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A poem about Oily Water

February 23, 2021 ・ Blog

I’m no poet, but I found myself writing a poem. I listened to Blur’s song Oily Water, which I’d ripped years ago from my CD of their album Modern Life is Rubbish, and heard in it a little audio aberration which I’d forgotten about but was immediately familiar. For me, it’s even part of the song, since I’m not sure I’ve ever heard Oily Water that hasn’t originated from that CD.

I know what caused it: a mark on the reflective playing surface which I noticed way back when I bought the CD in the mid-1990s. But coming across it in 2021 brought home how that song has been a part of my life for so long, despite hardly being a favourite, and how such a tiny blip of happenstance has subtly transformed a mass-produced piece of digital media into something that’s entirely personal to me.

Anyway, yes, so I wrote a poem.

Spectrograph image of an MP3 with a chunk of broken data clearly visible in one of its two channels
Spectrograph image of the sound file


Oily Water
Ripped from CD in 2006
With a blemish in its spectrum
Which wrote a smudge of silence.
An accident fixed in 1993
To polycarbonate and then to me.
Today, a chance listen
And at 0:58
I hear it again
A constant in this song only to me
Borne on a disc I bought at 17.
A treasure then
A treasure now.