2002 Year End Thoughts
Heaven bless you and your cow.
eaven bless you and your cow. Because now it’s nearly Christmas, and good cheer is upon us, and things of that ilk, and yet still, come midnight, I’m up, alone, again, drinking, listening to Spirit Of Eden and feeling that pressure behind my eyes that suggests, maybe, I’m wasting my fucking time, and then three minutes into the third track the sky opens up, the clouds slowly drift away, you can see blue, but only 40 seconds later it comes back in again, the grey and cold led by this guitar that scratches and scrapes and makes you squeeze your eyes closed, and this morning I saw a tree in a playing field, as Sunday morning football heaved its ugly, lazy head in the semblance of a new religion, in the absence of god maybe, we have football as our Sunday morning ritual, and the tree looked just like the one on the cover of this record, only without the puffins and shells and things, but with the magic, only this time from nature’s cycle and not from man’s hand, barren, maybe? No, just, for the moment anyway, bare, a blank canvas, waiting to be filled again come spring. And I start to think just what is, really, the point of listening to all this music this year and every year, and writing about it and marking it and reducing it to a task, to admin, to a number? Is it so I can put together a cooler end of year list than anyone else? Sometimes it almost feels as if it is. And those are the times I want to stop. Pop cultural one-upmanship? Fuck that for a laugh. Sometimes I feel as if I’m listening to music just so I can find the Thing, the One Moment, the Enlightenment that’s gonna make the world seem right to me, to everyone. Even though I know that can’t ever happen. There is no One Moment, only a succession of many moments which, when taken in the right way, when looked at from behind, take shape as a life, a life worth something, maybe. I’m never going to find one record that’s going to allow the world to be united by the secret chord (though I suspect it may not be a chord at all, but rather a harmony, or maybe a beat). So what have been my moments of the year? Covered in sweat and glitter and tears at a Flaming Lips gig, trying to bat a huge pink balloon with the palm of my hand, my worries (and that particular day they were many and profound) forgotten and subsumed by crazy oddness and the shared joy and love and wonderment of two thousand strangers made for two hours into wide-eyed children. The Coral wisely eschewing an encore in favour of leaving us actually satisfied rather than awaiting the contrived hysteria of the undeserved comeback. Idlewild live, again and again, growing in stature and power but maybe not quite in magic. That first spin of “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart” when the piano hook finally caught and the scattered drums unified and then fifty-odd minutes later Jeff Tweedy was saying the thing I’d always tried to say to the woman I love and he said it so right. The morning I woke up and opened the paper and saw on the page in front of me a throwaway remark which was the reason why I didn’t love my favourite band anymore, the curse of history and influences and ambition fucking up and eclipsing talent, the fact that that particular band seemed to soundtrack the predictable failure of our nation’s football team on most channels adding even more cringe-inducing bathos to proceedings. The many hours spent with Lambchop, piano lines and guitar lines and songs about dogs so slow and so sad and so lovely at the same time, the bus journeys with Akufen in my ears, trying desperately not to twitch and jerk in time lest fellow travellers think I’m some kind of lunatic. The afternoons since summer spent exploring jazz at work, or going over past musical loves with a like-minded soul, hearing “Belfast” by Orbital for the first time in years and even though it’s 11am and I’m in an office it’s actually, really, somewhere in my mind, four o’clock in the morning still, and I’m sitting somewhere fucked-up and brilliant… It hasn’t been a year of a New Rock Revolution or a garage rock revival, it hasn't been a year that finally killed off dance music and super clubs, it hasn’t even been the year of the crass, publicly-constructed hyperreal televisual popstar. Not in this room. Not in this head.
And the thing about the cow? A misheard lyric from, of course, Spirit Of Eden. Merry Christmas.