It’s been an interesting few days/weeks/months/years.
I’ve been wrestling with what to do next in that all too familiar mid-life crisis way. I completed my fiftieth year on the planet not so long ago, actually in February so at the rate the months are currently passing, it was a lifetime ago. This coincided with me beginning to buy records again, I thought I’d make a list of records I had to own and go from there, fifty seemed a good number. Seems nostalgia and self reflection are two things that grab us at a certain point in life, they are also two things that are difficult to wrestle with together.
So I have been curating this list for over a year now, adding albums, removing albums and dithering and considering. Just today I realized there was no Dylan and maybe that Beatles album should be replaced with Rubber Soul. It’s as if it is impossible to get to what will be the 50 albums that will represent me on some level, is my mind and taste really so restless and fickle. I’m looking at the list and there is no Fleetwood Mac, Stones, Zeppelin or Black Sabbath and Purple are nowhere to be seen, damn where is the Whitesnake not to mention UFO or the glorious Scorpions. It is almost as if the metal years are no longer there, but the mighty Hawkwind make it twice and it could have been four.
It seems there are constants and then the albums that come and go. When I play Quicksilver Messenger Service or the Grateful Dead it seems that is all I want to hear but they are not on the list. Since January I have been listening to the Dead every week, at least one concert and yet they still have never made the list, Uriah Heep are on constant blasting rotation in the car but nowhere to be seen, yet Manassass are on the list and it has been months since I played the record, however great the album is. It seems to be the more important and familiar you are with an album the less you almost need to hear it.
It seems that the list may be more defined by what is not on it some days than what made it. It is maybe a reflection of my shifting musical memory, songs and albums coming into focus as memories emerge and comfort me or at times discomfort me. Around my wedding anniversary time Matthews Southern Comfort are important and later in August Fairport Convention as I pine for Cropredy or the connections that make that festival important even though it is never what I hoped for.
Then there is the question that as on some level this began as a buying guide can you add an album that you don’t own. I desperately want Solid Sir by John Martyn on there but I don’t think I will be able to afford a copy in the near future, unless I suck it up and spend the money on a reissue, which I hear is really worth the money. Lists are by there nature limiting and the question is do I want to be limited? Or as my wife would I am sure agree maybe I need to be limited.
This list has now become an albatross. It is something that is now apparently becoming consuming of too much thought. Am I ever going to get to that 50 albums or should I go for 100, 1000 or maybe more. As I look at the list in front of me as I write I am thinking I should add some more bands, maybe if I limit my choice to only one album by each band I can increase the variety. Is that though really an indicator of what I truly see as defining myself, do I want to define myself or am I happy to constantly change the list as the ever shifting playlist in my head is going all the time.
I am thinking of the time as a teenager heading out on vacation to Wales I would be happy with three records and a stack of books for two weeks. Really taking the time to listen and stare at the scenery. So in the interest of my sanity you will not get the list but here is a picture of where I spent most of my holidays as a child watching the Irish Sea, swimming, reading and listening to the few records I had. Nothing says the Llyn Peninsular like a morning pie apparently.