Monday, 16 January 2012

If Music Be The Food of Love.....

Late night listening transports me back in time.

 It's 1975 and it's late, but here in my bedroom the schoolboy me is wide awake. The first chords have just struck on what will become a lifelong favourite album as for the seventh, eighth  or twentieth time tonight I'm listening to Mike Oldfield's 'Ommadawn'. I just bought it today and I've spent hours devouring the artwork and every word on its cover. It's an obsessive trait that I'll carry long into my twenties - until the demise of vinyl for the more modern CD, with their loss of artwork and cover design as a communication medium. Oh for the return of the gatefold sleeve!  But like many in the years to come I'll cling to the old ways for a while before I can let vinyl go - partially at least.

 I lie stretched out flat on my single bed, the curtains closed to the smallest glint of light from outside and the turntable on the chest of drawers is turning the disc at the required speed. I have the feed arm up so the record will constantly repeat. It's not a great record player but it's all I'll have for another couple of years yet until I can afford to buy one of my own that will give me the kind of quality sound that albums like this deserve. Now though any money I get is invested on buying vinyl. Albums only - singles are for fools swayed by the rubbish on 'Top Of The Pops'. Real men - and of course I include my fourteen year old self in that category - buy albums.  Real men are interested { and interesting} because we buy artists and albums by our inate understanding of what's mature and meaningful, not led by the pop charts, although any future trawl through my record collection may not quite prove that point. Or not yet at least. My tastes are developing and opinions are largely unformed.

So here I lie, horizontal, connected to heaven by the headphones  {saved for over weeks of self sacrifice and reduced record purchasing} plugged into the record deck and preventing my parents from realising that I'm playing this - like all my albums - at near full volume. This means that I can hear the needle chart its way across the track, adding its own base note. That would be frustrating to the modern me but it's completely normal at the present time so I'm all but oblivious. Still, I yearn in the dark for a better player; more clarity and especially; more volume.

 Maybe I have the album cover lying on my chest, but it's also possible that I 'm doing some air guitar or silently doing some fantasy conducting of the talented Mike { by dint of album ownership I now get to call him that} as I guide him intricately, knowingly and insightfully through the multiple shades of meaning in this piece, showing him that I understand: I get it.

I'm lost inside now, carried by layers deeper and deeper into the sound, hairs rise on my arms and on the back of my neck as if connected to an electric pulse. Each listening has lead me to a new discovery and I'm acutely aware that magic is happening.  In years to come my union with such magic might be heightened by alcohol but now it's pure and unadulterated by beer, the opinions of others or the need to be cool. Tonight is a musical experience that'll both change me and continue like this for the rest of my life - horizontal, at full volume and in the dark - and all the better for it. I'll come to learn that it's great to share but I've somehow already found my ideal way of communing with important albums is solitary Tonights experience will also open the doors to teach myself how to wash away anxiety and think clearly while being soothed by important tracks or albums; something I'll be particularly grateful for in the next angst ridden couple of years.

It's the first album that's done this to me, completely blowing me away and carrying me off into other worlds, other realities. The first time that an artist has shown me there are incredible possibilities out there. I've never heard anything like this before and I'm entranced, enthralled, enthused, amazed and astounded. It's so different to the crappy pop music that's everywhere. Soon there will be others being loved too: Jean-Michel Jarre: Rick Wakeman: Vangelis: Supertramp: The Floyd: The Who and Thin Lizzy amongst others, but for the moment I know nothing but this sublime album which reaches to my core and tugs emotions so far as yet untouched. It's so perfect I want to cry. That's a first for me too.

As a result of tonight, in the next couple of months I'll also become intimate with Oldfield's first two albums: Hergest Ridge and the sensational Tubular Bells but even these wonders won't have the same effect as Ommadawn.

Tonight it's just us here in the dark. Tonight it's doing all the talking and tonight for the first time - I think I might be in love.......

Play on.........

See you later.

If you also fancy another bit of what does you good?


Nicky said...

What a great blast from the past! Names like Mike Oldfield, and Jon & Vangelis really bring back memories of old for me!

dbs said...

I forgot what it felt like to fall in love with a record. Thanks.

IndigoWrath said...

Hi Alistair, this is my favourite piece of yours so far. It speaks to me on a very personal level, tho my choices were different. Nice one, Sir. Indigo

Alistair said...

Nicky - aren't you too young to have these in your collection! Wow!

dbs - cheers buddy. Who could live without falling for a gorgeous album or twenty along the way.

Indigo - Wow. Cheers for that. I think feelings like this are common to most teenagers at some time. The lucky ones - like us perhaps - get to stay that way.I still fall in love with albums or artists on a relatively frequent basis. Creativity amazes and inspires me.

Hmm - I wonder what those choices were?

Rebecca S. said...

Wow. Very nice post indeed.
My boys do exactly the same thing, though the technology may be different. I remember when I got a walkman for my birthday, and that is when I began to unwind horizontally, in the dark with magical music.

Jane said...

Jeeso! What a brilliant post Al. This brought back so many memories. My bedroom wall was covered with posters in the mid-seventies. Mike Oldfield and Rick Wakeman had pride of place! Ommadawn is still one of my favourite albums. I'll never forget the Mike Oldfield concert (one of my first 'big concert' experiences) at the Glasgow Apollo. And I spent SO many hours lying on my bed, with my head phones on, being transported to other worldly places through the magic of music. Thank you for bringing those memories to the forefront of my thoughts tonight!

Alistair said...

Jings! Seems like this has rung bells for a few of you right enough.

It's always nice to hit a right note or two!


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