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Music gets the best of me…

Music is, as you may have noticed, one my main passions. In fact it’s nearly as important as breathing. It certainly eclipses my other passion of cars by some considerable margin. Now aside from the usual batch of manufactured, X Factor-esque assembly line, music by the numbers, I’ll listen to just about anything. Which is why on my current playlist on this here Blackcurrant (which is odd as it’s white) phone thingy wot I be writing this on you will find The Corrs, Iron Maiden, Pantera, Crowded House, Lady GaGa, Depeche Mode, Jean Michel Jarre, Johnny Cash and Peggy Lee.

Before I go into why I love music so much I’d like to share my musical background with you. My love of music stems from a young age of listening to my Dad’s stuff. I was brought up on the Beatles, the Stones, Small Faces and The Who. Out of that lot, the Beatles and The Who remain two of my favourite bands. The Stones always seemed a bit contrived to me and the Small Faces were never in the same hemisphere let alone league as The Who. My favourite bands and musicians today include the aformentioned, but also many other acts that were around the time I was growing up. The Lightning Seeds will always be my favourite for many, many reasons. Crowded House is another favourite and I believe Neil Finn is one of the most underrated songwriters of our generation. I would become a fan of New Order very late in their career, so late they had formed in 1980 following the death of Ian Curtis, split up in 1993, reformed in 1998 for a festival gig and released the album Get Ready in 2001 before I really took any notice of them. I had known True Faith and Regret from before and were two of my favourite songs but didn’t associate them with any band. Peter Hook I also rate as one of my favourite bassists. Throughout college I got into more rock orientated music and started listening to some bits and pieces of metal, and as such Iron Maiden became one of my favourite bands, and one more than any other I’d like to see live. I also love a wee bit of classical music, especially Beethoven. But if you ever play jazz, especially modern shit, in front of me I may have to maim you badly.

After seeing videos of The Beatles and The Who and seeing Paul McCartney’s and John Entwistle’s bass playing, respectively, all I wanted to do was play the bass. So I started learning bass at school but fell out with the teacher. Plus all the school bands I wanted to be in had a bassist. But not a drummer as most of them had been sacked. So I picked up some sticks and found the school drum kit and found I could play a bit and generally keep in time. So I joined a band as drummer. And got sacked because of that old “musical differences” chestnut.

I then thought ‘fuck it, I’ll go solo then’, which I kind of did. Being a loner anyway and liking solitude, I hid myself in my bedroom with my basic computer sound recording software, cassette deck, mics, headphones etc and pissed about with samples, loops, keyboards, recorded some live drum tracks at a mate’s house and recorded enough songs to make an album. I laid down all the music and even had lyrics for each one. However I never sung on them, and that’s for a good reason – I sing worse than Sting.

However, college and learning to drive got in the way of my “musical career”, as did losing all my lyrics and losing my tapes. That sucked majorly. I gave up and retreated to merely listening to music, which is something I regret now. I wish I carried on making music mainly because it’s so much fun and it’s therapeutic. I also always wanted to be in a band and play live.

At the moment though, that is never going to happen being married with a 3 month old baby. I’m not saying that is a bad thing, far from it. However my good mate and all round good egg Alec has entrusted me with his bass guitar so I can “get up to speed”. Along with being a bassist, he is also a guitarist so when I can actually play something that sounds like something I very much look forward to having a jam with him.

I am fascinated with the emotional impact music has. How you can take someone’s song, turn it around and relate it to what’s happening in your life. How you and a friend or loved one can find the same meaning in a song. Or how a couple of mates or a group of you just happen to like the same riff so you can discuss it for hours. Or attempt to play it. How you can dissect a song and listen to those parts individually then as a whole, and then imagining yourself playing all the parts. How two people can find a mutual song that means something only to them. How a song can remind you of a time and place and bring memories flooding back. How a song can remind you of those close to you. How you can be be driven mental by one song, yet moved close to tears by another. I also enjoy listening to new types of music introduced to me by others that I may not have necessarily listened to before and I welcome the influence of others. I just love finding new music to take in.

I like bands. I like songwriters. I like it when people pick up an instrument and just play it. I like it when people sing because they want to and because they can, not just because they want fame and fortune. I like people who lock themselves in a studio and experiment with a load of gear they’ve not used before. But what’s best? Seeing a band play live.

There is nothing to touch that experience. I’ve seen a few acts live now, from Sophie Ellis Bextor to Saxon and each gig has been brilliant in its own way. My favourite gig? Well seeing Sophie in Plymouth was good and I got to meet her. Seeing Crowded House in Nottingham arena was brilliant as I got to go with my wife Jayne. Saxon with my mates in Falmouth was awesome in every way. The Lightning Seeds in Bristol was always going to be an important one for me, being my favourite band and all that, and going around the time of my birthday with Jayne and Alec made it better. But my favourite gig? Easy. Paul McCartney, Anfield Stadium, June 1st 2008. For a near 70 year old to sound and play THAT good for close to 2 hours 45 minutes was sublime, and the amount of different instruments the guy can play is amazing. His live band is tight, and special guest Dave Grohl for a few songs was a welcome addition. For putting on such a good show, captivating the audience for the whole time and for having such a rich back catalogue of material to play, hats off to you Macca.

My top 10 songs on my playlist currently (in no order):

Del Amitri – Be My Downfall
Fleetwood Mac – Gypsy
Lady GaGa – Again, Again
Volbeat – Heaven Nor Hell
Lady GaGa – The Edge of Glory
Depeche Mode – Enjoy the Silence
Astrud Gilberto with Marion Montgomery – The Girl From Ipaneama
Iron Maiden – Hallowed Be Thy Name
ZZ Top – I Need You Tonight
New Order – Your Silent Face

I can’t wait to be able to share my music with my son, play guitar with him or take him to a gig when he’s old enough. The same goes with Alec’s lads, would be nice if they got into music and have something else in common with our lad. We could all go to a rock festival, that’d be good! 

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August 21, 2011 - Posted by | Music

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