Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Still a creep

I was reminded a few days ago of a time when I felt I didn't belong. When I was unsure of myself and searching for ways to fit in.

In my teens I listened whatever radio one told me to. I recorded Top of the Pops. I hovered over the stop button on my stereo, to end the music before the radio DJ spoke. Like a battle of wills, one side imaginary, the other determined, we tried to get there first. Until I bought myself a stereo that had a fade dial. Finally a professionalish end. Even if it was Mariah Carey singing some pappy pop tune.

After I my first love finished with me on a Thursday afternoon, I commenced a dogged determination to listen to important music. I had no real idea what that was but I wasn't going to restrict my ears to the production line of notes I'd been force fed so far. I started to wear black lipstick and hang around in record stores. I shunned Mizz and Just Seventeen. Choosing instead, the holy bibles of Melody Maker and NME. I'd know music. I'd listen to serious stuff. But obviously this doesn't happen overnight.

I made some new friends. A good group of people, most of whom I still know. They knew music. Or rather they appeared to, from my naive perspective. I, on the other hand, knew absolutely nothing. I looked like I spent all my money in Rowfers alternative clothing but it may as well have been fancy dress. I was playing a part. I pretty much still had the record button hovering for Mariahs next big hit. One night, I recall one of my new friends asking, what music are you into. The numbing horror. What music. I had no idea. It should have been such an innocent question but it definitely didn't feel it. Did he mean genre? What if I picked the wrong one? I already loved The Levellers by that time. My first love introduced me to them. I'd heard a few songs by Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin but did these comprise a category? I mumbled some form of a response. I've no idea what I said but I felt like a charlatan and I do not mean the band. Time past, as time does. I began to know music. Even more time past and I realised that it didn't matter. People like what they like. Musical prowess doesn't really exist. It is no more a badge of achievement than wearing the latest fashion is for those that choose to do so.

And yet I felt a slight ripple of the same worry I had all those years ago. Here, at the ripe old age of 44. Someone I had just met asked me a few questions about music. One about musicians I knew, somewhat, and one about an artist I'd never heard of. There was a sense that they were trying to trip me up. Find me out. Though of course there was nothing to find. I was dancing because I liked the sound.

Its interesting that no matter how much time passes, there are moments when perhaps we all feel like the fretful teenager we once were. The insecurities never fully leave us. Still a creep. Still a weirdo.


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