Thursday, October 12, 2006

Love and Jefferson Airplane

(Remember to recommend to other people. This post is part of a 3-part tour through my early 20's...)

Had an evening of marijuana cigarettes. For the occasion, the listening pleasure was two classic Sixties albums, Forever Changes by Love, and Surrealistic Pillow by Jefferson Airplane. And what a great pleasure it was. Even through the vile meandering plastic mess of my laptop speakers, out came amazing music, music of a lost time. The usual passion for a time machine, set for The Summer of Love gripped me, then subsided into a sweet ache as the music pulsated. And for my money, if I had to choose the higher high, it would be Jefferson Airplane. They are not as talented, but they throw out a study in bliss mixed with the most awful tension. And I dig it. Love is a beautiful off-kilter experiment, a phenomenal psychedelic tapestry. At times it sounded upside-down, just my thing.
That I am thinking of this tonight, in 2006, in the mountains of Guatemala, is a message in itself. I felt fresh this evening, the music held all the promise it ever has, since I was a moody teenager first listening to New Order, The House of Love, The Happy Mondays, and Joy Division. And the passion for music that connected into enthusiastic odysseys to Coventry. Or Nottingham. Or Loughborough. Imagine that! Somebody being excited about going to Loughborough. It happened! We would concoct bizarre bus and train journeys to attain our final goal, a rummage through the racks at The Left-Legged Pineapple - an incredibly stupid name that we thought was brilliant back then.And you had to buy some records after such an effort. Even if there was nothing you wanted. So there they were, the American Import singles, badly assembled sleeves of terrible artwork adorning appallingly misconceived and recorded music. And it was utterly essential. Band names like Clawfinger, Tar, Butt Trumpet(*), New Radiant Storm King. Who doesn't feel a little superior, sitting down of an evening, pipe in one hand, a glass of port in the other, and while the neighbours scavenge for artistic sustenance in the plastic depths of an Abba album, you are savouring the sonic melange of Butt Trumpet. Leave aside your casual prejudices and admit it, it has a certain allure. And these records were all around the same price, 3 to 4 pounds, and they waited on the counter, obviously for people to shy/incompetent/fussy/poor to buy proper music. So that's what I slowly accumulated over five wonderful years, a collection of rubbish music by forgotten artists, who I only indulged due to my total commitment to damning whole genres of music while I relentlessly pursued clear vinyl 12" German editions of Depeche Mode singles. (Or the Maxi-Single as the Germans named it).

And tonight those happy days are not gone. I am still in possession of every marvellous bus ride, every wasted second trying to convince myself of the dubious artistic merit of the latest Gnu Fuz offering, every wasted hour trying to decipher incomprehensibly stupid lyrics, either via the ears, or by pouring over the equally disgracefully punky exercises in erasure that passed for a printed lyric, and every wasted day spent wandering around my village in a band t-shirt for something hopelessly obscure and ill-judged, Pussy Crown or Mutated Hard-Boiled Eggs, hoping some impossibly informed and heavy-chested pouting beauty would wander up to me and say, "You're the one..."

And the marvellous thing about the disease I describe above, that gripped me so hard, is that it was a collective disease. And it had a place where everyone suffering could assemble and escape further into their sad fantasies. And the name of that place was cool, too. It was...

(actually, somebody should guess the next Three Word Phrase...)

* See, I'm not making this shit up!


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