It was one of those typically English summer evenings when the air was thick with roses and the sky burnt a pink horizon. There might have even been a fox screeching somewhere. I was sitting in front of the television sipping a gin & tonic as the sun went down over Glastonbury. Or it could have been Reading, hardly matters, I do festivals like most other middle-aged people do. Sitting comfortably. 1975 took to the stage and I remember thinking: Now there’s a band of 4 scrawny kids from Birmingham playing just the kind of infectious rock’n’pop that will end up directly on to the pages of this blog. So here it is, 1975 with their biggest hit “Girls”. That night spent in front of a sea of festival flags coincided with me finishing “31 Songs” by Nick Hornby, a book of essays based on his favourite songs. The book is kind of like this blog, except way better. (National Book Critics Circle Award winning better in fact.) In the beginning of the book he makes it clear he does not want to write about songs as memories. No walks down memory lane about what he was doing when Rod Stewart was asking if he was sexy on the radio. (Kids, look it up, it’s a song. I was in Italy and it was the summer of ’79.) Whereas I definitely don’t filter the songs here through memories either, reading “31 Songs” made me realise I definitely filter a lot of songs through a decade. Ironic as Matt Healy & Co are called 1975 but seriously, does anyone else hear Howard Jones on “Girls?” Or do I have a box of 80s crayons and I just keep colouring in?
There are rock stars amongst men. Not always famous, not always nothing but beams of light on basement stages playing to the back rows of stadiums in small empty clubs night after night. Roosters among men, they possess some tragic flaw pulling you in to their magnetic power field, elusive but almost always fragile under the surface. Some become the stuff of legends, repeated for decades, often years after their demise of bottles and powders and the complete freedom of letting go. Others step into their given spotlight, finally wearing the greatness that was theirs, others walk through fame in uncomfortable shoes. But no matter who they are or wherever you saw them first, you look at them and go; I wanna be on that guy’s team, he holds the key. Jay Buchanan is a recent inductee to this hallowed brotherhood of men. His band Rival Sons is one of those bona fide rock bands, stemming from the blues and hours in darkened rooms, just four guys playing simply because they love doing so. There’s a rare and beautiful honesty that flows through “Face of Light” and when Buchanan hits his falsetto and lets it soar, it’s like floating on salvation.
Two things happened last week; Dan from This Man’s World introduced me to Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers (immediately turning me into a fan girl, check out their fabulous van sessions), and fellow blogger Elliot at Brain Splats gave Mixtape an award. Now, I have received awards before. This is by no means “I’m so full of my own magnificence” comment but rather a precursor to the error of my ways. I’m not ungrateful, but have previously regarded blog awards as more of a “spam element”. You know the kind… forward this to 7 of your best friends or the roof of your house will collapse or the sky will fall in etc. Admittedly blog awards don’t usually come with a threat attached but rather an obligation, you should pay them forward. Eliot in his (very clever) blog highlighted the community element of blogging. We blog, we read, we comment, we follow, we discover, we interact, and most important of all, many of us have made new friends in the process. All these wonderful, varied, creative blogs (way too many to mention here!!) and people behind them, how could I not salute you all, my blogging compatriots? Not to mention all my fellow music passionates who inspire, delight and amaze me on a daily basis. (With a special mention to Thom Cross- a great friend of this blog and a superstar in the making- listen!). So this Easter holiday I’ll be delighting in Nicki Bluhm’s raspy country rock whilst armed with my laptop, so you better buckle up blog world, there’ll be some awards coming your way!