I don’t know if you’re familiar with my Amazon wishlist. But if you are, you’ll know that I’ve lately been looking to reacquire your first album, which I originally bought – much to my girlfriend at the time’s disgust and bemusement – from the Tottenham Court Road Virgin Megastore shortly after it came out in 1998.
It was an indulgent, impulsive and kind of silly purchase.
I’d thought Because We Want To was a brilliant, stunning, classic, etc pop song. (And the way everyone just instinctively knew, well in advance of its release, that it was going to go in at number one and dethrone #$&% Three Lions ’98 was a thing of beauty.)
But, y’know, I’d listened to most of your record on listening posts, and didn’t actually even think it was really all that great.
I was basically a snobby indie kid. And besides, I didn’t like you as much as B*Witched (whose LP, conversely, was the fucking bomb – and could legitimately be said to have changed my life, in a subtle kind of way).
But there was just Something About You. The way you stared piercingly out of the sleeve from under your hair, a paragon of innocent knowingery; and the matching combination you displayed in interviews of unquestionably genuine irrepressible-15-year-old-witnessing-all-her-dreams-coming-true wonderment and an equally unfakeable worldly-wise, seen-it-all intelligence. (And your tits. I liked your tits, also.)
You were just too cool.
Sadly, that copy was stolen along with almost all my other CDs a few years later. Somehow, inexplicably, yours felt like one of the ones I was most gutted to lose, even though I could only ever have played it all the way through maybe five or six times.
Flash forward half a decade or so to a couple months ago and I’m watching an early episode of the excellent new series of Dr Who. And I suddenly decide that I want it back. You can’t get all the tracks online anymore. I put it on my wishlist.
Late last week, finalising my previous eBay CD purchase, it occurs to me to search for it, and I find a copy – of the original UK release, with Because We Want To and Girlfriend tracked first, as it should be (although, you know, the US order works, too) – going for 99p, no bids, expiring in four hours. I grab it.
Today it arrived, extraordinarily quickly. I was really thrilled; much more so than I expected to be.
So I bring it inside, and whilst ripping it to the eMac, idly pull your Wikipedia page.
Try to imagine my surprise and delight as my eyes are scanning the opening line of the entry and relay to my brain the hitherto un(consciously)known fact that today is your birthday!
Happy 24th, Billie. Hope you’re having a great one.
Love your work.
Very best wishes,