Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I had an awkward interaction today reminiscent of quite a few others in the past; an attempt at a joke, with my finest attempt at mock swagger and disgust, met with first mystification and then aggressive defense by the unwitting recipient. As with times past, I wanted to completely switch gears once it became clear that things were heading down the wrong path. But I imagine that changing masks midway would cause further confusion. Not only does it leave one feeling silly at the joke having misfired, there is a mild distaste at it being met with pointed offense. In summary, sometimes it feels like it would be better to speak no more.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

At least a couple of dreams came true the past few months, what with there being John Prine and Paul Simon concerts in this fair city. I don't want to read too much into the fact that I didn't greet them with the delirium I used to invoke when I imagined these days in my bedroom. Part of it is the even-temperedness of growing up, and probably much less is due to my general emotional hesitance. Anyhow, each concert reminded me what great songwriters the two men are, and in particular each had a moment where I was reminded how their genius captured me when I first listened to their songs. It further added to the belief that there is something special in this medium when it is done right; and that these masters share this intuitive understanding of it, but are also blessed with the ability to draw from this mysterious force. It is a little sad that I personally have not found many people capable of carrying the torch into the next generation. But I'm grateful for what I have, so I'll keep humming that lonesome tune.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sometimes the father is the son

When I told him the news, joyous to most, he didn't betray any hint of disappointment. He shared the good sentiments, definitely. I can't pretend to read his mind, even after so many years, but I know that I at least could not forget the alternate future he had planned, one which the news so firmly and emphatically rendered impossible. The rest of us never took these dreams seriously, and would tease him about it in conversations amongst ourselves. We remarked that even he couldn't really think things could work out the way he wanted. I think now we were wrong: his silence just speaks too loudly. This doesn't change any of the realities, not least  that we were always right about this being the only way it could have worked out. But it's not always a good feeling being right.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

As always, something I needed to put down, even if I have cooled down considerably since.

The terror. Things may only get worse from here. Any memory of a world you once knew will be pulled up by the monster and ripped to shreds. I would like very much for a global stasis, for everything to stop moving, so that I can feel like anything of what I have experienced has had some value or meaning. How do others cope? By not caring so much on what has happened and instead looking ahead to what the future holds. Why can't I do the same? Because the past is all I have, and it is mocked every time the beast decides on a fresh execution. I don't know if I have lived my life by a code or not, but I am pretty sure few persons of my generation are racked by the confusion caused by this exotic combination of traditional inlook and progressive outlook. If I weren't so exposed to and aware of what lies outside, none of this would bother me as much, I think. But that's not the way I am. So what can I do but want to annihilate the self that is forced to go through this refuse day in and day out? I am really not one for exaggeration, but let it be on the record that at times like these, and I don't remember them feeling as dangerously real when I was younger, the classic line about nights we tried to die finally hits a note of relevance and resonance. Maybe it was premonition and not immaturity that made me attracted to the music then. The hope I felt soon afterwards turned out to be completely unfounded anyway. And it's not just the work, I think. It's the abject loneliness and sense of desperation that magnifies with each second. I can say it with some confidence, I think - I am, at this moment, what anyone rationally observing the situation would call depressed. As depressions go, I don't see too much reason to feel optimistic about anything, because I don't see a good future ahead. Even if I am done with a primary cause of discontent - studying - there will be another to take its place - the fact that she has moved away from me in spirit, perhaps, or the fact that every decision I have ever made has no place or value in this modern world. To frame it another way, it's gotten to the state that if you leave me alone in a room with headphones, I will resort to those songs that saved my life. Only I won't know why they bothered to. The alternative may have been preferable.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

1) Television, "Venus". The album has always occupied a strange place for me: something that on first listen was unquestionably, firmly high quality, but somehow didn't leave a strong emotional mark. This song however I always thought to have an extra spark, and I'm happy to report my feelings have only amplified with the years. It's a great example of what I mean when I talk about rock poetry; the intonation and melody suggests at something mysterious yet significant, which the playful chorus promptly confirms.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

I'm experienced enough to know that statements like "There's an excellent chance I will never discover artists like Steve Harley again" are (i) too topical to be of any interest to you, dear reader, and (ii) very likely of no lasting power beyond, say, a few months. (Music writing is especially difficult that way, and to think otherwise is to ignore history.) But with things being what they are, I'll swallow the shame and forge ahead. (As for boring you, well, that is not exactly without precedent.)

Anyhow, as for Steve Harley, my introduction to his music was through that ancient but ever trustworthy guide, Starostin, and I really don't see his kind surfacing again. Not with the explosion of access to music and the perceived knowledge about the subject that that instils in otherwise well-meaning listeners. I've speculated about what I find lacking in many of the new guard, and I think it stems from a basic difficulty when dealing with popular music, which is the culture of judging things based on novelty, rather than resonance. It's easy to get recommendations for obscure artists from years past, but ones who also happen to be good are a trickier ask. Harley is a good example of someone who's unquestionably weird, but only slightly less unquestionably good. I can imagine him being summarized by any of the new guard to sound like just your typical weirdo, and consequently lamenting how many other artists there are who face the same fate.

Even aside from Starostin's rigor, the old fan sites at least made it clear why they liked the music they did. I miss them, not just for nostalgia's sake, but because there was an obvious sense of love and attention to detail (okay, maybe it was often obsessive). I don't sense the emotion amongst the few sites I read nowadays, and so it is all the more harder to project one's own musical makeup onto the review and infer if there is likely to be a match. To say nothing of the sense these sites imparted of an album being part of a larger story, be it an artistic or emotional movement. You don't get that with fragmented one-off reviews, no matter how many of them are accumulated.