Friday, February 12, 2010
a taste of sourpus
I was on the bus today, reading the latest Uncut magazine, and was pleased to see an old Leicester musical comrade, Kevin Hewick, interviewed as part of an article on the death of Ian Curtis - as some of you know, Kev was briefly considered to replace Ian in Joy Division. It reminded me of my first meeting with Kevin, when he approached me aeons ago in well-known city guitar emporium, as I sat softly strumming a Gibson acoustic 1974 Heritage series - as you do. He was impressed that I both knew and clearly loved the song I was playing, which was 'Treat me well' by Nancy Wilson (of the band, Heart). Turned out he was a massive fan of theirs and had thought himself a very rare breed. I too was surprised, approximately familiar with Kev's work, that such a man should be such a big fan of a band I had thought had touched no one in the known universe (which I knew only as Leicester) but myself.
So what is it about this band and why do they seem like the best example I have of 'unexpected listening' from me? I had been thinking about the last few posts on this subject and thinking that a) my taste is just too broad to make anything that surprising and b) not that much is actually known about my core taste here at the Spill. So, with your indulgence, I can kill two birds with one stone, so to speak.
Although music has been the (pivotal) point of my days since before I can even recall, and although I'd soaked up a household full of influences from my mum (30's and 40's dance music, 'easy listening') my elder sister (Motown and Stax, fifties rock'n' roll, sixties pop and rock) and brother (punk and new wave, reggae, ska, rock, northern soul, funk, electronica, etc., etc.) not to mention their friends, my friends and acquaintances, TV, radio and the like, I have always felt that I didnt really start to form actual taste of my own until I was about 17 years old. Since I was a practicing musician from the age of about 12 (I had my first band then) music also comes to me through the prism of my own playing. With all this in mind, I can say that I had three main influences, springing from my listening taste, but forming me as a musician.
a) Bob Dylan
b) Jonathan Richman
c) Mark Eitzel
I have never tried (nor would I - I'm English for a start) to sound like any of them. But Bob became the ground on which almost everything thereafter somehow stood, Jonathan Richman was my musical and spiritual role model and Mark Eitzel showed me how far a performance could go. These three performers and their music spoke to me more personally and powerfully than any others and they really stood out.
Heart, I first heard in 1976, when Eitzel was still at school in England and Jonathan Richman was just getting his Modern Lovers Mark 2 together, and before I had really begun listening to His Bobness properly. In retrospect, Heart were actually my first attempt at forging taste of my very own. I used to sit on the floor, with cushions from the sofa strewn around me, drumming along, with a pair of my brother's (borrowed) drum sticks, to the whole of the Dreamboat Annie album. I was 12 years old and it was the sound of it. It sent me some place else. It was my own private world of ecstatic joy and release. I was too young for punk. But this band 'belonged' to me. Almost no one else was that interested.
Until I met Kev.
He was at least a Led Zeppelin fan. Some of my friends were big Zep fans, but not me. And I still think Heart's first five or so albums are uniquely exciting and wonderful, even though nothing else in my tasteworld would make sense next to them.
That's it. That's my story. Perhaps it is only actually me who is surprised?