I saw a meme on the internet recently that said “I hope the next big trend in music is talent” and this got me thinking about how we form and develop our tastes in music and how that shapes the music we listen to in later life.View_MFA_Spons

I, like most folk reading this article I suspect, formed my first serious and committed connection with music in my early teens when I started listening to the likes of The Jam, The Beat and The Specials. This was around the time of the mod revival in the UK and it was what pretty much everyone I knew was listening to. I happened along a bit late for the first wave of punk sadly, but I assume that had I been a couple of years older than ten, as I was in 1977, then punk is where I would have no doubt gravitated towards.

Naturally as human beings we like to form ourselves into little tribes and music can be the bonding factor that glues these clans together. Being in a group makes us feel safe, makes us feel we fit in and so we tend to go with the collective consciousness and follow what the majority in our group of friends are doing. This manifests itself in the kind of clothes we wear and, importantly seeing as I’m banging on about music, the kind of bands we listen to and go see. I remember my first gig and going to see The Beat at the Wakefield Theatre and feeling a huge rush of feeling that this was where I belonged and this was what I wanted to be a part of. So, as well as saving my money and buying all the seven inch singles my pocket money could procure, I also started wearing a uniform of sorts…Harrington jacket, Fred Perry tee-shirt…you know the drill. The gig had the effect of reinforcing the tribal bond and I suppose has imprinted on my brain in some way. Views_Music_First

As I moved through senior school the trends my fellow classmates followed changed, and obviously so did mine…it’s that fitting in thing again. Metal came and went and so did other genres, but all the time I was listening to the music I loved I was distinctly aware that my taste in music was right. I suppose this made me a musical snob! Fast forward thirty or so years and I think I’m pretty broad in my tastes. I dabble in a bit of jazz, I don’t mind a bit of prog, I still enjoy punk and I even try with classical from time to time, because I seem to think I really ought to get it… but I don’t. However, I look at the charts and think “How in Bod’s name can they call that music” and I say it as though I’m the first person to experience this.
First of all this “looking down” on the likes of Justin Beiber and his ilk is clearly musical snobbery of the highest order, but I just can’t help myself I’m afraid. That kind of manufactured, synthetic drivel really gets my goat and makes me want to rip the heads off…

(at this point nurse arrived and gave me a small tablet and now, a few hours later, I’m feeling nice and calm again).

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OK, I’ve had a lovely nap now, nursey has had a good talk with me and the gentleman in the white coat has given me back my pencils and some other sharp objects and says that so long as I don’t mention the B word again, I should be fine.

Earlier I mentioned moaning about the music that is in the charts and how to my mind the majority of it is pretty poor, and I also seem to recall saying that I say this as if I’m the first adult to utter this kind of sentiment. But, I don’t have to delve that far back in the dusty recesses of my noggin to recall the words of my Father/Mother/Grandparents declaring that the stuff I was listening to was horrendous crap that didn’t deserve to be given airspace…and I’m sure their parents before them said the same. In fact I know they did as my Mum tells me her Father said the Beatles wouldn’t last five minutes. Thing is I genuinely do believe that the music industry has become so much a money making, payola-merry-go-round that the only acts that get any attention from the main stream media are the ones that conform to the bland, formulaic pap model so that the money men can rake it in. Where are the movements like punk, like the Mods, like New Romanticism? You know what, they are still there and people are still making fabulously creative new music that is completely different from what went before and new movements are springing up around the music. It’s just, you know exactly what it is! I’m morphing, some may say I’ve gone full morph, into a boring old fart that has lost touch with the creative new music scenes that are out there and kids are taking to their hearts and minds. And this is a natural progression. I’ve broadened my horizons in some ways musically, but this ‘broadening’ seems to be a sort of searching out music from the past that I can appreciate…this is where the Jazz thing comes in of course, but there’s tons more out there to explore. For example, during the nineties I was in full-on mask-hysteria rave-mode and I listened to very little else…perhaps a bit of reggae and the ever present stalwarts of Hawkwind and Neil Young, but my knowledge of the music of that period, other than house and techno is negligible.

So how do I find these new forms of musical movements that are happening on my very doorstep? Well, you see, I don’t and I can’t. This is the music of youth and so it should be. Yes I may well happen across the odd snippet of a new style, but I’m never going to be hip to the avant-garde forms of musical expression that teenagers are making in their bedrooms and home studios, after all no one wants a gibbering loon that looks like one of them fellas in the box off the Muppets getting in the way of them creating and exploring new music, new life and new ways of expressing themselves.

This has turned into a bit of a rant, but I initially started out thinking about how the music of our youth helped shape the musical beings that we become in later life and it has suddenly dawned on me that our musical tastes are formed by a journey just as our lives are. Throughout our lives we flirt with new styles and new movements in music, just as we find and lose friends as we grow older. Some of this music sticks to us and becomes part of our makeup, others we shed and move on as it no longer seems so relevant to us. We have the opportunity from time to time to meet old musical friends and perhaps, if we are lucky, friends of our friends. The truth of the matter is we are forever exploring new music, it may be just that it’s not new in the sense that it is of the here and now. In any one day I could listen to Crass, Hawkwind, Neil Young, Daft Punk, Disco, Detroit Techno, Acid Techno…the list is endless, just don’t make me listen to that Justin B…and that’s where…oh no…

Anyway, my cocoa has arrived and nurse has said that I’ve been so good she’s going to let me have a Werthers Original and a listen to some Conflict tomorrow.

Stuart Smith

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