My last post made me think about Nick Hornby. That’s partly because I am starting to remind myself of the main character in ‘High Fidelity’, who spends a lot of time staring at the gig posters near his home, worrying that he doesn’t know who all the bands are any more. I’m not as bad as that, of course, but there is a small part of me that feels I should know all the new bands, and my teenage self would not have believed there would ever come a time when I didn’t.
I’ve also been thinking of Hornby’s book ’31 Songs’ which I read a decade ago now, but still comes back to me now and then. It’s a collection of essays on individual songs, and the ones I’ve been thinking of is his essay on Suicide’s ‘Frankie Teardrop’. He is amusing on the language of music reviews, especially when describing aggressive or difficult music. For example, one reviewer said of this track “Listening to Suicide feels like a shot to the head”, meant as a compliment. Hornby also recommends that everyone should listen to the track at least once. I tried listening on headphones at work and got about halfway through.
Hornby also talks about how, as he has gotten older, more tragedy has entered his life, in particular the diagnosis of his young son with a severe disability. This in turn affected his taste in music, he no longer felt the need to listen to challenging, angry or difficult music such as Suicide, preferring mellow, escapist music such as Teenage Fanclub. I can’t argue with that, but he also asserts that any who does need to listen to angry, challenging, ‘disturbing’ music must not have experienced severe hardship in their life. I can’t agree with that, in my experience people deal with tragedy in all kinds of ways, some may embrace angry music as a way of working out their anger, many will not experience any change.
It did get me thinking though, about whether having a child will affect my musical taste. My life is certainly more busy, fraught and stressful at times that before (and also more joyous), but I haven’t noticed a change in the music I listen to. I certainly listen to less loud music, of both electronic and guitar based varieties than I did a few years back, but that change started some time ago and is more due to age and damaged eardrums than fatherhood. I haven’t noticed my tastes becoming mellower, safer or more middle of the road. If something bad happened to my daughter, as it did to Hornby’s child, would that change my tastes. Would I want to only listen to escapist music, would I wallow in sad songs, would I return to the angry music of my youth? I can only hope that I never find out.