Music is wonderful. Music is magical. Music has that unique ability to stir your heart and uplift you in ways that nothing else comes close to.
However, this emotional manipulation is is a double edged sword. Music can also drive a red-hot poker of pain through that same heart and transport you to times, memories and people that, for whatever reason, bring hidden emotions bubbling to the surface. How certain songs, riffs or even a single note can be so inextricably linked to these emotions is a mystery. Sometimes I have to ban myself from listening to certain music for my own good. And I know that I’m not alone.
This week has released the whole spectrum of musical emotions.
Unbelievably, Friday marked a year since we lost our dear friend Nick. Nick was a muso through and through. And it seems that wherever he hangs out now, he’s still looking after our musical enjoyment. On Friday, some of the greatest musicians I’ve ever seen were playing at a local pub. I’ve spoken about Willie Austen and Paul Stenton before, so I won’t go on about them too much again. Suffice it to say, they give you a god damn good night out, and a better version of ‘Hotel California’, you’d be lucky to find anywhere. (They bloody played it!)
Check them out here: http://www.willieausten.com
As we listened to this on Friday, we reminisced about Nick, how he had to sit on his hands during the guitar solo and how the fates conspired to bring us together for this occasion on this day. I’m pretty sure Nick was there, quietly air-guitarring away in the corner. Although he probably turned up half an hour later than the rest of us. But I’ll let him off this time.
Saturday brought a new day and a new hope. I was headed up to the big smoke to see a guy I’d heard of last year, JD McPherson. http://www.jdmcpherson.com
This guy’s music had me, hook, line and sinker the first time I heard “Let the Good Times Roll”. I heard it on the radio. That very moment, I remember so clearly. It was like a lightening bolt of discovery. I thought it must’ve been an old song, so I looked it up and then was surprised to find it wasn’t.
I love it when that sort of thing happens. You’re introduced to music through one song and then that one song opens up to a whole world of Rock n Roll goodness as you fall deeper down the rabbit hole. I searched out the rest of his music and loved it.
You MUST listen to at least this one song. Don’t just skip past the link; I promise you it’ll be worth it.
But when I saw him and his amazing band play live, I was taken to a whole new level. Man alive, that’s how you do it. They gave the Electric Ballroom in Camden a master-class in Rock n Roll. From the first note of “Bossy”, it was like I was under a musical spell. I couldn’t stop dancing (apologies to those around me that I probably knocked into, but hey, it was rammed and you couldn’t not dance, right?).
That’s the beauty of live music. That inherent need to share emotions of the moment through the music. For that moment in time, all you need to do is dance or sing along to the double bass (yes, I did that).
I might not have been in the mood to “Let the Good Times Roll” at the start of the weekend, and to be honest, the mood has long since dissipated, but for the duration of that show, I felt the boost of that positive energy.
As he sings, “I drift away, underneath auspicious stars,” you’ve got to believe that the universe has plans and ways. There must be a positive future for us all. Something good is out there, despite us not always being able to see it.