Wednesday, August 18, 2004
The sum of all years
I’m choking up a lot lately. Stephen Parry winning bronze made me choke up, not the moment when he won, not even the moment when he said his dad was too ill to have flown out to Greece, but the moment when [whoever the commentator was] explained how Parry had qualified for the final, coming 16th or something in one heat, how he’d spent seven years working for it, always finishing fourth, never quite making the podium, and then said “well done, mate”. It was exactly the same sensation as hit me at Matt’s wedding, and those first few times I listened to Out Of Nothing, that wave of vicarious relief and satisfaction at seeing someone (not necessarily someone you love, or even know in the case of Stephen Parry) who’s worked and worked at something for years finally see it start to pay dividends. Of course I’ll never get that feeling first hand because I’m a lazy fuck.
Something about favourite bands goes here, but I’m not sure what. What is it about a band that makes them yr favourite? Do people even have ‘favourite bands’ anymore? Perhaps ILM has coloured my understanding of how people react to music, because, as useful and wonderful as it is, there is very much a different approach to music there than there is anywhere else I have come across. It’s the “12 CDs a year” dilettantism writ large, it’s “240 CDs a year”, magpies on a massive scale, devouring everything for 40 minutes or 80 minutes or 3 minutes depending how long the CD or song lasts and then passing it over forevermore. Everyone seems to know something about everything there, but that’s just the nature of the net’s anonymity shroud making distinct individuals merge into the oft-mentioned, never defined, non-existent-in-truth “Hive Mind”. Because of course, even if people do buy 240 CDs a year, or more for that matter, and even if they are across all genres, that’s not everybody on ILM, it’s a handful of people. So maybe some people on ILM do have favourite bands, and/or albums they play over and over again compulsively. I don’t know. Yes I do. Ned & MBV. Kate & Spacemen 3. Matt DC and Orbital. Marcello and Escalator Over The Hill. It’s not about whether something is objectively good or bad; it’s about whether you love it, whether you enjoy it. Analyse something because you like it, don’t like something because you can analyse it.
I shied away from it for a couple of years, cut ties, blah blah, wrote that big long thing about wrong decisions and missed opportunities, etcetera etcetera, distanced myself, but Embrace probably are my favourite band, insofar as I have one. It struck me the other day that I care (in so much as one can care? – can one care about music? – I have said in the past that there are songs which I care about more than some people I know, is that bad? – but fuck it, music is wonderful, of course I fucking care, it’s not just about analysis and appreciation), that I listen, and have listened, to Embrace more than just about anybody else. But what is it? Just the songs? Almost, but not quite. Many of the songs are flawed, but… It’s certainly not the mythos, because I’m too old for that shit anymore, to believe in the Platonic essence of band, to believe in legends and so on. Sure, there are stories, a whole host of stories, not just about my relationship with the band but about how the band got fucked around, about what lead them through where they’ve been to where they are now. There are stories. And, importantly, there are real people doing actual things, not pop icons or rock stars or anything, but real people making music. On Sunday they played a secret gig in a scout hut in Brighouse to mark the tenth anniversary of the band forming, and there was cake and lemonade and everybody who attended (100 people) was asked to bring a present. Pop icons and rock stars don’t do that. Po-faced too-serious Northern miserablists don’t do that. Embrace are the last big romantic gesture. But every big romantic gesture is built on a thousand tiny ones. To be the best, to be loved, to have people place their soul on stupid odds for this band, for their songs, for the promise that one day they would make a record which would eclipse things, eclipse the shit and slurry they’ve crawled through, that would knock down doubters and cause cynics to sit back and stroke their chins and, at the very least, say “yes, well, it’s very good at what it does” or some other platitude, and, at the very most, cause them to stand up and say “bloody hell, that actually moved me”, to see that the things they do and have done work on many levels, not just the one you think initially, to see that it can be enjoyed as a trifling nothing that simply sounds good just as much as it can be cried too or hollered along with. Just to say “I told you so” isn’t enough, because that’s smug. It’s about… just being able to sit back and see that other people finally get it. If they ever do. We’ll see.
Fucking Strange Moment Of The Day #1
X was just in AV. She’s doing a PhD with the English department, and has worked as an evening supervisor at the library too. She used to work for MTV. Anyway, on my desk there are four South Park figurines, a cheap green plaster Buddha, and a bighead figurine of David Hirst. X commented on them, and I said that the only other person I’d want a toy of on my desk is [anonymous old rock/pop star/situationist], but that nobody made toys of him as far as I was aware, which prompted the reply “are you taking the piss? – no you’re not are you, we’ve not actually – have we spoken about this? – we haven’t have we?!” which in turn prompted me to say “spoken about what?” to which X replied “the fact that [anonymous old rock/pop star/situationist] is the father of my bloody child!”
As William pointed out, “that was the last thing I was expecting anybody to tell me today”.
[anonymous old rock/pop star/situationist] is a source of much discussion in AV, and both William and I were completely unaware of X’s relationship with him. I have two books and one album by [anonymous old rock/pop star/situationist] and have met him once, and written about it on here. X is mentioned in the acknowledgements of one of the books I have by [anonymous old rock/pop star/situationist], which is titled after how fast 7” records need to rotate in order to play at the right speed CAN YOU TELL WHO IT IS YET please don’t guess in the comments boxes, I am keeping names anonymous to protect the innocent, or something. But yes, X and [anonymous old rock/pop star/situationist] were involved some 22 or so years ago (23 years, as X & [anonymous old rock/pop star/situationist]’s son is now 22). If you can tell who it is yet, and you should be able to, then you should realise that this is both a; fucking weird, and 2; fucking cool. The people you meet, eh?
Fucking Strange Moment Of The Day #2
Also, Y (who used to be in a band and was signed at one point but burnt out on sex & drugs & rock n roll, or something, and has been at Exeter University for the last four years getting a first for his BA and then doing an MA) has got funding for his PhD, which prompted me to exclaim “fucking good job!” very loudly in the middle of a street, but in such a manner, whilst effusively shaking Y’s hand, that the older gentlemen who turned to see the source of such profanity, actually smiled rather than frowned, such was the honesty and integrity if not decorum of the exclamation. Y wants me to produce his next demo at some point because he says I have good ears and a mad brain. I will, of course, need an engineer who actually knows what he’s doing present.
8/18/2004 02:05:00 pm