Just finished reading an excellent wee book called LOST IN MUSIC by Giles Smith. It’s a down to earth, honest and very funny account of one mans total love for music, as a fan and also in his, somewhat, failed attempt as a successful musician.
This book has come into my life at a very timely moment, not just because the group he was in (The Cleaners From Venus) have recently had their albums re-released and reviewed in this months Q magazine, but because i have been recently dusting off and going through my old vinyl and cassettes and finding that we do have something in common in that we didn’t follow everyone in our music buying with going for what we were told was cool or good but went for music (good and bad) that moved us in some or any unexplainable way and that in revisiting our music collections we still weren’t really ashamed by what we stumbled across. As the man said himself, ‘music wasn’t just a soundtrack to my life, it was my life’.
Just as he couldn’t totally explain why he had ten 10cc albums in his collection and why he had more whitney houston than bob dylan, i also sit and wonder why and where some of my musical purchases have came from over the years. He recounts his music buying journey and time on the very outer edges of musical stardom in a refreshing way and never once drifts into any jadedness that you would usually expect from someone who never fulfilled their musical dreams of world domination. He tried, he failed, he lived to tell the tale.
He’s now a successful writer who has now wrote a couple of books as well as having lived out some of his musical dreams by interviewing some of his heroes for various well known music magazines. So he has managed to find a way to live and survive and make a living through the one thing that fills his life with total, crazy joy. He has managed to live for music and through music.
As if all the cds i have scattered around my room weren’t enough to keep me going, i am still religiously trying to expand my musical collection and find it very hard to walk by any place that’s selling music. Whether it be the big supermarkets where i always stand in front of their top 40’s scratching my head in bewilderment at what the hell they have on display for sale masquerading as today’s selection of popular music or it’s the many charity shops scattered around the place that im always diving into always managing to find some kind of bargain that would be music lovers have discarded as they have grown up and, supposedly, grown wiser. Thank god these people exist as their loss is always my eternal gain.
My vinyl collection was never big, i was more of a cassette person, so my LP collection stretches to random buys from back in the day when Boots still sold records and had a massive clear out sale with an everything must go price tag of £1.25. So my small clutch of albums stretches to stuff from Duran Duran, Paul Young, Dire Straits, Nik Kershaw (and not even one of his first two hit albums but Radio Musicola!!), The Bible, Big Country, Roxy Music, Thompson Twins, O.M.D, Rod Stewart and a recently bought Then Jerico (their first album) which is currently jumping all over the place on my record player. My singles are an even more bizarre insight into my random kamakaze buying back in the music hey days of the 80s that have hit and misses all over the place from Simple Minds, Marilli0n, more Duran Duran, Cutting Crew, Spandau Ballet, Tears For Fears, Thomas Lang, The Big Supreme, Drum Theatre, Paul McCartney, Adam Ant, Ray Parker Jnr, Danny Wilson, Yazz and the Plastic Population, Alphaville, Wham and Phil Collins to unashamedly name a few.
While recently clearing out the loft i thought now was as good a time as any to finally sort through my cassettes which i have kept, and in some cases replaced in my 20 odd years of cd buying, long after i had ceased to have a cassette player to play any of them on. My thinking being that i could easily sort through them getting rid of everything i now own on cd and hold onto some of the more obscure stuff that for some reason or other i never have got round to rebuying for one reason or another. After dumping my first bag of tapes onto my bed and seeing some of the stuff i did buy back in the 80s, this clearly wasn’t going to be as easy as i expected. Even the stuff i do now have on cd instantly brought back memories of when i first started my life long journey of having music at the centre of everthing i do and love.
There’s a whole, long story involved in trying to explain much of the music that i have bought and my cassettes could be a horriffing experience to anyone who innocently stumbled across them. And just to mention tapes lying there from Bruce Willis, Jason Donovan, Barry Manillow, Take That and even Gary Glitter would have some of my closest friends questioning my sanity. But as i said that’s another whole, very long story to be told and just like they say ever picture tells a story, every piece of music i have ever bought has it’s own, unique little story to go along with it. So as i start to sift slowly through all the cassettes i collected in those fun carefree days of the 80s i will eventually, finally sit down and tell the full story of why i just can’t get enough of music and why my life, no matter what comes along, is always more fun, colourful and meaningful because music has soundtracked every mad step i have taken in this crazy life. Music isn’t just a soundtrack. It is my life.
So with a cast of musical wonders including Depeche Mode, the Cult, Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie, Go West, Cry Before Dawn, the Hosuemartins and the Beautiful South, Jesus Jones, EMF, the Beloved, Luther Vandross, Prince, the Power Station, Heart, Whitesnake, Van Halen, Duran Duran, Gun, Danny Wilson, the Silencers, Big County, Fish and Marillion, It Bites, Was Not Was, Poison, Gary Moore, Fleetwood Mac, Peter Gabriel, King, Howard Jones, James, Happy Mondays, Londonbeat, Huey Lewis and the News, Midge Ure, Simple Minds,Manic Street Preachers, Hue and Cry, Talk Talk, Deacon Blue, Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine, Sting, the Temptations, Stereo Mcs, Chicago, the Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Propaganda, the Railway Children, the Farm, Thunder, Love and Money, Scritti Politti, The Shamen, the Spin Doctors, the Big Dish, Mr. Mister to name just a few, wish me luck and fear not just for my sanity but for any of yours out there who may wish to one day follow my musical adventures.
Or even better, i hope that you guys out there dig out some of your, seemingly dodgier, musical purchases and fill the world with the bizarre beautiful noises that they made.
Let’s be honest, they can’t be much worse than what’s polluting the airwaves at the moment, and do we really think that the young foolish music buying public of today will be digging out their crazy pop, top 40 buys in 20 years from now?
No, i really don’t think so either.