Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Introduction to me and this 'ere blog!

This isn’t quite my first blog post, but it is the proper introduction for it, so if you have somehow stumbled upon it, welcome, I hope you’ll find something of interest and, who knows, maybe you’ll even manage to make me feel less alone in some of my opinions on all things music-related.

Music has been my favourite thing ever for as long as I can remember – the only two memories I have of the house I first lived in (we left when I was 2) are of records being played; specifically John Denver’s Leaving on a Jet Plane (from his first Greatest Hits album) and Burton Cummings’ Dream of a Child. Bizarrely, both Denver and Cummings share/d the same birthday as my brother – December 31st. Spooky, eh?

I received my own first record (Neil Diamond) for my 4th birthday, while the first album I ever bought with my own money was Billy Joel’s Greatest Hits. I don’t remember what it cost (probably around NZ$12; this would have been early 1986) but it seemed like it took forever to save. Thankfully I wasn’t expected to save the $36 needed to see him in concert the following year, which saw me attending my first gig aged 7. (I paid $222 to see him again in 2008 – talk about inflation!) The first gig I bought my own ticket for was Paul McCartney ($55 in 1993), possibly the only artist I’ve significantly cooled to over time, although Wings Over America still holds a special place in my heart.

So, as you can see I completely failed to be cool right out of the box. But I don’t care, I’m still having a great time building the collection, even if these days it mostly goes straight onto the ipod (a sad, but necessary state of affairs). In terms of stuff that made significant headway in the charts, with a few exceptions ‘my’ error spans Beatlemania through to the rise of grunge (i.e. 1963-1991), which isn’t to say that the last 20 years have been barren – nothing could be further from the truth.

The key aspect of great music is, for me, melody. Without melody you don’t have a song, it really is as simple as that. Once you’ve got that box ticked it doesn’t matter if it’s a 2-minute 60s pop song from Gene Pitney or the Hollies, or a near-80 minute prog epic from progressive rock supergroup Transatlantic or anything in between, you’re dealing with something that is the purest expression of art known to man. Musicianship and (usually) intelligent lyrics are also common threads connecting most of the music in my collection. Of course, the emotional aspect is paramount as well (and if it’s emotion you want you need look no further than Marillion).

I don’t set out to be deliberately contrary, but over the last 30 years I’ve developed my own tastes, some of which are not compatible with ‘perceived wisdom’. For example I greatly prefer Simon sans Garfunkel, Lennon to McCartney (possibly not quite as contentious), Stills to Young, and Poco to the Eagles. Or Don Henley solo to the Eagles, for that matter. While I like/love some ‘cool’ music (Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, Bowie, Hendrix, R.E.M., etc) it somehow doesn’t excite me in quite the same way as the stuff that either gets ignored outright, or severely snubbed (Chicago still aren’t in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – I mean, really?) by those in the ‘critical elite’.

Anyway, you can expect to read far more about things I like, than things I don’t here, although there’s bound to be a little of the latter as well, after all even my favourite artists have managed the odd duff track along the way, and some have even made covers (eek!) and (worse) CHRISTMAS (urgh!) albums, unforgivable as that may seem.

So reviews of gigs and albums old and new will feature, as will random delvings into my ten thousand-plus strong itunes library, and basically anything else I feel like mentioning. As I’ll likely be talking to myself for the most part (to start with at least) I can do what I like anyway, right?

One final point – the phrase ‘guilty pleasure’ is not to be spoken here, if a song gives you pleasure then that is a great thing, and stuff anybody who disagrees with you – trust your own ears and you can’t go wrong.  

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