Musings for Airports

Everything is interesting.  Everything is ambient.

I've always liked airports. I don't know exactly why: perhaps it's their bleak permanence, their strange and incongruous quietness. You see faces exotic and alien, but every face you see in the airport is one you will never see again. There is not even the illusion of community: everyone is only passing through. The airport's employees are efficient and seem so sad, as efficient people often do. All of this appeals to me.

Perhaps it's just that there's no better time or place than to listen to Brian Eno's classic, Music for Airports - or to give its full title and due respect, Ambient 1: Music for Airports - the quintessential album of the ambient genre that Eno is, if not quite credited with creating, rightly revered as its father. (Nobody really creates ambient music: it just sort of...happens.  I think Brian would be the first to admit that).

Forty years after its release, still no other music has captured the sound and feeling of being in an airport as perfectly.  It's curiously absent from YouTube, but here is a timestretched version that works just as well, maybe even better:

Another thing I like about airports is their spaciousness. Hardly anyone is in a hurry at an airport. The distances to be travelled are greater, the logistics more complicated: allowances are made. Occasionally a final boarding call is issued, and panicking family laden with children, luggage and duty free carrier bags, rushes towards a gate, but it happens too quickly to break the mood. The rest of us gawp at their laptops and phones, amble through the sickening array of outlets for ties, luggage, "accessories", designer clothing, aftershave and cosmetics, insurance, alcohol, express manicures, chocolate, children's toys, arcade games, and fast food; or sleep, or stare off into space or, if they're me, walk the corridors from one gate to another, snapping boring photographs of boring things, things so boring they exist nowhere else and barely seem to exist even here.  With Eno in my ears.  I've never been happier.

This afternoon my dear friend Ross will be marrying Virginia, which is what I am doing in Toronto, in case you are wondering.  Ross has lived here for years, we have known each other for decades and he's probably the only person I know well who appreciates ambience as I do.  He told me a few days ago he will be making his entrance to Music for Airports.  Just imagine that.


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