I stay faithful
Though tomorrow may never come
Still I wait for the day
We can return to the sun.
I grew up in a different age. In the age of collections and artefacts. Where the dusty smell and the near transparent pages of old books seemed to corral the imaginations of every person who had ever read them.
On weekends, my friends and I would meet at the local Record Bar. We had befriended the owner, Ken, who would share his love of music and musicians. And stories. He’d worked in radio and had met touring musicians – some bands that we knew, and many we hadn’t. He had a glint in his eye and a spring in his step. And in a conservative, seaside town, he’d wickedly roll out some Birthday Party to open the store or subversively blast Culture Club across the empty courtyard pavers towards the shiny, sliding doors of K-Mart.
Ken would also introduce us to the music of his youth. There was plenty of 70s rock, some Country and even a little Western. His taste was wide and his interest knew no bounds. He was able to show us the path from his music to ours, connecting the dots, enriching our appreciation with his own. And creating a great conversation between generations.
And even as we fell, through our teenage years, into the darker, more gothic expressions of The Cure or The Smiths, Ken would find light and promise in every song. He celebrated the creativity and art in the music and helped my friends and I to see, hear and feel it too. He was faithful to the creative impulse that brought music to life.
For some time, we were slaves to the music charts … the flyers that would magically appear each Tuesday, setting out the Top 40 singles and Top 10 albums. We’d look for what we knew and what was coming. We’d order the latest and then wait for the single to arrive. Some kids, the cool kids, would pick up the UK music magazines and only buy “imports” or limited edition vinyl. It would arrive months later, way after the rest of the world had moved onto the next, next thing. But from where we sitting, those expensive, rare, imported records came laden with street cred and were well worth the wait.
When visiting with friends, I’d check their collections. What were they listening to? Did they have a limited edition? What about the flame yellow vinyl of U2’s Unforgettable Fire? Now that’d be brilliant. Maybe a limited edition, picture single – featuring the band on the vinyl. Or a special fold-out poster. More often than not, I’d just read about these rather than see them. Or touch them.
And it was this collectability that was as inspirational as the music itself. It somehow brought the music closer to us. We could own it. Take it with us. And even show it to our friends.
With every purchase, we were building not just social proof, but marking out the limits of our identities. We were using the music and lyrics to announce to the world the ME within that could not yet articulate itself. We were borrowing a word, a lyric, a feeling and owning it. And in many ways, these small collections somehow grew to tell the story of our adolescence.
These days, that feeling of ownership of the music feels long forgotten. But sometimes I hear something that reconnects me. And it’s not about the beat or even the lyric. It’s the soul. It’s the story. And it’s the connection with history and tradition. And then I can almost hear Ken explaining what to listen for and how to interpret it. And then I know I’m home. There in the music.
Take a moment to listen to L-FRESH the LION’s latest. You’ll have done yourself a favour.