We all have our passions. Things that make our heart beat faster or put a great big smile on our faces just by the sheer mention of it. For me, quite unsurprisingly that passion is music. Now, I don’t have a musical bone in my body other than I sang a bit in high school and can play the intro to Another Day in Paradise on the piano. I can’t read music or hold much of a tune any more, but I still stand by the fact that it’s my biggest passion.
A lot of you may well be rolling your eyes right about now thinking ‘come on, the Backstreet Boys are hardly the height of musical sophistication’ and you’re right, they’re not. But they’re just a teeny tiny fraction of the type of music I like. Also, musically, I will defend them to the death and argue that they produce brilliant pop songs, which are well sung. If that’s not your bag then that’s cool. And that’s why a love of music is so subjective.
There’s a famous phrase (I forget who said it originally) which is that if you say you like all music you don’t really love any. And this really rung true to me when someone I work with told me they don’t really like music. They don’t have a favourite band, don’t have music on in the house, it just doesn’t do anything for them and in all honesty that kind of broke my heart a little bit. That’s not to say they don’t have other passions (I suspect in this case it’s probably football) but music is such a core part of who I am, It’s alien to me that people don’t get as excited by it as I do.
Funnily enough, I remember the exact time and place when I realised that music meant more to me than a passing interest. I was in High Borrans in the Lake District on an A level English trip and I was hating every second of it. It was February, cold and wet and windy and we were made to hike up the top of a mountain to write poems. In fact in a very rare act of rebellion, I wrote a poem about how much I hated being made to hike up hills to write poems and won poem of the week. Quite possibly my greatest achievement.
Anyway, I digress. On that trip the only thing that got me through those hellish never ending walks was listening to my walkman with a tape of my favourite 80s and early 90s songs. It was then I kind of emersed myself in the music and the lyrics to try and block out how miserable I was and, was we later found out, I had suspected minigitis at the time too – things really weren’t going my way that week for sure!
It was like some kind of weird meditation for me, and since then I’ve leaned in to my music obsession way more.
So yeah, perhaps I do wang on about Backstreet Boys a bit too much. I’ll tell you what though, I’ve been way happier since I embraced that too rather than being shy or embarrassed. I’m also comfortable enough in my music tastes to know that that’s just a tiny element of the type of music that sets my soul on fire. I’d also be willing to bet I’m one of a few 39 years also who, when ne of our directors a work sang to himself ‘and I feel like William Tell’ at the photocopier behind me, was able to sing back ‘pulling mussels from a shell’ without missing a beat. Major respect learned that afternoon.
I’m not trying to sound like a snob by any means. Because musical snobbery is one thing I can’t abide. Yes I hate Coldplay and Abba, but that’s less about their songs and more about the band or the fans. I cannot stand Chris Martin as I find him way too arrogant and egotistical for someone who writes such bland songs (that said, the song they did with Jay-Z is pretty good) And similarly for Abba, I don’t mind their songs that much, I just feel people go absolutely crazy for them when they’re completely overplayed and just decent pop songs. They’re just a 70s Steps (and I love Steps, to be clear, but they don’t get nearly the same acclaim Abba do) but people seem to talk like they invested music. Don’t get me started on Elvis and how overrated he is…
My point is I can appreciate a good song even if it’s not necessarily from a genre I listen to that music, and every Backstreet Boys song I like, its matched by a Bowling for Soup song I like equally as much. I also have Matchbox Twenty, Melissa Etheridge and Hall & Oats on heavy rotation.
We went to see Bryan Adams last year after getting some free tickets last minute and I had the best time! And you know what? Yes Everything I Do (I Do it For You) may be total fromage. But you know what else it is? It’s the song that me, my parents and my brother stood and sang at the back of a cinema in Brussels after driving over and hour to watch Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves when I was 9. It was the second last dance at our wedding (the last being I Want It That Way, obvs). And that’s what music is. It’s memories and it’s feelings and emotions It sometimes divides people but it also brings people together. Seeing Madonna sing Like a Prayer in Edinburgh the week before my 30th Birthday and having 65,000 people sing it word for word was a religious experience and definitely brought everyone together. Besides what’s better than debating all the reasons why Elvis in overrated in the pub?