“It’s four in the morning/ The end of December…”
Well, not quite. But there again, it’s ten to four in the morning, the beginning of March doesn’t have quite the same ring to it now, does it? I would go so far as to suggest that even a songwriter and poet as great as Leonard Cohen surely would struggle to make magic from such a scenario.
Who am I kidding, he’d be lapping it up whilst I… I, well actually, seeing as it is now five to four on the morning of the second of March and I have to be at work in five hours, I am positively buzzing with, not energy exactly, but ideas. And so I’m here, now. Some of you reading this will be familiar with my work at Arsenal Mania, a work that I have devoted considerable time to over the last year (and then some). Recent developments there have freed me up to act on an idea that has been germanating for some time now. Namely to write about the music, that I love. The music that I have grown up with and live with today. And probably throw in some bits about the films, actors, actresses and directors that rock my world too.
And yes, me being me, there will probably be some football in here somewhere. But for now, freed from the requirement to concentrate my efforts on the mighty Arsenal, I need to find a starting point for this blog. Leonard Cohen isn’t it, because whilst I recognise his greatness, I don’t have a feel for him in the way that say Jo, my partner, or her dad, John does. I could start with either of the bands that are referenced in the title of this blog. A blog that I thought about calling “shiny star spangled tennis shoes” after a lyric from The National’s Afraid of Everyone. I settled for Ants To The National for the simple reason that when my musical odyssey began, it began to the best of my knowledge, in New Ealing Hospital where I spent a lot of time as an infant. It began with the music of Adam and the Ants. As I’m still alive and still listening, it hasn’t quite ended yet, but the last two cds I bought were The National’s Alligator and High Violet albums.
So, that’s the title explained, but I don’t want to begin by talking about either of these bands, bands so important to me that I keep the Ants close even now, even in the face of Jo’s derision: she doesn’t like Adam’s voice. The National, as you might be aware, are important enough to me that Jo and I have just spent half a week in Berlin, time booked with the sole intention of catching their Columbiahalle gig- which was, as we will get to later, rather fucking good. Instead I’m going to start by telling you about the single greatest thing that happened to me in terms of my musical habits. Two things actually; a) getting a cd player for my 18th birthday, b) getting 20 cds from my uncle in honour of the same event.
I have no idea whether that sounds weird or not, but had it not been for the cd player arriving when it did, then I probably would never have received the cds I did before heading up to Leeds Uni. Had I not received the cds when I did, not only would I not have fallen hard in love with both Tricky and PJ Harvey- of whom more later, but according to my uncle I wouldn’t have survived Fresher’s Week. And in essence he was right, if you can picture the logic of someone trying to argue with his – short lived- girlfriend that Seal, fucking Seal, was a better listen than the Holy Bible era Manic Street Preachers, then you might have an idea where I was coming from. Incidentally, that girlfriend was so short lived, I’m not sure she actually qualifies. “Was”, I said. I wasn’t a completely hopeless case. However, despite having both a copy of Parklife and (the very best of) New Order in my possession, in the summer of 1995, I was still very much a kid in thrall to the likes of Roachford (we’ll be coming back to him), Madonna (but not her), Michael Jackson (maybe him) and Guns N’ Roses (not sure about them either).
Funny to consider now that, of those 20 cds I’m not sure where most of them are. I know where Maxinquaye is, I know where To Bring You My Love Is and I’ll be talking about them soon- especially To Bring You My Love as that has been my favourite PJ Harvey album for the last 15 and a half years, right up until this week. I know where Jah Wobble’s Invaders of the Heart is and- despite further derision from friends, I know where The Cranberries No Need To Argue is. James and Laid? No idea. The Black Crowes? Nope. Pearl Jam? Don’t be silly! The rest, hell, I don’t even remember what the rest were…
It’s now four thirty five in the morning, etc… I’m gonna leave this here.