My taste in music is darker than M’s. I favour Dylan, Cohen and Waits (she claims he sounds like Rammstein) and she has a whole collection of songs on hertunes that are numbered track 1, track 2, etc. Somehow she knows what she likes. Little regard for lyrics and meaning of poetry and meaning behind it all. No dark introspection. No double anything. No ambiguity. Just plain good vibes. Quite refreshing. But that is not where my musical journey starts.
I played the recorder from small. With two school friends at the time. They both dropped out and I as the preachers son had to carry the torch. I don’t remember a single piece from then. The piano followed and then the trombone. I wanted to play the trumpet and lead the way. I wanted to play jazz and rock and not stand in the back being the precision backing to somebody else’s party. I wanted to be free. I wanted to play Miles. But I am getting ahead of myself.
My ritual of weekly music lessons did not change much through the years. My music lesson would arrive and I would frantically practice the day before hoping that my teacher would not notice. They always did.
Once it ended in tears. Mine. I had two rivers run down my checks but was too proud or confused to say anything. To stand up for myself then and say this actually was not for me. He pretended not to notice and carried on. We never spoke about it. But in some ways that was the end. I was there to bond with my dad and this was the medium we were going to do it over. Others bond while watching the rugby or on a fishing trip or while hunting. Our bonding happened around the church. First at confirmation camps. Then later practicing with the church brass band. It was on his terms but then I guess any bonding sessions always happens on dad’s terms so I can’t be too critical. It just took me many years to work out what it was that I really wanted.
The first music that I chose to listen to was my dad’s old tapes of Hair the musical. He looked embarrassed when he found out. Not embarrassed for me but that he owned and had listened to it in his youth. Then there was Jesus Christ Superstar himself. As much a jest at the church as I was seeking attention with my church, my dad.
The first record that I ever wanted to buy was Jean Michel Jarre Revolutions. Is still remember the mask on the cover (back when we bought vinyl in a shop on not with a click of the mouse). I must have listened to the record a dozen times in the store but could never get myself to hand over the small fortune to actually own it.
Then came the years when Michael Jackson made it big and the only access that I had to music was to listen to the top 40 show on Radio 5 on a Saturday afternoon. We would all insert a blank tape into the tape deck and record our top tunes making our own mix. Sometimes Alex Jay would interrupt the hits with a little jingle causing rage in most teenage boys pirating music in this way. We would have to wait till next week and try again.
We got our ‘Thriller‘ and a song about the Vietnam war that way.
The era of tapes lasted quite a long time and I had Queen’s Greatest Hits Two. We all did. In fact that cassette remained in my first car (a white Mazda 323) long after the tape deck broke. J told me it was a whitey car for the inferior sound system that I had bought. He claimed that I would require 6 x 9’s to get any street cred. I think I finally removed that tape when I sold the car. Several years after listening to it for the last time.
At some point The Black Album arrived and for a while nothing else mattered. (In fact we listened to that on a hot day driving to a wedding.) I was not into anything heavy or alternative before that. Nevermind was exactly that. But then he shot himself and I discovered the unplugged series. And so the sandman entered.
In 2003 I traveled around the world. And I had a discman. I never did own Walkman. My parents did not approve and said it would make you deaf. They had no idea that wanking also did not make you blind, trust me I know.
Dylan came because I wanted to be cool. Not the classics. I have never loved those rolling stone hangers onners. Lilly, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts was more like my kind of intrigue. I never got The Wall or shine on your crazy….. But Sinead OConnor’s Mother is something else. The darkness. yes indeed welcome my old friend. Will they put me in the firing line, or is it just a waste of time?
Counting Pink Floyd’s sheep put me to sleep many times while I was in England in the little room upstairs. Living the dream. My dream of vagabond and climbing and being free. And love. Careful with that Axe Eugene. But I never found it there. I listened to The Final Cut so often. In fact it is my all time favourite album. “She stands upon Southampton dock with her handkerchief and her summer frock clings to her wet body in the rain in quiet desperation knuckles white upon the slippery reins she bravely waves the boys goodbye again.”
I would walk to work in the morning rain. Especially on weekends. When I would not get a lift. I discovered innocent criminals live between rain drops. Over and over. I made every single girlfriend listen to the bass drum entry signalling the change. Until they finally nodded that they too could hear it. And I believed them…
We had sex to that. Much later we danced to Tom Waits in her living room, moving furniture in the corner, on the pouring rain, out the way to create more space. Space is exactly what we needed but we rushed in to the hole and the pain burned longer than it should have. I left a woman standing. Not quite a Chelsea Hotel but something similar. We have not stayed in touch. Actually none really have. But that is ok.
A Little thing came my way. Into my periphery and she would not leave. There we were in bed just having watched a cartoon. If I remember really hard I can recall the title. Something about a classic music piece. It was her favourite. I guess things are never the same after.
I never lie on the couch anymore. Record sleeve in hand pouring over the poetry. Now replaced by inter web searches. All are authorities. Mystery gone.
We blasted orange crush into the dry river bed. Bodies tired from days of stress and work up on that wall. Sweat drying on our backs. As we tried to drive back to reality and civilisation. Our reality was different though.
We were pushing an elephant up the stairs but we loved the effort. The trophy is still out there. Few have stood on it. Few have even tried. They are poorer for it.
I drove over Sir Lowries Pass to sunrise and cloud and rain. Our interim anthem was playing. Now I look back on it all and it seems like a nice dream.