Sunday, 7 May 2017

What's Going On?

I love reading blogs, really enjoy the snippets of other lives I discover, often through sheer accident. I am inherently nosy, of course, and that helps. My overflowing bookshelves are full of biographies and autobiographies and at the moment I'm reading "Trouble man - the life and death of Marvin Gaye" by Steve Turner. It took some perseverance to get into, as it seemed full of names at first. What makes it so difficult to get into a book? The writer has to hook you in on the first few pages or it's a lost cause. I need a shared experience at the very least, or even better a photo.

                      Several hours on a plane gave me the time to concentrate and now I'm beginning to find some elements of interest. Reading about the circumstances around the recording of the iconic album "What's Going On" Motown Records 1971 for instance.... I so remember the moment in a record shop when I had the single of the same name in one hand and Cotton Fields by the Beach Boys in the other. I chose What's Going On and embarked upon a musical journey that enriched my own life and has cascaded down through another generation.

                      The book is on loan from my son, who has as many vinyl records on his shelves as I have books, which is rare amongst his generation who down load (or stream) their music. I shall reserve judgement on this book until I finish it, but am grateful for the glimpses into another life, so very different from my own experiences. An article I read and found fascinating recently, was on the topic of streaming music and how services like Spotify and Apple Music have changed the way people are exposed to different styles of music, and have changed the way we share music across the generations. Sharing is good thing I think, but allow me the real thing in my hands, be it book or record.

                     I have discovered that I like to have a physical thing - the LP, with it's sleeve notes and cover art work, but acknowledge that turning the LP over to listen to the second side can be annoying.  Do you remember when we even had to get up to "turn the tv over!?" How life has moved on. I still have all my records and even got a new turntable recently, and love to spend time listening to my favourites, and the What's Going On album is absolutely my favourite. I have learned that I enjoy the album in it's entirety as it was first recorded, because there's nothing so annoying than the random order on an iPod shuffle! My iPod has made it easy to take music with me, rather like my first musical experiences with a transistor radio. I love to plug in on a long journey and enjoy my favourites. So Marvin, what do your lyrics offer to us today? What IS going on?


                     So what is YOUR favourite music? Do the lyrics comfort you, or remind you that time may pass but issues remain. I never saw Marvin live and his early death meant that many of us were denied that privilege. Last year I experienced something I'd always dreamed of, I saw the amazing Stevie Wonder in a live concert in Hyde Park. Four hours of heaven which I will NEVER forget. He sang his "Songs from the Key of Life" album which was just incredible. Maybe his lyrics from 40 years ago, will speak for me, in that Love is in need of love today.


So what are you reading at the moment? Do you use a Kindle or tablet? Or like me, prefer a real book. The smell of a new book, or a dusty old one, the well thumbed pages of a favourite. These all add to the experience for me. Sometimes I come across a pencilled note in the margin, or an old love letter, postcard, ticket stub or receipt being used as a bookmark. This new technology feels dry to me, like music I know I need the physical thing, if only to be reminded that I have it in my hands. I read the list of music on my iPod and am often surprised....I'd forgotten that song. And yet.... to have the world of music at your fingertips, to type in a song title and listen within seconds. My son, a DJ, will say it's easier than lugging crates of records around (but he still does it!)

                    Down loads just don't cut it. Where is the snippet of real life I need to hook me in, the photos and art work on the cover, the sleeve notes, the references to the studio musicians or bibliography? What's Going On?

                   Oh well, this is the first post in more than 2 years, and I hope it holds some interest to people - I am determined to find my writing voice. I will be happy to respond to any comments.

 ............and one of these days I will find out how to improve your experience as a reader with links (and one of my favourite parts of blogging) I will point you in the direction of other blog writers you might find interesting.


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