One of the consequences of having been on this planet for a few years is that you acquire experiences. Relationships start and end. Holidays come and go. Books are read. Films viewed. Loved ones lost. New family members arrive. It is the human condition.
Music – it appears – is consumed.
I try and try and try to find modern, popular music which captures me the way things like Bowie or the Stones or the Beatles or Kate Bush or any number of mainstream musicians did when I was young. Artists who keep producing music and make me think wow… where did that come from. It is the kind of thing which defies explanation. We all have some music – some obscure and some very “popular” – which has meant something to us. I like Radiohead and U2. I have fond memories of concerts such as Hawkwind and Rush.
Now the thing is… for me it has changed. Music often seemed a bit rebellious when I was younger. It wasn’t really. Punk alarmed people needlessly, Black Sabbath were not really satanic. It was all a performance. But it meant a lot at the time – the feeling of being rebellious and edgey.
I miss that so much!
When people mention bands – I am always keen to pick up the names and rush onto Spotify and YouTube to see if I will enjoy it. Will it have a beat and melody which captures me? Will it have unusual harmonies – decent lyrics? I still have a desire for music but it is so rare to hear anything which does not feel like I have heard it 1000 times before.
Which defies what modern music used to bring to me.
I love classical repertoire but it satisfies a different part of me. It does not alter the way I feel in the same way hearing “Pretty Vacant” did back in the 70’s. Fusion and concept music can be interesting but it is cerebral and I want something tribal. Guttural.
As a very-youngster I remember hearing “A Day in the Life” by The Beatles for the first time. I was awe-struck. There and then. Immediately. I truly thought the world had changed. I can still remember it vividly. I remember the fear of hearing the Jam for the first time at a church hall in Portobello – I was terrified – it sounded so angry and the place was full of Mods and Skinheads. The experience was electric. I still sense that mixture of exhiliration and anticipation – I thought the room was going to break out in a massive fight! The lyrics to “Down in the Tube Station…” still make me nervous of the Tube!
Then it seemed to all die away. The music became synthetic. I liked Duran Duran at the time – although no guys of my age admitted it – but it was a melodic thing. I am ashamed to say it but it felt like sentimental “girl/lovey-dovey” music. (I am aware that sounds so bad!)
I – and a lot of people my age – felt that some of the bite and the angst were missing. It was the music changing – not us. Music is manufactured in meetings, we said, not in bars, clubs or school halls or in kids’ bedrooms.
So today I pricked up my ears since people around me were buying tickets for The Script. “You’ll like it” was said to me. “It is guitar based – you’ll like it”. I read a bit about them. From Ireland, tick. I have much love of so much music setting out from Irish musicians. Then to YouTube. Big hit numbers – they are popular and successful… and I have never heard of them. I felt slightly ashamed! On to listening – and … nothing. Not a thing happened inside. It was so disappointing.
This is not what it sounds like. It is not The Script. It is me.
The comments under the videos reflected what I hoped to find for myself. They showed me that people thought of their girlfriends when they heard the songs. They sounded invigorated. Girls said they loved the guys in the band. They played well and they seemed a decent bunch. They were all experiencing the very same connection to the music I had hoped to find. It is me.
The music may well be more manufactured but, ultimately, I changed. And that is the thing. I never realised so clearly as I did this morning.
That is what the mid-life crisis really is. The point when you still want that youthful excitement and you realise it is not something you can simply replicate. I think that zeal and intensity are still to be found. I just think it is recognising the fact you cannot buy into it which matters.
So I shall keep listening for bands which trigger that feeling – and I do not want it to simply be nostalgia. I hope I can find the pleasure in the new again – overcome the calloused part of me which years of bill paying and tedium produced.
Let’s see if the same feelings still await me but in different ways. I’ll keep listening to the radio and see if anyone really can replace John Peel ;-)