Eclectic not Selective

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August 2, 2012 by benmblackman

I cannot understand it when I meet people who apparently only like one style or genre of music. Either they are seriously missing out by blocking other styles of music in favour of their favourite or are lying (to themselves and us in my mind). Often, of course, this is the case. I’m sure, like me, you will have met many people over the years trying to be ‘2 kool 4 skool’ – you know – the ones who pretend that they only like a certain (very obscure) genre of music within an already rediculously obscure genre anyhow (just to earn some extra kool points). ‘Oh ya, I is well into me Electro Bass Dub – circa 2002-2007. What are you listening to right now?’ You know the sort?

I presume this is what Electro Bass Dub would look like

Now I like a lot of music so I can fully understand why somebody might love ‘Electro Bass Dub – circa 2002-2007’ but surely there is also some room in their life for a afew other genres as well? I don’t buy it when people pretend to themselves and others they definitely do not like, and would never like, and have never liked (let alone sung along to) a lovely pop ditty when alone in the car every now and again.

In a world when music is more readily available than at any time, surely we should all be embracing and learning about even more mediums of it – not limiting ourselves to just one genre or style?

My wife tells me that a key moment in our relationship was when I told her (via a text message foray – that is what we used to have before twitter and facebook and blogs and all this jazz) that music wise I was into ‘anything and everything: from SClub7 to Fleetwood Mac.’ The Fleetwood Mac bit, she tells me, clinched it – if he likes them (aged 23), he must be a keeper, she thought.


Fleetwood Mac

Luckily this was true (unlike the fact I told her about being the Essex Schoolboy’s Chess Champion 4 years running which was, of course, a lie and a joke). I only found out several weeks later when she excitingly challenged me to a game (‘come on then champ, let’s see how good you really are then’) that she had assumed this to be true. Gulp! I put up a good fight for 4 and a half minutes before I think she smelt a rat (by that stage she had already taken my queen, bishop and rook).

This was not me

So where did my love of music come from then I wonder? From an early age I remember often sitting in the car with my Mum listening to the songs spun on Radio 2.

The Hairy Cornflake – Radio 2

One of my earliest memories of music touching me and impacting upon me forever was Billy Joel and ‘In the Middle of the Night’. I don’t know what it touched or why it did so (I doubt I knew or understood the meaning or words – probably still don’t now – but it was an instance of when a song just touches you, pleases you, makes you love the world. It still does every time I hear it). In fact, I have only just learnt writing this blog that my ‘in the middle of the night’ is actually called ‘River of Dreams’.

Billy Joel

One of my great loves of music is it’s ability to trigger your subconscious. Hear a song that you might not have listened to for years or decades and it will trigger your subconscious brain into the feelings it gave you all that time ago. Sometimes this can, of course, be sad or bad (if they were sad or bad times, memories, experiences you associate with the song) but if you’re lucky then more often than not it will be the opposite and on hearing a song or piece of music you might flash back to all manner of times: fun times, crazy times, emotional times, ecstatic times, summer times, christmas times, birthday times, party times, times of love, times of achievement, times of togetherness, I could go on forever. I am constantly amazed at how music can, at it’s most powerful, change your mood (in a present where perhaps you are not feeling any of those things right now in reality, rather the sad or bad times, maybe worry or woe). Sometimes a song jogging the subconscious with those more positive feelings is just what you need to make you feel content and motivated with the situation and day you find yourself in today.

All of this music can achieve, and that’s before you even recognise or gain from the benefit of the fantasticness that music itself delivers in the here and now. The tune, the words, the sounds, the beats, the guitars, the riffs, the bass, the drums, the rhythm the blues, the rock the roll, I could go on forever.

How do these notes come to mean so much to so many?

I don’t know why I started this blog now I get to this point. I could never find enough words to describe what music means to me and how it makes me feel. And even if I could, how on earth would I manage to assemble them in the correct order to even explain half of what I seek to. However, we have come this far friends so let us not be defeatist. Better to have blogged and lost than to never have blogged (about music) at all.

Just promise me one thing will you? Having read this you will embrace the full spectrum music offers won’t you? Don’t limit yourself to one style, one genre, one artist, one source.

Eat, drink, and be merry (in a musical way). Listen to more than one radio station – it widens your repertoire. Ask other people what they love, what they are listening to at the moment, what they suggest you listen to – and give it a try (you know, like we used to when we woz young). Embrace the digital age, the world of music is at your fingertips, but don’t forget to revisit your vinyl too.


Do it for me, but more so, do it for yourself. There is so much to be sad, mad, worried, stressed and depressed about in this world, sometimes a little music is just the ticket we need to keep on skipping.

I will leave you with the great man who (I think) got me in to all of this in the first place. I can’t know for sure if this was what has made me so passionate about music ever since but I do know I will always remember the time this song hit me – like a slap in the face, like somebody held my shoulders tight and shook me purposely and made me stop, listen and appreciate, tap my toes, nod my head, smile. I don’t know how old I was but I was sat in the back of a Ford Granada and we were driving to buy some Jeans at Falmers Factory Shop in Essex. I got a pair of jeans and an olive green tshirt that day – I wore them for ever. Now, for a man who can’t usually remember what he did yesterday – is that not enough of an endorsement for music and how it can impact on your life? I didn’t stop at that point and think – that’ll do for me then, this Billy Joel guy seems to have music sorted, I won’t bother listening to anything else from now on. Of course I didn’t – blimey I was only 10. So don’t you fall in to that 2 kool 4 skool trap either will you? Promise?

In the middle of the night

I go walking in my sleep

Through the desert of truth

To the river so deep

We all end in the ocean

We all start in the streams

We’re all carried along

By the river of dreams

In the middle of the night


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