That space between Christmas and New Year is always a time for reflection on the year just gone…and a time to starting thinking about what the new year might have in store for us. So I figured this was as good a time as any other to explore some of the best songs of 2018, which I’ll do over the next few days.
Today’s song, “Lost Without You” by Freya Ridings, was technically released in 2017, but didn’t garner much in the way of critical mass until the middle of 2018, eventually peaking at Number Nine in the UK charts in October. So, based on the rules we’ve developed for “end of the year reviews” around here over the years, for our purposes “Lost Without You” is 2018 song, near as makes no difference.
I first heard “Lost Without You” as a remix on the radio station my kids make me put on in the car. I say “make me put on”…in fact I like listening to a wide variety of musical styles, so their insistence on listening to a different radio station prevents me from getting too stuck in a musical rut, much as I like to pretend to them that I prefer listening to radio stations designed for a more mature demographic.
I mean this as a great compliment, but the first time I heard Freya Ridings sing “Lost Without You” I thought it was Florence Welch from Florence + The Machine. I really like Florence Welch’s trance-y style so I very much enjoyed the song. The version I heard was the Kia Love remix, which you can find here… https://youtu.be/vaBeYnYCCfw
You’ll understand…I hope, or my street cred is completely shot…why I thought I was listening to Florence Welch at first. Freya Ridings’ voice is just delightful on this track and the remix isn’t overdone…it’s more of an Ibiza chilled-out vibe, which goes really well with the sentiment of the song.
At the time I didn’t realise the popularity of “Lost Without You” was driven by its use on the reality TV show “Love Island”…mainly because I went off TV dating shows completely after watching a couple of seasons of Cilla Black presenting “Blind Date” in the 1980s. I haven’t been tempted back since…
Apparently “Lost Without You” was the most Shazam-ed song in the show’s history as people tried to find out the title of the lovely song that was being played at pivotal moments in the show. (For older readers, Shazam is clever service that “listens” to music that’s playing on TV or in a public place and works out what the tune is for you…if you ask me, this sounds more like sorcery than an app, but it’s undeniably very clever!)
So this means “Lost Without You” confounds two strongly-held views of most people my age — firstly that nothing good ever comes out of a reality TV show, and secondly that those weird apps your kids make you download for your phone never serve any useful purpose.
Fear not…even a song as beautiful as this isn’t going to get me watching reality TV dating shows again. I’ll just wait until something else makes it to “breakout hit” status in the years to come and pick up on it then.
Whether you prefer the remix or the original, I promise you Freya Ridings’ dreamy voice will make you glad it found the success she deserved, even if we have to grudgingly thank reality TV for giving her lovely song the exposure in the first place.
After the success of “Lost Without You” on “Love Island” and Shazam, it was picked up by both BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 2 — between them, the most listened-to radio stations in the UK — and quickly romped up the charts.
Leaving aside Freya Ridings dreamy voice, which I’ll do my best to stop going on about soon, the song is a delight. As you might imagine from the title, it’s a tale of heartache…
Standing on the platform, watching you go
It’s like no other pain I’ve ever known
To love someone so much, to have no control
You said “I wanna see the world” and I said “Go”
There’s something about final goodbyes on train platforms that makes them more poignant than final goodbyes anywhere else.
Of course, Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard rather set the template for poignant goodbyes on railway platforms in the 1945 film “Brief Encounter”, which is one of my all-time favourite films. It’s a remarkably intense film, especially for buttoned-up wartime England, with a screenplay by the great Noel Coward, based on a play he’d written in the mid-1930s.
If you haven’t seen “Brief Encounter”, you’re missing something special. Very much of its time, and it wouldn’t get a green light in our more cynical and open-minded times. But a wonderful piece of film-making for all that.
In part, at least, that’s why Freya Ridings had me hooked from “platform” in her opening line, because she took me straight into my memories of one of the greatest British films ever made.
Partings at airports aren’t so sad. I think it’s because the people you say goodbye to at the gate disappear into some sort of twilight zone for a while so by the time the plane pushes back from the gate and trundles towards the runway, the disconnect in space and time has taken the edge off the pain of the parting.
And if you’re at a big airport and your love is leaving on a popular airline, you probably can’t even see the plane during its entire journey from the gate to the runway, so frankly just about any BA, Delta or United plane taking off could be the one carrying the person who just walked out of your life for good.
I’m not suggesting it’s not still a sad experience. Of course it is. But on the first and only occasion someone left me like that, I frankly wasn’t sure which plane was theirs when it took off, so I just decided the next correctly-liveried 737 taking off was going to be theirs and blew a kiss in its direction as the wheels came up and it disappeared into the clouds.
Somehow, standing on a train platform with someone until the whistles start blowing to signify the train’s imminent departure, then watching your erstwhile lover getting on the train and closing the door behind them, followed by the train’s slow transition from standstill to full speed somewhere in the middle distance while you know for sure someone you used to love…and maybe still do…is leaving you for good on it is a much more poignant experience.
I shed a few tears in the station car park after that, I can tell you. But oddly not a single one after hanging around for half an hour by the airport departure gate until the plane pushed back, another half hour while the plane made its way from terminal building to runway, my eventually random selection of a Boeing 737 as the one carrying someone special to me when I couldn’t work out which one it really was, and another half hour between waiting for the courtesy bus back to the car park and the journey there.
Take it from me, the immediacy and intimacy of a break-up on a train platform hits home much harder than the sterile, impersonal, disconnected experience of a final goodbye by the departure gate of an airport.
You’ll pick that up from Freya Ridings’ gorgeous “Lost Without You” as the sense of visceral, heartrending loss really comes through in her performance — especially on the original version, as it’s hard to make anything seem heartrending with a dance beat plugging away in the background, although I’ve got to say Kia Love manages to carry this off better than just about anyone else I can think of.
The “train platform breakup experience” is heightened by the fact that train platforms are densely-packed spaces with constant coming and going as trains cycle through every few minutes. In the midst of what is, at the time, probably the worst experience of your life up to that point, hordes of commuters living their own lives are still busy going about their normal business.
That’s very different from an airport where, mostly, once a gate is cleared, there’s a gap between one flight going and another one landing. All the gate agents move on to the next flight and the passengers and their friends and family evaporate, so you quickly find yourself alone with your thoughts and have the space to come to terms with what just happened.
On a train platform, the juxtaposition between a swirling mass of humanity for whom life goes on as normal, and your own feelings as you go through some of the saddest moments of your life just inches away on the crowded platform, makes breakups at railway stations particularly difficult…
Strangers rushing past, just trying to get home
You were the only safe haven I’ve known
Hits me at full speed, feel like I can’t breathe
And nobody knows
This pain inside me
My world is crumbling
I should never have let you go
Of course, we end up blaming ourselves. Even if none of the blame was ours.
Oh, if only I’d let him do what he wanted, he’d still be with me now…if only I’d understood how much her family means to her I’d have been more supportive…if only I’d been more attentive to her, she’d have stayed in the end…if only…if only…if only…
Some people take a long time to get over the “if-only’s”…some never do…
It’s taken me decades to get over the airport departure I mentioned earlier. The line I told myself for years after was “if only I’d been someone who was good enough to deserve her love, I’d still be with her now”.
While I didn’t cry in the airport car park, in many ways that self-talk has been a much more insidious part of my life. I’d have been better off shedding some tears instead and letting myself moving on.
But you live and learn. And also I didn’t have Freya Ridings’ delightful “Lost Without You” to console me as the delightful Ms Ridings wasn’t even born when I went through that airport break-up experience.
If she’s released her song a couple of decades earlier, I suspect I’d have filled both sides of a C120 cassette…the music medium of choice at the time…with “Lost Without You” and played it over and over again until the tape stretched to the point where it was unusable and was eventually eaten up by the cassette player in my car, at which point I could have put the whole episode behind me.
Maybe things would have turned out differently for me if I could have spent a few days moping around with “Lost Without You” as the soundtrack to my life while I came to terms with someone I loved walking out on me…well, flying out on me, technically, but I’m being metaphorical here…
Whilst I hope breakups aren’t on your mind at this time of year, if they are I can thoroughly recommend Freya Ridings beautiful song “Lost Without You”.
And even if nothing could be further from your mind than a breakup, I can thoroughly recommend this utterly delightful song, which I’m glad to have discovered during 2018.
If you watch the video, I’m pretty sure the director had come straight from shooting a hair product commercial of some sort, and hadn’t quite got their new brief fully under control, but don’t let that distract you.
Freya Ridings’ performance of “Lost Without You” is a wonderfully gentle, pensive, poignant song for any time of year, whether you’re in a breakup or not…here she is…
The video is below, but if you prefer you can listen to the track on Spotify here… https://open.spotify.com/track/3QlF2ExmrRP0RM7ffv7y0Q
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