Susan Omand introduces #SaveTheCulture, the music edition...
Do you listen to music? I don’t mean have the radio on in the car or have the mp3 player on random play in the background while you’re doing something else, I mean sitting and actively listening to a song or piece of music to appreciate everything that’s gone into it.
“Listening to music” used to be a recognised hobby for many back in the day when people had to list their interests on, say, a job application, along with reading and going out with friends. I wonder how many people would say that now? Listening to music used to have almost a ritual feel, at least for me. Quite often it meant a trip into town and down to Woolworths on a Saturday to buy a new record and disappearing up to my room on coming home to reverentially put it on the record deck of the stacked hi-fi I was lucky enough to get one birthday and I would sit on the floor between the speakers and listen, while looking at the cover art and reading the sleeve notes. Or it would be putting Radio One on at 4pm on a Sunday, with a blank C90 in the tape deck, ready to press record when a favourite song came on the chart show. Or it would be dropping everything to watch Top of the Pops on the TV. Or listening to whatever my folks had put on the radiogram (yes we had a radiogram – a huge piece of teak cabinetry in the sitting room that had a record deck and radio in and was the size of a sideboard). For me, this varied from classical, swing and country to rock, blues and heavy metal - Mum was a Status Quo fan, Dad preferred Motorhead – and gave my musical knowledge a breadth and depth that it may not have otherwise had.
So music wasn’t just incidental, it was a thing and I think it should become a thing again. Over on our twin site at /Garbage-file we’re doing #SaveTheCulture where we’re taking turns to nominate members of the writing team to read a book that they may know and love or may not have heard of which, to the person nominating, has some kind of cultural significance, is important and had impacted the world at large. They have a month to read and write about it then they get to nominate someone else for a book of their choice. I want to adapt (ok, steal) this idea and apply it to music here on AlbieMedia to get people actively engaging with listening to music again and experiencing new things as well as revisiting old favourites. Saying what is or is not “culturally relevant” is, to my mind, more difficult with music though. There’s only a few world-changing albums out there and everyone has a different opinion on which they are, so here’s the plan.
Each month-ish (some reviews will come in quicker than others) one of the team will be nominated to listen to an album chosen by someone else. One which the person doing the choosing deems culturally relevant to them, that has impacted their life or is important in some way. The chosen team member will report back with a review and their thoughts about the album, whether they enjoyed it or not! At the end of their article they then get to nominate someone else from the team to listen to something that they have picked, saying why that album is important to them.
Don’t feel left out though, we want your views on each choice too. We shall ask you, using the hashtag #SaveTheCulture to join in the conversation on social media, tweeting about the book to @Garbage-File and the music to @AlbieMediaAM or sharing your thoughts on our joint Facebook page. After all, if we want to #SaveTheCulture, we want you to get back into the habit of engaging with the music you listen to.
THE NOMINATION - So, to the first nomination and there’s a CD winging its way to STEVE TAYLOR-BRYANT just now. Because I’m the one doing the nominating, you know it’s going to be something a little out of the ordinary. I had a world of music to choose from and I must admit it took a while to narrow it down. I made the conscious decision that I would step outside the rock and pop comfort zone of most people. I decided against classical because I tend to listen and write about that quite a lot. So I went to a style of music that I love to listen to when I want to be challenged. Music that demands to be actively listened to, that you miss so much of if it’s just on in the background. Music that a lot of people find too intimidating or difficult so they dismiss it or take the piss out of it but music that is so relevant to how the music of today has evolved. I chose jazz.
So, Steve, stand by your letterbox, you’re getting a copy of the first jazz album to sell over a million copies. You’re getting Dave Brubeck’s Time Out.