Tag Archives: music

“If you should die before me, ask if you can bring a friend.”

Today I cried for a lost love. Not a lost love who ever knew anything about it, mind – but a lost love nonetheless.

Music is a funny thing, when you think about it. It doesn’t even really exist, except as a memory or an idea. When it is being played, it is simply energy, a vibration, waves of pressure changes being perceived by our brains. And yet, there is very little that moves me as deeply as music. It is not something that I just listen to, it is something that I feel and absorb. It soaks into my bones and it pulses through my veins. Whether it’s good or bad, it is always a powerful and emotional experience, and it often results in my forming powerful and emotional attachments to songs, and albums, and by extension the bands that create and perform them.

For me, as someone who struggles to invest in emotional bonds with real people, it’s an intimacy that nothing else can really come close to.

My first brush with Stone Temple Pilots was when they had a song featured on the soundtrack for The Crow in 1994. The luscious, golden voice of Mr Scott Weiland wrapped around me like honey, while the catchy, bouncy and at times dark music was perfectly tuned to how I felt about life at the time. It soaked into my brain and added a new shade to my thoughts and feelings. There is a section of my brain that will forever be Stone Temple Pilots coloured, and over 20 years later, nothing has changed about the way I feel listening to that music.

Needless to say, my little teenaged self was later delighted to discover that Weiland himself was an absolute vision to behold.

Scott Weilland

It’s easy to sneer at footage of young girls in the 60’s, shrieking and losing their shit over the Beatles, but I totally get where that passion is coming from. I was just a little quieter about it.

In the late 90’s, STP shifted direction musically and I found myself stepping away because they just didn’t resonate with me in the same way any more. I bought a solo single of Weiland’s when I was at college which I loved, and gave me hope for great things from him in the future.

Consequently, I was delighted to hear a couple of years later that Weiland was teaming up with Slash et al in Velvet Revolver… but when I first saw him in a new video, I was shocked into tears. I had never really been that aware of his drug problems prior to that, but the destruction wrought by addiction was instantly apparent, and was powerful and hard hitting.

Watching that gaunt, skeletal shade of Weiland, the reality of what he was struggling with was impossible to ignore. I couldn’t engage with Velvet Revolver after that; it was too painful to see what had clearly happened, and was in all likelihood continuing to happen. I have since seen interviews with him in recent years, and it was very clear that he was either still in the clutches of a problem, or that some real intense damage had been done.

This morning, I woke up to the news that Scott Weiland had been found dead on 3rd December in his tour bus in Minnesota. I cried then and there in my kitchen, and I have continued to do so on and off throughout the day. I have not heard – nor have I cared to look for – any further information on the circumstances. Was it a surprise though? No. Not to me, and I don’t imagine it was to anyone else. Does that make it any less painful? No.

This was a man that I did not know, and had never met. I genuinely cannot imagine multiplying these feelings up to the scale of the pain and heartache of having to watch family and friends go through this same tortuous fight. Not being able to help. Never knowing from one day to the next what news you yourself are going to wake up to.

This is a goodbye to a man who never knew the esteem I held him in. It is also an extension of my heart and my deepest, deepest sympathies to anyone who is fighting their own demons – but more importantly, to their people who are helplessly caught in the current.

New music – and a salute to TeamRock

…and what I mean by “new music” is “music that has only just happened to my ears”.

On a surprisingly regular basis, I will get hugely enthusiastic about something and then have everyone else then turn around and tell me that I’ve been living under a rock, and I’m 3-12 years late to the party. I live in a kind of self-imposed cultural isolation which means that I never really know about any new TV or music until one of my friends directs my attention towards it.

"Hey guys, I just watched Twin Peaks!"

“Hey guys, I just watched Twin Peaks!”

Music is an absolutely massive part of my life, but I never listen to the radio if I can possibly avoid it. The last time I listened to any station with any consistency was when Mark and Lard had the Graveyard slot on Radio One back in the 90’s. They could be trusted to be genuinely funny, and also to play music that I wanted to listen to; if there is one thing guaranteed to stress me out and make me angry, it’s listening to noise that I don’t like.

Babies screaming, car alarms, two songs playing at the same time; all will drive me into a disproportionate fury. I don’t know quite why I am so sensitive to sound, but some of the worst days of my life were when I worked in a warehouse that always played local commercial radio and I forgot my mp3 player… It might sound dramatic, but I genuinely can’t think of many worse ways to spend my time.

This picture alone makes me shudder

This picture alone makes me shudder

I also don’t watch TV. The shows that I am actually interested in seeing are buried under so much generic guff (and/or adverts, depending on the station) that when there is a broadcast that I actually want to watch, I just tune in to that show specifically using on-demand TV services like iPlayer. When there’s a whole series I want to see, I put off watching it until it comes out on box set or Netflix, and then smash the whole thing out in a marathon viewing session. I honestly can’t understand why anyone these days would watch a bit of something they really like…and then wait a whole week to watch the next bit.

All of that said, people who have previously lived with me have paid for Sky, then left the receiver boxes behind when they moved out, and I have kept them connected for the free channels. I always used to switch the BBC breakfast news on in the morning, a) for the clock in the corner and b) to remind me that I’m actually supposed to be doing something.

At the end of last year, I got really frustrated with the huge increase in shitty horrible news stories about people all over the world being nasty, bigoted, murdering arseholes. I tried switching over to a different channel; if I got up early enough I would catch 3rd Rock From The Sun, but more often than not I ended out with Everybody Loves Raymond, and a swathe of soul-crushing audience orientated adverts. It was difficult to decide which was worse; worldwide human atrocity or thinly veiled hysteria-generation about household germs.

As it happens, someone else took the choice out of my hands; on Christmas Eve, some little scrote cut the cable from the Sky dish and tried to pull it out of the wall. I love living here.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Anyway, there was no way I was going to pay for TV, given that I barely watched it and didn’t even like it when I did. I also knew I couldn’t cope with mainstream radio… but then I remembered an American rock station I used to listen to online a few years ago. They eventually shut down the access from outside the States, but with the power of the internet at my disposal, I was sure I could find another station.

I tried a few different sites, and they were OK but didn’t really cut it. Then a few of my friends suggested TeamRock Radio and it was an absolute game-changer. The first morning I tuned in, the very first track I heard being played was Alice In Chains – Would?, and I knew I was home.

The music is superb; a mix of all the good old rock, punk, and metal, with some blues and prog and then a decent helping of awesome newer bands. The DJ’s (which for me at least will make or break any radio show, regardless of how good the music is) are sharp and funny, and are all the kind of people that I would actually choose to spend time with…if I ever went out and socialised anymore, that is.

I listen from when I wake up in the morning, and then stay tuned in pretty much until the early evening – because I can get the station via an app on my phone, I spend as much time during the day at work listening as I can get away with. I have found loads of “new music” in the last couple of months, and I’ve taken a chance on a couple of albums based on recommendations from the DJ’s – and I haven’t been let down yet.

Every time I discover something new, I will share it here. For the time being, if you would call yourself in any way alternative in your music tastes, I cannot recommend highly enough that you give TeamRock a listen. Yeah, there’s the odd pop-rock track, but you can forgive that based on the weight of other genuinely great stuff they play.

Team Rockhttp://www.teamrock.com/

If you already listen to Team Rock, I refer you to my previous point about being late to the party.