Is undiminished for having happened once,
Twice, ten, a thousand times before.
Who cares if all the music that transpires
Is the fall of grit or dry seeds through a cactus?
You are like a rich man entering heaven
Through the ear of a raindrop. Listen now again.
I wrote my first decent song when I was about fifteen. By decent, I mean that it was considered good enough by some friends in a band to perform it live. That particular band continued to perform songs that I had written. I later formed a brief but productive partnership with another friend. I played acoustic guitar mostly then and he was a bassist. For the major few months we wrote together, he insisted on playing a double bass, which was great for writing around his house but a bit crap for trying to play them anywhere else. We actually went busking outside the Tower of London but we won't go into that here.
|ancient and modern: the guitar is MUCH|
older than the didgeridoo
Over the weekend I watched the Mark Lawson interview with Mark Knopfler and listened with interest (more about the way the article was presented than the content) to Broadcasting House* on Sunday morning as they tried to explore the music of Justin Bieber - someone whose celebrity seems to have completely passed me by, I must admit. Still, listening to the presenter trying to coax the female Musicologist into singing live on air with him was amusing. I'm obviously not the only person who finds songwriting a fascinating subject. I haven't even mentioned Desert Island Discs and how popular it is.
I've written elsewhere about early gigs and music that I have found important to me. Sometimes those posts have led to meaningful comments and points raised because the music has meant something to others. Last Friday evening whilst watching the BBC4 programme about 1970s music (mostly gleaned from old Whistle Tests and TOTPs) my phone lit up with comments from several friends and throughout the programme comments were made and passed amongst us. Okay, it may have been a bit of a nostalgic rush but the comments weren't always complimentary - sorry Babe Ruth - but there were pleasant memories invoked too - well done Maggie Bell, Scotland's answer to Janis Joplin, indeed.
This morning at work several members of staff were discussing Bowie's "best decade" in view of the fact that his new album was released this week, and prompted by an article in a newspaper, I believe. So, if this is all true, which it is, why the comment from Phillip Stone in today's Independent that ". . . books, like music, have almost no value." Now, I find that a very worrying comment. I get the point that's being made and I don't want to worry too much about books here. What I'm concerned about is the idea that's coming across that music has (okay, almost) no value. And not just for me. All the above and the preamble to this point seems to suggest to me that actually, music has a lot of value. Alright, I guess they're talking about monetary value but the term 'value' seems quite loaded. Just because many people - particularly youngsters - don't pay for music nowadays, does that mean they don't put any 'value' on it? I know many youngsters that DO put 'value' (whatever that is) on music. There's plenty of them playing guitars, bass, drums and even some writing songs. I've put on plenty of songwriting sessions over recent years (with others) and been into recording studios with various groups of youngsters who have certainly put plenty of value on the joy of the outcomes.
What I'm saying is that music is essential to many of us. As an exercise, I deliberately set my iPod to shuffle whilst writing this and in the last few minutes have been entertained by One Night One Time in America by Los Lobos, I Got The Blues by the Stones, Jackie Leven's setting of Robert Frost's Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening and now, as I type, Johnny's Far Away by Richard Thompson. It doesn't prove anything except my poor taste**, possibly, but it would be interesting to know what you are listening to at this moment in time, ie what's actually playing right now in your background. And I don't mean what you choose to tell me, I mean what is actually on now. Take a note of it and let me know, I'm fascinated, honestly.
Anyway, I remain devoted to listening to music and put enormous value on it. I will, I guess, also continue to pay for most of the music I listen to. Oh, and if anyone thinks music isn't important to people try reading The Train in the Night, A Story of Music and Loss by Nick Coleman to discover about the absence of music in a person's life.
There, I wrote about music without mentioning 'emotion' once.
*It's about 30 minutes in if you're impatient, or interested.
** Obviously I prefer the term 'eclectic'.