22 April 2005

A small philosophy...

I have a secret that gets me by on those rare (well, rare-ish) days that melancholy grips me. Churchill called it Black Dog, I call it Poison Head.

I live in a coastal town on the East Coast of Scotland. It's quite beautiful, boasting sheer cliff faces and 3 unique & beautiful beaches (one sadly crowned by a hideous caravan park). There's a nearby RAF base that makes the occasional racket. But it's not too bad. On the whole the sound of the waves is quite soothing.

So what's my secret, when Poison Head sets in and I become a viscious, miserable, grumpy bugger?

It's easy... I picture where I live, that stunning coastline, nestled snugly against the North Sea. I see, floating effortlessly around those clifftops, the hundreds of seagulls, calling to their kin.

The image bright in my mind, I picture a low-flying Tornado sucking one of those awful, dirty, noisy, viscious fucking birds right into its jet intake.

It usually works.

I'm not really doing this right....

It occurs to me that I'm not really doing this blog thing right. I'm saving up all my chat publishing loads of posts on one day, and then leaving it for ages and repeating first step. I think I'm meant to do it piecemeal. One-a-day type thing. Oh well.

Oh... read A Very English Agent by John Rathbone. It's quite good.

On the plus side...

Recently, it was brought to my attention that my iPod lacked Paul Simon. Well, to be fair, I had 2 Paul Simon songs on it. That's not very many, considering I'm a huge fan and do actually own at least 2 albums (one of which is Graceland, possibly the greatest album of the 80's - discuss).

Well, this got the ball rolling. You see, as I mentioned in my last post, I've been ill. I'm not one to succumb to boredom easily and ill = bored as far as I'm concerned. Drinking lemsip is fun, but doing it compulsively can lead to liver failure faster than downing pints of Jack Daniel's & Coke for breakfast. So I decided to update my iTunes music library and iPod. I hadn't really done so since upgrading to a new iMac and a 20gb iPod. I had a lot of cds and stuff kicking about that I'd just plain forgot about. More fool me.

Obviously Graceland, The Rhythm of the Saints and Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard went on first as they were fresh in my mind. But this was merely the tip of the iceberg. I found my copies of John Lee Hooker "Mr Lucky" AND his Greatest Hits - bring it on (Mr Lucky is playing as I write this - man was a genius!). Then John Mayall & Eric Clapton Blues Breaker remastered from the original 1966 master tapes. JJ Cale... well, lots more blues...

...then on to Jazz: Duke Ellington's Newport recordings from 1956, Miles Davis Sketches of Spain and Birth of Cool, Herbie Hancock's bizarre but brilliant Sextant, Bird, Mose Allison (who kinda bridges jazz & blues).

Every cd I put in, I'd listen to a couple of tracks and get absolutely blown away, not just by brilliance but by the raw, simple edges on the blues riffs. Guitar strings plucked right down to the bone (John Lee Hooker's Crawlin' Kingsnake), horns that brought tears on tendrils of stale cigar smoke (Miles Davis's Concierto de Aranjuez {Adiago}), the softer riffs of J J Cale - it was like an adventure. So I decided to change tempo a bit...

I'm an old school East Coast Hip Hop fan. From back in the days of Run-DMC, through the Beastie Boys, and, for the sophisticated rhymes, A Tribe Called Quest & De La Soul. Did I have any of these loaded up? Of course not. I'd just forgotten how good they really were. So, starting from the beginning, Ultimate Run-DMC. Run's House hit me like a ton of bricks wielded by some... well, brick-wielding behemoth. It was a combination of nostalgia, rediscovery and the realisation that it was a genuinely awesome tune. More re-discoveries followed - A Tribe Called Quest's Beats, Rhymes & Life is an unjustly overlooked album; the Beastie Boys' Check Your Head & Ill Communications are so good on so many levels (instruments, scratching, lyrics and the ferocity with which they spout them; these guys invented nu-metal/nu-punk and so far no one else has been able to it right). Brilliant but time for a change of pace again...

London Calling... The Clash
Early Days... Led Zeppelin
Anthology 2 disc set... Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
Blue... Joni Mitchell
Sea Change... Beck
5... J J Cale
Single 45's and Under... Squeeze
Harvest... Neil Young

There were so many. I feel like I'm in some sort of aural haze but it's brilliant. It doesn't matter if you don't have an iPod or anything like that - just look at your cds and pick a few you haven't listened to in ages. It's great for what ails you. But be warned, it will take time!

I shudder to think what my post will be like when I start to re-read Shakespeare...

More illness.

Well, a bit's changed since my last post.

Ok, not much really.

First of all, I'm sick again. This time it's a chest infection. Now, for those of you who only know me through this blog, it will seem as though I'm a bit of a hypochondriac. I can understand that. I've only posted 5 times now and 2 of those have centered around me being unwell. Well, let me assure you all that this is not the case. I am rarely sick; indeed these last few months have been more sickly for me than the last 10 years. Which is concerning as I think my general lifestyle is actually a great deal healthier than it was 10 years ago. 10 years ago I was drunk every day and chain-smoked any cigarettes I could get my hands on. The vast majority of my exercise was lifting the next pint to my lips. My diet tended to be deep fried, battered and saturated, regardless of what the original foodstuff was. Now I don't smoke (over 3 years now), my drinking is held in check, my diet has improved considerably, I've been training for a rugby 7s tournament for the last 2 months, I think I've lost about a stone and a half (over the last 18 months) and I'm suffering from the bloody plague.

I think this is a point where one should stop trying to read too much meaning into one's circumstances. Were I to take this as some sort of indicator as to my behaviour, I would immediately regress to my state 10 years ago. And no one wants that, I assure you. So my slow regime of self-improvement will continue, and I will allow my sense of irony to revel in the occasional misfortune that falls in my path. Besides, the rugby's tomorrow... but that's another post.