While living and working in Edinburgh in 2008 I set out to write one million words in 366 days... but only managed 800,737.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

White Music

The question I set out to answer nearly a month ago was, essentially, “Why would listening to 'Hazard' by Richard Marx now be a pleasurable experience?” After two posts I hadn’t quite reached the answer, so I began drafting up my next installment, but things went a bit haywire.

You might be able to guess why when reading my unfinished playlist and my parenthetical comments:

Six “Old” Songs I Remember Hearing When I Didn’t Like Old Music

* ‘Good Vibrations – Beach Boys (my dad and his brother made a dubbed cassette of the Beach Boys… at one point I could hear them arguing between tracks).

* ‘Why Don’t We Do It In The Road?’ – The Beatles (my dad’s most prized album, as I remember it, was a copy of The White Album he acquired whilst working for E.M.I. on his O.E. in London1; it was a very special occasion when he placed one of these hallowed LPs on the turntable—all the more shocking when Paul McCartney starts singing about copulating on a highway)

* ‘White Room’ – Cream (I remember a lot of rock trivia my father told me, most of them seemed to involve Eric Clapton. Nickname: Slowhand. Stole George Harrison’s wife. Was in a band with Jimmy Page… Dad: Jimi Hendrix was the best left handed guitar player ever. Me: who was the best right handed? Dad: Eric Clapton. My dad had an Eric Carmen jacket; for a long time I thought the printer had just misspelled Eric Clapton)

* ‘Whiter Shade of Pale’ – Procol Harum (I still get the Moody Blues and Procul Harem mixed up, I think because of 'Knights in White Satin'. When I was 15 and 16 I used to spend an hour most weekend flicking through the bargain CD shelves of my local Warehouse; one of my last memories of my father is him asking me if I saw a Best Of collection for Procol Harem that I should get it for him; a copy of Procol Harem’s Greatest Hits surfaced at the Warehouse two months too late)

* ‘…

Clearly, my dad had a big role in my musical tastes, though these tastes didn’t show through until he was no longer there to influence me.

But someone does not need to be physically present to be a presence in your life. In fact, it feels as if things are only free to influence you when they’ve been put to bed. When the film is over, the book returned to the shelf (inevitably the shelf of a library in my case), the teacher left with younger students…

Which means that things aren’t really influencing you, but your memory of things.

I wonder, sometimes, if I would share as much of my father’s musical taste if he was still around…

Something like this happened the last time I tried to write this post. It seems unwilling or unable to remain in the concrete world. Who cares if it’s the memory or the actual thing that’s influencing you? What does it matter?

I would like to tie this back to writing, to how the idea of books, both before and after reading them, is what comes through most in your own writing. I think this would make an interesting post, one which people might leave comments on, perhaps even link to. But I don’t have it in me.

I don’t really want anyone to read this post. I’m coming down with a cold.

My friend, Abby, told me about this site. Go there. Leave me to my lemon and honey drink, I have a novel to write.

1 Puts my boring bank job to shame… but then I don’t think he wrote 6,000,000 words (and counting) in a year.

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