It’s very rare for me to talk about or blog about things that make me “happy”. Anhedonia has virtually destroyed my life these last two or three years so pleasure, of any kind, is fleeting and I have to concentrate overly hard to get anything from books, TV, films, anything of those genres.
And the same goes for music.
Thankfully music comes, in the main, in small pieces. A song lasts three or four minutes and even something classical, although longer, is shorter than a TV programme or film. There’s something there to latch onto.
As a child I remember vividly the music of the 1970s. That was my era. Top of the Pops was a huge thing for my elder sister although, looking back now, those memories are sullied by the likes of Saville and Glitter. They seemed such innocent times and the music, for we should concentrate on that, was lively and joyful. Ah the days of Mud, Showaddywaddy and The Rubettes.
My fathers tastes were Classical and Country. He had a den where he did his stamp collection, huge jigsaws and smoked his pipe to the accompaniment of Dolly Parton or Schuberts Lieder.
My mother had more varied tastes. She liked Classical and Country but interspersed that with Pop. She loved the early work of Jean Michel Jarre, Cliff Richard and, in later life, Enya.
So, given these Country, Classical and pop influences it’s only right…
That I became a Heavy Metal fan!
My father hated guitars. My mother wasn’t keen although she liked Dire Straits.
I didn’t have friends who liked that genre (I didn’t have friends) so I kinda stumbled across it by accident, listening to the radio one night, under the bedclothes. I don’t even remember the first song or band that got me hooked.
Perhaps it was because it wasn’t popular that I, as with so many things, latched onto it. I identified with what was different, unpopular with the cool people.
Soon I started going to concerts. An Autistic hell with the noise and the crush of people, the smell of sweat, tobacco, illegal substances but somehow I was able to screen much of it out and put my focus entirely on the performance. True I didn’t “head bang” like others. I was into the music but I wanted to watch not rattle my brain about.
Heavy Metal has a bad name. It’s a stupid name if truth be told and I much prefer it simply to be called “Rock” music. People lambast the genre for just being noise and ignore the exceptional talents who ply their trade in rock bands. Yes of course the genre, as a whole, contains some hideous dirges but people hear those or think only of those and ignore the stunning ballads, the wonderful hooks, the melodies.
Whenever I hear music these days on popular radio stations I admit that 99% of it is just noise. It’s rap (make that Crap) or songs that sound identical by artistes I’ve never heard of. Most of it is hyper repetitive and drones on and on. I hear no talent but an overproduced tune that anyone could have written. Individuality is a crime, it seems.
Admittedly much rock music sounds pretty similar but the overwhelming majority of it is being played on real instruments by real people and not just fed into a computer. To me it’s real music played by real people. It’s individual.
And there’s real talent. Real skill.
Listen to the great guitarists. No, there is no “best” guitarist or best anything. It’s all subjective and there’s no competition. But yes, listen to some of the greats, John Petrucci (Dream Theater) or Alex Lifeson (Rush). The great drummers, Neil Peart (Rush) or Simon Phillips (ex-Toto – yes they of “Africa” fame) and tell me there’s no talent there.
And the singing isn’t all screeching (okay there’s some but it’s not all), there are the incredible voices of people like Myles Kennedy (Alter Bridge) or David Draiman (Disturbed) amongst many.
Oh, and if you haven’t heard Disturbeds cover of Simon and Garfunkels “Sound of Silence” then do so. Seriously, it’s incredible and not what you’ll be expecting.
So, “Metal” is my thing.
I did take some influences from my parents. I adore Enya (ideal mood music) and Abba (unparalleled use of melody). I like Jean Michel Jarre, at least his early stuff like Mum did. My iPod contains Gene Pitney, Don Henley, Jarre, soundtracks to the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit as well as Gladiator. There’s Enya, Abba, Sky (the instrumental supergroup containing John Williams), a host of rock bands and a wealth of Classical, a genre I really only discovered in my mid 20s but am now passionate (Anhedonia aside) about.
I couldn’t live without music.
I hope that, one day, I’ll really get back into it and be able to enjoy it again rather than use it as a diversion. Perhaps I’ll get the guitar out of the loft ?.