Love Letter To A Record: Jeremy Neale On The Strokes’ ‘Room on Fire’

Written by Jeremy Neale on February 9, 2018

Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become.

In this series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.

Here are their love letters to records that forever changed their lives.

Jeremy Neale: The Strokes – Room on Fire

Dear Room on Fire by The Strokes,

There are lots of people you meet on this wild adventure we call existence who are super important to you in the window of time in which your lives overlap. When you take a moment to reflect years later you think, “I wonder what they’re doing now? I hope their lives have worked out magically. Maybe I’ll send them a kind message next time I’ve had a few vinos.”

Never have I gotten drunk and told you how I feel, Room On Fire by The Strokes. But right now is that time. Though tbqh it is New Year’s day and I had a cider at lunch time and I’ve just woken up from a nap. Happy 2018.

Let me paint a picture with words about when we first met.

So there I was, fresh-faced and 17, heading into my first year of university.

I don’t know if I’ve ever felt this alive since – on the edge of infinite possibility and only months away from being able to go anywhere I wanted as a real deal adult. It was during this vibrant period that my Discman (iPods existed, I was just poor as hell) had one CD that refused to leave and it was you, Room On Fire.

Like everybody else on the planet, I’d spent a lot of time with Is This It after being given a mixtape by a girl a couple of years prior that was actually just the record in its entirety. That was a very important moment in my life in general as it successfully nudged me from the somewhat limiting pop punk trajectory that I was on at the time.

So anyways, here I am, pre-eventual uni burnout and existential-crisis-inducing-breakdown. I’m doing a lot of walking around campus, a bit of hoping that I’ll make some nice new pals, sometimes napping on the lawn in between lectures ‘cos it was such a long bus ride home to the ‘burbs. And for most of this alone time, you were my buddy. So, thank you.

There’s not much more magical to me than the synth guitar tone in ’12:51′ or an intensity greater than the delivery of ‘Reptilia’. I’d never been exposed to such modern musical possibility. Or how tracks like ‘The End Has No End’ or ‘Under Control’ made me feel nostalgic for a time I’d never existed in or for a fictitious future place I could get to, one day, somehow. The record is as cold as it is bursting with life. Yet no matter how intense the album got in parts, it was never abrasive. It was always easy for me to start the record again.

You were the soundtrack to a place and a feeling that I want to experience again and listening right now, well, it’s equal parts melancholic and beautiful.

It is kinda sad ‘cos as time goes on and you understand yourself more – there is a great freedom. But then, by knowing what you want to achieve, it means the work is never done and you are trapped on the path to create the life you know you want. Not to mention the increasing weight of responsibility. But before all of that and before I knew what I wanted, I had a great freedom and the soundtrack to it was you.

Love always,
Your pal Jeremy Neale.

Jeremy Neale’s debut album ‘Getting The Team Back Together’ is out now. Neale will play two shows this March in Brisbane and Melbourne, before heading to New York City to focus on songwriting as the recipient of the Grant McLennan Fellowship. Show details below.

Jeremy Neale Tour Dates

Friday 9 March
Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane
Tickets: Black Bear Lodge

Friday 23 March
The Workers Club, Melbourne
Tickets: Workers Club

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