The first time I listened to the charming Scottish band Belle and Sebastian it was because of a boy.
A certain skinny, Buddy-Holly-glasses-wearing boy I had a huge, multi-year unrequited crush on. I believe at least a few of you know exactly who I'm talking about. He recommended the band to me for some reason or other, possibly because I feigned an interest, and suggested I would like them. Of course I promptly devoured every song of theirs I could, pushing past the 'eh it's okay' barrier into true love. I got over the boy (mostly, eventually, probably) but I never got over Belle and Sebastian.
Since then most people who become close friends of mine eventually have to listen to a lot of Belle and Sebastian. "Isn't this great?" I bellow at my passengers while I'm a Cuckoo ('I'd rather be in Tokyo/I'd rather listen to Thin Lizzy-oh' guffs lead singer Stuart Murdoch) blares out of the car stereo. "This will change your life," I say, pressing a copy of Tigermilk into someone else's hand ('reading the Gospel to yourself is fine,' coo B&S).
Some of the friends who have been around for awhile have learnt to like (a bit of) them. Others have learned to feign enjoyment and quietly pray for death as I crank up the stereo. I forget how much I talk about them until sometimes, when they come on the radio, and I receive a text message to let me know. That makes me almost as happy as a B&S song does.
It's weird the way some bands get into your mind. Eight-ish years on from listening to my first Belle and Sebastian song I still nominate them as my favourite band, pretty much without hesitation. They're not the 'best' band in the world, the most talented, the best looking or anything like that but listening to a Belle and Sebastian record, for me, is like taking prozac. Even the depressing songs about break-ups and infidelity and stuff that should make me want to take a razor to my wrists cheer me up.
Maybe it's Stuart Murdoch's irrepresibly friendly face or the suspicion that he'd be really fun to hang out with. Maybe it's the fact that, as somebody wise recently told me, no music will ever be as important to you as the music you listen to before you're 25. Maybe it's because they're bloody good and sweet and charming.
So why aren't you listening to them, fool? Call me, we'll talk about it - I'll make you a mix tape...