Monday, 18 March 2019

An Analogue Musical Adventure

Here in the Driftwood Vegan household not everything revolves around veganism and, although it is so important in our lives, we like to discuss other important things too; like music for instance.  Music is a major influence in our lives and, as much as I couldn't have had a soul mate who isn't vegan, he also had to love music.  Luckily Phil does and over the years we have introduced each other to so much music, as well as discovered even more together.  A life without music is not worth living.

My musical entertainment has been even more of a journey recently.  I took it upon myself to sort through and listen to every single cassette tape I have.  Our beloved, ageing and 261,000 mile Peugeot 306 with its onboard cassette deck has provided the perfect listening vessel on my way to and from work.  It's been amazing; a blast from the past with moments of rediscovery, moments of blushing over forgotten memories and eras, moments of sheer joy and moments of 'what the hell'!  It just goes to show how much music is along for the ride in your journey through life.

The deal with my cassettes has been that if I think it holds enough of a musical wonder and I don't already have it on CD, it gets an entry into my 'little blue book'.  Every month on payday I treat myself to a few of the entries available on the second hand market as CDs.  I have scored a few in charity shops recently too but the more obscure have to be sought out.  The defunct cassettes then wend their way to my colleague and fellow music lover Charlie, who has a penchant for collecting such analogue wonders en masse.  I'm so fortunate that not only are my cassettes not ending up in landfill but that I have Charlie, almost 20 years my junior, to pass on my music and perhaps discover some gems from a different era (as well as have a laugh over the more random ones!).

This brings me neatly on to a recent conversation I had with Phil about musical inheritance.  In this current digital download era, what is going to become of some of the old music?  I was fortunate that my parents passed on their vinyl to me; Beatles, Elvis and an amazing Lee Perry oldster included.  I cherish them and do play them, stylus fuzz and all.  What of these and my vinyls in the future?  I know that vinyl is making a bit of a comeback but realistically are my nieces going to have a record deck to enjoy these on when my time comes?  Phil has even more of a collection of vinyls and between us our CD collection is fairly extensive.  Then there are the digital music files; an increasingly popular format for storing music but one that is not going to be easy or even possible to physically pass on.  What happens therefore to our musical wonders from the past?  Sod the cash inheritance; what about the musical inheritance?

I might be getting old but most (not all) music these days is shit; a diluted media-popularised mix of dull tripe.  Most of our 'new' musical discoveries consist of reaching backwards through time to discover music we had yet to find.  Less and less are our new discoveries actually new and that saddens me.  Unless the new generation take on the same 'backwards' stance, and with less and less music being enjoyed in an analogue format and passed on to future generations, what hope is there for any magical musical inheritance?  I can't even comprehend how sad that could be.  

Perhaps I am being too dramatic or as old fashioned as the generations before me.  I'm a bit of an old folkie and am fully aware of the importance that folk music had in passing down the old stories, especially in the days of illiteracy.  Perhaps back then there was the same kind of panic.  Once the recording of music was possible we had the magic of passing on our musical stories and journeys; vinyl, cassette, CD's; treasured musical history.   Are we going backwards now in this world of en masse information where everything is available in a fleeting instance?  How do we know, treasure and share those creative musical moments that journey along with us and our loved ones?

About four years ago or so I made my parents a musical CD compilation for Christmas.  I included tracks from way before my time; ones that were important to my parents and also ones from growing up.  Summertime Blues, Johnny B Goode, Memphis Tennessee, Hey Jude, Maggie May, Imagine and various Abba songs were all included; the latter being embarrassing to admit but important no less in our family's history and all allowing memories to flood back in.  It ended with Meet on the Ledge by Fairport Convention; a particular evening with my parents spent at Cropredy Festival the reason I included it.  They got me drunk on cider and I loved it.   The delight from my parents that Christmas when we played it was evident; a sharing of the importance of music in our lives from before I was born to my life as an adult recognised by all.  My mum and dad found it touching that I cried as it played.  Its importance was emphasised further when my dad was in hospital during his final few days.  I played the CD to him again.  He was pretty much past talking but we noticed his feet were moving in time; from somewhere a past memory was creating joy.  He then muttered to play it again.  Through tears I pressed pay once more and sat back holding his hand whilst he danced.  Music is indeed magic.

Between us let us not forget the importance of communication and how music is very much an unspoken form of love, history and shared journeys.  Enthuse your children's lives with music in the same way that you do with love and light.  I honestly feel that people who really feel music have a heightened sense of compassion too.  It's about beyond just hearing music.  It's about absorbing, seeing it, feeling it.  It's also about passing that on to whoever you can and not letting it be lost into the digital ether.

Here is an old 'new' discovery to pass on.  I heard it playing in a book shop in Glastonbury and asked who it was.  I now own the full album on CD.

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