Sunday, April 24, 2011

Soul searching

When I was a kid, early-teens, it was listening to Radio North Sea, Radio Caroline (when it was on the air), Radio Luxembourg, hidden away in my bedroom, on a black-plastic transistor radio that I had to take apart and solder the circuits back together every couple of weeks so that it would keep working. (Remember Drupi?  Or Golden Earring?  Maybe Neil Young?  (I had such a picture in my head of Neil Young from hearing him sing this, night after night on the radio, that when eventually I saw him on TV, it was a shock to see that he looked nothing like my imagined idol.)

And then the visuals.... I literally discovered Marillion because of the album sleeve to Misplaced Childhood.  Led Zep, Budgie, Greenslade... a mix of the music and the Roger Dean artwork that we shamelessly and adoringly copied, large-scale, as murals on the school walls.

And today? I'd rather listen to a Grant Napear rant than music radio, where the same saccarrine songs are played over, and over, and over again. MTV (remember? it stands for Music TV?) is inane and not worth watching anymore, unless you're somewhere like Singapore or Egypt, where they still actually play music videos day-and-jetlagged-night... and if you're not still young-enough or social-enough to be touring the clubs and live shows all week every week, and if you're not hearing about them by word-of-mouth, how do you hear that music that you might otherwise miss?

You can randomise on Pandora, or let iTunes genius find music that you might perhaps-maybe like (and that it will instantly sell to you), but for me they fail miserably, probably because by 21-days of iTunes is full of Marillion, British folk, shameless glam rock and slightly-obscure guitarists.

Or you can watch House because you love Hugh Laurie (and if you only know him as House, you need to see Black Adder... and find out that Rowan Atkinson is more than the appalling Mr Bean at the same time).

A few weeks ago,  an episode of House started with scenes from a rodeo. The music was entrancing. Had this been even five years ago, that would have been it... unless the credits at the end of the show included the music (and were not shown at lightning speed or cut completely as is standard practise with US television), the only way of re-finding and identifying the music would be to carry it in your head and hum it to someone who might just know... it would have been a tantalising soundtrack that was lost unless you'd earlier planned on videoing the show and knew someone who could help identify it (like the old guy in the record store in Uppingham, who knew Babe Ruth when Larry and I described the song from Kevin's mystery-music cassette tape.. now that takes me back thirty years or more).

But now? I paused and replayed, Shazam'd the music on my iPhone (no luck), replayed and listened again and again, Googled the lyrics... and found Black Lab.  And more.... music for sale here and on iTunes. Of course.

Why hadn't I heard Paul Durham, Black Lab, before? The song resonated instantly... like a forgotten dream made real.

If not for technology...

(We can and do automate process and delivery... but we will never automate true soul.)


  1. Great post. Found your blog through Paul Durham's tweet :) I love Black Lab and initially found them because I hear their music on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And now I'm off to peruse more of your blog! (moerelle)

  2. I love this... It's exactly the way i feel too <3