I’ve fallen out of love with music. I’m not sure exactly when it happened but it’s been a while, and I’m trying to understand why.
I went to my first gig at the age of 12. I remember it vividly. It was winter 1982, me and my two older sisters crammed into my brothers tiny red Fiat, giddy with excitement as we drove through cold and rainy Birmingham streets on our way to the Odeon (sadly no longer a music venue but a cinema) to see the kings of the new romantics, Duran Duran. We didn’t care that our seats were located in the rear stalls, it was just such a thrill to see our idols performing in the flesh, and I recall the kudos I got the next day at school when I turned up donning my Rio scarf and badge.
That was the first of many live gigs and the beginning of a romance with pop music, which eventually transformed into a full on passionate affair with grunge by my early 20’s. And then in 1995 a new love of my life came along, my daughter. I think this marked a change in my musical habits. It’s true that with a new born you don’t get much alone time, along with a musical drought I didn’t pick up a book (another passion I had) for several years after she was born, but with music it wasn’t because I didn’t have the time, it just didn’t have the same appeal. I never got that same thrill listening to new music and I tried, I really did. I discovered Muse but got bored by the second album, and the same went for Radiohead and Coldplay and Kings of Leon. When ebay became a thing I sold all my vinyl, even my precious Bleach album which I will regret to my dying day.
There was a brief period about 10 years ago when someone introduced me to Brand New, and I got into them in a fairly big way. I even ventured to a live gig (my first for a decade) but was rather disturbed by all the phone waving going on, people viewing the band through their phone screens whilst recording them when they were performing right in front of them for real, as if seeing life through a screen is now the only way we can make sense of it. I even waited out the back for a while like I used to do back in the day, to get a glimpse of the band as they exited the venue on to their tour bus, but after half an hour we were bored, cold and tired, and we all had work the next morning.
On reflection, what was different about that time in my life compared to now, was that I was a little bit lost. I was trapped in a job I hated and spent most days conflicted by what my employers expected of me, and the direction my moral compass pointed. I’d had a relationship break up and lost my mom to cancer within the space of a few years, and although I was happy in a new relationship, I think I was still feeling a little lonely. Did this sense of isolation tap into that need to belong, that music can fulfil so well
Currently I am in a good place. I gave up the job from hell and I’ve been working in a library for the past few years which is basically like going to heaven every day. We have got rid our our mortgage and are living a far more simple life in a caravan by a river. I became vegan four years ago which has put an end to the cognitive dissonance I suffered as a meat eating “animal lover”, and my partner, who was constantly stressed out by suburban living, is now much calmer and content with our new lifestyle.
Is this why music doesn’t feature in my life much? Is it the reason that finding new music doesn’t interest or excite me? Why I don’t have a radio in the house, and why the one in the car is permanently switched off? Has music only ever been a form of therapy for me? Certainly as a young adult, music, specifically Nirvana, helped me, a shy introvert, express who I was, gave me a focus, a lifeline when I thought I was drowning in grief after losing my father to a brain tumour, brought excitement and freedom and a sense of identity that I never had before. Before I was always trying to fit in, grunge made me realise I didn’t have to, I was ok just being me. But now music makes me feel nothing, and that feels wrong.
Something must be missing, I must have a loose connection, faulty wiring. I thought it was musics fault, that music just isn’t good any more, that’s its all talent show winners and, if my daughters current obsession is anything to go by, androgynous manufactured boy bands from Korea. How can she be infatuated with this I thought, as I viewed a video she sent me, so far removed from the heartfelt screams of Cobain that captured my heart at the same age. But on reflection, I don’t think it’s musics fault. I think I’m confused.
In today’s Guardian there is an interview with Liam Gallagher. It seems that Liam doesn’t particularly care for new music either, in the article he is quoted as saying
“My record collection was built. I was done and dusted by the time I was 22. It’s like your football team; I’m never going to fucking change my football team.”
Maybe I’m done and dusted. Maybe its ok to just listen to those few bands that influenced me so much at 22. Listening to Nirvana still gives me the feels, but part of me thinks that’s just conditioning. If something new made me feel that way, then I’d believe I was ok, a fully functioning human. How do I get that feeling back? I’m sure the music is out there to do it, it has to be, but how to discover it?
Whilst researching this post I came across another Guardian article by Sophie Heawood that resonated with me more so than Liam’s. She also seems to have become disconnected from music after childbirth, and like me could not put the blame solely at musics feet. She ends the article by describing how she has found a way “back in” by taking piano lessons. She is taking music back to its roots, starting again, finding the beginnings. To paraphrase, she has found “the startling sweetness of the E”. Maybe learning to play music is the way to fall in love with it again. I’ve got an old guitar somewhere, I bought it 25 years ago when I had dreams of becoming the English Nanci Griffith during my folk phase, it just needs a couple of strings and a tune up, and age has brought me the patience to learn that eluded me all those years ago when I only got as far as the first few chords of “Blowin In The wind”. I think I might just give it a go, I don’t think I’m done and dusted, and football was never my thing.