I mean when did you last really fall in love? Head-over-heels, butterflies in the stomach, truly, madly, deeply in love. Infatuation (I could never tell the difference). Obsession. A time when you’d wake up in the morning thinking of the object of your desire and fall asleep at night dreaming of them.
It’s been a long long time coming but over the weekend I fell in love again.
The thing is, I’m talking about falling in love with music. About being so completely obsessed by a band or an artist that there’s no room in your life for any others. The days when you would put a CD on repeat and sit back; when you’d pour over the lyrics, scrawled on an insert in the record sleeve, for hours until you had every word memorised; when every song seemed as though it had been personally written just for you; when you’d scour the weekly music press desperate for news of a new tour where you could get to see your latest crush; when you could anticipate every note of every song on their latest album and somehow you knew the bass player’s middle name even though the internet didn’t exist.
So when was your last time? If you’re anything like me it may have been some years ago (Dodgy – Homegrown 1993). New music and me simply haven’t got on for a while now, despite my frequent attempts. I like the odd single of course but that’s not the same: that’s just a one night stand. We can all do that. But somewhere between Top of the Pops coming off the air and the X Factor dominating the media; after the excitement of dance music in the late 80s and the hype of Britpop in the mid 90s, I became abstinent, no longer able to tell whether new music had become shit or I had just got old. Nothing excited me any more, every new band I heard just seemed to be an inferior copy of an old favourite.
Perhaps you remember the first time? I certainly do. For me it was AC/ DC in 1980, followed in quick succession by Hawkwind, The Stranglers, Pink Floyd, Julian Cope, The Stone Roses but to name a few. And of course each of these still holds a special place in my heart but whilst I still love these bands, I am no longer “in love” with them. We’ve grown comfortable and old together but the apart from the odd drunken evening the spark’s gone. Who was your first? The Smiths? The Specials? XTC? Iron Maiden?
And so to today. A few years later than it should have been, I got round to buying a Frank Turner album at the weekend (Love, Ire & Song). I listened to it in the car at 11am on Saturday morning and by midday I had bought a second album and I’ve not stopped listening since (playing as I write of course).
Wow he’s great. Raucous punk-influenced, beer-swilling, foot-stomping, Billy Bragg-inspired (Billy is his friend), folk music with angry, skeptical, insightful, defiant, reflective, righteous, sometimes amusing and sometimes tender lyrics that you just can’t help but sing along to. And he’s also clearly a natural rock ‘n’ roll star, with the swagger and attitude that the Simon Cowell would run a mile from. And importantly he’s made me feel young again.
Oh yes and he’s on tour next year! But playing arenas (the price of arriving too late to the party), which I don’t think I could bear. For me a gig should be an intimate affair, a party to which we’re all invited, with a real connection between the musicians and the audience, not a detached and distant show, so I guess I’ll wait til his comeback in a few years before I see him live.
Well that’s my latest infatuation anyway. Isn’t it time you developed a new crush? Go on and fall in love again this weekend; it’s probably been too long. And if you’re thinking that all new music is crap, maybe you’re just not looking hard enough, and if you haven’t got any better ideas, why not try Frank Turner’s second album “Love, Ire and Song”? Or listen here if you want to dip a toe in first. I’ll leave you with some lyrics from that album that seem to have some relevance to what I have just written.
“Well I guess I should confess that I am starting to get old
The latest music fads all passed me by and left me cold
All the kids are talking slang I won’t pretend to understand
All my friends are getting married, mortgages and pension plans
And it’s obvious my angry adolescent days are done
And I’m happy and I’m settled in the person I’ve become
But that doesn’t mean I’m settled up and sitting out the game
Time may change a lot but some things stay the same
And I won’t sit down
And I won’t shut up
And most of all I will not grow up
Oh maturity’s a wrapped up package deal so it seems
And ditching teenage fantasies means ditching all your dreams
All your friends and peers and family solemnly tell you you’ll
Have to grow up be an adult, be bored and unfulfilled
Well no one’s yet explained to me exactly what’s so great
About slaving 50 years away on something that you hate
About meekly shuffling down the path of mediocrity
Well if that’s your road then take it but it’s not the road for me
And I won’t sit down
And I won’t shut up
And most of all I will not grow up”