Where Did All The Music Go

On Saturday I did something pretty unusual (for me) and actually went out on my own for a little bit to a local acoustic music night. Being a big music fan, a guitar player, and in a decent venue I liked, I thought I couldn’t possibly miss the opportunity.

While the night overall was quite enjoyable, there were a few depressing conclusions I drew.

  1. I am old
  2. I used to be better than most of the people I saw
  3. I need to get out more

Most of the people at the venue were either clearly younger than me or were mostly younger than me. The only ones who were older were the parents of those singing! That was just an observation, but when you’re sitting on your own amidst a bunch of what were, effectively, kids, it didn’t make me feel all that comfortable.

The second point also grated a lot. Of all the acts there, I think I could say that, “in my prime” I was better than all of them.

In recent years, due to work, a crappy social life and a general lack of inclination, I have neglected my musical side. The guitar, the source of so much fun and enjoyment in my life – and the reason why I was able to do the US summer camp thing in the first place – has not occupied the place in my life that it used to. Certainly this year might be the least I’ve ever played it. So much so that I have lost a certain degree of my abilities. I’ve forgotten how to play things. My fingers aren’t as tough as they should be. Neither are my arm muscles. It’s all so feeble now.

My guitar abilities have never been all that good, but what I used to have was a decent voice, even if I do say so myself… the guitar was a means to an end. No one generally wants to hear an a capella vocalist. But people do like to listen to someone singing with an acoustic guitar accompaniment. I bash out a little rhythm guitar and sing. Honestly, I used to be reasonably good.

Now I am poor. Just like lack of guitar work, lack of singing has led to disaster. I’m sure I can’t sing anywhere near as well as I used to be able to. My voice has become weak and weedy.

It’s nothing a little practice wouldn’t fix. Maybe. But when you live with someone you hate, playing guitar and singing is not possible. Also, the walls are so paper-thin that if I practice vocalising at a normal volume, I don’t think I could ever look at my neighbours again.

What I need is a soundproof room to practice in. Ha, ha, ha.

Meanwhile, my third point is perhaps the most difficult of them all. I’ve always known I need to get out more, but I have singularly failed to do that, month after month, year after year. Something about not wanting to spend money because of how much I’m trying to save up to get out of here, but also the fact that a) going out on your own is usually rubbish, and a bit sad; and b) I don’t actually enjoy it all that much. I can’t help it.  I’ve always just been a bit hermit like. Sitting around in a room full of people I don’t know, most of whom are probably drunk, acting arrogant and boisterous, and all the while feeling pretty shy… it doesn’t hold any enjoyment for me at all. Being with friends can improve the situation, but I don’t have friends around here…

A little bit of music caused this train of thought. I shouldn’t have let it reach this stage. (is that a pun?)

The question is what can I do about it. Hmmm.

Enjoy The Silence

Right now I have the house to myself, and will do for another 13 days or so.

This is actually a very enjoyable situation to be in. At least, at the moment it is. It’s excellent to have a two week break from my housemate, while he goes off gallivating by playing the weekend warrior, but I know very soon I’ll start to be utterly bored. Even more so than usual.

At the moment it’s fine, though. It’s been two days now and I’ve managed to find something to do to fill all the time. Yesterday I had enough work to do, but today was a bit tougher, having no real work. Tomorrow’s another day, and I suspect there is more work around the corner, but if it doesnt come, this may be a struggle.

Cos though I like to moan about the housemate, at least it’s someone to talk to. Even if he irritates me from time to time, and usually more often than that, it is useful to at least make sure, as The Sims would put it, that the social bar doesn’t fall to zero, requiring immediate use of the Social Bunny.

This has made the house broadly silent. Apart from the times I reach for the guitar and sing very quietly. Oh for those sunny days when I spent the summer singing loudly and openly. And people enjoyed it. These days, I actually think my singing is truly awful. That’s what happens when you don’t practice any more. And I don’t practice because I can’t. I don’t want anyone to hear me. Bad deal to get stuck into.

Fortunately, there may also be other distractions on the horizon. Firstly, for definite, I have actually decided to spend some of my profits on a new PC. I’m such a Scrooge that I spent almost no money on luxuries for myself, and I just above justify spending on essentials. But every now and then I release the moths from my wallet. That means the parts will be arriving some time this week. Something geeky to look forward to.

Then there is the imminent prospect of a visit from my parents. I’ve been here 10 months now, almost exactly, and they still don’t know what my house is like, or even where the hell I’m living. Yes, I know I live 200 miles away, but still. I hope they do come. They were supposed to come over the Easter holiday, but couldn’t find the time. I only saw them last week, when I went home briefly for a surprise visit (which coincided with their anniversary: bonus points!), but still, at least if they come here it’ll be something else to look forward to. I’d at least like to show them I’m not doing too badly, considering they had no confidence in what I was doing.

Anyway, that’s enough for one day. I really need to remember to write a bit more often, but usually when I remember to I can’t think of anything interesting to say. The blogger’s curse…

Sounding Like Barry White

When I told a friend that a current sore throat was making me sound like Barry White – deep, husky and rather sultry – he quipped in reply: “What, dead?”

I rather walked into that one, it seems, but still, I think this may be the first time in a long while that I’ve been ill. And in truth, it’s a trifling illness. Normally sore throats come attached to a cold or some other nastiness. This one appears to be an entirely isolated sore throat, with some collateral damage through excess phlegm production.

The problem is that the collateral damage ends up being worse than the sore throat itself. During the day the sore throat is pretty much irrelevant. It hurts a tiny bit when I swallow, but I’ve made up for that by ramping up my water consumption. Yes, this means I’m going the toilet every hour, sometimes twice, but this trick usually works for flushing any bugs out of my system, literally speaking in the case of the toilet trips.

Anyway, the real problem is that, at night, because I can’t drink overnight, and it seems can’t cough or get rid of mucus in any other way, I am waking up in the night with a blocked nose and difficulty breathing in any way other than through my mouth. Which only dries my throat, making it worse. The result of all these shenanigans was that last night I was awake from 3am to 4:30am, unable to get back to sleep, and unable to drink lots of water to stop the problem… because I’ll be damned if I’m getting up every hour to go the toilet – the stairs coming down from the loft are incredibly creaky (despite being six months old) and it probably wakes up my mum and dad in the room next to them.

So a piddling little illness that by day is nothing to me becomes a ridiculous ordeal at night. I don’t think I’ve had a good night’s sleep for a while now, definitely not since this whole sillyness started on Sunday afternoon. I’m not even sure how I caught this one. Usually bugs like this have a known origin… but no one I know is ill right now. And I can’t have picked it up during Sunday’s little jaunt outdoors (see previous post) because there’s no way it would have affected me that quickly.

Of course, being ill is hardly a big deal… but at the same time, because my life is so dull right now, in some respects I’m annoyed because it’s ruined what I perceive to be an incredible couple of years without me falling victim to any illnesses. I put it down to my outstanding hygiene practices… but then again, they
are so good that I have a habit of annoying other people by constantly berating them for their lack of handwashing, which has only gotten worse since we got a dog three years ago.

But in every bit of bad there’s a little bit of good – and my new bassy tones, a whole seven semi-tones below what I was previously capable of are proving a useful amusement. I suspect they won’t last once this has all cleared up (which makes me want to know why this effect exists, as I’ve observed it before) – but it’s still been fun mimicking those opening words to Can’t Get Enough of Your Love.

Crying

In recent days my mood has been along those lines due to the incredible disaster that is my life right now, but it’s a pure co-incidence that yesterday I found a song of the same name by Roy Orbison which has moved me to make this post…

I have always liked the well known Roy Orbison songs. I’m also aware of his tragic life, and how it’s such a shame that a talented bloke like him would suffer in that way. So yesterday I borrowed a DVD from my gran’s house about the Big O himself, a biography filled with his music.

On there I came across the song that is the name of this post. I heard a live performance of it, just Roy on his own, and thought it was something very special indeed. His ghostly, operatic voice, soaring with falsetto, building up to the crescendo at the end… just truly magical. The theme of the song is as you’d expect from a song that has such a name, but somehow it doesn’t feel cliched or contrived, like most songs about love and loss do these days.

Once more I am left in awe about the power of music. The rest of the DVD also contained songs which I will have to investigate. Perhaps even ask for a Roy Orbison CD for Christmas. I think of myself as being very lucky to be able to like music of all types from all eras. It means I can absorb such a vast range of moods, lyrics, great riffs and melodies from a massive array of talent, and all without feeling the snobbisheness and aloofness that people who like “real music” often burden themselves with. My motto is: if it’s good music, it’s good music. 

(And, incidentally, that is also how I justify to myself watching X Factor, which always brings me a moment of embarrassment… my excuse being that a good singer is a good singer and always worth listening to! Methinks I do protest too much)

I’ve been spending more time lately playing my guitar after a fairly lengthy absence from it. The guitar has frustrated me now for seven years, simply because I have never passed an intermediate level of skill on it. But I know why, because I don’t have the discipline. I know full well that if I played it for an hour each day and tried to learn a new song or new riff at least once I week I would make definite progress. But I don’t. I’m lucky if I play it once a week, and haven’t learned a new song in months.

So I think I should put this right. And if I did get good, maybe I could find a friend and go out busking. I would love that, seriously. Whether I’d have the bottle to do it is another matter. I am often full of good intentions which are never fulfilled. This, to me, sounds like I’m building up another hostage to fortune…

But in any case, it is providing me with a useful distraction right now. That can only be a good thing, because I really could do without sliding into a depression the likes of which I’ve not been in for several years. I just need a break, a lucky one.

Perhaps I should view the returning of my Icesave money, which should be complete by next week, as a good sign…