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A Random Post

Music has  come to mean too much too me. I have become obsessed with 'my' bands. The books I  read are dedicated to the production of classic albums, biographies of musos and writers that make grandiose claims about how music changed the world. It is, alas, a particularly prevalent condition in men my age.  Nowadays,  I am loathe to make wide open statements about the difference between the sexes. As a younger man I freely did, thankfully, I was rightly put in my place.  I once opined that men are much more likely to be involved in collecting to the extent of obsession. My line of thought took in the idea of record fairs, computer swap meets and comicbook conventions. I was also speaking form personal experience of course.  My name is Tommy and I have an obsessive collecting addiction. Anyhow, I ventured this statement of intent thinking nothing of it. In fact, I thought by stating that collecting is a male disease, I was actually being complimentary of women's ability to not become so obsessed with the minutiae of, say- "The new, limited edition range of Star Wars action figures. Featuring never before noticed, you can see this alien for two seconds in the cantina, if you pause and go frame-by- frame; but the accuracy of the figure is exceptional"- level of mundane-ness.  The woman I was telling this golden nugget of wisdom to  simply replied with- Well women might just be better at hiding it. Have you noticed decoupage, quilting, scrapbooking?  She was spot on- Woman ARE better at hiding it! If you have ever been captured in a conversation with a man, who's obsession in life is Babylon 5 you will know exactly what I mean.* I venture then, the theory that men find obsession in the things they love and it never leaves them.  Sure there are a million drooling tweenies (and some women who probably know they should know better) obsessing over the 'hotties' from Twilight but you know they will grow out of it. 'Oh I used to be 'Team Jacob' but I'm soooo over that!'  Women let go ( but not of Chris O'Donnell apparently!)  Men  are captured for life. Let me explain shall I? By using the world of music. I am a Beatles fan. Not an outrageous statement I know. Sure you say, who isn't? Well, I have a good mate who is also a Fab Four devote and we communicate via email about the boys. We discuss releases, re-releases, bootlegs, album cover artwork and rare photos. We talk  'what ifs?'  what if The Beatles hadn't split up? What would have been on their next album? What if John had lived? ( For the record I think thus- Yoko would have divorced John. He would have dug hip- hop and collaborated with someone like Chuck D on a politically charged rap album and, most importantly- The Beatles would have never reformed. They would have played together, sure but they would never call themselves The Beatles again. It would have been Lennon/McCartney, or something of that ilk and it would be a supergroup. Imagine Clapton, Harrison, Richards et al on stage together and you can see what I mean.) So, where was I? Oh, that's right talking musical obsessions! Anyway, my mate bought the digitally remastered box set of all the Beatles albums on the 9/9/09 as most people did.... AND then ordered the Mono version of exactly the same albums because, as any die-hard fan knows, the boys recorded for most of their career in mono. Stereo was actually thought of of a gimmick that might not last!  Therefore, of course, the albums were intended to be heard in mono and the stereo versions are different...not wildly so, even we admit that, but enough to be of interest to obsessives like us. We will also debate the wildly varying quality of the boys solo releases. Paul, having been at it the longest (Ringo really doesn't count) has the most to debate.  Just recently (at a dinner party actually) we were listening to the McCartney II album, while our significant others ignored us. Temporary Secretary, an interesting attempt by Macca to get into electronic, nu-wave got an airing and we were discussing its merits. From the other side of the room there were no merits and both my lovely wife and his dearest beloved rounded on us to point this out! Yeah, sure, it misses more than it hits. But our discussion had reached the conclusion that it wasn't 'that' bad. Now that's obsession, pure and simple. We could be listening to Abbey Road but we weren't. We were trying to love a song that has dated very poorly. That's what you do when you're obsessed. I have always loved music that much. It formed a very important part of my life as a teen and a twenty-something and has settled in to stay. Lyrics are my particular passion. A good turn of phrase sets me up to love the song and certainly, as a younger dude I would obsess over the lyrics on albums. I would buy a new CD, sit down with the headphones on and pour over the lyrics as the album played, digesting every nuance the words imparted. Phrasing, musical accompaniment, delivery, it all meant so much to my enjoyment.  I have fond memories of traveling to JB Hi-Fi with my two best mates to purchase the latest Pearl Jam album together. The sheer thrill of seeing Vitalogy for the first time. Touching it. Handing over my readies. Jumping in my mate's Ford Telstar and driving back to mine and put it on the stereo. Hearing that album is now locked in that moment of delirium, the magic of hearing Tremor Christ and Nothingman for the first time. The joy of realising Better Man might be the best thing they'd ever done.  That album became the soundtrack to an entire year. Each song revives a moment in time, captured forever.  Not For You locates me right there in the audience at the tennis centre, watching as Eddie fluffs the second verse and having to wait a beat to come in again with the right words. I hear Bugs and I am instantly back at my mates caravan in Jan Juc. That summer there was a plague of insects attracted to the lights of the toilet block. They scurried all over the tiled floor at sun-down and using the facilities was slightly disturbing. There I am sitting in one cubicle, my good mate in the furthest cubicle, when he suddenly yells- 'I don't think they're dumb!'** Laugh, I actually shat  myself! Yet, for all those memories, Vitalogy is an album I don't listen too much anymore. I find that happens to a lot of albums I've loved. A while back, as I downloaded things I wanted to hear onto my iPod, I became alarmed  that I had put so many albums I loved on the playlist but had then never listened to them. What's that about? I began to think about it seriously. Had I fallen out of love with these albums? Did Vitalogy, Vs, Achtung Baby and Abbey Road have a shelf-life?  What I came to realise, upon reflection, was that these albums are internalised. I had lived with them so long that when I hear Even Better Than the Real Thing on the radio, I expect the next song to be One.  The whole album is sitting in my head. As I write this in fact, that delicate tinkering that gets blasted away by the fury of Edge's monstrous guitar intro to Zoo Station, the entry point to the magic of Achtung, is playing in my head.  I have a jukebox in my noggin and that appeals to me because, as I confessed at the start- Music has come to mean too much to me. I actually get annoyed with myself for not knowing about someone. I can recall 'discovering' Paul Weller in my mid- twenties and being filthy I had not known about The Jam until that point.  The very first time I heard That's Entertainment felt like an epiphany. I have discovered latterly, that Weller claims to have dashed it off looking out his bedsit window in a couple of hours.  How dare he? Lyrically it is one of the most intensely perfect descriptions of the mundane world we inhabit. A collage of images filled with such powerful immediacy, you are transported to that bedsit window.  I honestly want That's Entertainment to be played as they carry my coffin out. I can offer no better evidence that music means the world to me. Is that too much? Sometimes I feel like it is, obsession is harder to understand from the outside looking in. I guess the truth is, I'm OK with being that bloke who talks about Babylon 5. Best avoid me at a party.....      * I have nothing against Babylon 5, I just never got into it and when you know nothing about the subject someone is talking about it gets boring very quickly. ** For those not in the know, Bugs is a very strange number that features a piano accordion and what appears to be improvised lyrics. It is strangely compelling though.....