I just ate quite a few grapes and I did enjoy them, but not as much as I used to – as a teenager I would go through phases of consuming punnet after punnet. I’d get told off quite regularly for not holding back and allowing anyone else to touch them. I don’t know what it was but I could just eat them non-stop, but now that same craving is no longer present.
I’ve been thinking about how my taste (more specifically taste in music) has changed from my infant-life to my adult-life. I’ve written before about how I would go into my parents’ bedroom, change the radio from 89.5 (Radio 2) to somewhere around 101 (Classic FM) then I would lie back, close my eyes and be overtaken by the beauty of whatever piece of classical music happened to be playing. Classical music always hit the spot. Dad would play some of his music to me from time to time, I remember hearing this and being disgusted:
Why does he sing like an eighty year old woman?
Why is he singing in mainly gibberish about the moon?
Why would anyone like this?
Yet now, I listen to that and (don’t tell Dad I said this) but I think it’s quite good, even cool!
I read in a bit of this book that’s meant to be about children by Gerald Deskin, Greg Steckler that:
As we mature, our interest and taste in music changes […] Young children tend to like music that is exciting and different. As children grow and change, their taste in music may change from exciting to romantic to more serene songs.
But for me it was the other way round! I did not like the ‘exciting and different’ stuff, I liked to know where I stood with music, I didn’t want any surprises, I wanted simple melodic pleasure. I found this especially to be the case when the invention of ‘random’ now popularly called ‘shuffle’ came about. I hated not knowing what song was coming next, but by now my view is quite the opposite. I crave the new.
So this is the way I am and have been for quite some years. I like to be surprised by music, I get tired of certain music quite easily and above all, I desire to be delighted by it. I am often repeating something I once read that Nick Hornby wrote, in which he draws out a theory about men, he says that we are creatures who obsess and that a man who is not passionate about at least something is not trustworthy. Now that could well be a load of twaddle (ladies, let me know if you too are obsessive creatures) but I have most definitely jumped upon this way of thinking as it certainly describes much of my male life. So, (bare in mind these all cross over and fail to mention any divine or spiritual colouring of the hobby) my first memorable obsession was the collecting of stamps (don’t mock); then it was Manchester United football club; then it was American comics; then it was popular music; then it was films; and by now it’s theatre and to a slightly lesser extent Pixar who are vying for much of my brain cells. And here we are today, all of these areas have lived on to a certain extent (although many are almost completely bereft of breathing apparatus – sorry stamps, sorry Nicky Butt) they have left a mark upon the way I think and how I see the world. They cross over each other and resurrect themselves from time to time but there is one passion that has remained the most valiant of fighters, and with good reason. (As a side-note, this thought process has pushed me to reevaluate my lacklustre watch on idolatry – this is a danger.) The one that has lived on, (almost like Noel Edmonds) is music. It is the undercurrent to much of the above listed passions as well as many of the other arts, and many aspects of religion – they are all sound-tracked, thus it is logical that the role of music should take up at least some thought time.
Bob Geldof was speaking recently on Radio 4 about the fact that popular music is unique because no other art form can move you to tears in the same way (I don’t know if that’s true). But it does make you think: what will be moving me (if anything) in 30, 50, 70 years time? Something which I don’t think I’ll be doing is still obsessing over one band or one song, if my listening habits of the past few years are anything to go by, I get bored of songs rather easily. I am constantly in search of a further thrill. Music has a very similar effect to heroin in that way (not that I’m a regular smack user). When music is good, it’s good and once you’ve felt that good-ness you want more more more of it.
I’ll leave the class-A drug metaphor for now and tell you that I think music (more specifically a great song) is more bit like one of those sticky-squidgy toys that you get in a Christmas stocking. The first time you play with it it’s brilliant, you get a lot of joy out of it. By the second time, third time, fourth time you’re loving it even more; you show it to friends and even they get pleasure from it, because it’s a fun sticky toy – you all love it together. Then you look down at your little sticky-squidgy toy and you realise that it has dirt and fluff all over it, you’ve been playing with it too much. Now, you try and play with it as if nothing had changed, but it just isn’t the same. I would argue that this experience is extremely similar the one I find when I overplay and subsequently become bored by a once well-loved song.
Then comes the I haven’t heard it for ages principle. So, you’ve put your sticky-squidgy toy on top of your cupboard box and left it. A couple of months, maybe even years later you find it again, you wash it under the tap, and all the fluff and the dirt disappears, it’s almost as if it was new again! Wow! But, then again, it isn’t the same as the first time, you can appreciate what you once saw in it; you even find yourself in tears, still moved by the squidgy-stickiness still remaining. But you’ve lost that loving feeling.
Two days later you’re in the John Lewis pocket-money toys section and you see a new, stickier and squidgier toy. You say to yourself, “this is the best sticky-squidgy toy I’ve felt all year! It’s a classic squidgy sticky toy. This is a five star sticky squidgy toy. Wow, it’s even in a list of the best two hundred and fifty sticky-squidgy toys since 1979!” And thus, the process begins once more, but this time it’s glow in the dark.