a reminder of the home I’d left behind, or of the one towards which I was heading. And then there was the music that carried me deep down inside, to more spiritual reflection and to an awareness of what was going on elsewhere as I walked on into the day.
Back home now in Catalonia, much of that music continues to resonate, and so I have decided to share a selection of ten pieces, ambassadors of all those songs and tunes that proved to be good companions on the trail. Each selection is accompanied by a short text that says something about my connection to the music, and by clicking on the title you will be able to listen to and/or watch a performance of the tune in question. While out on the trail I had time enough to savour this music, and I would like for you to have the same opportunity. Therefore, rather than presenting all ten selections as a single playlist I will post them in dribs and drabs over the next few weeks. Here’s the first tune. Enjoy!
Walk Awhile: Fairport Convention
Back in the early 1980s my brother-in-law, Len, had a brown Morris Ital, and one of the most memorable trips I recall making in that car was to Fairport Convention’s annual reunion at Cropredy. I had not long turned eighteen at the time, and was still many years shy of discovering the pleasures and pain of long-distance walking. When, over a quarter of a century later, I walked Wainwright’s coast to coast trail eastwards across the north of England, Len was one of those at my side. This summer, as I walked west across Brittany, he was there again for a few days, quietly urging me towards my goal. While the Ital has long since left the road, Fairport Convention continue to reunite each year, and two brothers continue to learn new things about each other. As for the song’s refrain, we need more than ever for it to be true: “Walk awhile, walk awhile, walk awhile with me. The more we walk together, love, the better we’ll agree”.