Something Else

Sometimes I just get going with no real clue of where it is going to lead. This is one of those times. It’s like going for a walk, knowing that you have a destination in mind, but no real plan for how you’re going to get there. I know people who cannot do that – they always have to be reading the map. I’d rather discover my path as I go: be directed by random decisions, or the music I’m hearing.

I write something down; it leads to another thought, which I also write down. Or the music – always the music – gives me direction. Right now Marilyn Manson is crooning about sucking up snow white powder. Right now Marilyn Manson is in a hospital bed, after he was injured by falling scenery at a recent gig. I’m not sure how to resolve these ideas, but “The God of Fuck” is back with a vengeance.

The point I was hoping to make here was that if a band, a film, a book or a TV series which I enjoy is to suddenly become successful, famous, popular, there is a 50% chance I will yawn, shrug, and walk away. Likewise, if there is something I have never heard of that suddenly becomes huge, there is a 50% chance I will avoid it. I love “Rick and Morty”, but I have never watched “Stranger Things”.

Is that deliberate? I know plenty of people who will attest that it is; that I am being deliberately contrary, and that I derive some kind of pleasure from being obtuse. I derive no such pleasure. It is a mystery why some things entice me, when others hold absolutely no appeal whatsoever. That said, it is often the case that the longer something goes on, the further removed it gets from its origins.

Take, for instance, a band producing albums, going on tour. When they aren’t making money from the enterprise, they likely have day jobs. When they become successful professional musicians, they can devote their lives to their craft; they have a support network behind them, making their jobs easier. Those influences change their approach, and therefore their sound. I may no longer like it.

Therefore, it is surely natural that I am able to wander off, looking for some interesting new band. It’s probably a bad analogy, as I am also always on the lookout for new music to listen to. So many people I have known have simply been happy to plough the same furrow, the same era, the same small sub-genre, for their entire lives. I have always been very quick to tire of the same music.

Is there, within me, the desire to not be like anyone else? I’m not sure? I certainly do not seek to be like anyone else. I don’t actively seek to live in a way which other people would find odd or outré, but my tastes are my own, and I’m fickle. My opinions are in flux, and the people I have around me often find that quite hard to grab on to. “But you hate spinach” they cry, when I eat spinach pasta.

I don’t particularly hold much truck with conventional thinking either: I tend to take the view that just because everyone else thinks something, that doesn’t even remotely make it true. I have not watched Saturday night TV for most of this century. It holds precisely no attraction for me. There have been great TV programmes shown on Saturday nights, but mostly The Killing and Borgen.

Yet, you see, when they became popular, I was over the moon. It’s not that I had been watching Nordic Noir for years, and felt a validation of my preferences. I had been dipping in and out of Icelandic cinema, and now had something else I could enjoy reading from a TV screen. I was happy to be part of the club. There have been plenty of occasions like that where I would’ve run a mile.

I love to walk, with my ears plugged in to the music of the day – Marilyn is counting loudly now – and just go. It tends to be the return from the school run, or a trip to the shops for some milk, but it is a necessary refresher. I work from home, so I have the music I love around me all day long. It’s not the same as having it drilling straight in to your ears as the wind whips at your flesh. It is abrasive.

Contradictions again: I am someone who marginally prefers staying in to going out. Yes, the food is better out there – i.e. I do not have to make it or know how to make it – but it’s warmer indoors, with TV, a pair of smelly dogs, and a sofa. I need a base or I will feel discombobulated: take the last day of a holiday, you have checked out and are now forced to roam until your flight. I feel uneasy.

I understand that the vast majority of the music I discuss on this blog is “Alternative”, that is hard rock and heavy metal, but I do listen to other things. Whether Norwegian Folk Pop or, on occasion, British Indie pop. I find it hard to admit that I like Coldplay for instance, because they are, or they seem, so ubiquitous. The problem is that their music, their lyrics, actually move me. I like that.

In another vein, I have recently had to force myself to sit down and listen to a lot of Black Sabbath. They are a cornerstone of the history of heavy music worldwide, and I have certainly enjoyed their biggest songs again and again. The problem is that I didn’t know them very well at all, yet I could not stop myself from buying their t-shirts. I needed to fill that gap, and I am very glad that I did so.

Likewise, I also took myself on a journey through Ozzy Osbourne’s solo records, and found myself enjoying song after song after song. I have seen so many people extolling the virtues of the man’s songs that I just assumed I knew them all. I didn’t, and they were a pleasure to find myself getting immersed in. Finding new old bands is such a rewarding experience; I hope I can keep doing it.

Yesterday – at the time of writing – Kazuo Ishiguro won the Nobel prize for literature. I have never, so far, read any of his books, but I now find myself compelled to do so. Is that the point of any prize, to bring people in? Or does his increased presence on the news make him seem more popular? Either way, I seem to be going with the herd on this one, and that is most unlike me. I’m fickle.