Friday, 26 September 2014

Why? And where to begin?

I never could or should write an autobiography. On the other hand it is now so easy to make a record of any thought - however fleeting - that passes through your head that it almost seems wrong not to share some memories with anyone that might be interested. I can easily set aside an hour or so a week for this task and, who knows, it might be good for me in some way.

I've never been a musician and have no useful knowledge of western music theory. Like many I have spent a lot of time and money over the years on music. The first money I ever parted with to buy a single was in 1963 (when you could get 3 records for a £1 - not that I had a pound). In 1963 I was on a primary school trip to Somerset and we had access to a ballroom. I think all the kids paid one shilling (5 pence) and we bought three records to dance to at night. One was the Beatles, a second was Gerry and the Pacemakers and I'm not sure about the third - an American dance novelty perhaps. Three singles, play both sides - that is six songs, less than 15 minutes probably, so they were played over and over. In the following 51 years listening to music has always been an important part of my life.

Sometimes there is an almost tribal aspect to listening choices, it is a means of identification - perhaps with a mass movement, perhaps with an obscure minority. The difference between attending an event like Glastonbury, for example, and a 'difficult' jazz improvisation session in a small room above a hard-to-find pub. There are occasions when it seems right and necessary to be part of the masses, but at other times music and music-making needs to be a more personal matter. On the one hand you may want everyone to admire 'your' band as much as you do; on the other hand you want your own secret music that is a rare and precious thing. Or is that a masculine/competitive view of life in general and, in this case, musical preferences in particular?

For example many people of a certain age enjoyed listening to Pink Floyd at one time or another. So all Floyd fans can say, 'Yeah. We're us. Great'. But who is the best, most authentic fan? Is it about who has been to most gigs or about who saw Syd play? Is it about insisting that 'Interstellar Overdrive' is 'better' than 'Money'? Is it about knowing who played trombone on an old blues on the 'Relics' compilation? Why can't we sometimes simply accept that we all loved some of the music and not feel a need to prove we love it more deeply and more loyally than the next person?

These days questions about the history and evolution of Pink Floyd are of no interest to me. I last saw them on the 'Dark Side of the Moon' tour in 1972 I think and I never bought that album. I can remember when it did seem to matter to know all the tiniest details. Maybe that was because in 1972 I was an insecure, teen-aged boy with no real responsibilities - and now I just getting older and other stuff matters more.

The next post will have something to do with Miles Davis and Southwark record libraries. I write that only to remind myself - not to whet the appetite of any passing reader.

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