Remembrance of things

The past is a mysterious place, famously described (in The Go Between) as a foreign country because ‘they do things differently there’. Though we may choose, or try, to live in the present we are confronted by our past in more ways than ever, it is omnipresent. The past is inescapable.

As with most things you can blame the internet for this. All social media is a constant reminder of a time and a place, perhaps often one that you’d rather have escaped. Facebook is the core culprit, constantly telling you about something you did, or posted, two or three years gone. It is difficult to forget anything, except probably the important stuff.
My Facebook is a link to a community of distant souls, separated by time and occasionally continents. It is a reminder of the person you once were or have tried to be. I am frequently amazed and bemused by things I discover of which I had no recollection. I recently wrote a piece for The Birmingham Music Archive on The COD Club, a venue I ran for a period in the late 80s. A short time later I discovered I had the dates completely wrong – I had relied on an accounts book kept of attendances and artists but it seems that I’d started the accounts book at least three months after starting the club. Now I have no way of knowing when it started and who the first band actually was.
I am now in touch with many former friends and acquaintances from that era and once again Facebook is to blame. Few of them have changed much, retaining the humour and spirit that was essential to being a struggling performer. Indeed many continue to perform and are still struggling - but often with something more to show for it.

Gary O’Dea is one such soul. A stalwart of many a musical campaign and staunch advocate of local music, Gary has now released a fine collection of songs on an album called Fly . This well packaged and finely recorded selection sees him breeze through a number of styles with echoes of folk, Americana, soul, country and acoustic blues. Age may have mellowed his sound but has not tempered his wit or assuaged his anger; he buries both deeper in some delightfully wistful tunes. It is indeed an album to wallow in, one worthy of wider recognition (Radio 2 perhaps?). It is akin to drifting in a flotation tank, emerging to find you’re now politically and socially conscious.
Build It Like A Rock is my personal favourite disguising a republican war cry in an achingly beautiful ballad giving the lie to the thought that you have to scream to be heard. Anarchy comes in many shapes and sizes but it rarely sounds as good as this.

Though I’m in less of a position to help struggling artists than ever before it’s always good to see people following their dream and allowing me to share in it. In a similar style Wayne Moseley, a supporter of my radio shows – where we had precious few supporters and probably even fewer listeners – has finally committed some songs to CD with his band Dinky. It only took them 15 years and the influences of that time shine through some pretty excellent production. They cram in elements of Seattle grunge, post-punk-pop, Britpop and balladeering into an effective compilation. I favour the harder-edged numbers but there’s a lot to be said for the mixture of styles, it was probably a question of what to leave out rather than squeeze in.
Both albums prove there’s a pleasure in perseverance but say much more about never losing sight of your joy in making music. I hope that the presence of greater social networks now allows them to bring their songs to a receptive audience, people from their past and present. Who knows where it can go from there? It is in cultivating these fans, people who are friends in the ether of ‘cyberspace’ that the very nature of music promotion will thrive in the future. Fact is, if your friends won’t buy into it, who will?


Gary O'Dea said…
Cheers Paul...old man river appreciates it lol :-)