Music has always been vitally important to me, but sometime I forget that. Having a brain that works that way may seem like a disadvantage to some people – you forget there is something in the world you really enjoy?! – but I find it strangely delightful. I can be having a down day, a bleugh day, a throw things out the window day and then, when I get into my car and the stereo starts up ridiculously loud, playing something with a thumping bass or stunningly catchy beat everything suddenly becomes right in the world again.
A brain that works this way means I get to genuinely smile at a pair of headphones because I re-remember the peace they bring me.
Music – As a child new music wasn’t easy for me to find, there were no internet suggestions. You could record chart music off the radio…if the DJ didn’t blab over the start and finish of each track, so my musical education didn’t really start until much later, but there are two albums which stay with me from my teenage years. The first is Licensed To Ill by the Beastie Boys – I was indeed part of the wave of teenage criminals nicking Volkswagon badges off their neighbours cars…although I don’t remember actually stealing any myself – but this was the first real music that was just mine, not influenced by my peers or parents. I wasn’t surrounded by fellow Beastie Boys fans and I didn’t have anyone to sit and listen to the album with…but how I loved those sounds. They don’t hold up to scrutiny nowadays of course, the Beastie Boys have spent the years since then growing up and moving away from being such oblivious arses, but at the time I desperately wanted that noise and rebellion and F**k You attitude.
The second album, out in the same year as the Beastie Boys (1986) was Graceland by Paul Simon. This one was slightly less mine, Simon and Garfunkel’s music was handed down to me by my parents, but this was an album I chose because I loved it. It was, admittedly, a little different to the Beastie Boys one but as far as I am concerned music is either good or bad and I really don’t give a toss about genres (except for rambling folk music….shudder). I am aware of the controversy that surrounded this album, recorded in South Africa when there was a boycott in place, but I (usually) conclude that there would have been no other way for me to have heard Ladysmith Black Mambazo or the Boyoyo Boys and World Music has become part of my listening since then – I’m giving Paul Simon the credit for that.
Graceland gets a run through every now and again – it’s on the iPod in full – every song is familiar and comforting and although I don’t listen to Licensed To Ill much anymore I still own my original vinyl copy and I will admit to still getting spine-tingles from the opening bars of most of the tracks.
Other albums that make the grade are: Blink Of A Nilihist by BC Camplight, Panic by Caravan Palace, Day Of The Dog and Perpetual Motion People both by Ezra Furman. There are others of course, but I really enjoy creating playlist for particular events and moods (rather than listening to whole albums) with titles like Gym and Car but also Kitchen Dancing and Play It Loud, MotherFluffer.
Tomorrow – telly and films.
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I remember the moral outrage in the newspapers when the Beastie Boys were first touring our god-fearing country in the late eighties. Made me really want to see them live but I was a rocker at the time and so unable to see a rap band without exploding into flames. Gracelands was controversial and Ezra Furman is a gay man who wears women’s clothes on stage. Caravan Palace are French! BC Camplight is Canadian, which is basically French! I think you are drawn to the music of deviants. I shall listen to it all but in a secret place where no one can see me enjoying it, especially not the vicar. Just to clarify, yes all French and Canadian people are deviants.
Graceland, or rather the memory of it (on cassette, in my Walkman, while traveling) still gives me shivers too. It does sound fun to re-remember pleasures the way you do. 🎧
There is something special about an album that soundtracked a particular part of your life, even if those parts are bittersweet. When I hear it again I don’t remember the bad bits, the music reminds me that I got through them 🙂
Aside from the lyrics to a few Broadway musicals, I have no musical memories. The whole thing is opaque to me. A complete lack of talent is undoubtedly a factor.
Oh you do NOT want to hear me sing…’no musical talent’ is actually my middle name (strange parents, yes). Music is like a trigger to me, sometimes it’s a gentle nudge towards a pleasant memory, sometimes it’s like being slapped around the face with a kipper. Life would be less likeable without it, that’s probably the easiest way to describe what music is for me, I suspect everyone has something that fulfils that role for them.
Graceland is still a great album, big for me in my youth we’re Earth, Wind and Fire and ELO. A world without music would be no world at all!
Agree 100% 😁