Friday, 18 January 2013

Twelve Songs

            I have such fond memories of buying music. I would lace up my Vans and shout out to my Mum that I was walking into town to spend whatever money I had managed to earn/borrow/steal. I grew up in Worthing, which is very much the ‘seaside-town that they forgot to close down’. I would stride past the beach-huts and the Martin Parr-esque postcard tearooms, my knuckles white in my pocket from clutching at my riches. It didn’t matter how crumbling and nostalgic the elderly town was because we had a shiny Our Price, the walls of which were lined with CD’s and cassettes. There would be no need for browsing for records, my mind having been made up either by my older brother or by the broad myriad music magazines, magazines that were big, serious broadsheets deservedly printed on real newspaper.
            Grinning under my blonde fringe I would present the teller with a crisp note and then the real excitement would begin. Walking home I would memorise the song titles and liner notes, instinctively side-stepping any pedestrians that I sensed in my way. By the time I was sitting in my bedroom with my headphones on and the new CD ready to spin, the anticipation levels were so high that as soon as the music started playing I couldn’t help but feel a surge of happiness and pure enjoyment. My money spent, those twelve songs would have to last me for as long as it takes a pre-teenage boy to save up another ten pounds. I would feast on the music, absorbing every idiosyncrasy.
            Things are better now. Music is essentially free and instantly available. I am forever excited by change and although my vinyl collection is a source of great pride for me, I don’t have a serious issue with the compression of audio into Mp3 format. I love how instantly accessible reviews are, although I don’t always agree with them. What I find sad is the devaluation of music that all these changes can encourage. Next time you are skimming through a new release on Spotify try to remember that kid walking home or sitting on the bus or saving up his pocket money just for the chance to devour twelve songs.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Self-Preservation Society

            I have friends who shave their hair every spring and let it grow wildly and untamed until the following year, when they buzz-cut it in to military efficiency. A kind of self-imposed moulting. Any natty dreads or lice infestations are thrown out with the rubbish and they start each summer looking kempt and respectable. I take this a step further; I spend months gorging on wine and pizza in front of mindless American trash TV until my face is bloated, my skin green-grey and translucent and my mind is fizzing with nothingness. Then a pizza induced hallucinatory epiphany will strike me. As much as I would like to be visited by Jesus in the guise of Joey Greco from Cheaters to crawl, a la ‘The Ring’ from my TV, the epiphany usually takes the form of an overwhelming yawn of depression and worthlessness. Then the cleansing begins.
            So, here I am at the (fat) arse end of a wine and TV bender that has lasted the best part of 2012 and I am putting my intentions in blog form. January can so easily feel like the ‘travelator’ from Gladiators, February finding us having slid right back down to the depths that triggered our good intentions.  So while I sit here, sipping on a brownish green liquid breakfast, making these ritualistic promises to myself and wondering what I can do with the yolks that I am planning to omit from my omelettes, I am also reflecting on a year that was full of projects and successes that I enjoyed and am very proud of but seem somewhat peripheral. Shunted to the bottom of my list of resolutions will be the touchstone ‘less wine/less internet/read more/exercise more’ and in bold underlined italics at the header of the list will be the slightly evangelical slogan ‘Do... You!’
            All the fragmentary loose-ends, a new Ordinary Boys record (assuming that there are enough ears that want to hear it), finishing my novel, even simply travelling and meeting new people, are all things I am committed to seeing to completion this year. It’s all too easy to start a new year with indistinct intentions of productivity but after spending a year being driven by money rather than continuing to follow my heart and after the fairly recent breakdown of a monumentally shitty relationship, I realise that my own selfish creative output it far more important to me than anything else. I apologise if this post seems dramatic and self-indulgent but I think that’s the point. Ironically, I am sat here in my running shoes and typing this to procrastinate going for a run. Baby steps. RIP 2012.