Stop you in your tracks² – "It’s A Beautiful Day"

“For me, a great rock song is a good tune, plus some inspired irritant – a shout, a noise, an enigmatic line, a raucous solo.”

John Pareles – now the chief music critic of the Arts section of the New York Times – wrote that when he was a contributing editor at Rolling Stone in the 1980s.
I clipped it and it’s stayed on my pinboard to this day.

There are songs that – when I hear them – I instantly know where I was when I first heard them. They’re indelibly linked to the taste of the air or the person I was with or the taste of the coffee or the record store I subsequently bought the album from. Or. Or. Or

Tracks that literally stopped me in my tracks
My “Stop you in your tracks²”

#5 in a series of n

In a previous life, I did the Executive Management thing with a major aviation group.
I had a UK-based customer (2nd largest UK airline, actually) and they’d invite me over for their annual management conference.

Very slick, very marketing department-driven (this is the outfit that insisted on ultra corporate-design boarding passes against our recommendations and wondered why passengers couldn’t read the information – black print on a dark blue background. Hello? – that hadn’t smudged to illegibility on the high gloss surface.
I was in a board meeting at which this debacle was discussed and the look on the CFO’s face when he found out that they’d ordered 6,000,000 was priceless…), some true snake oil salesmen in senior management, but a CEO who was one of the nicest guys I’ve met.

It’s 2002.
The industry’s in post-9/11 turmoil, the customer’s handing out pink slips like confetti, they’ve just started a transatlantic service in an economic climate that was – politely put – inclement and the CEO has to sell this to his senior management team.
So he gets up on stage and tells it like it is.

“The year after 9/11 probably isn’t the best time to start a transatlantic service from a regional airport” he says and – in a self-deprecating aside to himself – “Well done, Austin” and continues on to give his people hard facts and some very unpleasant truths.
But then he says “But there are some good things that have happened and we’ve made this wee (he’s Scottish) film that I’d like you to see. So thanks very much”

He’s followed by the Chief Snake Oil Salesman COO (later moved on to CEO roles in 2 Middle East carriers) whose rabble-rousing attempt at a Tom Cruise impersonation in “Magnolia” was embarrassing in its contrast and utter lack of sincerity and then they run the film.

Warm fuzzies, feel-good thingie about values and change and how working with Supplier X (us) is going to save the day, interviews with people getting onto the maiden transatlantic flight.

And then comes the image that sticks with me to this day:

A long telephoto shot down the runway of their A330-300 in the distance, the music’s building in the background, at 00:20 you see the vortices and the shimmering of the heat patterns as the turbines go to take-off power, the aircraft gets closer and closer, nose wheel lifts and – as the weight comes off the main gear and the aircraft crabs to starboard to compensate for the crosswind  – Bono kicks in at 00:59s with

Bloody magic



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