It’s been quite a year. This blog wasn’t even close to existing a year ago, and that’s just the least of it. Some of the biggest events of my life aren’t going to get a mention here, because I do want to keep this focused on my writing-centric and geekerific side, but there’s still been a lot going on. Why am I going to be talking about music, then? Well, why not? And it’s been an oddly musical year. Very much an audible year.
My parents were big music fans, and I always thought I would follow in their footsteps when I got to university. I don’t know what it was, but I didn’t. A combination of things, I think. One was money – I couldn’t afford to buy new music on the off-chance – but then, my parents weren’t that well off at uni, either probably less well off than me. Part of it was the music itself. Just about the only decade of the latter half of the 20th Century I didn’t have a lot of time for, musically, was the 90s. (Not that there weren’t notable exceptions, like Pulp – Different Class was the soundtrack to my teenage years.) I was a student in the naughties, of course, but I’d pretty much tuned out of the popular music scene by the time that came around, and the new decade took a little while to ease in and get playful. The other thing is probably that I am hopelessly multi-interested, and I guess writing, reading, SF&F/role-playing, and my studies got first dibs on my time and money.
Anyway, that changed a very tiny bit this year. I finally discovered the awesomeness that is downloading individual tracks. I’ll be honest, sometimes it wasn’t that I didn’t want to buy a song, it’s just that buying a book or a DVD was more value for money than buying a whole album on the basis of one song. We learnt that lesson the hard way, didn’t we, The Coral? But this year, I’ve bought more music than I have done in the whole of the last ten years, probably.
It started in the cold, cold days after Christmas, when I was alone in the dingy Flat of Doom. I had the Internet, my DVDs, iPlayer, 4oD, and an Amazon voucher for company. One of the things that happened, as you may have gathered, is that I found the first series of Misfits. Which I ate like a hungry thing in pure, joyous escapism.
I was then sad, and alone, and had no more shows about superpowers to watch. Against long-term prejudice, I caved. Despite my firm belief that Smallville was awful and not to be touched for love nor money, I realised I needed a fix, and I resolved to try it from the beginning. I learnt that: a) yes, in many ways the first few seasons were god-awful; but b) it was better when seen in the right order; c) it got better as it went along; and d) it is highly addictive.
That was the Great Smallville Inhaling of 2010. I’ve had obsessions before, but never had there been so much left to absorb at once, nor so much need of distraction (not least because I was actually working quite hard, when I wasn’t watching Smallville). It was a glorious thing to behold. At least, it was from where I was huddling with my hot water bottle.
The other thing I did in that cold, drab winter was to take my Amazon voucher and apply it, for the first time, to songs… And these were the songs I grabbed:
(If you’re weird enough to share my taste in music, you can find a playlist of these on YouTube here.)
Ride Like the Wind, by Christopher Cross
The Boys of Summer, by Don Henley
Rhiannon, by Fleetwood Mac
We Built this City, by Starship
Don’t Stop Believin’, by Journey (Why yes, I had been watching Glee – how did you guess?)
Broken Wings, Mr. Mister
Streets of Philadelphia, by Bruce Springsteen
Hazard, by Richard Marx (I hadn’t seen the video before – the song’s way better without it)
As Tears Go By, by The Rolling Stones
As I Lay Me Down, by Sophie B Hawkins
Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps, by Doris Day (And yeah, that’s the Strictly Ballroom clip that first sold me on the song)
Sleeping Satellite, Tasmin Archer
Incidentally, if you decide you want to start jogging again (as I did, early this year) those first 6 are awesome running songs. 80s motivational rock FTW! On the other hand: yes, I am now sick of ‘Don’t Stop Believin”, just like everyone else.
This list is a mixture of songs I have always loved, but never owned; songs my parents owned, but I never got around to buying for myself; and songs that I used to have on a mix CD I composed of a friends’ music collection whilst at Sixth Form College – the CD is now hopelessly scratched. ‘Hazard’, ‘Broken Wings’, and ‘The Boys of Summer’ were on that CD. What can I say – those songs remind me of a very special time in my life; a time of possibility and hope. I needed a little sense of possibility and hope this year.
Another fun fact: I spent quite a long time believing that ‘The Boys of Summer’ was ‘The Poisoned Summer’ – I thought it was a song about life after the apocalypse. It’s an easy mistake to make, and if you listen to the lyrics you actually have to get fairly far into the song to get to anything that doesn’t gel well with that interpretation. It’s got a very T2 feeling to it, to me – I get visions of the open desert road, long shadows, and warm orange sunset light. Possibly coloured the song a bit differently for me.
Tasmin Archer’s ‘Sleeping Satellite’ was another song that changed meaning for me on listening properly to the lyrics. It’s a song about how sad it is that we’ve stopped going back to the moon. Maybe it’s a metaphor about passionate love fizzling out too quickly, too, but if so, it’s really specific and involved. Anyway – I think it’s an awesome song.
And… this post is quite long enough, so I think I’ll pick up this tale later. If this sort of post bores you (and I can see why it might)… Oh well. I’m sure to be posting about Misfits or something else again soon.