Flip Flop Flying

Music

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(This post began as a small observation about certain lyrics of a certain song. It ended up being a massive self-indulgent trip down memory lane. It’s a pretty lengthy post even considering I skimmed over periods of time at the end. And I didn’t even go into The Beach Boys: I’ll save that for another day, I guess. So, yeh, it’s self-indulgent in the extreme, but if you can’t be self-indulgent on your own dang blog, then what’s the point? Spelling mistakes and bad grammar are virtually guaranteed. Anyway…)

I’ve come to realise lately that my music habits have changed. I don’t really recognise how I used to be, other than that I listen to music a lot then, and I listen to music a lot now.

Music has always been there. Ever since I was given pocket money by my parents, I’ve spent more money on music that anything else (although I guess the daily shelling out for cigarettes is probably a bit more than that spent on records and CDs by now). That first pound I was given by my Mum was spent on Madness’ Baggy Trousers single. It cost 90p. I probably spent the rest on sweets. After that, I was hooked. I quickly added a few Adam and The Ants singles, a couple by The Police, an XTC one; and after a few months, I got into albums. The first two Adam And The Ants albums were the first two I got I think.

I really vividly remember deciding I needed to read about music too, so one Sunday in 1982, in a newsagents at The Forum shopping centre in Lincoln, I stood there looking at two possibilities: Smash Hits or the New Musical Express.
Smash Hits had ABC on the cover who were kinda hot at the time. NME… I’m not sure who was on the cover. That made my decision for me: I was a pop boy. Had I been a braver kid, I’d have bought the NME and gone down musical roads that I discovered when back-tracking later in life. As it is, I bought pop records, listened to Radio 1, and read Smash Hits.
And it was a glorious time. Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys wrote for Smash Hits at the time; Mark Ellen and David Hepworth, too. These days I rarely remember the names of any journalists, but those two names are engrained. Between the three of them and their colleagues, they turned an interest into an obsession.

I’d listen to the Top 40 on Radio One every week. When they used to do the rundown on a Monday lunchtime, I’d go home cos I lived really close to the school, write it down, then return in the afternoon with the list for everyone to see.
My favourite book was the Guiness Book Of Hit Singles: a handy geeky list of the chart data for every single that had ever graced the top 75. I had my favourites: I was a big Duran Duran fan, I liked Human League, Nik Kershaw and Howard Jones. I liked the Pet Shop Boys. Generally, I liked a huge chunk of what was in the Top 40. My mother would trot out the Mother’s Handbook cliche: If you spent as much time on your homework… etc.

Then as my sister started to get into music I, almost overnight, changed tack. Not completely, cos I still bought Duran and Pet Shop Boys records, but Simples Minds, U2, Dire Straits and Bruce Springsteen started to take over. I became a bit pompous, too. As seems common with teenagers, I got a bit teeny political. I stopped liking Queen cos they’d played at Sun City. I agreed with what Greenpeace were doing, and cos Jim Kerr and Bono said so, I investigated what amnesty International were doing. When, after Live Aid, they did that Run The World thingy where everyone was supposed to jog for a mile or something, my family was on holiday driving down a country road listening to proceedings on the radio. My earnest suggestion that we get out the car and jog for a bit was met with steady, unchanging foot pressure on the accelerator by my Dad.

A couple of years later, around the time I stopeed buying Smash Hits and migrated to the NME, I went to my first concert. This, as I’ve mentioned before, was U2 at Elland Road stadium in Leeds. One of the most important things that happened that day was seeing the support bands. Suddenly, U2 didn’t seem like the coolest thing anymore. The Fall were the opening band, and Mark E Smith spent a large portion of their set with his back to the crowd. That was cool. Then The Mission came on, and I’m slightly embarrassed to say, that was the beginnings of flirting with goth-y type music. I didn’t go the whole hog, but I did dye my hair black and grow it longer than I’d ever done before.

Luckily the lack of any “cool” music on Radio 1 in the daytime pushed me to begin listening to John Peel. Pixies, Sonic Youth, Happy Mondays all came along and pretty much set the template for what the majority of my current record collection comprises of.
But also, out of nowhere, came Kylie. She was just a little Aussie soap star who’d put out a few throwaway pop songs (always the best kind, I’ve come to realise). But for some reason, and it wasn’t entirely for reasons below the waist, I kinda liked her records. It was my dirty secret.

Art college came to nurture the indie snobbishness, but when I lucked into a job DJing at a local nite club (I use that spelling of night so you know what type of place it was), the snobby attitude was both heightened and diminished. It was heightened cos I was there deciding what 700+ of my peers could listen to at any given moment between 9pm and 2am every Tuesday night. But one particularly jolly evening, feeling a bit light-headed, I played a Kylie song. (Now, while not trying that I-was-there-first thing; I can genuinely say that this was way before Kylie became sexy and likeable without a smirk amongst the non-gay). So I played one of her songs. And people were drunk enough to not care that their friends found out that they liked Kylie too. For a few months it felt like we all had a guilty secret, but in the room on a Tuesday night, no-one cared: they could dance to Kylie like giddy children.

Since then, I kinda recovered from the indie-ness. It still played a major part in my life, but hip hop and house and this reborn love of pop music also existed through my few dismal years at Derby University.

And just as the snob was reaching panda-like stages of extinction, I got a job in an independent record shop. Oh! the power! You get some free records, lots of promos, even the records you pay for are at dealer price. Plus you can scoff at those buying records you don’t like, and be extra nice to those with good taste.

The free records thing reached it’s peak when I moved to London and began working for a record distributor. At first it was brilliant: a subsidised hobby. Then slowly, I came to realise the income of records was so high, I never listened to any of them. At that point, a really good record, was something I would listen to more than two or three times. Music had become my job. And that was a bit depressing.

(Although one joyous thing about London was finding a second hand stall at a Sunday market in Crystal Palace that stocked loads of really cheap rock records: I learned to love Aerosmith and Lynryd Skynyrd.)

So it was great moving to Berlin. Finding record shops (places that in London were just there for me to sell unwanted records), flicking through the racks and paying for one or two albums and listening to them a lot. I’d also stopped reading weekly music press. NME had sunk to new depths of shitness (although looking at it now, it’s sunk even further), and all I really wanted from music magazines was a bunch of reviews of albums and 56 page articles about Paul McCartney’s dog’s solo albums. Hello Mojo!

Which brings us up to date. I’ll listen to any old crap. Alizee, Aerosmith, Aphex Twin, Arcade Fire. All good.
But, and this was my original point before I drifted off into a rather autobiographical essay, I’ve no idea about what’s going on. I’m never on the ball anymore. I have no idea what most of the bands I see lis
ted on the cover of NME sound like. I only know The Killers’ music from when it’s used as a music bed on TV sports shows.

And I assume that Gwen Stefani’s Hollaback Girl was a massive hit everywhere, but I don’t know this for sure. I’m guessing it was probably a number one or two single in the UK, US and Germany. But for me, it’s a great song that’s on my iPod. It’s a song containing a phrase I never ever ever ever thought I’d hear on a record, and if for no other reason, it’s pretty much my favourite song of the year so far: This shit is bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S!

Written by Craig

August 12th, 2005 at 3:21 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

22 Responses to 'Music'

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  1. Craig,
    I like this stream of consciousness rant. I wonder if you arranged the LP sleeves in the picture or was that just as they sait on your shelf anyway. I like the ease with which you can have Talking Heads, Kylie and Primal Scream sitting so confidently beside each other. And I like that you too seem to have a thing for Harry Nilsson, one of my favourite underrated artists.
    I think it’s healthy to still be excited by music even though we are no longer geeky teenagers. Most of my early-40s colleagues, for example, see music as something like going out for a nice meal: it’s there, it’s enjoyable, it’s not a major part of everyday life. Whereas I can’t get enough – and as you probably know I am as excited by Arcade Fire as I was about any band when I was 16 or 17. I like the way that these enthusiasms just keep going, and the fact that as we get older there seems more and more to disciver rather than less. Like Neil Diamond, for example …
    I heartily recommend Architecture In Helsinki by the way.

    Ian Mac

    12 Aug 05 at 3:48 pm

  2. Oh, you’ve made me feel all nostalgic Craig – I remember when listening to the Top 40 was a really exciting thing to do! Most exciting was when Tubeway Army got to No.1 with “Are Friends Electric” after weeks climbing the charts. That never happens anymore.

    Ailsab

    12 Aug 05 at 3:49 pm

  3. Ailsab,
    This really is a trip down memory lane. I remember Are Friends Electric going into the Top 75 at about 71 or thereabouts, and playing my picture disc of it to death, and wondering if it would ever get any higher. Aahhh those were indeed the days.

    Ian Mac

    12 Aug 05 at 3:59 pm

  4. Ian: They’re not arranged, it’s kinda lazy alphabeticising. I sorted them out, but end up shoving records back in willy nilly. Aaaah, it’s always a joy finding out someone else is a Nilsson fan! He’s amazing, huh? The Knnillssonn album is my favourite; I’ve never been so knocked out by a record on first listen as that one. Although, The Point! is really really beautiful. It’s one of my ambitions to one day remake that film as a pixelly animation.
    You are right: I still get that giddy feeling hearing something new. Neil Diamond is a great example too. Aside from me having about the same vocal range as him, thus making him my future karaoke artist of choice, he can just GET YOU. Somehow, and I’m sure a musicologist could tell me why, his songs build in certain ways that are almost like emotional blackmai: you are powerless to resist the progression of the song!

    Ailsab: Yeh, it used to really exciting. Little victories when a record you liked climbed into the top ten.

    Craig

    12 Aug 05 at 4:00 pm

  5. Do you remember when they used to play the film of The Point on BBC2 on Christmas day? I distinctly remember watching it about three years in succession. That and A Christmas Charlie Brown, which to this day is my favourite Christmas movie ever.

    Ian Mac

    12 Aug 05 at 4:11 pm

  6. I’ve never seen The Point!
    I’ve been tempted to buy it on eBay, but there’s part of me that wants to do some drawings first, so that I’m not swayed by what already exists. Oblio looks a certain way in my head, so does Arrow and the Evil Count and the Rock Man and…

    Craig

    12 Aug 05 at 4:46 pm

  7. Hey, ‘Baggy Trousers’ was my first single too. I remember buying The Police’s ‘Ghost in the Machine’ next. I think I’ve still got the ‘Baggy Trousers’ single somewhere… May have to go dig it out. Along with my gramaphone.

    Benji

    12 Aug 05 at 7:14 pm

  8. nice post! makes me think of my musical prgression. gosh, i wish i grew up in england! by the way, did you transport all of your record collection to berlin?

    yuko

    12 Aug 05 at 11:29 pm

  9. Benji: I bought that Police single too. ‘Invisible Sun’ too. That was a cracker.

    Yuko: No, most of it is annoying my mum by taking up half of the spare bedroom back in Lincoln.

    Craig

    13 Aug 05 at 12:07 pm

  10. Ugh the NME is shit and you are quite right..its sinking even further. I used to buy Melody Maker just so I didnt have to buy NME. And Smash Hits, my god how I loved it… like you, my introduction into music at a young age. My first ever singles were 2 purchases, one Adam and the Ants and one by Toyah, I though I was the coolest 3yr old on the block!

    My first gig isnt as cool as u2, but I went to see a-ha in Brighton. I am off to see them in Dec as well, 6th row seats.. I’m (sadly) well excited!!

    Nice pic of the vinyl btw… I can smell them now!

    aetheria

    13 Aug 05 at 3:28 pm

  11. I dig that line too! But its slowly being replaced now by Bobby Valentino’s:

    Slow down
    I just wanna get to know you
    But don’t turn around
    Cause that pretty round thing looks good to me
    Slow down
    Never seen anything so lovely
    Now turn around
    And bless me with your beauty
    Cutie

    Holy Flippin’ Shit!

    mama jens

    13 Aug 05 at 11:42 pm

  12. I love that you liked Kylie! I too used to share this guilty secret and danced and sang along like a mad thing whenever i thought no-one would remember the next day. Ahh happy memories.

    Char

    14 Aug 05 at 3:11 pm

  13. Cool post.

    I’m still on the foetal side of university, so my musical tastes are still developing :-) Unfortunatelly, indie snobbishness is back in vogue. Even I’ve been accused of it, which came as a surprise given my current most played seems to be Beatles, Status Quo (my guilty pleasure), Jamiroquai, and Guns ‘n’ Roses. That said, I have a hugely indie snob mate who keeps feeding (or nurturing?) my indie side. Twas him who first showed me the beta Band way back when.

    However, if I’m not a music snob, I’m sadly turning into a HiFi snob. But there is something slightly orgasmic about hereing a proper vynal on a proper player put through an amazing amp into glorious speakers. Sadly, being 18 and into HiFi are not bedfellows, so that perfect system will have to wait :-)

    Toodle Pip.

    And the cricket is excitig :-)

    ed

    14 Aug 05 at 3:49 pm

  14. Great post, even if I don’t know some of the bands you’re talking about! I used to LOVE Adam Ant. I had his poster on my wall when I was about four. And I remember shaking my head around madly with my dad to ‘Message in a bottle’ when I was about the same age and my mum telling my dad off for making me dizzy. And I used to know all the words to ‘Another brick in the wall’ when I was teeny too.

    My boss used to have a mobile disco called Electric Orange when he was a lot younger than he is now and had long hair and a natty hat and logo t-shirt. He foolishly showed us the photos at work. Did you have a DJ ‘uniform’ too?

    Tori

    14 Aug 05 at 6:39 pm

  15. Aertheria: I must admit, I was slightly tempted to get tickets for A-ha’s Berlin show, too.
    Jens: Don’t know that song. Is it modern?
    Ed: Oh dear. You should meet my mate Neil, he was the same. Whereas I kinda stand around with a quizzical look on my face as he talks about cables.
    Tori: Thankfully, no uniform.

    Craig

    15 Aug 05 at 3:04 pm

  16. that echoes my musical experience too craig – although now i’m working at rounder i’m listening to more music then ever. i’m back in love with it. although i’ve just been sitting here reading fff(g) rather than reviewing the pile of records i’ve got.

    (PS first single was Axel F by Harold Faltermayer – which is now cool to admit again, although i never cared. last record i bought (today) was an electro thing by No Bra with too guy guys trying to out cool each other over the top [music snobbery is back]. first concert was Madonna at wemberly stadium, the last one (this weekend) was The Cure at La Route Du Rock. they were shit.)

    James William Kendall Formerly Of Lincoln City

    15 Aug 05 at 10:41 pm

  17. PS Hollaback Girl bombed over here in da UK

    James William Kendall Formerly Of Lincoln City

    15 Aug 05 at 10:42 pm

  18. Is that a good thing? I can never keep track on which words mean good and bad with you young folk..

    Craig

    15 Aug 05 at 10:50 pm

  19. it’s bad

    Tori

    16 Aug 05 at 10:13 am

  20. but i liked it!

    Tori

    16 Aug 05 at 10:14 am

  21. Wow, that freaks me out a bit. It’s such an obvious massive hit. *Craig drifts over moaning about the state of the hit parade whilst mowing the lawn and bursting the neighbours’ kid’s ball…*

    Craig

    16 Aug 05 at 11:04 am

  22. yes, its a new, fat slow jam. download it. you’ll recognize.

    mama jens

    17 Aug 05 at 11:59 am

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