portrait of the artist as a young blogger
When I first started this website, I had fully intended to remain a shadowy figure, lurking in Stygian gloom, commenting obliquely on music that had moved me in some way. I would merely be known as the arty assassin with no history, no back story, no baggage. I soon came to realise that this was an impossibility as music is central to my life and indeed has influenced my life. I went to New York, my head full of Patti Smith, Television, Talking Heads, Ramones, Blondie – without them I probably wouldn’t have gone. Life and music are intrinsically linked which is why you, the good reader, get so much of me, the solitary writer.
I mention all this because I’ve received a few comments recently complaining that my writing is too narcissistic, that I should write less about my own life and more about music. This led me to re-read what I had written (someone had to do it) and I reckon it works out to be about 80% music and 20% me. It was only through writing this blog that I came to realise that in order to write about music, I have to write about myself and how music affected my place in the world. And I think that is true of all of us whether we acknowledge it or not. Very often our liking, love or hatred for a piece of music is based upon what is going on in our own lives at the time. Lambchop will always remind me of the first year of my son’s life and Stars of my marital breakdown. I cannot separate Joni Mitchell and Neil Young from my university days as that is when I first experienced them at a moment of emotional frailty. As a result ‘Hejira’ and ‘Tonight’s the Night’ will mean different things to me emotionally than to you if you experience them now for the first time. And that is how it should be. Our investment in a piece of music is inextricably bound up with where we are emotionally, physically and spiritually.
And that is why, dear reader, you get to hear about the wonders of my life. I find myself unable to write about certain pieces of music without a wider contextual reference. Those of us steeped in feminist politics will know the phrase, “The personal is political.” For me, in addition, the personal is musical, the two intertwined, each informing the other. For me to pretend any different would be to write a lie, or at the very best a half-truth. You may not like or agree with what I write but it is always written from the heart as well as the head.
For someone who was intent on being an intellectual recluse, this website has been a failure. At times, I reveal far too much of myself (although not so much as my drunken rantings on Twitter where I was called “the scariest woman in the known world” and that was from a friend) and I have come to a realisation that the 80 / 20 split is one that reader and writer will both have to live with. Reader, I am wedded to it. You have the option to continue on the journey or get off at this stop.