Having recently finished David Hepworth’s latest book, Uncommon People: The Rise & Fall of the Rock Stars, I have been thinking about how that narrative can be seen to dovetail quite neatly with my own listening history, as I essentially stopped listening to new rock music at around 2008. This was partly because I was very unwell (needing a liver transplant eventually) and partly because I was in my mid-fifties, and partly because there didn’t seem to be anything new under the sun (at last). I think that probably the last ‘movement’ in rock music that I seriously listened to was ‘post-rock’ ( as described in a recent blog of mine), from around 1992-8, the last reasonably in-depth listening that I essayed into any rock-based sub-genre. And now this particular genre (if it can indeed be called that) is being historicised (as described in another recent blog of mine), I really am starting to feel like a museum-piece myself.
I tend to write about, and listen to, music of the 60s, 70s and 80s, which is not unusual, I guess, for someone my age (62 and ageing rapidly!). I ran a record shop from 1978-81 (a great period in this music, one of the very best, imho), and this time tends to, inevitably, form a kind of epi-centre to my listening history, due to my un-repeatably generous access to music at that time. At least it wasn’t 1982-6!!! However, I sort of “fell asleep” in around 2007 and “woke up” like a sort of Rip Van Winkle, after my successful operation in July 2009. The main music-related event at that time, for me, was the then-recent opening of Cafe Oto in Dalston, and Oto has been the center of my live gig experiences ever since. Rock has largely fallen to the wayside, and I couldn’t name one contemporary rock band to you if I tried. The 1975?? My God, what a year to pick!!
I don’t wear this pig-ignorance as a geriatric badge of honour, I have to make clear, as I deeply love rock music. Post-2009, I have managed to discover so-called ;free folk’ (especially Alasdair Roberts) and some grime (the latter largely through my son). I have learned to love Run The Jewels, Burial and Autechre. Apart from that, it tends to be mostly free improv for me nowadays. Hence the books, website and these blogs.
I guess the last stand for me in the rock world was in the mid-00s (hence this blog’s title). Here, I would name check Arcade Fire and The White Stripes (the latter of which I am rediscovering at the moment, part of the reason for this blog) from Canada and America, and our very own Arctic Monkeys, Franz Ferdinand and The Libertines (all of whom were also great live, as I recall). As well as the Stripes, I particularly love(d) The Arctic’s brilliant first album and Ferdinand’s second. I thought that The Strokes were derivative rubbish though, hype incarnate.
Is this how it is for most people as they get older? (only over 40s need to respond here). And I’m not being lachrymose here - I’m enjoying music at my current age, as much as I ever have. Is the tendency eventually to dwell in one’s own ‘golden age(s) comfort zone’? I had two musical-listening caesura’s: - when my children were born/growing up; and when I was seriously ill. This did mean that I (thankfully) missed ‘rave culture’ (I know, I am seriously showing my age here, but the music was mostly crap, tbh), and the associated club scenes. The thing about Post-Rock was that you could listen to it at home in your slippers, which suited me fine after a day at work and the various child care challenges that were provided daily in my late thirties and throughout my forties. Then this all got a bit easier but then I got ill, rather unfortunately..
I was born in 1955 (one of the notional years of rock’s birth). I sometimes wonder if I narrowly avoided being buried in the notional year of rock’s death, in 2009, at the same age as myself? That would have been even ‘neater’!
Answers to all this nonsense on a piece of A4 at least, please. ROCK ‘N ROLL, 1955-2009. R.I.P. Died at the age of 54.