To say that 2017 has been somewhat ‘challenging’ would be a massive understatement. I feel emotionally, mentally, physically (though, that’s mainly down to eating my way through a lot of Nandos across the year apparently – as my tax return likes to point out) DRAINED. ZAPPED. Most definitely ABSOLUTELY like a lot of people – I have very much struggled this year. I have, at times, felt like I’ve been drowning… engulfed by a sea of political shit-storms, financial instability, professional uncertainty, all too fleeting waves of success, overwhelming social scenarios and all round anxiety, at times, that I may potentially be what people like to call ‘a failure’. One minute, I’m riding high. The next, stood in standstill ‘life traffic’. In a deep pit without a rope ladder.
2017 disguised itself as a massive steel-capped boot that walked on over to my already batshit crackers, extreme highs/lows life… and gave me the biggest kick up it’s ass. And boy, did it bloody hurt.
I do, however, want to share my experience with the emotional ibuprofen that I so often bang on about. An antidote.
To say that Music has saved me would sound dramatic to some but it has done just that. Through various jammy ways, working as a muggle for the majority of my year, this year I have witnessed a lot of live music. A lot of fucking GREAT live music, for the mortifyingly bargain price of handing out drinks samples and showing people to their seats.
And on every single occasion that I have been in the crowd, listening intently, I have asked myself:
‘Is there really any pain that cannot be relieved by the power of Music?’
I mean, even Justin Bieber helped me deal with a particularly dodgy life event. And on that note…
Growing up, I have always taken great pride in how diverse my taste in music is. There’s very little that I actively detest when it comes to musical genres. I even enjoy myself a bit of country nowadays, tripping to Nashville being a huge contributor to that. I stood on the Ryman stage where Johnny Cash proposed to June Carter and fell head over heels in love with the sucky, tragic romance of it all.
I’m reminded of memories through music, being the nostalgic tit that I am.
This year I saw Celine Dion in concert. It immediately took me back to winning my Primary School talent show singing My Heart Will Go On and listening to the Let’s Talk About Love cassette with my Papa, in a holiday apartment in Turkey, way back when.
I saw The Killers and it took me back to Leeds Festival 2008.
I saw Green Day and it took me back to the Music Room in Secondary School, where I’d attempt to play drums to Wake Me Up When September Ends without flaring my nostrils – don’t ask.
I watched Blondie for a second time in my life, Phil Collins, Tom Petty two months before he tragically died, Stevie fucking Nicks, Elbow, Madness, Kings of Leon (who were shite but hey ho – free show)… all in the space of a Summer.
October came along. I turned up to work to find that I was, in fact, working a Morrissey gig. I’m gonna be honest, I say ‘work’. I did very little work that day.
Now I understand Morrissey is a marmite kinda guy. I watched as radio management had kittens whenever he mentioned anything remotely political or unjust, live on air. But you cannot deny that his voice is quite close to literal magic.
Material wise, his new album cannot be put in the same bracket as his classic hits with The Smiths. In fact, I can only really remember possibly one song he sang that day and I can’t say that I wasn’t disappointed, upon reflection afterwards, that he didn’t whip out This Charming Man at the very least.
But what I do remember is being truly captivated by the presence of that geezer onstage. I remember hanging on his every word, hanging on every chord… absolutely fascinated by him. Fascinated by how he creates sad, folky tones and then unleashes a jazz-style vibrato to keep you guessing.
I remember taking in the crowd and how united everybody was. United and caught up in the same moment. Amazed by how a voice like that can transcend the years and appeal to people in both their 50s and their 20s. I’ve never felt a connection like it throughout my years of going to gigs.
I left work that day on the highest of highs, with the realisation of how powerful music can be in bringing people together. I checked my phone and was greeted with the news of the Las Vegas shootings. I then got really fucking angry that the solace of music, for those people caught up in the awful happenings in Vegas, had been abused and tainted. Likewise with the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester and Eagles of Death Metal in Paris.
Because that’s exactly what music is to a lot of people, what it has been to me this year and what it will continue to be for years to come, regardless of the arseholes out there who have tried to stop this from being the case.
A getaway car.
We celebrate with music. We grieve with music. We fall in love to music. It’s personal. It’s relatable. There is always one song that fits a moment and that is the beauty of it.
In true ABBA style, I’d like to say thank you for the music. I love you.x