I vastly appreciate it when someone recommends music to me. It takes some confidence, I think, as music is so personal. A couple of years ago, it took much persuasion for Ro to agree to let me listen to some of his music. Finally, he asked why I was so insistent. I explained that he came with me to classical and jazz concerts, enjoyed and discussed them with me and was open-minded about what he listened to, even if it was not something that he would buy himself. I respected his taste and would like to repay his courtesy by being introduced to the music he liked. Finally, he got it and agreed, asking only that I listen to whole albums, not single tracks. Thus, I was introduced to Neutral Milk Hotel, Grandaddy, Lali Puna and, most appreciatively, The Mountain Goats, amongst others.
When someone lends me a CD, I always make a point of buying another album by the same band (or at least one of the bands on the CD) if I like it as I think that’s only fair. I rarely if ever buy anything by someone particularly well-known (that is, so thoroughly in the charts that they even pierce my lack of interest), so they should have my financial support.
Since then, and I don’t understand it at all, it’s not that my taste has changed exactly, but it’s expanded to a degree I can’t explain. What I’d have dismissed as a noise, a few years ago, I now listen to with pleasure and interest. I gave up on popular music back in the early 1970s. In fact, it was the Osmonds that I blame. And Gary Bleeding Gl1tter. Suddenly, music was performed for or by children (Teenyboppers gave way to Weenyboppers, rather like CBBC and CBeebies now), or else it was T Rex or Slade, neither of which did it for me. I stopped listening for 33 years and reserved my affections for classical music. Later, I turned to jazz as well, but three decades of current music passed me by almost entirely, exceot for sometimes dips into John Peel for the man himself, didn’t make head or tail of what he played. I have a depth and breadth of ignorance that would surprise you. This is fine with me, it means that I have heard of hardly anyone and come to it with a genuinely open mind, and I don’t even know enough to be embarrassed by what I don’t know.
Several of you have kindly suggested albums or artists I should try, and what I’ve written so far is a preamble to my thanks to Mike (Troubled Diva, that is – or do you want a link?). I have become a bit obsessed with Shearwater’s album, Rook, which he suggested I try, a couple of weeks ago and which, of course, I promptly bought. In the way of good music, it took me a few listens to thoroughly like it – sometimes, what I like to start with can grate after the fourth time of playing ( a mark of my tentative taste) – but now I play it most days. Jonathan Meiburg has the most stunningly assured counter tenor voice and the band are excellent instrumentalists.
I was playing it when I started to write, but now I’ve moved on to the Old 97’s. I like contrast. It’ll be some Britten next (Benjy Brit, as the eponymous high school is called in the town of his birth).
Oh and, listening again, I forgot to mention how beautifully he phrases the lyrics. Commas and all, although not intrusively.