Music has been everything to me – best friend, mentor, guide, lover, as well as pusher, boss, torturer, attacker, and annoying little brother who won’t stop poking me in the arm going oi (jab), oi (jab), oi.
From the first time I cried to The Sound Of Music as Julie Andrews and Christopher Plumber sang Eidelweiss to the nazis before heading from the mountains, music has been my guiding light, my joy, my reason for doing a series of what could be seen as being stupid things – like spending my life listening to it, playing it and making it. It has certainly brought me much pleasure, and taken me round the world.
But my relationship with music is changing. I now spend more time seeking out places where there is no music, where I can hear the sound of the wind, waves, birds, kitchen implements, voices, traffic. All this sonic input, in the right place, can be as beautiful as a symphony, as uplifting and emotional as the purest pop song.
When I was a teenager, music was culture, music was currency, music was language. The bands you liked formed a complex pin code that could unlock a friendship, start a love affair, seal a deal.
If somebody knew that the drummer on the first EP from Echo and the Bunnymen was not a human at all but a drum machine called Echo, they were in, best mates, lifetime friends (hello Carlo).
Now, in the digital age, music is a file, mere code, a devalued currency, a wheelbarrow-full of Weimar notes to its previous gold doubloons.
Of course, modern pop is as culturally significant as it ever was. Unfortunately that means that most modern pop is an irritating soundtrack to late capitalism, something to keep the shoppers shopping and the drivers driving, a pointless loop, some autotune, an endless list of brand names, a hiss and a whizz on a phone on the top of a bus, hold music for the limitless call centre of twenty first century life, pointless music soundtracking a futile, soulless existence.
And my music? It’s still there, where it always has been, on the margins, somewhere you can find the edge – post dubsteppy electronica, emotional folk, deep, dirty, sexy house music, even the odd rock anthem.
But I wonder if it means as much as it used to. Maybe I am asking too much. Maybe I am spoiled by listening to and working with so much new music every day. Maybe I am satiated by the increased flow of amazing sounds. Maybe I am slowly, simply drowning in a sea of digital files.
It’s not that I have lost my way. I still love music and she still loves me, just as much as ever. It’s just that things have changed, the world have moved, the currency has been devalued, there are new ways of playing, new joy from games and movies, and there’s so much of all of it.
The challenge then is to find new ways of finding the good stuff then sharing the love, new ways of feeling the passion, new ways of connecting, new ways of hooking into the culture, new ways of sharing my music with more people. But what are they?
(to be continued…)