We all have ‘firsts’. First kiss, first love, first time. First rejection, first heartache, first failure. First foreign travel, first time away from home, first real taste of freedom. The first time we heard a song, or an album or a band. Where we were, who we were with, and what it was we were doing. Some songs I hear make my heart stop for a moment, while others keep me breathing. There are those songs you hear that help you make sense of the world, and these are the ones that stay with me always. Those songs will always be a walk down memory lane.
I’m not going to claim to be particularly knowledgeable about music. I’m generally out on which year a particular band put out an album, and I might not know which track was the single. Or the name of the lead singer, or if they have put out any other material, or have any side projects going on. I might, if I really like them. But chances are I won’t. Oh, I admire those who do. If you can put together a list of your favourite albums, or even artists, then I admire that immensely. I just don’t think I could. For me, music is visceral. I can’t separate the things I listen to from the way I’m feeling. I just can’t. I’m not objective about music at all. Some of the stuff I listen to is, frankly, unpopular, and probably deserves derision and ridicule, but I still love it. It makes me feel a certain way, or brings to mind a certain event.
I have huge gaps in my musical knowledge, too. Growing up without much money meant that I couldn’t buy every single album I might have wanted. As it was, I spent far too much of my pocket money on vinyl and band t-shirts and music magazines when I was a teenager. I was always saving, always listening, and I always had my nose in Select. And somehow that was never enough. So, I’m still catching up. I’m still chasing down people I should have got into years ago, or am just discovering now. I might know names, and never have listened much. Maybe I just never had the opportunity. I used to listen to John Peel. I used to record music tracks from the radio for fuck’s sake. I was poor. That’s the bottom line. There just wasn’t the money for records. My first records were birthday presents. That’s how special they were. I didn’t just go out and buy them without saving up for months first.
It sounds almost ridiculous in a world where music is so easily accessible, and can be listened to for free. Here on tumblr, I’m consistently amazed and overwhelmed by the amount of music about which I don’t know. I come across new songs and new artists every day. And everyone is an expert, and everyone has an opinion. What works, what doesn’t work, which the best album is, what an artist’s influences are. One or two people have even gone to a lot of trouble, trying to dig me out of my upholstered rut, and encouraged me to listen to new things, and I really appreciate that a lot. It’s brought back a part of my life I’d lost.
Just don’t ask me to make a list about it.
© Written by J.S. 17.11.2011
be thankful for modern technology - instant downloads. i have spent hours “shopping” for albums by just searching mediafire. it’s a dream come true when the closest i could ever get to owning music when i was young was tape recording from the radio.
…also my best of lists would only cause controversy.