Dan Wilson’s lyrics draw attention to the creative and artistic diverse stream of meanings and stories associated with popular music texts. Reflecting on this, I draw from my personal experience and on the research topics on which I am currently working in order to tell the story of El Tren Fantasma by Chris Watson – an experimental record which is built upon archive recordings and which recreates the journey of a by now ‘ghost train’ travelling across Mexico. The ways in which Watson consciously manipulates the sounds he collected, directly connect with the Latino side of my family and transport me into a ‘mystical’ dimension where images from my childhood and teenage years overlap with pictures and stories my parents and siblings told me over the years. The essay, trying to balance the personal with academic rigour, engages with discourses on the complex relation between sound, space and time. From the ‘hauntological’ and ‘retromania’ perspectives, to the works of Seán Street, José Van Dijck and David Toop, passing through David Harvey and Doreen Massey, the argument discusses how Watson’s tren serves as an interesting instance of the ways in which memories are evoked and constructed, how the nostalgia aesthetic articulates blurred visions of popular music past and how recording technologies help shape our perceptions of time and space in today’s globally mediated environment.
Read Fiamma’s full piece HERE