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.

1 comment:

Blair said...

Amen sista! I totally know what you mean. I can't even begin to tell you how many songs I have heard, fallen in love with, then 2 years later found out that they were actually covers of Bob Dylan songs.

Here's to powering through and letting your musical curiosity get the better of you!