Because I keep gravitating back to posts about music, I thought over the next few days, I’d talk a bit about the how’s, why’s and what’s of it all – get it out of my system a bit so that any music I talk about in the future won’t be always be a throwback to albums released years ago… This post is all about where my taste in music comes from – in as much as anyone can explain these things). In the next post I’m going to touch on a few things involved around the music industry (particularly the reviewing process), then in the last post, give a fairly definitive account of a good percentage of the artists I listen to and love. Once all that is out of the way, reading posts that refer to music will hopefully be grounded in this history, and you will be able to tell with great probablility whether or not you will like the music I talk about.
Growing up, I was lucky enough to be exposed to vast quantities of music, in many different genres. My mother was a blues fan and had an enviable record collection full of classic rock, metal and blues albums – Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Cream, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, Leadbelly, Chain… plus hundreds more. I barely appreciated it back then, often playing Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon purely to giggle at The Lunatic is on the Grass with my younger brother. Little did I realise I was actually being schooled in music appreciation.
I had a similar disregard for each of my brother’s taste in music. My older brother, during the 80’s, was listening to bands like Black Flag, Dead Kennedys, Beastie Boys, Hard Ons and Big Black. (Once, in school, the teacher asked us to complete the following sentence “Hell is…” – I wrote “…listening to my brother play the Beastie Boys all day”). My younger brother, as we neared the 90’s, leant very much towards rap, so I recieved a similarly reluctant education in The Sugarhill Gang, Grandmaster Flash, Ice T and the like. And me… Well, I was mad about Wa Wa Nee, Pseudo Echo and Kylie Minogue.
At the age of 13, however, I went through a musical metamorphosis of sorts, and claimed that music was, in fact, the most important part of my life. I’m not entirely sure what happened to me other than puberty, but I went from holding mini Kylie Minogue concerts in my (empty) living room to proclaiming that Metallica were the gretest band ever. It wasn’t exactly overnight, I dabbled with Skid Row (I even named a family pet ‘Sabo’, after their guitarist), Poison and Bon Jovi (oh, Jon seriously broke my heart when he got married!); and it certainly wasn’t about rebellion – my mother had more Metallica albums than I did – but the change was swift, and once I had discovered these greater depths to music, an obsession was born.
Towards the end of my teenage years my taste in music had diversified greatly. Artists I had once ridiculed were suddenly brilliant (The Cure, Depeche Mode…and, yes, even the Beastie Boys). Of most note was my new-found dedication to Tori Amos. The first time I heard one of her songs on the radio, I was not actually paying attention to it until I realised it was a cover of Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit. I hated it – vehemently. (Oh, the ignorance of youth!) A couple of years later when I heard the single Cornflake Girl, I went out and bought the it; then absolutely everything I could possibly get my hands on, including the EP containing Smells Like Teen Spirit – which I now love. Go figure. But I digress… Through everything, I had maintained my dedication to music and amassed a sizable CD collection (with the aid of those dastardly mail order schemes where they give you the first few CD’s real cheap, then make you buy several more at a vastly inflated rate to make up for it – I got suckered in time and time again…)
The early part of my twenties was spent dividing my disposable income between new music and an increasing obsession with Hong Kong cinema (I spent a good few years growing up watching Monkey Magic and Bruce Lee movies, the discovery of Jackie Chan led to me now owning approximately 300 films in the HK action genre). Several things changed in my mid-twenties, of most importance here is that I found myself in a relationship with someone who was fast developing an out-of-control gambling habit. By the time I ended the relationship, I had some 20-odd CD’s left in my collection. I just didn’t have the inclination to start again, so I stopped paying attention to music all together. (I still don’t listen to the radio. Ever).
As I mentioned previosly, though, 18 months ago I purchased my first computer. It probably sounds strange – the darn things are generally regarded as a necessity in most households, and considering that I have always wanted to be a writer, I really have no idea why it took me so long to buy one. After a few months, I added an internet connection into the mix. (Speaking of which, the day before I brought the modem home, complete with a software installation disc, the disc drive on said computer locked up, swallowing my Violent Femmes CD in the process – a perfect example of how technology likes to screw me over at the most inopportune times).
Access to the internet has impacted on my life in several ways, and not all of them ideal, but in the last year my exposure to new music has been phenomenal, and my passion for it re-ignited with fierce voracity. My CD towers are once again full, and I have now had to start stacking them in various other places, which is immensely satisfying. It’s may well be a blessing in disguise that many albums I wish I had are impossible to find in Australia. Very occasionally something on my ‘wish list’ will pop up on eBay, or I’ll want it so much I’ll pay up to 10 times the average price that I generally do for CD’s by getting an interstate record shop to import them on my behalf, but for the most part I have to make do with what I can find locally. Luckily, I have a veritable neverending list of CD’s that I want, and I can find at least half of them here (hmm, what’s half of infinity?)
What all this means in relation to here is that, despite what I said at the start of this post, some music that I have only recently ‘discovered’ and fallen in love with is probably old news to a few people, and that me raving about a CD released 5-10 years ago is primarily going to be seen as redundant – but I don’t care. Good music is not seasonal, and if I rave about something years old it might just spark a little nostalgia in some, or maybe it’ll be seen by someone that has never heard of the artist or band I’m talking about – and that aint bad.