a strange invitation

D3553RT 135LAND D15K5
February 23, 2007, 10:33 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

“Whatever. I can see why you prefer Solomon [Burke] to Art [Garfunkel]. I understand, really I do. And if I was asked to say which of the two was better, I’d go for Solomon every time. He’s authentic, and black, and legendary, and all that sort of thing. But I like ‘Bright Eyes.’ I think it’s got a pretty tune, and beyond that, I don’t really care. There are so many other things to worry about. I know I sound like your mum, but they’re only pop records, and if one’s better than the other, well, who cares, really, apart from you and Barry and Dick? To me, it’s like arguing the difference between McDonald’s and Burger King. I’m sure there must be one, but who can be bothered to find out what it is?”

“The terrible thing is, of course, that I already know the difference, that I have complicated and informed views on the subject. But if I start going on about BK Broilers versus Quarter Pounders with Cheese, we will both feel that I have somehow proved her point, so I don’t bother.” – High Fidelity

The tendency to make lists is often defined as a typically male characteristic. And if we allow ourselves to inhabit the world of stereotypes for a moment, I would have to agree. During a lunch hour latte, if you were to hand me a pen and a piece of paper, I would most likely begin to compose such a screed which, on completion, I would believe to be an infallible and definitive categorization which was brought into being, through the adherence to the finest principles of logic and cold reasoning. You would think that an ability such as this would be a great gift to humanity, one which would be beneficial to all.

You would be wrong.

Should you be momentarily distracted from the copy of Heat or Marie Claire that occupied your attention, you would soon discover the reason why. I am far more likely to be composing a list of my top 10 dinosaurs (with a detailed analysis on the fighting styles of each), than ushering in the next stage of enlightenment. Even an apparently sensible ‘aspirational’ list becomes preposterous when subjected to this feverish aspect of the male mind. For example:

My top 10 ‘dream jobs’ of all time include the following.

A Motorcycle Stuntman
(I can’t ride a motorcycle)

A Ninja (Something of a no-brainer: every boy wants to be a ninja. The sad fact is that secretly, we all believe that given the opportunity we could easily master the skills required. We also believe that it is also entirely possible that we have already completed the required training, only a clandestine government agency has erased our mind in order to cover a conspiracy which, if discovered, would topple the government)

Author of the Great American Novel (I am neither American, nor a novelist)

An Archeologist
(Obviously not the real kind who spend their lives digging through mountains of soil with a toothbrush: the kind that fights Nazis and carries a bullwhip)

A particularly well-trodden realm for this type of thinking is the ‘Desert island disc’. You know the scenario: You are stranded on a desert island with nothing but a limitless supply of tequila and a beautiful (wo)man and a record player (let’s not forget, that this is a fantasy -nobody wants to starve to death, yet alone do so while listening to Bob Marley’s ‘Legend’ forever, it ruins the fun). You are allowed to choose only one, five, 10 record/s with which to sustain you for the rest of your life. What do you choose?

Perhaps I am a product of 21st century listening habits, but when it comes to Desert Island Discs, I find it difficult to suggest any album that I would be happy to accept as a soundtrack to the many years of my sand-blown and sunburnt existence. Lets not forget the fact that, if we’re honest, the staple records that people usually suggest in this scenario are often ill-thought out to begin with: Radiohead’s ‘Ok Computer’ wasn’t really very good, and in the 21st Century, the Red Hot Chilli Peppers are used as an instrument of torture. I don’t even know who Marvin Gaye is. From this perspective, when the potential choices are essentially limitless, the choices made from such a vast selection are most often meaningless.

Yet, while the desert island disk scenario allows the fantasist to imagine the confines that can be produced from infinity. It’s real-world equivalent says something far more revealing about the human condition. I present the following anecdotes to illustrate my point.

1. While visiting Barcelona for the Sonar festival, my friend and I rented an apartment in Barcelonetta. We were pleasantly surprised to find an old stereo system in the apartment, yet mildly perturbed that we had neglected to bring any music to play on it. There was however a C90 mix tape of Dire Straits’ greatest hits practically welded into the cassette deck, which over the duration of our stay became the soundtrack to the consumption of numerous bottles of ‘Vat-69’ whisky, a flooded apartment and a bizarre confrontation with a Spanish drug dealer as well as many other adventures that are simply too strange, and too twisted to accurately recount here. What is remarkable however, that despite the fact that we listened to that same tape for at least four or five hours a day, not a complaint was uttered about an artist that neither of us had a particular affinity for.

2. I was once forced to make a shotgun dash from the South of France to the UK without a penny to my name. As I had somehow lost all of the music that I had brought with, my girlfriend at the time gave me a copy of Sheryl Crow’s ‘Eponymous’ album’ which I would listen to, on repeat for almost 52 starving hours. Now, I don’t think I’m exaggerating my belief that Sheryl Crow is the spawn of the devil himself. However, I am certain that Sheryl Crow saved my life, and without “Every day is a Winding Road” I would now be buried in a small church by Chorley wood.

Now don’t get me wrong: when the conversation turns to desert island discs, my mind still races to sift through the hundreds of records which have shaped and framed my existence. But essentially it doesn’t matter. And when I find myself standing in front of the delapidated jukebox of an old country pub, I am surprised to find that I am always able to find the song which brings a broad grin to my face, as I turn back to the pool table and continue the game.

Thanks to Matt for inspiration for this post.


4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

When it boils down to it, I would easily take “Your My Favorite Mistake” by Sheryl Crow over anything off Kid A for the simple fact that the point of a Desert Island discs is to SURVIVE your days on the island. Not attempt suicide around hour number four.

Comment by Matthew

Blog B iatch

Comment by Matthew

All that proves is that blokes with dinosaurs on the brain tend to hang out with girls who read Heat?


Comment by Cheryl

Let’s just hope they never find themselves stranded on a desert island together. They would most likely spawn the first civilization in history that developed the ‘personality questionnaire’ before the wheel.

Comment by mark

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