Josh Shreeve’s podcast What’s In the Bag? explores music memorabilia and nostalgia with a host of wonderful guests. But at a time when live music events have come to a screeching halt, we asked Josh about how the year 2020 will look to music fans in the future, and the current importance of exploring our own music-related adventures of years long gone.
Before I launched my podcast, I spoke to a friend about the link between nostalgia and music, who said: “It’s both my favourite and least favourite emotion”. She couldn’t have been more spot on. Amid lockdown we’ve got more time to think, watch, listen and rediscover things from yesteryear, which often evoke warm fuzzy feelings but also those of pain and longing to return to a freer time. Music in particular has an unshakeable link to feelings of nostalgia and forms the backbone of What’s In The Bag? Podcast.
The podcast offers a window into the musical experiences that have shaped people over the years, which often regurgitate these nostalgic feelings. In each episode a guest brings five music-related items in a bag, from unfolding an old Rolling Stones ticket owned by their late-father to a gig t-shirt they bought on the night they hooked up with their fiancé. So far I’ve spoken to people who work in and around the music scene including reporters, broadcasters, DJs and label assistants, as well as those in fashion and sports journalism, all of whom have brought bulging bags stuffed with personal memorabilia collated from the past few decades.
But what will people have to show for the great year of 2020? Festival wristbands? Nope. Gig tickets? Good luck. Records or merchandise? Maybe if the postman will deliver them. One thing music fans might be left talking about though is the endless stream of videos ‘live’ from artists bedrooms. Be it acoustic performances or DJ sets, there’s almost too many to focus your attention on. Recent guest Abbie McCarthy, who’s a presenter for BBC Music Introducing In Kent and 4Music, has been cleverly plugging gaps in the video-stream-market since lockdown. Usually filling her spare time with promoting her club night Good Karma Club, she decided to get her network of musical friends to get together and tell jokes online to cheer people up, which she called ‘LOL FM’; a concept that might never have been imagined without lockdown.
It’s this creativity that a lot of musicians are embracing during this time and there may even be tangible products that come out of it which we’ll talk about on future episodes of the podcast. For many people though it’s a time to bury your head in the sand, so far that you’ll come out the other side of your teenage years. I am one of those people. Within days of lockdown I was spending my hours playing FIFA and decided to make a playlist of my favourite songs from the video game over the years; a weird sort of comfort for me that transports me back to a happy childhood of muddy trackie bottoms and Vodafone-sponsored Man United shirts. After a few more days of lockdown, Glastonbury Festival announced its 50th anniversary was off the cards, leading to many people opening Instagram to share old photos of them in the sun-kissed Somerset fields. I even encouraged listeners to share their ‘What’s In The Room?’ items to think about all the memories surrounding them as they listen or work from home. About a month in and along came one of the most important days to music fans; Record Store Day. But with no storefronts to queue outside, record shops urged collectors to purchase what they could and help out local businesses. Many people did, and so they were reminded of the raw beauty of long form albums and the music that made them who they are, before ‘these unprecedented times’.
That’s why What’s In The Bag? is more important right now than ever, as my guests get the opportunity to share their most prized possessions and memories, giving comfort and reflection in these uneasy times. Going forward it may be hard to mark this time in our lives without the tangible nostalgia gathered from the outside world, festival fields, holiday destinations or gig venues, but as Abbie McCarthy says, once this is all over it’s “going to be absolute scenes”. In the meantime, I encourage you to rummage through those dusty shoeboxes and delve back into that Facebook photo album because though the world outside your four walls may be pretty lifeless right now, a lot of life can be found in those items.
Josh Shreeve is a music-lover and content creator from London. When he’s not hopping between gigs or spending his time at festivals, he’s busy behind the mic for his What’s In The Bag? Podcast and working at BBC Radio 1 as a Content Assistant. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram, and follow the podcast on Twitter and Instagram as well.