Tuesday, October 14, 2008

To blog or not to blog

Ok... I confess and own up. I am a blogging virgin.

I have friends who blog – all of whom tell me it is rather therapeutic. One is a writer; he ‘blogs’ as he runs into the writer’s wall – when inspiration for his new novel dries up. Another ‘blogs’ about the inner-workings of Land Rovers. One is telling his life’s story in what I imagine will become an almost never-ending blog – and, its fascinating stuff too. Another ‘blogs’ about the ridiculous nature of the 21st epidemic that is … celebrity culture. Now, that I get – is there anything more distasteful? Actually, there is – I had it to eat near Arcachon in the South West of France a year or so ago in a fish restaurant. Obviously, I should have known better than ordering a meat dish in a place renowned for its seafood – I did too, but still persisted and the plate of gristle-ridden fat surrounded by an unidentifiable gloop calling itself a sauce arrived. It (essentially, the meat from the head of a young calf) may well have been a local delicacy but it was (to my stomach) as inedible in as much those who crave their five-minutes of fame are derisory.

So… this blogging culture; I can understand the need to write down one’s thoughts on any given subject. After all, if you have an opinion, then why not voice it? It’s a free world – well, more or less. And maybe – having written just those few words within which yet another topic has arisen – that’s what the whole point of this about. It’s about commenting and sharing one’s opinions on subjects that matter to oneself.

And so – comment as therapy? Yes, I get that bit too – after all, writing down one’s thoughts in this most public of forums could be construed as some form of therapy. You get the shit that’s bothering you off your chest and Mr, Mrs or Miss Angry has let go their discontent in a satisfying manner; a little like someone with stored up flatulence quietly unleashing their trapped wind by firing off a deeply satisfying silent fart in a choc-full Japanese subway at rush-hour. Satisfaction and relief for one, pretty unpleasant for everyone else in a confined space.

So, there I am, investigating these ‘blog’ things on the unconfined space of the world-wide-wait, feeling a bit like Christopher Columbus searching the uncharted waters of a brave new world. What, precisely, am I looking for?

I start to do some research and come across a whole slew of newly written ‘blogs’. Hmmm, these look interesting. No... wrong. I scroll down yards of hyperspace until, in the absolute desperation of frustration, I click on one at random. And, then wonder why I did… because… I wonder what, precisely, is the point of this posted by Slipknot Fans – ‘if you don’t like them then deal with it, cause we do’. Ok, jolly good. A day later and I check back to see if any other Slipknot fans have joined their throng – oooops, sorry lads… nope. But, I understand it matters to these guys; they’re teenage fans and want to tell the world in their own way. ‘Cos no one understands being a teenager – least of all anyone older. And, in this blogging era what better way to strike out of acne'd bedroom prison?

The thing is, we were all like that at some point in our lives. It’s just that being a teen perennially means that you can’t (and absolutely foot-stampingly won’t) accept that anyone has been there before you, yourself, has. After all – how on earth could a middle aged old fogey be expected to like Slipknot, with their thrashing, crashing, power chords, brow-beating drums and ejaculatory guitar soloing. It’s hardly Sinatra swinging to the melody of Basie’s Big Band is it? And that’s what old people listen to… isn’t it?

Actually no. Well, certainly not in any home I’ve ever owned or lived in. That’s not to say that a daily dose of Slipknot is high on the evening agenda as I walk through the door in eager anticipation of a glass of the well-chilled and a bit of a sit-down. Why? Rather because I prefer something with more of a tune to it than listening to a howling banshee facing imminent castration.

Ahh – so that’s me then? Middle-aged, grumpy old bloke – who prefers something tuneful over something new or… challenging? Again no… I rather feel I have something of a Catholic taste in music and happily take in anything from whatever genre. After all, I’ve been schooled pretty comprehensively from working within the business of music for thirty-five-plus years.

Unlike rap fan, Andrew Vactor from Urbana in Ohio who was up against his local Beak recently for playing his music of choice in his stereo on wheels way too loud. Ok, I get that – it can be pretty tedious hearing the breaking bass beats from a mile away but, haven’t I been guilty of the same sin myself? Yes M'lud… Long before CDs existed in cars everyone used tapes – married to the loudest systems matched to the biggest speakers a Ford Cortina’s back parcel-shelf could hold. Driving through a small, sleepy Irish market-town in the early-seventies with Traffic’s Low Spark playing at head-turning volume, playing imaginary drums on the steering wheel. Yes… I stand accused – guilty as charged.

But, this was a Beak with not just a heart but a PG Woodhouse sense of humour; who offered the offender a reduced fine on condition he spent twenty hours listening to the more dulcet offerings of Bach and Beethoven. MC Andrew from Ohio lasted a quarter of an hour – maybe he should have been offered some easier-on-the-ear Puccini instead or was it considered that uncool in his ‘hood’ to listen to greatness; music that’s lasted hundreds of years… simply because it’s… good.

Because, music – if its any good at all... will stand the test of time. If thats not the case, then why does my own teen-daughter have songs by Roy Orbison and the Beach Boys on her i-Pod snuggled up to unsigned bands which she likes that she’s found on the internet? ‘Cos the songs, the tunes... call 'em what you will - are good, that’s all.

Music has and always will be a constant within anyone's life, wherever they may be situated on this peculiarly developing planet of ours. From nomadic tribesmen roaming the African Veldt to the young rap artists in the concrete canyons of uptown New York; from the Aborigines of the Outback to all of the fledgling bands creating music in their parents' garages, spurred on by dreams of on-line streaming a headline show at London's Royal Albert Hall.

But no matter what, no matter where - it is the song / the tune that remains.

And that’s my blogging opinion.

So… I guess anyone can do this blogging thing but… does anyone read them? Clearly someone must do – for example, the Huffington Post is now so widely read that it’s become one of the primary sources of news for any self-respecting journalist looking for a breaking media story. And that started as a blog.

But, who would read this..?

And… why?

So... here’s my first blog question – is Northern Sky by Nick Drake or Waterloo Sunset by Ray Davies the greatest song written in the last fifty years?

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