For a long time; or since deciding that I liked music and wanted to take the music I listened to seriously (as with most people, this was in my mid teens. It was all brightly coloured adults acting like children or novelty songs from TV programmes up until that point), I didn’t listen to or get ‘New Music’.
I liked music but I couldn’t subscribe to the idea that anything new (and by new I mean post-millennium) could be as good as anything that had already been. It just wasn’t. There were some obvious, omnipresent, impossible to ignore and popular bands that are/were exceptions (Arctic Monkeys, Strokes, Libertines, Kings), but on the whole ‘new’ to me instantly meant, shit! I felt almost oppressed by the amount of stuff that had gone before, it all needed to be listened to, I needed time. Not only that but this stuff deserved to be listened to by the new young people. After all it is/was superlative song writing that not only held up now (then) but transported you back to then and gave you a sense of what ‘then’ was like and, crucially, sign-posted the musical thinking of bands from now (then). It’s all in the music man.
How could I enjoy the music these ‘new’ bands were putting out when I wasn’t as clever as they were? Or at least couldn’t spot the references to other bands, albums or events from the 50 years or so of rock music that preceded it. I sneered at everyone who ingested new music because they couldn’t spot them either, but they weren’t clever enough to realise it or they didn’t care or they didn’t have the curiosity to find out as I did, this is what I thought (Clearly I had a strong opinion of myself then). I despised the way that the NME talked about new bands as something completely new, when their links to the past were so obvious. I hated when they pointed a bands obvious influences out (by calling them the ‘new<insert revered band name here>’) even more.
So, I set about calling everything released post-2000 ‘shit’ and stopped (almost as quickly as I had started reading the NME). I listened to what people (well ‘Q’ magazine at least, what with its endless lists) might call ‘classic’ albums and followed what seemed to be a pretty pure musical bloodline Beatles, Stones, Kinks, Zeppelin, Pistols, Jam, Smiths, Roses, Pulp, Oasis, Blur. Obviously with other interesting flourishes here and there. I bemoaned the fact that there wasn’t one unifying band for my teenage years. A band that everyone loved, that would influence what we wore, or acted, or cause us to be different, at least from the people who didn’t love that band, the squares!
Bands came in and out of favour with me, but they were always from ‘the past’. Even the bands I listed above as current only got a listen when they’d been out for a while and any furore had calmed down. And I liked it that way.
But this year something’s changed.
I can’t possibly have exhausted all the music that existed pre-millennium, I realise this, but that’s how it feels. Maybe I’ve just heard everything that’s going to sound good to my ears, who knows? Anyway the nub is this, BBC Radio 6 Music. I never listened to music radio in the car because Radio 1 made me angry, as did adverts, as did Radio 2. You can’t listen to Radio 2 anyway when you’re a young man, I mean how much are you really going to be able to relate to Liza Tarbuck or Vanessa Feltz? I listened to talk radio on my daily commute for a long time, as there are no decent music stations broadcast on the FM or AM waves. But now I have 6 Music and have realised that there is good new music out there.
Today, they broadcast the 100 greatest tracks of the last ten years which kind of coincides with my new music embargo (I even voted for the track I thought was the best of the last ten years, it finished at #22) and what I’ve realised is that there has been incredible music from the ten years that I’ve been avoiding it. I still don’t understand why people like MUSE, but I can live with the fact that some people do. The ‘current’ tracks that are being played are excellent too and I’ve finally got the bug for searching out new music. Hurray!
My only problem now is that I’ve got the past ten years to catch up on as well.