Tuesday, July 15, 2008

If You Could Pick The Year Of Your Birth ...

DJDarce waiting to be let loose amongst Daddy's CDs

... when would you choose? Be a WW2 baby so you'd be teenage when rock&roll revolutionised popular music? Or a decade later so that you'd have had a chance to test the maxim "If you can remember the 60s..."? Maybe you'd have picked the so-called Year Zero, when Punk claimed (disingenuously) to bin everything that had gone before. Or is 'now' such a fantastic time that you'd love to be young enough to be immersed in all this music and then have (i) the joy of tracing it back to its heritage, and (ii) decades of discovery to come?

But-but-but - the later you choose, the less chance you've had to see . . . well, tell me! Who are you so happy to have seen play live that you wouldn't choose to change your birthdate for anything? Or is nostalgia not as good as it used to be? [Sorry.]

Why do I ask? Because Darcey (as you can see) is just discovering that there is just so much music, so little time.


ejaydee said...

Such a cute picture!
If I assume that I'll stay open-minded as I am now until old age, then this hypothetical birthdate could be moved as early as possible, thus giving me the chance to enjoy every single new development. Then again, I think it's more fun tracing something back to its heritage than grumbling about how it "sounds just like so-and-so" like JAP. I remember listening to CYHSY in a record store after reading some interesting things about them, and I liked the first song on the album but when I heard the singer's voice, I dismissed it as a Talking Heads rip-off. Now that Steenbeck turned us on to By the skin of... I realise I may have been wrong and should just have enjoyed it.

treefrogdemon said...

When I first got interested in music rock'n'roll was OVER and it was so frustrating...unlike now, there was no way in those days you could hear music from the recent past. I had a friend with an older brother, though, who kindly lent me some records. Pop music in the early 60s was just pathetic and what there was you could only listen to on the likes of Saturday Club on the Light Programme - until I discovered radio Luxemburg, and then it was headphones-under-the-covers for me every night...my mother used to come in after I was asleep and take the headphones off. Then in 1963 I bought The Freewheeling Bob Dylan and everything got much better after that.

So, would it have been better if I'd been born 3 years later? Well, no, because then I'd have missed rock'n'roll completely.

snadfrod said...

And that description, TFG, is basically why anyone should agree with ejay above and want to be born as early as they can, but with as open a mind as they have today.

Whether you knew it or not at the time (Freewheeling was, I'm sure, a record purchase like any other and was not accompanied by, say, a host of angels and the splitting of the sky allowing the voice of Bob to rain down from on high...), the whole thing is just so appealing - to witness the growth and spread of music. To become obsessed at a time when music was still so hard to get hold of. To treasure records and radio stations like we cherish some bloody phone or other today. To have the chance - again speculatively I'm sure - to go see that new band Beatles, or Led Zeppelin, or The Smiths. To amass a huge vinyl collection. To think Tony Blackburn is cutting edge. To hold and cherish the concept of a 7" single and a 12" remix. To compulsively collect ebay-ready first pressings of every VU record. To see Bowie change before your eyes. To grow up with music, basically.

Now obviously I romanticise this and, obviously, am aware that if I were actually in that position I would probably make slightly wrong choices all the way. But I was born in 1980 and feel, consequently, like I missed EVERYTHING (except Britpop, which was a craven retread, and even then I turned down a ticket for Oasis at Maine Road). Even The Roses and Acid House and Grunge and all that were just a bit early for me and, frankly, I probably wouldn't have cared anyway.

I think it was Abahachi in his podcast who talked about that moment in Jazz when it was constantly possible to just create something NEW. I honestly feel, and have always felt, that such a state is impossible any more, regardless of how much music journos would like to persuade us otherwise. Yes something can sound shiny and different and alien, but it always has its roots somewhere, and those roots are usually in Leadbelly or Robert Johnson, aren't they?

I guess what I'm saying, ramblingly, is that I am grateful to have the chance to explore the roots and history of any music, but would trade it all to be there at the unveiling of something the likes of which had never been heard before.

If I had a time machine, as you do, I would have to go see Bowie on the first Ziggy Stardust tour. But then I'd probably come back and say something the like 'yeah it was ok, but the sound was SHIT.' You can't win, can you?

bethnoir said...

I think the time machine option is the way to go, keeping my current consciousness but going to see, I don't know, the Doors in 1968 or Nick Drake on one of his few live appearances, would give me amazing memories and I could return with the knowledge that it was a special event.

My Mum and Dad went to see Cream play at the Albert Hall, but didn't bother with the Stones in the Park because they went to cinema instead, so even if you were born at a different time, you'd probably still miss some really great bits because the cat was sick on your dress or you spent your last £3 on a Moody Blues album.

Having said that; I'd love to have been able to see various embarrassing goth bands in the early 80s, but only so I could brag that I've seen them before everyone else!

Mnemonic said...

Smug Alert!

I saw Bob Dylan in 1964,The Who in 1965, Cream in 1966 at my first festival, The Doors and Jefferson Airplane in 1968,Jimi Hendrix (five times), Son House, Skip James, Bukka White, etc.

Smug Alert over!

Age isn't important. This week I'm going to five gigs (all right, I'll be exhausted by Sunday night even though at some of them I'll be able to sit down) and I'm still hearing things that excite me. I wouldn't have missed out on the sixties for anything but I'm glad I'm still around to hear what's happening now. A lot of today's music is very ordinary if not outright dross, but 10% is as good as anything from the sixties (when 90% was dross as well; it's just that we've conveniently buried it.)

If I were to be born earlier, I'd want to be John Hammond, who saw Bessie Smith and discovered Billie Holiday AND Bob Dylan.

steenbeck said...

Ha ha! Isaac just saw the picture of Darcey and said, "a picture of a baby!! So Cute!" And she is!.

Interesting question, DsD. I think in my case, though, I'd have to come back as a different person, who was more savvy and generally aware of what's going on around her (as Mnemonic seems to be). And that question...if you could come back as a different sort of person...is just too big to tackle.
I would like to have a chance to dance to Louis Armstrong or Cab Calloway, how much fun would that be?

I feel lucky to have seen Jimmy Cliff, The Abyssinians, Lee Perry, Toots & the Maytals and the Wailers, although they were all a bit older by the time I got the chance.

And I sometimes think about the fact that I lived in London in the 70s, and all the music that was going on around me that I was completely oblivious to (well, I was only 5 or 7 yrs old!)

And I feel lucky to have discovered RR at about the same time that I got a computer/internet connection that allowed me to play youTube videos, etc. In the last year I've discovered/rediscovered so much music it's almost overwhelming. Things that were going on all around me that I was only vaguely aware of have come into focus and led to other things in an amazing and addictive chain of musical goodness. So thanks, 'Spillers all!

ejaydee said...

Ooh we could have our first RR arranged marriage on the cards!

Shoegazer said...

Great Mickey Mouse impression - who else can she do?

goneforeign said...

What a great topic, I agree with everything said so far; recently someone said that Ejay's the baby of the group, when I read that I said [to myself] 'If that's so, then I must be the grandfather. WW2 isn't far enough back, you need one more decade, early 30's ideally, just in time to miss the depression. That would allow you to evolve as a child through the war, grow into that awful post war 'cultural' period and to be ready when the folk music revival started in the 50's which then led into the amazing musical revolution that we call the 60's, and true there was a lot of dreck but there was a lot more that was memorable. Somebody mentioned the Stones in the Park, I recall contacting the BBC to see about filming it. [they stole my idea!]

By the 60's I was living in LA, I spent the decade as a university student. What a fabulous musical treat it was, it was cheap, there were dozens of events, dozens of radio stations to take your pick from, the evolution of a totally new style of radio to go with the new music, it was called fm, generally commercial free and the radio was on all day. There were free events in the parks and on the beaches with music every weekend. I recently started thinking about a club in Santa Monica that I used to go to a lot, it was called 'The Cheetah', what a great place that was, every major group played there.

It all came together to become much more than the individual parts, it became a lifestyle, it got tagged as 'hippy' but that was only part of it, it still exists. Last week I spent quite a bit of time doing a podcast, part of what I talked about was the effects of the SF musical revolution and the transition by many of the musicians to where I now live, they chose the rural areas to the north of the city and many are still hereabouts. I decided not to post the podcast, I thought it was boring.

Years don't count, except physically, it's mental, it's how you think. You can be a tired old grumpy 80 year old or you can be a clear thinking adolescent 80 year old, yer takes yer pick.

If I were really greedy I might opt to be an adolescent and to be living in New York city in the 1930/40s to be able to see and hear the great bands of that period, Duke, Basie, Billie, Bird, Tatum: christ, the place was teeming with talent.

goneforeign said...

Just one other detail that Ms Steen reminded me of, Reggae. When Bob released 'Catch a Fire' in '72 and Perry Henzell released 'The Harder they Come' 6 months later, my life changed, literally, I became obsessed with every aspect of Jamaican music, literature and culture. I started going there every year sometimes 3-4 times a year and this continued for 20 odd years. There were so many musical highlights that it would be impossible to select any specifics but there was an annual music festival in Montego Bay throughout the 80's, it was Reggae Sunsplash, a 4 day/night event that was scheduled to start at 8pm but usually began about midnight and ran 'til about 8am. I went every year and as a result I think I've seen and heard just about every reggae group of that classic period, my interest waned with the advent of rap into Jamaica, everything changed.

steenbeck said...

DsD and I would have to be banned from suggesting music for the wedding.
Just saw a friend in the park who moved back to UK a few yrs ago and was here for a visit. Anyone in the RR universe near Nafferton?

ejaydee said...

I knew this guy in Hicksville once. Or was it Cheeseburg...

DarceysDad said...

Thanks for your responses everyone. I'm still busy and stressing over trying to rescue everything in the hold of my sinking PC ship, so I'll be back much later with my thoughts on the subject. But in the meantime -

@ snadfrod/bethnoir - No time machines! You choose and you stick with it, OK?

@ ejaydee - yeah I thought that too, but then it rang a bell, and sure enough Google tells me Nafferton is in Yorkshire.

@ steenbeck -
1. Multimap informs me that I drive past Nafferton on my way to the East Coast. 75 miles / 90 mins from chezDD.
2. What about that mid-Atlantic DJ booth for the wedding disco? (I can't believe I'm getting involved in this!)
3. No different personas for the time leap "I yam whuteye yam" as Popeye(?) said.

@ shoegazer - she does a mean Belushi-doing-country version of Theme From Rawhide at the moment.

steenbeck said...

Whew, So it wasn't a name she invented to have a laugh at a gullible american.

treefrogdemon said...

So can I live for ever then, please? because I've decided I'd like best to have been around in London in the 16th century so I could go and see every new play by that nice Mr Shakespeare, and coincidentally I really like 16th and 17th century music.

Good luck with the computer DsD (I've been there) - and btw another of my interests is doll collecting and I was stuck for a name for my latest acquisition - OK with your youngest if I call her Darcey?

ToffeeBoy said...

Well, the 'Spill's come up trumps yet again. Great post DsD - great comments everyone - a real pleasure to read everyone's thoughts and experiences.

@ mnemonic - I'm so glad you said that about 90% of music from the sixties being dross because I think it's all too easy for us to fall into the trap of noticing all the good stuff and conveniently forgetting about all the rest.

I suppose that at 47 I'm roughly middling in terms of age around here (well, perhaps leaning towards the upper echelons)but I like to think that I've always kept a fairly open mind and, through having two daughters and doing children's discos for the past ten years or so, I've been exposed to lots of music that I probably wouldn't have heard otherwise.

Much of it is what we might term 'dross' but when you're privileged to witness a school hall full of kids enjoying this 'dross' (more than enjoying but I can't quite get the right words - loving it - dancing with a totally un-self-conscious passion and joy) you get to see another side of it - and suddenly it's not so bad. The Spice Girls, S Club 7, Busted, McFly and many others like them that I've played at school discos over the years, DO have their place in the pantheon of popular music. The problem is that we usually hear them out of context and, of course, if we judge them purely on their musical depth or integrity (both of which are, I would argue, completely subjective concepts) then of course they pale in comparison with Dylan, Bowie, The Smiths or whoever else we admire and put up on our 'serious music' pedestals.

I've no idea where I'm going with this but I think that what I wanted to say when I set out on this brief message (!) is that I'm quite happy being born when I was and having the privilege of loving music for the best part of half a century; being moved by it, and inspired by it; making new discoveries but keeping the old ones; hearing new things in a song that I've known for years and rediscovering songs that I loved in a different lifetime. I just cannot imagine a life without music - it was my first love and it ... OK - time to stop now...

DarceysDad said...

@ tfd - Go ahead, we had enough trouble trying to find a name for two girls, I don't envy you the task of individually naming a doll collection. After all it's something that has become a real millstone around Eddie Stobart's neck: have you seen some of the awkward double-barrelled monstrosities the company have had to come up with recently?!

PC file transfer still limping along, but I've got the important stuff now - transfer speed went up in inverse proportion to the size of file being transferred (more than linear, I mean).

One of the dregs files that has been scraped out of the depths is an extensive Name That 80s Song lyrics quiz. If I get bored later waiting for more file transfers, and can figure out how to post a downloadable Excel Spreadsheet, I might post it up. Alternately, let me know via email, and I'll send it to you.

Back later ... and I haven't forgotten to post my birthdate of choice (with justification of course) .

DarceysDad said...

Oh and treefrogdemon ? NO, you cannot choose to live forever ... unless you know something we don't!

And steenbeck, if you see your friend again, ask her how far she lives from Wetwang!


treefrogdemon said...

Oh bother, because (as you said yourself) so little time...I was hoping that, during the Romantic period (because I really do NOT like that music), I could do as bethnoir suggested and learn about music from other cultures...or else I could be listening to all the folk songs and the broadside ballads, and then there'd be music hall and Scott Joplin, and blues and early jazz (you never know, gf, I might end up liking it after all)...

So if you won't let me do that I think I'll boringly decide to start off in 1949 same as I did really.

goneforeign said...

Treefrog: And I think also Ms. Steen. If you didn't see my post to Nilpferd last week re. Scott Joplin let me reiterate it here, go to last.fm or wherever and call up Marcus Roberts, select his album 'The Joy of Joplin', there's 16 cuts and about half of them are Joplin rags but performed in a very different and contemporary manner, pick those and if you like 'em get the rest which are Robert's compositions.

goneforeign said...

Treefrog: And I think also Ms. Steen. If you didn't see my post to Nilpferd last week re. Scott Joplin let me reiterate it here, go to last.fm or wherever and call up Marcus Roberts, select his album 'The Joy of Joplin', there's 16 cuts and about half of them are Joplin rags but performed in a very different and contemporary manner, pick those and if you like 'em get the rest which are Robert's compositions.

DarceysDad said...

Very interesting and thoughtful everyone: thanks.

Loads of good points, even - nay, PARTICULARLY from those posts which looked a bit stream-of-consciousness.

I thought before I wrote the header that the general concensus would have been to want to be younger, but it seems not.
As per every other RRer I know, I'm in awe of Mnemonic's musical experiences, and goneforeign just keeps pulling rabbits from the hat at every turn. I suppose the experiences we've all had are too precious to trade for, say, the youthful stamina/ability to yomp around muddy fields without the need to sleep for three days.

Me? I was 2 years too young to see the original Sex Pistols shambolic tour roll into Chester, but then at that age I'd have been too scared to go to something that alien.

I was made to return my ticket for Zep at Knebworth in '79, because my mam didn't like the idea of six teens travelling and sleeping in a clapped-out Cortina; 9 months later I bottled out of even asking about Pink Floyd's Earls Court The Wall show because it was the day before my Chemistry O-Level; 3 months after THAT I did get to (and ironically was nearly killed in an RTA coming home from) the first Monsters Of Rock at Donington. It could be argued I would have picked three years earlier than my real birth date.

As a heavy rocker I am grateful I DID get to see AC/DC with Bon Scott (supported by a pre-first album Def Leppard), Rush without the need for binoculars, Iron Maiden with Paul Di'Anno, Kiss in all their OTT and (vitally) pre-unmasking glory, Randy Rhoads playing with Ozzy (3 times) and so on. Nazareth, Climax Blues Band, Sweet, all unexpectedly blew me away with their sheer energy live.

Don't start me on the football, because as a Merseysider I'll go onandonandon about Keegan & Toshack up front, Lawler & Lindsay at the back.

A little later it was cool to be around at the time of Eric's (though I never went as I mostly hated the bands that were part of the explosion - again, SLIGHTLY too young to be open-minded I suppose), and regardless of the riots, wonderful to be able to go to reggae gigs without a race/colour care in the world.

But then would I now feel too old for the stuff I'm enjoying anyway? Nah, though I might have missed more gigs had my kids come along earlier . . . though of course, I wouldn't have been in the same year as DarceysMam so - oh Christ that line of thought will make my head hurt.

So in conclusion, I think I too will declare I'm happy with my place in time.
And a final point, in November 1979 I was front row for Motorhead supported by Saxon. For my birthday gig this year, I'll be in Manchester in November to see - yup - Motorhead supported by Saxon, but with the added bonus of 'younguns' Danko Jones.

Right, PC successfully backed up; I'm off to bed.

G'night all.

ejaydee said...

Kiss weren't always in make-up?! Now when it comes to football, I'd definitely not mind being born a few years earlier, or maybe being more conscious of the opportunities a few years earlier. By the time I realised time was running out, I was reduced to peering through the gates at Highbury, barely getting a glimpse of the penalty area.

snadfrod said...

Well, if its football we're talking about I would, oddly, settle quite happily for being born when I was. The first Man City game I went to was an FA Cup Quarter Final against Spurs in 91 or 92. We lost 4-2 to a Nayim hat-trick, there was a pitch invasion and it turned out to be the highest point we would reach in the next 14/15 years or so.

Subsequently I got to experience three relegations, 12th place in division 3 (old money), away days at York, Macclesfield and Wrexham, a succession of gash managers and inexplicable decisions, Laurent Charvet, Michael Frontzeck, Ged Brannan, Kevin Horlock and Gareth Taylor. All the while, of course, having to go to school the next day and hear all about it from the reds, who were experiencing an unprecendented and sick-making period of success.

Now, I'm not the kind of City fan who just wants to be miserable and down-trodden (in fact, quite the opposite, I crave success now more than ever) but I'll tell you something - that kind of upbringing will put hairs on your chest and make you appreciate that life is as much about accepting failure and moving onwards as it is about rubbing the next guy's nose in it on the tiny occasions when something might go right. A better education I could not have asked for. And I got to see Georgi Kinkladze, so there.

As for the music question, I'm going to have to stick where I am, too. Dsd scraed me too much by adding that we might not get to meet our wives and loved ones...

Proudfoot said...

Well I wish I'd been in the Edinburgh folk clubs during the beatnik era, or been in Greenwich Village. I was just too young to get gobbed at or strut my DMs down the Kings Rd in 1976-77. Like Gordon Brown I'm too bloody old to really appreciate the Arctic Monkeys, who I'm sure would be very exciting and new to a 16 year old. I'm sure there were better first-ever-proper-gigs than Blackfoot and the Scorpions at the Odeon but I wouldn't have missed my Peel years or being Two-Tone's target audience for anything. Mnemonic's got a better list (particularly jealous about the Who in 65) but I'm sure her excitement at seeing Jimi play guitar was no greater than those kids who had Jim Fix It for them to sing on TV with Sham 69. Hindsight may show the better artists but you can't beat being a young rock'n'roll nutter.
I leave with the sentiments of Luke Haines:

"The future generation
Will take me by the hand
To the common in my home ground
This is the story of the band
Wet weekends and New Year parties
You know I mean it from the heart
The next generation
Will get it from the start
I don't care what your old man said
He's a jerk any way, future generation
Will catch my falling star"

Proudfoot said...

PS. Idle fantasy. You probably heard about John sebastian playing an unscheduled acoustic set at Woodstock in '68. Apparently it went down quite well. What if you were there with your six string? Would you play: 'Wonderwall', 'Teenage Kicks','Redemption Song', 'Psycho Killer' or 'Mardy Bum'? And what would happen if you did? Rave reviews in Rolling Stone or a hail of urine-filled bottles? Just wondering...

goneforeign said...

I hope the Spill's lawyers are talking to the G's lawyers about book rights etc.

TracyK said...

Agreing with the sentiment about Mnemonic, that's a perfect example of 'right place, right time'ism. However, jealous as I am, I am happy that I've had my experiences and lived through music at my own pace. There are lots of regrets of course: I'll never hear Sandy Denny in the flesh, or Janis. I would have loved to have seen whether Jim Morrison's trousers made up for his self-indulgence. I would have loved to have seen my own mum, dancing all night in the sprung-floor dancehalls of Brum to Southern soul. Still, I do feel happy with my musical pedigree: my parents' 60s hangovers, the Abigail's Party soundtrack to the 70s and singing into a hairbrush while wearing my mum's maxi dress with my friend, fighting over who got to be Agnetha. Punk passed me by completely, but New Wave and Two Tone got me skanking in my Fred Perry in the youth club. Teenage daydreams to the perfect synthpop of Erasure and the Pet Shop Boys, then becoming moody with Pixies, The Smiths and The Cure. West Midlands fraggling to The Wonder Stuff and Neds, then the fantastic alternative scene of the early 90s, grunge, slightly drippy 'goth', Riot Grrrl and then Britpop, catching me at my 'right place, right time'.
Now, here I am still passionate, more able to cherrypick the past and present, fleshing out my own tastes. And the though of never being at this precise moment in my life with the man I love...my brain squirms away from the very idea.
Great, great question Rich.

Proudfoot said...

Sorry gf,not sure I quite understand the last comment. If it means we generate enough ideas to keep Hollywood (Music department)/VH1 afloat then I'm with you. Personally I think you should get publishers interested in your unique (IMHO) angle on the impact Marley had in the US. Most American namecheckers seem to start with the 'Legend' compilation but, as you well know, the story started much earlier. I think I've commented on the Wailers /US before (as in how we Brits think we got there first) but you seem to be the man to tell the story of how reggae hit Stateside. You were there. You needn't mention the Communist Society in Sheffield, 1940, if you think it'll lose you readers, but I would like to hear more about that....

Proudfoot said...

Wow, tracyK, just posted (mainly @ gf) then read your post. As D'sD said the stream of consciousness replies were the most intersesting & yours was the best of the bunch. Good nudge D'sD- you uncorked some good stuff there.

goneforeign said...

Proudfoot: I was being flippant re. our lawyers etc, just another way of saying what a great topic and what interesting comments. The thought was that if the G. thought that the RR lists warranted publication, they should see what's happening over here.
Re your comments and my reggae interests, I just had an interesting experience.
A longtime friend just wrote a book on the subject and I went to a book signing event that he had at a local bookstore. As soon as he spoke to the audience I knew he was lying, he began by saying that when he first went to Kingston in 1976 he did thus and such. I know for certain that he didn't go to Kingston until at least 15 years later, I saw him every week throughout the 80's. I distinctly recall a conversation where he told me that he was afraid to go to Kingston and he pumped me for details of my visits there. When I opened his book there were 3 events on the first page that years ago I'd told him about that had happened to me, he wrote about them in the first person.
I never read beyond the first page. The N.Y.Times gave his book a rave review. I guess he has a very good memory for details.

I'm not really interested in writing a book on the Wailers, I don't know how many there are but I've got half a dozen or so, I'm more interested in writing short pieces that relate to specific people or events that I've also photographed like the ones at my blog. I keep prodding at it but I know that I should get serious, I've got dozens of what I think are interesting incidents that could easily develop into a unique view of the people, the culture and the music. There's just so much to do and so little time.

Proudfoot said...

'A longtime friend' you say. That must have tested the friendship a little! I've appropriated a few anecdotes in my time but lying about being hip to Jamaican culture 15 years before you've been there takes the trustafarian biscuit. Now let me tell you about that government yard in Trenchtown...