Music is always at the forefront of my mind and when I was asked if I would like to contribute on a post to talk about that very subject, I jumped at the opportunity. Being a creative person who loved to tread the boards, I was always up on stage performing in one musical production or another when I was younger.
Music soon became my go-to arena in many ways, there was singing lessons (I’m pretty sure I sent a video off to join a certain girl band back in the mid 90's) and lots of dancing. I grew up in Wales and entered the solo disco dancing competition in The Eisteddfod (a welsh festival with adjudicated competitions for poets, musicians and others) and also where my love of sequins began! I remember being in the local paper ‘protesting’ about the local disco being closed down, for me music and dancing often go hand in hand. I have always been very passionate about tunes and thankfully the passion has lived on to this day and has in fact grown.
As a teenager I had the option to play vinyl on my Hi-fi Stack and I used to spin my records bought from wages working as a Saturday chambermaid. I’d go off into another world whilst listening, lying on my bed thinking of boys homework. I wasn’t really a huge collector of records then, I was far more interested in filling any spare space I had with shoes, clothes, and girly stuff. Gig wise I have a vague recollection of seeing The Prodigy in my early 20's and thinking yes I like this feeling, a collective mutual understanding. We’re all as one, enjoying the music and here for a good night out!
Lock-down has hugely affected gig life, getting together with others to share ones musical passion has very much been missed and longed for by many. However, not to be defeated I bought my disco lights over lock-down, enabled Zoom and together with many people at a time we got our gig gear on and danced away the blues to some great tracks. Yes, not quite the same as being there but better than nothing, and is excellent exercise.
Talking of gig life I also enjoy very much putting on my review hat for the evening and writing up my thoughts on gigs. One of the last ones I really enjoyed was Cigarettes After Sex at The Albert Hall, Manchester, a wonderfully intimate gig where I got to meet members of the band and they kindly signed my record, a great keepsake of a lovely evening. Some of my words..
"This was always going to be an exciting one for me and I fully disclose before you read any further that I am a HUGE fan of Texan-based ambient pop band Cigarettes After Sex. Turning up to hear their romantic, dreamy, sexy and oft melancholic lyrics sung by the kooky Greg Gonzalez was a bit of a dream come true” I think we all know where my review on that one was heading, you can read the full review here.
I bagged myself a pre-loved record player for £10 and started a new collection of records from scratch (my original’s sadly ‘lost’ over the years) around 2017 thinking I’ll just get 20 records max. Soon the bargain £10 player was upgraded, and the record collection just grew and grew, and is still growing. As for ‘crate digging’ I’m obsessed, whether it be indie stores or charity shops. I like that something has been pre-loved and perhaps has a little story to how it came into someone else’s life. Charity shop digging could often bring me home 20 records on a good day! A nice charity shop find was ‘Music Of The Skies’ a folk record from Tim Green, released in 1981. I purchased it for £3, and just loved the peaceful looking sleeve art with its pale blue sky, clouds, and a lonesome looking man sitting there playing his guitar. After a little peek on Discogs I realised I had picked up somewhat of a treasure. Soon it was “I’ll stop at 100”- I didn’t, OK 200, I still didn’t. Each record I tell myself will be the last, each time I mean it, until the next one arrives. I am a fan of the repress but those first press records are my wanted gold, though very rarely found.
I’m not a purist collector in that I don’t mind things a little imperfect be that a somewhat worn sleeve, or a little crackle and pop here and there. Music has been my saving grace especially over lock-down and having someone very precious to me die during this period, the heartache has been soothed and comforted somewhat during this difficult time.
There has been some astounding 2020 releases, Bruce Springsteen with his ‘Letter To You’ came at just the right time for me personally and has been a perfect pick me up. Phoebe Bridgers and ‘Punisher’ especially cathartic. I also think that record stores have been amazing at getting stuff (all my wanted Record Store Day purchases ran smoothly online) out to us under lock-down. I am so looking forward to getting back in store though and flicking through all those records again. As for 2021, my rescue music is definitely coming from The Apartments - a new to me band, but I have fallen hard and now trying to source much of their new and previous material on vinyl. If anyone knows where I can get ‘No Song, No Spell, No Madrigal’ I’m all ears, although I do like a challenge.
I'm hoping 2021 finds me using my creative feet and am excited to be getting stuck into a project on the horizon that has music at its core. The last year has been challenging at the very least, life changing for many, music for my part has made everything that little bit more bearable and I’m forever grateful that I have my hearing senses to fully appreciate the healing affect music can have on us.