It was the slightly bizarre seventies singer and keyboard player John Miles who squealed out the following lines: 'Music was my first love (he sort of squealed) and it will be my last, music of the future and (and here he really squealed) music of the past.'
Because I'm not in any way qualified, being neither clairvoyant nor predictive, I can't comment on the music of the future. I feel certain I'll like some of it, I'm sure I'll dislike some of it and I'm almost certain that I won't ever get to hear most of it.
I'm still, in lots of ways, trying to catch up with the music of the past. For many years, up until I was made redundant and ran away to the other side of the world for a bit, I felt I was at the forefront of what is laughably called the British music scene. If ever there was an outdated, outmoded and over-used expression, that one has to be high on the short list. I was in the very lucky position of being the boss of the unit I worked in, had a reasonable (though definitely a long way from generous) income and a huge interest in whatever music was new and available each week. I used to take Monday afternoons off and would toddle across to Taunton to hit my favourite independent music shop and buy whichever of the new releases took my fancy. I had a knack for lighting upon good things and would take chances on something being worthwhile and listenable based purely on my gut feel. I can honestly say that I rarely got it wrong. There was a thrill in looking for the next new thing and discovering something wonderful that I could not have known about in any other way. You see, with most people, they stop exploring music when they reach their mid-twenties. Most people tend to stick to the wave they were riding from there on in - and I know that is a generalisation. I have never stopped trying to broaden my musical boundaries, to look for and occasionally find the next new thing.
Once I lost my job and while I was in New Zealand I quickly lost touch. When I came back I had no income and couldn't afford the luxury of new music and had to settle for listening to what I already had. As that amounted to about five thousand CDs it wasn't too much of a hardship, though it did keep me out of touch with what was new. When I got a new job I was once again at the bottom of the pile and I still don't have the disposable income I used to have, so taking a punt on new music isn't much of an option.
At this point I probably ought to fill you in a little on the music that rocks but which definitely doesn't sink my particularly metaphorical boat. It would be a serious exaggeration to say that I like all music. It would also be a bit misleading and far too subjective to say that I like all good music. But, the appreciation of music is a very subjective thing. Of course, my good music isn't necessarily anyone else's good music. To my mind, good music is music that is executed well, it is music that breaks new ground and says something different, it is creative and innovative, it is thought-provoking and, oh yes, enjoyable and inspirational to listen to. It is very easy to forget that music is, for the most part, first and foremost to be enjoyed.
Because I like lots of different kinds of music, it's probably easier to say what doesn't really inspire, interest or engage me. I can't stand country and western music, it just does absolutely nothing for me, I can't associate with it in any way, it is not from or part of my culture. The same goes for more introspective jazz, some hip hop, modern RnB (as opposed to rhythm and blues - and I see a huge distinction there) and most things involving Andrew Lloyd blinking hyphenated Webber.
Music has always mattered to me in a way that I find difficult to describe. Listening to music is often an emotional experience and some pieces can have me close to tears - usually, it has to be said, tears of joy. I can't hear the opening discord of Jimi Hendrix' 'Purple Haze' without having chills running down my spine. I can't hear the cannons and bells in Tchaikovsky's '1812 Overture' without getting a real rock and roll thrill, and the chorus of Shed Seven's 'Chasing Rainbows' lifts my spirit in the way that few other songs can. The slightly jarring nature of 'Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite' gets me gleeful; The Chemical Brothers' 'Block Rockin' Beats' can whizz me through a day; Tiki Taane's album 'Past, Present and Future' is one of the best bodies of work I have ever heard; Blur's 'Song 2' should, in my opinion, be the British national anthem and would be so much more stirring than the depressing, miserable, dreary thing we have to endure now. On a bit of a side note, the Italian national anthem makes me laugh - just listen and you should be able to see why. Beth Orton's huskily angelic voice can bring me to tears; Muse plug me into the mains; the well-crafted four-part harmonies of The Mamas and Papas get me flying. The virtuosity of performers and writers like Paul Kossoff, Neil Finn, Tori Amos, Ian Dury, Kathryn Tickell, Corinne Bailey-Rae, Robert Johnson, James Blunt and many others, has me awestruck - well, all except James Blunt who's just a whining tosser.
‘And in this world of trouble (John Miles continued to squeal) my music pulls me through.’