9th January, 2008

Ágætis Byrjun

Eight years ago, I spent the Millennium Eve week in a tiny chocolate-box house by the lake in Reykjavik’s old town. I’d just split from my Icelandic partner of two years, and I was down. Really down.

We were getting on though (still do), working stuff out, and she gave me an album by a band I’d never heard of called Sigur Rós (about whom I’ve since written many, many times). This was some time before most folks in the UK had heard of them.

At 11 o’clock in the morning, I was leaning in the open doorway, hands in pockets, looking across the frozen lake to the snowy rooftops of the city beyond as the light slowly lifted. I put the CD on—loud—and listened to Ágætis Byrjun in its entirety for the very first time. In the still cold air I stood for 50 minutes, unaware I was frozen to the bone. If you asked me to draw a map of where everything was, and how everything around me was placed, I could do it right now. I remember every detail.

My whole mood lifted and I found some sort of peace; a new beginning for the new millennium. That Ágætis Byrjun means (roughly) “new beginning” or “an alright start” just seems right somehow. I picked myself up right there. The most incredibly thoughtful gift.

Anyway, it is now 2008. This acoustic version of the title track Ágætis Byrjun (and especially this version) from the new film Heima (also available on the album/soundtrack Heim) is currently my favourite thing in the entire world. Here’s the YouTube video of that performance that captures the Iceland I remember and love:

I’ll never tire of it. Never. Just thought I’d share the tale now that I feel liberated to write whatever I want here.

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