Yule bLOG2016 #8: Time travel, the 80s & Mid-life Crisis

So far this year’s blog has centred around me struggling to define my core values. There is a sense of urgency around this mission. And there is a reason for the urgency:

Recently, I have been time travelling.

It all began with a post on social media. A friend was expressing enthusiasm for the music of the 1980s. In 1980 I turned 18. It was an important decade for me. One in which I made a lot of decisions about my life. One where I laid foundations for the person I would become. So, I took a look at the 80s music post. And realised that it meant little to me. It  was a parade of the big names at the time. The usual suspects: Jackson, Madonna, Queen, Bowie, Duran Duran. Seeing clips of certain artists sparked off some memories. By association. It was the Popular Culture of the time. An inescapable backdrop to my own life events. Dancing to Micheal Jackson in a bar in New Jersey on my first trip to the States. Watching the Live Aid concert on a crap TV in the tiny front room of a shared house in Lancaster after having played a gig the same day at the cavernous and empty Morecombe Pleasuredome.

But this music was not the music that had changed my life. It was just the background buzz. I had been aware of it but it had not touched my soul like some music had at that time. Because there had been music then that had changed my life. Absolutely. Music that had aroused real passion. Stirred stronger emotions than mere nostalgia. Music that had dragged me around the world in its pursuit. Music that had defined life-style choices which reverberate still. Music that I didn’t just listen to – I became it. Music that formed me. That was a part of me. Music that demanded a certain approach to life. An attitude. Music that was not just a soundtrack to life: it was life. You could not put on this music as background. This was music that demanded your full attention.

And you either got it, or you didn’t. And, at the time, if you didn’t get it, I probably didn’t know you. I didn’t want to know you. Not interested. Too busy in my own world. My friendship group in the 80s was largely defined by what music we listened to. I was in a band and most of my free time was spent writing lyrics, rehearsing songs, playing gigs, going to see bands play or searching for the next great record. There wasn’t space for much else.

So, as an experiment, over the course of a week, I put a daily post on Facebook. Each day I chose a track from a band or artist that had been important to me and, together with a short explanatory note, posted it.

And nobody liked it!

Hardly any of my choices gathered any popular approval. My wife remained loyal and liked each one. Thanks Jo! Also, one friend liked them all – Thanks Jane. And there were a couple of tracks which earned a smattering of  popular affirmation. But the overwhelming impression I took away from the experiment was that none of the people I called friends liked the music that had formed me, that had been my life. That music represented everything that was important to me. It spoke the secret language of my soul.

And none of my friends liked it. Shit!

This meant that none of my present so-called friends understood the passions that fired me. None of them understood or valued this stuff that held the very essence of me. How had this come to be? How had I ended up in my mid 50s surrounded by people that didn’t understand me or care about the things I care about?

So, I began thinking about whether I had changed. Was I such a different person to the young man I was thirty years ago? I didn’t feel different. I had assumed that I was essentially the same person – just more creased. But maybe I had changed. What were my core values, the non-negotiables, the base lines – Then and Now. Were they that different?

And then I remembered – very few people have ever shared my tastes in music. Even the people I was in a band with back in the 80s didn’t appreciate all the stuff I liked. I just have peculiar tastes in music. It’s always been the same.

From the days when I was still at school and dj-ing at gigs of friends’ bands. Punters would come over and ask me to play requests: “Have you got any Adam & The Ants, mate?” I would answer roundly and robustly in the negative – I played Free Jazz, Nat King Cole and the sound track from The Jungle Book. That was all. That was it. No requests. Fuck off. King of the Swingers always went down well.

Then, throughout my life, I have found myself alone at gigs or accompanied by under enthusiastic friends that have been kind enough to indulge me but fail to comprehend my enthusiasm for the woman screaming incomprehensibly but very loudly into three microphones whilst one man plays an electric guitar with a bread knife as another slams heavy chains onto a sheet of amplified metal.

I just like strange and unlistenable music. It doesn’t mean that I have no friends. Still, the examination of core values is always a useful exercise.(And more of this later…)

But then the Time Streams switched. A major temporal hole opened up. And Jo and I were thrown into a confused Time vortex. We began to Time Travel in a much more serious way.

(to be continued…..)


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