One of the things I’ll miss when I leave here and return to North London is being able to play my music loud. Not that I’ve ever been able to play it really loud, you understand, but loud. Previous and present house-mates might take issue with my definition of loud and really loud, but firstly, Lauren Tate and secondly, they have all had quite questionable taste in music, so…
I had cause to reflect on this yesterday afternoon. Joe, Marge and LMS had gone outdoors to do whatever it is people go outside to do when it’s cold. Actually, I don’t think the weather made much of a difference one way or the other. They went somewhere out of the house. Marge asked if I’d join them. Resisting the temptation to exclaim that they looked as if their limbs and heads were securely attached, I made a noise that could easily have been misheard as ‘I might join you later’
But the voices in my head were screaming ‘Are you mad? Go outdoors? When if I stay indoors you’ll leave me alone in the house, with just me, my computer which when synced to my hi-fi means loud music therapy. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out’. Really? Pass up on the only opportunity I get to play music loud? When they’re all out of the house and there’s only me to please. Because I can’t convey exactly how fundamentally important music has been to me.
Always has. Ever since I was 13, and got a paper round just so I could save up enough money that I could afford a ghetto blaster one and persuade my Mum to let me have it in my room. It wasn’t long, thankfully, before I discovered pirate radio. It’s hard to convey just how little choice I had until that happy revelation. There was Radio One, Radio London and that was it. Chart based pop in the day and jangly guitar ear botheration at night. Great! My parent’s favourite album was ‘Distant Drums’ by Jim Reeves. You haven’t heard it? You’re lucky. Between him, ‘The Chieftains’’ and ‘The Dubliners’ my childhood was a sonic nightmare of Irish folk songs. Not that they used the stereogram that in the front room that much and when they did, I always associated it with the volume being turned down, never up. Even now I have a pathological resentment towards people who turn music down. Or talk over it. Or stop a track before it’s ended.
Anyway pirate radio. JFM, LWR, Solar, these were the big three. I fondly remember turning the radio’s tuning dial with the concentration and precision of a safecracker. The one thing that united the pirates was a deep and abiding love of the music, mostly funk and soul, then later a smattering of electro and early hip-hop, and their eagerness to share it. The next logical step was for me to buy a turntable to connect to the ghetto blaster so I could play the some of the records I’d heard on the radio. Buying them wasn’t a problem. I knew exactly what record shops to go to because they were name-checked by the D.J’s.
I’ve still got some the tapes I recorded off the pirates. And that’s the thing with music. The music you like, you might fall out of like with it, but the music you love, well…Its like an aural TARDIS, instantly transporting you back you that the time in your life when you first heard that song, that tune, who you were with, what you were doing, who you were doing. Or sometimes, it’s simply a great piece of music that needs to be played loud.
Which is odd, given as how Marge bought my speakers for me – I chose them – but she knew they’d be positioned directly under her room, perhaps she misguidedly thought it meant she could be all ambient police; enter the sitting room, declare the music was too loud and then leave. Not before turning the lights up. Or down.
But in North London I am reliably informed that my ‘offensively loud’ music will not be tolerated. Neighbours, apparently. I’ve never had to worry about them for over 30 years, having lived in places where that wasn’t a concern. Not that it would’ve affected the volume if I had, you understand, but still. Now I guess I’ll have to.
‘Offensively loud’. Is that even a thing?