It's time for a song. That's because I love lots of things in life and would find it tedious to journal monomaniacally about horses. I can't do it, not for fun anyway; I can write in an integrated manner or not at all.
I like lots of different sorts of music; it's actually easier to list genres I don't like, which are basically most Top 40, rap, most pop, most heavy metal, cheesy sorts of Country & Western, and the cheesier sorts of folk music (there is great folk music as well). I'm not very fond of opera either, although there are a few exceptions - spine-tingling pieces I love to bits.
Here is a song which I love everything
about. The first version is deliberately audio only and HQ. Hope you're hooked up to good speakers; you really need the bass right for this one.
And just as an aside, the intro to this would be superb for a medley for Freestyle to Music. I'm not a dancer myself, but hearing music like this always makes me think of dancing to music with my horse, and plotting medleys and moves.
It's a funny thing; I started liking this band when I first heard In-Between Days
- though that wasn't actually until about 1987, so two years after release. I just looooved the intro then, and I do now; it's an unusual song, and especially in the candypop 80s it really stood out as authentic:
Of course, my first loves back then as a 16-year-old were U2, The Waterboys, serious things like that, as delineated from the me-me-me 1980s stuff and the endlessly nauseating synth-based plastic type material. Indeed, Perth radio station 6UVS-FM, run out of a local university, specialised in alternative music, and both Brett and I grew up with that as an important part of our lives, even though it would be nearly another two decades before we would meet. They played Echo & The Bunneymen, Siouxie & The Banshees, The Triffids, Lou Reed, The Cure, The Smiths, U2, XTC, David Bowie, later on Bjork, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, that sort of thing.
They also had a request show (yes folks, this is before YouTube, before iPods, before music on tap at home), on which you could request alternative songs. The other great thing you could request was that they smash a Top 40 tune you hated live on air - this is back in the days of vinyl singles; CDs were only just appearing. Vinyl makes a pleasing crunch when crushed on air. You can't get physical with music like that anymore. Common "please smash this" requests included Jason Donovan, Michael Jackson, Kylie Minogue, Wham!, George Michael, Billy Ray Cyrus (whose "Achy Breaky Heart" was surely a crime against humanity), and that sort of thing.
You could also send in projects; I remember sending in a photo (from a newspaper) of Michael Jackson dancing with his hands suggestively in his pants pockets, to which I'd added a speech bubble, "Oh no! Where are they?" - and I'd written a little 500-word story to go with it, which was duly read out on air, under my pseudonym of Skippy the Bush Kangaroo
so I wouldn't be found out. I was 14 or 15 at this point and completely delighted that the university students were reading out what I'd written. They actually played the Skippy soundtrack in the background while reading out my piece. Someone else had sent in "100 Things I'd Rather Do Than Listen To A Jason Donovan Record" - one of which, memorably, was "Rub Drano
into my buttocks." It was all great fun.
But I've digressed. Back to The Cure
: When Lullaby
came out, I was mesmerised, and still am, except over the years I discovered depths to this piece I'd not plumbed in my youth. It didn't mean I was a huge fan of the band, not yet; I was going through this puritanical, ascetic sort of stage, and didn't know how to let my hair down, or how to appreciate pure fun. That didn't fully blossom until my mid-30s, and I met Brett and his huge music collection, amongst them lots of things by The Cure. So then, I got into their music in a big way, and also into other things I'd never heard of before, in Brett's musical dowry (parallelled only by his extensive literary dowry, where he, for example, introduced me to Haruki Murakami).
Back to Lullaby
: I love the wonderful way the instruments come together at the start of the song, the almost Japanese quality to the main melody, the breathiness of the words, the evocation of a child's nightmare (Robert Smith, the dear, was afraid of spiders and had recurrent nightmares about them as a young child, and was channelling this), the black humour, the sheer theatre
of this song. The more I listen to it, the more I like it - and if a song can do that, that's a huge accolade - for familiarity not to breed contempt, but new discovery.
I see human beings as being like trees with their annual rings - inside of you is every year of your life; if you go deep into the centre, you'll have your first day at school, and further on, earliest memories like learning to walk, becoming conscious of a self, I've even got one of kicking my legs as a baby and this sort of befuddlement trying to work out how to operate them. I remember when I stopped clenching my hands in my sleep; discovering you could open your hands like a flower. That you should walk heel-first and roll, rather than flat-footed. That looking into the sun gave you black spots in your vision.I can go back to every ring and feel what I felt, see what I saw, smell what I smelt, hear what I heard - it's so amazing that we can store all that. It's like going into the Pensieve in Harry Potter - travelling back in time and being there and witnessing it.
So I can really appreciate that aspect of Lullaby
, and indeed of other songs like Into The Heart
by U2. This is a really early one many people don't know, from their first album, and it's magnificent:
I'm really grateful for art, for music, for literature, for the people that make these things, that help us to be human, and to live our lives in meaningful ways.
In my youth I was a bit uncomfortable with stage make-up and theatrics, now I really get it, and enjoy it. So of course, I've also appreciated David Bowie's work more the older I have become. Indeed, Robert Smith got invited to play live at Bowie's 50th birthday concert; interesting symmetry. Also, Neil Gaiman, Tim Burton, all those people whose artistic work we like who we found out later were influenced by The Cure... it's really interesting to observe this web, this interconnectedness.
Here's a nice live version of Lullaby:
The Cure really reminded me of my own European-ness at the core; this music could only
come out of Europe, and resonates with that part of me. Over the top I'm clad with Gondwana, with ancient landscapes, flora and fauna, with a burning sun, a crystal sky, with droughts and flooding rain. And here's an Australian song that really captures this:
Ah, music - what would we do without it. And the only way I'm going to stop writing is by promising myself to revisit this topic another time!