Proving that it has difficulty in reading the calendar, The Guardian has started a series of ‘Best of So-Far’ articles selecting the best in each category for the first half of the year, a first half that has three and a half unused weeks to it. Yesterday, it was TV Shows, today it’s albums.
I decided to read the list out of curiosity, nothing more, and a very small sliver of wondering what I might be missing. It made for interesting reading, in one way. Out of a list of thirty albums, I have heard of only six artists and out of those six I have only heard two, and one of them over fifty years ago. Unsurprisingly, he – reggae star Horace Andy, singer of ‘Black Pearl’ in 1970 – is the only one I’m interested in hearing more from.
The other act I’ve hear is Wet Leg, whose music does nothing to excite me, although hester Chambers is a very nice looking woman.
From my perspective as a 66 year old, it would be very easy and extremely predictable to turn this into a rant about music being better in my day. I mean, generally I do think it was: most of us think that about what we heard when we were young, enthusiastic and impressionable. It connects us to our memories of when we were every bit of that. Modern music will never be able to do that and even the rare ones that set the fires blazing have too many years to overcome.
But I can’t and won’t do that. How can I say that this is crap, shit, unlistenable or any of the words my generation learned from our parents when it came to what we liked, when I’ve just admitted never having heard fourteen fifteens of the list? I could easily remedy that by clicking on the Spotify playlist provided, which includes all thirty, and more, that is if I ever listened to Spotify. Which I don’t and never have and aren’t interested in doing so.
The point of all of this is to illustrate two things. The first is that I am more completely out of touch with modern music than even when my only radio listening was Junior Choice for the comedy records. And the second is that I’m not in the least bothered by my ignorance and sam prepared to confess this to anyone who hasn’t run away fast enough.
It’s inevitable. It is now closing in on forty years since I made a conscious decision over two albums and went for the one representing the past I’d flown past, instead of the one that meant still being obsessed with what was new. I didn’t turn my back on new music, not by a long way, not for a very long time yet. But I changed my focus to exploring what I had missed. For the last twenty years, near enough, my principal fascination has been the obscurities of the back half of the Sixties, and the still-not-ended flow of gems from that time that I have yet to hear.
If I were to listen to these Best Albums So Far, I might be surprised by what I find, might find riches I’m deliberately choosing not to discover. There’s a very sad aspect to that but in all honesty, I would be surprised to find one that did it for me in any way, apart from Horace Andy that is, who’s older than I am, so that would be like cheating. And I don’t mind. In fact, if I were to discover that as many as ten of these people were making music as great as the reviewers say, I would start to seriously worry about music in 2022. Because this music is not beding made for me, and it damned well shouldn’t be. Music is a wavefront that should continually be moving forward, beaching generation after generation in order to accomodate present and future generations. It’s great that, out of nowhere, people are suddenly latching on to Kate Bush again, and more power to them, but the gorgeous Ms Bush has always transcended eras and, well, just about everything. If it started to multiply, I’d enjoy it, seeing other stars, like Bowie perhaps flash back across the heavens. As long as they started inspiring the youth of today to develop new sounds from them, and not just recycle what they hear.
Otherwise, long live lists like this that are strange and impenetrable, and shut your mouth about how shit/awful/noisy/stupid/horrible music is today. They’re making it for themselves, not you, just as we did when it was our time. Let them do so.
Or else fold your arms, scowl at them and rant about how this is far better than that trash they call music… You might be right, but when they tell you to piss off, they’ll be even righter.