Sex, socialism and sanity without safewords
Given that there is nothing more personal than music tastes it should come as no surprise that the biggest difference between my fellow traveller and myself is in the musical arena. Of course as the handbook of all twue Dominants says he is right about everything at all times, and I as a mere lowly sub can merely nod in awe at his wisdom. You know a but is coming dont you as I write a response to Carters Britpop piece of this morning.
The Oasis v Blur battle of the bands was of course completely manufactured. Less by the Journalists Carter blames than by the PR men for their record companies. Churnalism is not a twenty first century phenomenon and whats easier than retreading press releases as page filling copy. There was a genuine north versus south element to it however. Many of us had seen the music scene completely ignore the dance scene in the 80s, preferring to push the bland pap of people like Seal or Spandau Ballet while kids in Manchester discovered the joys of the music coming out of Chicago and Detroit. Although perhaps rediscovered is a better word since the distance from the Wigan Casino to the Hacienda is short culturally as well as geographically.
If like me you discovered House music whilst the radio was insisting that carefully crafted mediocrity was the only game in town it was easy to simply stop listening to anything mainstream. Why bother when you could lose yourself in The Orb ? Pop music to a teen desperate to escape said “nothing to me about my life”
Then along came BritPop, not just Blur and Oasis of course, but the sublime Stone Roses, Pulp, James (although they had been around years) The Inspiral carpets and so many more. Bands who went back to the basics, not musically, no one ever accused the Stone Roses of underproducing their work, but the basics of what music was, people expressing and talking about their lives.
Blur may have been the Madness of a new generation but Park Life was when you were unemployed and woken by the binman a way of smiling at the mundanity that could drive you insane other wise. Common People by Pulp is of course a PHD thesis all of its own. I used to pass St Martins college regularly, those strange exotic artist types gathering like parakeets on the grey London Streets. But I met the people who saw me, a working class northerner, as a rare specimen to be collected at my own college.
You’ll never watch your life slide out of view, and dance and drink and screw
Because there’s nothing else to do.
Sing along with the common people, sing along and it might just get you thru’
Laugh along with the common people
Laugh along even though they’re laughing at you and the stupid things that you do.
Because you think that poor is cool.
It still has the raw anger today, and I remember how it hit me the first time I heard it, someone gets it, someone gets how the people around me playing at being poor will never get it. For me university was the only lifeline, the only way to escape the woodchip on the wall.
The song of that era which I played on repeat though was Wonderwall by Oasis. I have a confession, I love oasis. I love their rawness, the fact they look like lads from down the pub, I love the fact they arent perfect, and would have fucked both, or either. They looked, and acted like rock stars in an era of people pretending we were all the same. It goes back to Common People. I don’t want my rock stars to act like they are still on the dole. Oasis wrote about things I recognised though, without pretending to be something they werent.
When I was homeless and Sofa surfing and recovering from being raped wonderwall was the track that made me believe there would be another side, a better tomorrow. Being held by my partner listening to it gave me hope, and even listening to it now, so many years later tears prick my eyes.
That’s the thing about music tastes, they aren’t rational or arrived at in a vacuum, they are the ultimate lesson in the fact we are all creations of our experiences, and it’s why saying one form of music is better or worse than another is wrong, because you are actually saying that one set of experiences are more valid than another. By the mid nineties I was able to hear fools gold coming from those mainstream outlets that had ignored all non London Music, then spend the night with Mrs Woods. Both spoke to me about my life, which was the philosophy Carter found lacking at the heart of Britpop, perhaps because they did not speak to him about his life.