There are times when the title of this article is absolutely 100% true, sometimes it’s a band, sometimes a solo artist but they always save my life. Music to me is like my heart beat. As long as I can hear the beat I know I’m still here. Sound fanciful? Maybe a touch but I stand by my statement.
The best thing about music is that there is no such thing as bad music, just music one likes and music one doesn’t. There is a song for every emotion, sometimes all in one song. You’re feeling sad but don’t want to be cheered up? You really want to wallow? Blues. You feel happy? You want to bounce along as you walk? Pop. You see? I’m throwing vague emotions at you as an example but narrow it right down to specifics and it still holds true.
One of the best trends for me lately has been the resurgence of Vinyl, actually for several reasons: Listening to records takes indulgence, at least in the waiting for the first side to finish before you turn it over. Listening to an entire body of music as the artist meant it to be is a pure pleasure. An album becomes an album again, not just some random songs to be shuffled, added to a playlist and cherry picked for your favourite tracks. Listening to the entire album gives you the chance to form new favourites. There is something quite lovely about reading through the album cover, singing along with the lyric sheet or just enjoying the albums artwork. CD’s were okay for artwork but nothing gives me such joy as sitting with a 12” square piece of art in my hands. The excitement of buying music is back for me too, hunting down cut price classics in second hand record shops, even heading to my local HMV to get some new slabs of deliciousness. All of that said I still enjoy the flexibility of more modern platforms, (my CD collection has its own room it’s so huge). I still enjoy the ability to take a whole bunch of music as mp3’s and stuff them in my pocket on the odd occasion we are allowed out these days.
Does all this sound like life and music is all rosy and happy? Well it’s not. There are downsides to music too. Online streaming sites are killing of independent musicians off by paying next to nothing to the artist, record contracts are a thing of the past to all but the most mainstream lucky few. Venues are closing down as footfall is down, because the area they are in is being gentrified and aren’t they so loud? Even though they were open before whoever complains about them. All of this adds another problem to the listeners; grief. Yup I said it and I mean it. I have grieved over many losses in music. I cried when David Bowie died, I cried when Prince died (something I didn’t think I was capable of, it’s not like I know them personally). I never understood the public outpouring of grief when a public figure dies. I remember being shocked when I woke up to the news that Princess Diana had died in a car crash but seeing people in my home town in tears? Then Lemmy died, and then I got it!
Grief in music can come in many forms though; it’s not always about who has passed away but when a band split up can lead to grief. An example; A band I love called Louis Barabbas and the Bedlam Six had just announced a new album with 2 launch gigs, one in London, one in Manchester. Shortly after however they also announced that these two gigs would be their last as they were calling it a day. I was gutted! I’ve never been so excited and sad about attending that Manchester gig, knowing it would be all over come kicking out time! This sadly has not been an exception as various bands and solo artists I admire greatly have been forced to call time on a career in the music industry.
Let’s get back to the happy side of music though. I love music for its resilience, yeah it’s going through a rough time but as usual it’s putting up one hell of a fight. Even with lockdown as it is artists are figuring ways to keep going, it’s heartening how many are asking for donations for independent gig venues rather than any for themselves.
So as a certain Ian Prowse once said keep clapping because while you are the beat of music is still alive, stop clapping and music dies, and that’s something we can’t let happen.
Written By Andrew Forcer