Monday, February 11, 2013


I've decided growing old as gracefully as possible isn't as hard as all that, as long as you don't fight it. The trouble starts when you deny it, try to hold it back or plain just ignore it. You'd have thought ignoring the creep of time would be the easiest way to remain young, but looking past it, pretending it's not there, is just recipe for almighty fallout later on.

When bending down to tie your shoelaces isn't as easy as it once was, when getting out of a car produces a groan, when running for the bus suddenly becomes something you don't automatically *do*, there's no point trying to reprogram your mind. Yes, you can jog or cycle daily, go to the gym every lunchtime, cut down on the late night drinking sessions, but you're Still. Getting. Old. Your body will be healthier but you'll still be older.

The same thing goes for music. I know more than a few contemporaries who immerse themselves religiously in bang-up-to-date music, who check out new bands as a matter of course and who wouldn't dream of listening to any radio station that played anything more than three years old. Wonderful. But they still groan when they get out of a comfy chair and they still complain about "kids" and reminisce about how things were different when they were young.

So I'm embracing age. I'm embracing my limitations, my evolving attitudes towards pretty much everything, and in particular music. I don't go out and actively pursue new stuff, mostly because I just don't have the time, but I'm open to it when I come across it.

Hence this song. As with so many other new (to me) artists, I first came across Lianne La Havas when she appeared on Jools Holland's show, and immediately fell in love with her voice. It's a million miles away from pretty much anyone else I've heard lately. You can tell me Adele has a better voice, but I don't believe it would stand up to the close-up examination that this song provides. Just a guitar, fingerpicking, and her crystal voice. For all her talent, and I'm a fan, I can't see Adele mastering this.

Listen to the production: it's so close-up that the mike might as well be halfway down her throat. It's so clear that it mercilessly picks up every every little foible, every tiny sibilant 's'. Listen to the second verse: when Lianne sings "I'm at a loss", the word "loss" dies away into nothingness until it's revived by the tiny, bell-like 's'. Such joy in that one little sound.

But woah, you're saying. Stand back. Where's the rock, man? Where's the killer drums?

And here I shrug the age issue aside. Those of us of a certain age will admit to having appreciated Carole King's "Tapestry", or Joni Mitchell's "Court and Spark", or Kate Bush, or whoever. It's not an age thing, it's a TASTE thing.

Instead, let's just enjoy a wondrous voice, and a terrific song.

1 comment:

Russell Duffy said...

Getting older is a joy even if ageing isn’t. I am very proud to have been part of what I see as a unique generation and of having lived through times that now seem even more incredible than they did when living them. I have only vague memories of the fifties but recall each subsequent decade vividly. I equally enjoy the era I am in so it isn’t just a case of nostalgia. John Peel once suggested his love of modern music was based on his passion for what came before. I think he has a point.
Yes, at the end of the day it is all about taste. And yes, I did, and still do, listen to Joni Mitchell and of course Kate Bush but Carole King? Nah. But that only goes to prove what you said; it’s all a matter of taste.