Thursday, 26 March 2009

Can I count on you if I fall apart?

Can I?
What does that sentence acually mean?
Count on you for what? To not run, to not judge, to stand back or jump into action, to let me figure it all out, to listen, talk or neither?

Is this the definition of friendship, in the sense that if you can answer yes to the question you're a definite, full-bodied friend? Really?

Want to talk about this a bit more and about the alphabet. But! I have things to learn and dinners to cook and singing of Pearl Jam to do.

Also, I cannot stop listening to this song today. The Notwist are brilliant - find them and love them.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Is it wrong to start with the new?

I've been thinking about this for months, well, years in fact.

So much of my music taste shifts backwards and forwards and around and under.

I can remember having a conversation with my uncle about not really listening to much Bob Dylan but raving about Bob Marley, Tom Baxter, Jeff Buckley... he said to me "How on earth can you justify liking these artists if you don't listen to Bob Dylan? You can't possibly know what a songwriter is."

It stuck to me. I spent ages trying to figure out if he was right. I don't think he's right.

Everything I listen to has an influence - an influence from the past or the now or a vision of the future. I didn't buy a Led Zeppelin album when I was 9 years old. I'm nowhere near that 'cool' nor did I even have enough money to do any such thing. In 1989 I think I owned Starlight Express and a Belinda Carlisle album on cassette and had worn out all three of my Wham tapes. I didn't own a Nirvana t-shirt, nor did I even listen to a single Nirvana track until I was at least 14 at which time I was also in love with Robbie Williams. I collected Blues cds from a Blues magazine that my dad bought, but I think I listened to about 10 of them.

Music was always there, but it wasn't there big until I knew a little more about my own tastes.

My first gig wasn't Faith No More at the Astoria, or Eric Clapton at The Royal Albert Hall. It was a Take That concert and I was 10 years old. I believe I screamed quite a lot, my Mum took me and she had ear-plugs in for the whole duration. I then started to go to gigs with friends, my first being a trip to Wembley to see the Stereophonics where we spent the whole journey home dreaming about being in a band and making up band names. I have no 'cool' claims to fame. I did not sit on my dad's shoulders at Van Morrison gig, I didn't seek out music with the curiousity I do now until I was 17 years old. I bought a lot of cds, I overplayed 'Pocketful Of Kryptonite' and some really bad R'n'B. I listened to everything, I made radio mixtapes and cut pictures out of 'Smash Hits' and stuck them to cassette cases with purple UHU glue (not Pritt Stick).

Anyway, am going totally off point. I'm constantly discovering old and new music. I meet some older music after all members of the band are dead, I will never ever see them live or have access to the original vinyl. I meet some music that I should really have known about earlier but for some reason... don't. I didn't know about Cream before I knew who Eric Clapton was. I couldn't name the members of Pink Floyd when I was 15. I had no idea who Buffalo Springfield were. Joni Mitchell? Who? You get the picture.

I've come late to the party with lots of my artists and I've wrestled with what that means. I feel disappointed with myself when someone brings an album to my attention that I should own, why? Musical guilt. Ha, that's a good one. I think I'm just aware of the shallowness of coming to these acclaimed/celebrated/niche artists after all their successes or failures or early beginnings. You can take a shortcut via their 'Greatest Hits'. I'm not a 'Greatest Hits' person. It feels like I've cheated the evolution a bit, almost like opening a jar of jam - it's been passed round, and loosened by everyone else, so when it gets to you it's just a case of lifting the lid. Is there anything wrong with this? Is there something wonderfully right about it too?

On the flip-side, for every new thing I'm exposed to I get to re-trace the steps of influence or even become introduced to more. Through Ben Harper, I got Bob Dylan and G.Love. Through Jeff Buckley, I got Nina Simone. Through Counting Crows, I got Van Morrison.

I've never had so much fun playing catch-up in my life.

Sunday, 8 March 2009


"Half of my heart is a shotgun wedding to a bride with a newspaper ring/Half of my heart is the part of a man who knows he's never really loved a thing." JM.

Welcome to my heart, too. I'm not going to labour on who said this but this is what I've been feeling like. It's that emotion where you're fit to burst when you're not sure if there's enough time for everything you want to learn, read, write, experience but there's this nagging part of you that thinks that you've not got enough ambition for your dreams. It's that emotion that tangels itself into a battlefield when you're scared that you're never going to be able to love anything for long enough for either yourself or for the person you're with, yet you let yourself love far too easily. What do you do when you lose love? Where does it go? I was talking to a friend a few days ago about being in love, and he said that love was a choice. If you choose to stop loving, you'll stop loving. If you choose to love, and keep loving that person there's no reason for it not to last. Is it a choice? A decision you make to love one person.

source: le love, as always. thank you.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Who needs a title?

I'm wondering how much you can gleam from someone, about how much of a person needs to be exposed before you settle into a friendship. Degrees of friendship. Human relationships are so endless, so transient, so powerful, so shallow, so shy of any easy definition. Do we all really just want to connect? How many points of connection are there? Blurgh.

There's a post on a webzine (shit word) I follow about the 15 albums 'Important To You'. It got me thinking about snapshots, or rather it got my commitment-phobic self thinking about snapshots. I can give a list of albums that are important to me now, but I can't narrow it down to a 15 all-time list. How do I know that there won't be a #5 that I haven't come across yet? Or a #11 I'll be bored of in a few years? Then surely, they wouldn't be on the list in the first place if they could so easily be usurped.

How about I remove the 'The'? Just 15 albums that are important to me.
Aaah, that's better.

In no order:

Otis Redding - The Definitive Collection & every album that came before.
I borrowed (stole) this album from my mum about 12 years ago and it's the most worn cd I own. I've given it first-aid a few times, and it still works. I'd listen to this album in my room, lying with my head hanging over the edge of the bed watching myself sing the words in the mirror.

Counting Crows - August & Everything After.
This was the first album I loved listening to as a whole. I was just 14 and listened to it for a whole week, non-stop, on my discman. I used 8 pairs of batteries and I never skipped a track. There are memories I have of falling asleep to this on the cdplayer by my head whenever I stayed at my friend Sasha's house.

Ben Harper - Welcome To The Cruel World.
My senses got opened up when I first started listening to Ben Harper, it was in 2002. I was playing catch-up because I'd heard 'Live From Mars' first and that made me backtrack to the orignals. His mucic made me start to feel again, I could hear it... feel it... taste the dust. I've got two Ben Harper songs dedicated to me, too.

Jeff Buckley - Grace & Live at Sin-e.
Jeff gets two, because they overlap and because he is lots of important. I didn't know he had died when I bought my own copy of 'Grace' - in 2001 - and I cried, openly, in the middle of the record store when I read the liner notes of the Deluxe edition. Live at Sin-e saved my soul at university. His music just puts me in a different place, a different time, a different head-space. There are certain lines, in certain songs, that just stick themselves to me.

Nizlopi - Half Of These Songs Are About You.
This album, plus the songs born from their live gigs, had such an impact on what I wanted for myself. I think it had something to do with the proximity of them, and the feeling you got standing in a room with their music. They helped me remember why I sat on a plane and flew to Brazil.

Damien Rice - O.
Urgh, heartbreak and beauty all at once. This album seemed to connect across all the people I was friends with - from school, from uni, from gigs - and it came along at a time when I could understand it.

No Doubt - Tragic Kingdom.
This album made me want to be in a band, made me want to cut off all my hair and dye it blonde, made me want to sing at the top of my lungs into a shampoo bottle. I will always love 'Spiderwebs' and 'Sunday Morning'.

Pearl Jam - 10.
I used to sing to this with my head turned upside down, drying my hair. The fact my chin was drawn into my chest made me sound a bit more like Eddie Vedder, or at least that's what I thought. I'd initially liked them to impress a family friend, Aimee, but my love-affair has outlasted such fickle tendancies. This band introduced me to Dave Matthews, Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Soundgarden... the list is endless and full.

John Mayer - Room For Squares/Heavier Things/Any Given Thursday.
Ha. JM gets 3 on his bill, and I'll just keep adding. He's all compass points. He made me dig out all my dad's old records. He made me look for different pieces within music I'd been listening to for a long time. He makes me write better.

Biffy Clyro - Blackened Sky
This album set me on fire. I will sing so many of the songs on this album until my throat burns. This band, mixed with friends, is an experience to behold.

William Fitzsimmons - Until When We Are Ghosts.
The new love of my ears, I can't get enough of the voice, the words, the guitar. This man is in a mould unto himself and I'm so glad I've found him. I feel lucky to have him.

Jason Mraz - Waiting For My Rocket To Come and other MP3's.
I've never fully got into the produced versions of the songs that first found their way into my cd collection. I listened to clusters of Napster-sourced MP3's of live recordings and just tumbled into Mraz's head. It's all about them words. Over numbers, unencumbered words.

Jimi Hendrix - Axis: Bold As Love.
Hendrix extended my vocabulary of music. He makes me think I wasn't born in the right decade, and makes me want to be able to know all the technical terms you use when talking about tone. He's made me discover the 1970's from a 1999 standpoint. I have him to thank for Van Morrison, The Police, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, BB King, Albert King, Stevie Ray Vaughn and on, and on.

Jimmy Eat World - Bleed American.
This album has memories escaping from the seams, I'd bought this before hearing Clarity & Static Prevails in an HMV in Bristol having spent 20 minutes talking to a sales-assistant (who I'm pretty sure I fell in love with there and then) about the Smashing Pumpkins. This has summer dreams and travelling buses written all over it, along with Futures.

Explosions In The Sky - The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place.
Changed the way I heard instruments, listened to instruments, heard words in unravel in instruments. Owing in part to a huge love for Sigur Ros, Aereogramme, Mono, Godspeed You Black Emperor. They all came along at the same time for me, in the middle of my second year of University. They kept me sane, over and over and over.

Honourable mentions:
Deftones - White Pony.
Hundred Reasons - Ideas Above Our Station.
Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream.
Ben Folds Five - Whatever And Ever Amen.
Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - I See A Darkness.
Coldplay - Parachutes.
Death Cab For Cutie - Transatlanticism.
Derek & The Dominos - Layla.
Fiona Apple - When The Pawn...
Frank Sinatra - In The Wee Small Hours.
Muse - Origin Of Symmetry.
Radiohead - The Bends.
Rufus Wainwright - Poses.
Ryan Adams - Gold.
The Shins - Chutes Too Narrow.
Sufjan Stevens - Greetings From Michigan....
Tracy Chapman - Tracy Chapman.

post-script: I'm aware that this list misses out lots and lots of my musical influnces and possibly the influences that lead me to picking them in the first place. It's hard to pick an entire album that moved you - I've got bundles of songs, but there are some albums that just changed the path I was on, or showed me others.