Saturday, December 07, 2002

Below I certainly sound like I'm lumping my dad in with the chimeric musical-wallpaper people, so I went downstairs and asked him how many times he'd heard Dock of the Bay (hundreds) and whether he thought it was happy or sad (sad) and also "was it a new record to you at some point?" and he said, well, in his lifetime there had been about three great (he said "definitive" but lets avoid that word for now) new versions. So in the past (taking my dad as the average classic rock radio listener) he's already been able to confront these records as new things, and listening to Classic Gold (which - in case I haven't explained anywhere - is a radio station) isn't laziness in any way: I think what I'm coming to see is that even people who listen to Classic Gold like what they're listening to, and honestly people listen to music BECAUSE THEY ENJOY IT, and that the people that in my more indie-git moments I dislike don't really exist.

Or at least, I'm pretty certain I haven't met any.
I once saw a student play with a song in it; they hadn't written it, I forget who, it was called Road.

This song. The thing was when these guys - playing working class people of fluctuatingly Northern accent - were talking about sitting around listening to soul, and the point was for these unemployed and destitute young people, this was what little road of escape they had, and they put on this song, and it was 'Sittin' On The Dock Of The Bay'. They put this song on, and half the audience immediately stopped paying attention.

- and this is what growing up with a dad who listens to Classic Gold AND NOTHING ELSE does to you: there are certain songs which seem to lose all meaning, which as soon as they come on are a case of it's-THAT-song and then it's physically difficult to pay attention, because it's a song you've heard 10293865428076 times, and - and this is important - a record which has maybe never had the shock of hearing something new to you?

but OK this record just clicked for me last night, on about the hundred-and-eighth time I heard it, and I can't really say why. (I'd bought a second hand copy of one of those TV-advertised CLASSIC [x] complilations, where [x] = soul in this case, but can also equal 80s, or heavy metal, or rock.) I think it must have been the first time I'd consciously chosen to listen to the record - is this it? is this what little conclusion i have here?

In my most indie-git phase (which would be, uh, about 18 months ago) I would sneer at someone for buying something like this, in the same spirit as I might sneer at someone buying best-ofs instead of the actual albums, man, because it meant they didn't care, man; the assumption would be that people who did this didn't care enough to actually want music for anything other than backgroud effect: the clich├ęd term for it is "aural wallpaper", I think..

And at the same time I would listen to, say, Blood On The Tracks, and just tune out, but still tell people it was a great album (which it is, but I didn't pay much attention to that then), because of some perceived consensus that it was, rather than actually hearing the thing.

I like to think I have good taste, which means being willing to listen to everything and judge it on its own merits and not on whatever else people would like to read into it; this is the only definition of good taste I can stomach, I think. and stuff like this reminds me that sometimes I do judge and don't notice it, and makes me wonder how often that happens.

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

Outkast - "So Fresh, So Clean" probably the best song in reaction to 'Urrrrrrrrrgh'-th, Wind & Fire. The hyperextended 'dig this beat motherfucker' intro. The icy keyboard swooshes providing the perfect tongue-in-cheek shallow bling, anti- velour backing. The croaky-voiced Dre leading the incongruous harmony, quote -

"You're So Anne Frank...We are the coolest muthafuckas on the planet"


Monday, December 02, 2002

Earth, Wind & Fire - "After The Love Has Gone'

So, me a white teenager from England, getting into soul and reggae and stuff (you know, BLACK music), and I'm honing my mapreading, which inevitably means I'll probably try to get my hands on Under Construction sometime soon, but whatever.

I ask an acquaintance of mine, aged 46, to introduce me to some REAL SOUL MUSIC YEAH BROTHER. Evidently I placed far too much trust in the taste of this person, since she returns after two or three days with clutch of CD's and tapes - predominantly those dour bargain-bin-at-the-car-boot-sale-compilations. You know, the kind that are entirely made up of the hit singles of the time and are purely designed to offer old fans the convenience of listening to them on CD rather than haul out all their vinyls.

But I take them anyway, in the vain hope of that old adage about sifting through shit etc would apply and it does to a small amount.

Then I arrive at track 19 of a 20 track CD, the one titled above and my superficial knowledge of the song (that of most peoples attitude towards Come On Eileen) obliges me to listen deeper into it, making me wonder whether this was ever used for a commercial. I'm sure it was, so I listen to it several more times trying to establish what advert. I ask everyone in my house - no response. I research - nothing comes up.

Surely it isn't supposed to sound like this? Surely I'm just attributing memories of an awful advertisement onto its unwitting soundtrack? I delude myself it must have been devised this way, but it doesn't last long.

I have never known music to sound! The writing credits insist it pre-dates 1980 but it has that horrible velour texture in its tonal arrangement that just makes me sick to my stomach after so many (however forced) listens. The Bridge - "Something happened along the way..." - is the harmonic embodiment of the typical 'Bisto' advertising campaign.

I don't think I'll ever going to be able to listen to this song again.

And if I do I'll always think of GRAVY -

"MMMMM Bisto!!! But why does it smell like slurry, mother?"

"Sorry, I forgot to turn the stereo off."