How a girl called Sarah turned me on.....to amazing old music.
So, on Friday I met a new friend who we shall call Sarah, for that is her name. Somehow the conversation around the table got round to the subject of favorite music. You know, how it used to be back in the day - favorite band, best album ever, perfect song.
And that’s the point of this post. Much as this new, instant update, totally connected, ‘me and my community’ world has made sharing the new black, do we share like we did ‘back in the day’. Yes, we are constantly fed the thrill of the new, the latest gadget, the best new social possibility (hello, Google Buzz!), the best new everything. But - and I accept this is an arcane point - has anything come close to the sharing possibility of ‘the mix tape’?
Ah, heady days. The joy of a clean C90, a record/CD collection and the possibility of introducing friends, family and partners to (a) genius tunes and (b) your impeccable good taste. The hours people of a few generations spent making perfect mix tapes could have kept major economies running for years. But they fuelled a love of music in a way almost nothing does today.
Apparently, the whole thing was illegal - ‘home taping is killing music’ was the catch phrase. But in reality it was the social glue that kept me - and the people I knew - hooked to the power of the perfect pop song. I cannot even begin to list the music I was turned onto by mix tapes. But let’s just give an honorable mention to Billy Mackenzie, while we’re here.
And what’s the equivalent now? blip.fm? Hardly. There’s nothing. Nothing that requires that much time and effort from both the creator and listener. For a while there, you couldn’t even FFW through tracks - you had to listen to the whole 90 mins to find that one, true gem that would push your taste in a whole new direction.
Anyway, back to Sarah. She raved about an album I would never have found - Modern Sounds In Country And Western Music by Ray Charles. Insisted I had to buy it. Wrote it down on paper and insisted I emailed her my favorite song. So I did buy it and it’s amazing. I don’t know what my song is but I’ll get there - I’m only on listen three. But that was the nearest experience I’ve had in years to the joy of being turned on to genius by someone’s passion for music.
Turns out we are also among the few people who consider 1963 by New Order to be a total, 100% solid classic. But that’s another story.
So, new hashtag anyone? I’m thinking #faveoldrecord. Mine? Hmm…next post, I think, need to spend some time on this…
When I was a young man, I had the luxury of working for Brian Eno. Watching a documentary on Roxy Music the other night, I was struck by just how much my approach to pretty much everything bore Brian’s influence.
I went to university in York (England), studying music. Not the greatest career move at a time when the UK was at the bottom of Thatcher’s second major recession. But I didn’t care. It was what I needed to do.
The music dept at York was the perfect set-up for a job with Eno. It was like a weird throwback to the 60s - all early music and 60s experimentalism. Steve Reich, LaMonte Young, Ligeti were the soundtrack to my time there. And Brian Eno and his associates, Harold Budd, John Cale, Gavin Bryers and Jon Hassell. So when, stuck in a dead-end job at the PRS, the chance to run Brian’s publishing company came up, I leapt at it. Within a year I was in managing his management company as well. Sweet.