Yesterday, I discovered that my peculiar taste in music was just that: a matter of personal taste.
And I could be friends with people who liked 80s synth-pop.
And I could enjoy disco music without fear or irony because, hell, it’s better to dance to than Nick Cave.
And I have had interesting conversations at Folk Music concerts and learned that I like a lot of this stuff that I had written off as irrelevant acoustic nonsense about Lady This and Lord That and their ill-fated love in the fah-lah-ley .
And I could even learn to appreciate Country & Western music’s insane drama.
And that, ultimately, if I only talked to people who understood the true genius of Captain Beefheart, I would be condemning myself to a sad and restricted existence. Life is far more interesting if you go behind enemy lines. Take a look around. Try and see the attraction. Try and understand. Why Coldplay?
Thing is, you need to be well prepared if you want to embark on such a mission. You need to be trained to survive in those conditions. Otherwise you run the risk of beginning to actually enjoy some of this enemy music. Next thing you know, you are singing along to “Yellow”. Nothing wrong with that – pleasant enough tune. I, myself, have danced vigorously in the front row of the audience at a Coldplay tribute band gig. Because, if you find yourself there, deep, deep into enemy territory, you might as well go for it. No point standing grumpily on the side-lines. I believe in entering whole-heartedly into the spirit of where you happen to be. Even if your younger, cooler, 18 year old self would die of embarrassment watching you. Sod being cool – it’s more fun being what my wife and her elder brother refer to as an “Haux”. (As children, my wife and brother in law had their own made-up language. An haux was a really uncool, embarrassing celebrity, often identified by a liking for colourful knitwear. Jo and Rob compiled a weekly Haux Chart. Jon Craven was always Number 1. The H in haux is silent. Jo is from Sheffield.)
But there is some merit in listening to the remonstrations of your 18 year old self. There is great fun to be had dancing in the world of the Haux, but you have to be very certain of who you are and where you come from. Otherwise, you can get lost and become stranded in that world – dancing forever like a geography teacher enjoying a never-ending weekend break at a story-telling festival. No, you have to have an escape route. A way back to your real world. The world where the music feeds your soul and gives you the strength to carry on. The world that is in accordance with your true self.
So, my musical time travel experiment was useful in as much as it clarified for me a few things that are true about myself and my relationship to the world around me. Centrally, it reminded me that I have a tangential partnership with Popular Culture. I do not feel satisfied by what Mainstream Culture has to offer me. I have a need to find satisfaction elsewhere. And that is ok. It is ok for me to like a song that’s in the Charts but I shouldn’t expect that song to fulfil all my needs. For that to happen, I am going to have to search a little wider. Dig a little deeper. And that digging is healthy – for me. The act of digging awakens something in me. Makes me feel more alive.
And, to tell the truth, I think I had begun to stop digging. I found myself re-reading old books. Listening to my old record collection. Listening to the same music I listened to when I was 18. Unconcerned with new bands, new music. Stuck in a rut. Trapped in a Time Loop. And that’s not good. There is so much brilliant new music out there. I was missing out big time by ignoring it.
Time Travelling back to my 18 year old self gave me a jolt. A sort of kick start. A reminder not to sit back and accept the music Popular Culture makes easily available. Make an effort. Be a bit more like your younger self. Go exploring.
So I did (go exploring) and I am (still exploring) and I am having a blast!
But, I promised that I would tell you about the other Time Travelling Jo and I have been up to. The Temporal Holes. The Time Loops. The Serious Business.
…and I will do so.