Saturday, 1 August 2015

Music Is Lethal

Sometimes I think to myself, yeah, this could be the day. The day that I finally plot out my on-off, up-down, love-hate relationship with music and see how it looks laid out as a graph or in a Venn diagram.

I'd have rows marking out the years from 1964 to now, and I would have columns representing the intensity of the music heard each year. The higher the column, the more intense the listening experience. With a different colour, perhaps, to denote good or bad. With a great deal of luck, the statistics I input would reveal a curve of some kind - a wave or fluctuating frequency that demonstrates a pattern. That would be a real breakthrough. That would be brilliant science.

But I haven't tried the graph thing yet and I'm not at all sure that it would work out, anyway. Besides. My memory is terrible. Too sketchy to even attempt it. So here are some highlights instead - presented as an overview of periods in my life when music and I did or did not see eye to eye. These lasted weeks, months, years. They're not presented in any particular order.

1) The One-ness with Raw Power. This is when I was happiest. Luckily, this coincided with Rocket From The Crypt being active and touring. Throughout this time of my life I felt the gutteral, primal power of the rhythm and force of music. I was able to absorb, devour and surf its relentless movement. Music was like a life-force to me - I felt like it controlled my muscles and senses completely. My eyesight seemed brighter. Life was a breeze. More than this, it seemed to vitalise me, physically. I was hungry and thirsty for it. The opening bars to 'Pigeon Eater' were more important to me than anything.

2) Music as Passive Therapist. The 'teen in his bedroom' syndrome. I used music to reinforce or rebutt my voice in the world. This was a helpful phase. Music was unobtrusive and helpful.

3) Music as Aggressive Therapist. This was a powerful and unpredictable one. Instead of helping me through turmoil, the music would underline what was wrong with everything in my world. Innocuous songs, pop songs, would mock, jeer and condemn me. But I listened to them anyway. I would cling desperately to their messages, convinced that it would do me good in the long run. I went to a lot of gigs in this state - and hated them. Moreover, I hated the people around me at those gigs. I couldn't understand how they could look like they were enjoying themselves when the message coming from the stage was so utterly, utterly bleak. I was very unhappy at this time.

4) The Shredded Nerves. For a while, I found myself connecting super-strongly with what I perceived to be an emotional depth to the music I was listening to. This is the polar opposite of the 'One-ness with Raw Power', in that I would be drawn to music which affected me strongly, only to have such a terrible time coming to terms with it. British Sea Power and Arcade Fire songs made me weep, easily and freely. It was a type of mourning, I think.

5) Distrust In Music. This was a kind of purge on my part. Unable to pick out anything emotionally, spiritually or educationally worthy in the music I was listening to, I would consign the whole lot to the bin. I wouldn't listen to any records or attend any gigs. I would never put the radio on in the car. It was all bullshit, all of little or no use. In this state, I would have no recollection of any of the four scenarios listed above.

6) Music as a Welcome Distraction. Enjoyable tunes, enjoyed. Merry bopping about. Able to enjoy it for what it is.

7) Music as an Unwelcome Distraction. My mind would be twisted up in knots, confused as to how people could be letting this music stuff go on when it was mischievously clouding and shrouding something far more important - some perilous coming event, or something that urgently needed attention.

Written in a van with the door shut, backstage at a summer festival.

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