Why I listen to music

cable cars.jpgI had a little flash of illumination the other day. I went into HMV, drawn by a sign saying CDs were £2.00.  Sure enough there were a lot of them, many of which I was sure I’d enjoy. But I realised if I bought them I’d probably only listen to one or two tracks. And I’d already ordered one online, of which more later. It seems I don’t so much listen for pleasure as for inspiration. Not necessarily ideas to steal, but just the motivation to go and make some music. If I don’t get it, I don’t tend to listen longer till I get it, I go and do something else. And if I do get it, I’m likely to switch the music off and either pick up an instrument or, more often, just start composing and arranging in my head.

So either way, a very small amount of music can be the Minimum Effective Dose. If I’m enjoying it I become restless to go and do something! That also explains why I still listen to bits of my favourite music from the 70s and 80s – because that’s the stuff that made me want to make music.

This week it was John Cale’s new remake of his harrowing Music For A New Society. It sparked me to start reimagining some of my songs.  I now have, in my head, radical rearrangements of a couple of songs from Roadblock and another one I’ve not played since the Hungry Ghosts days.

I don’t luxuriate or indulge in music, nor do I ever have it as background (except for a few ambient and baroque albums) – I’m just looking for something to kick start me.

Album cover with blurred portrait and 'Norman Lamont' 'Breath'

Free covers album

My versions of songs by Bowie, Cohen, Brel, Momus, the Incredible String Band and more