In a funny way, music -- certainly now -- just seems more emotional to me. That's what people say about music, that it has a more direct link to the conscience, the emotional centers, or the brain or heart or whatever. Certainly more than the word, which is something you have to read and then translate, and then it has to affect you somehow. With music, you often don't have to translate it. It just affects you, and you don't know why. It seems almost backwards to me that my music seems the more emotional outlet, and the art stuff seems more about ideas. -- David Byrneat the moment, i'm listening to the earliest curve EPs, from way back in prehistory, specifically 1990. it's making me feel energized, focused, and angry. before i put the headphones on, i felt i was in the same room with all these other people. now it's like i'm watching them on tv. there isn't a novelist alive who can hit those same notes for me, not since i was a teenager anyway, and precious few directors who can.
are there tv shows and/or movies you can watch and get completely lost in? yeah, well, not me, for the most part. the only movie i've seen in the last two or three years that i can really get behind is dog day afternoon. the only serial multi-installment drama that has EVER allowed me to forget i'm watching tv is the sopranos. nothing else can get past my increasingly sophisticated and cynical bullshit filters. most of the time i can't watch the show, i am instead watching the producers and writers and actors trying to push my buttons, using the same old tired boring clichés i've seen a million times before.
a related phenomenon. is there some film you hated years ago, but then you saw it again in the present, and now you suddenly "get it?" and maybe that sets off a minor wave of self-examination, as you're trying to decide what it is that's changed about you such that something you disliked so much then seems so good to you now? at least i'm assuming such a thing can happen. just not to me. i always have the exact opposite experience. quite a lot of the stuff i used to be in love with ten or twenty years ago has shown up on dvd, so i buy it, and discover that, hey, my adult self thinks it's unmitigated crap. heathers, the young ones, raiders of the lost ark, the wall, any number of things from my youth, rewatched as an adult, turns out to be just dreadful. the more i poke around in my adolescent tastes, the more i seem to make a mockery of myself.
fortunately, music seems to be largely immune. oh sure, everything i listened to when very young was all crap, but i knew that already. i had my Music Epiphany at a relatively young age, 20 or so, and almost everything i've picked up since then holds up pretty well. music bypasses the part of my consciousness that includes the bullshit filters, it gets me right in the murky, not-well-understood lizard hindbrain.
back in my wichita days, i knew this guy who would go to insane lengths to get his hands on the rarest and most desirable discs. wait, that's all relative, isn't it. i'd be willing to bet that, compared to most of you readers, i am the kind of guy who goes to insane lengths to get the rarest and most desirable discs. but you are always at zero on your own dial, so the hoops i'm willing to jump through to get rare discs is perfectly normal, whereas i see the rest of you as insufficiently dedicated, and i perceive this particular guy as willing to go TOO far, i.e., farther than me.
this guy had some kind of low-level publicist-type job at virgin, which i gather he didn't like all that much, but it put him in a position to get his hands on lots and lots of those rare, desirable discs. he came to my house one day with the first three curve EPs: blindfold, frozen, and cherry. i'd never heard of the group before, and at that point in time, i doubt anyone outside the ultra-cool urban centers had either. i just did an ebay search, and these days it seems you can get all three EPs for next to nothing. but remember kiddies, this was before the internet made the world so much smaller. back in those days, you heard about the cool stuff from friends who were one or two connections closer to the cool crowds than you.
the jewel cases were really beautiful, especially frozen. i think it might have been the 4AD label that first had the idea that unusual, ethereal music warranted unusual, ethereal packaging, but by that time all the cool groups were doing it. i stuck those discs in my cd changer and listened to almost nothing else for weeks, making up a long list of excuses why my friend couldn't have them back just yet. a few months later, the whole lot of them were re-issued as pubic fruit, in a much more pedestrian jewel case, with wide distribution, so that schlubs like me could buy it. i would have much rather had the infinitely cooler individual EPs, but at the time you couldn't buy them for love or money.
you might be thinking that there's no real difference there, but as far as i'm concerned, there is. the EPs had a great deal of loving attention slathered on them, you could tell by holding the things in your hand. they were one step closer to the band members themselves. i assume you're like most people and listen to music because it makes you feel a certain way -- well, the individual EPs had a much different feeling for me than did the more productized collection issued later.
curve's music is mostly guitar-based, but so heavily treated that it's easy to lose sight of that fact, much like the cocteau twins. the face of the band is toni halliday, and oh my god, without her i never would have given them a second listen. you can get a good look at her on the curve videos page, presented in mac-friendly quicktime. you'll see that she isn't femmy or glammed-up in any way, she employs no artificial attention-getting tricks, yet she has a feral, malevolent beauty that's riveting. that's the effect deborah harry was going for back in her prime, i think, but blondie was quite a bit more concerned with selling records than curve has ever been, so debbie had to neuter herself for broader appeal.
curve is still around, releasing new material every few years. i've liked all their subsequent records, but personally i don't think they've ever topped those first three EPs. they're great at assembling three or four tracks that hang together admirably, but they seem to run out of steam when required to produce an entire album. "the biz" insists that bands produce album-length works, or else they'll be ignored entirely.
boy, i sure wish i could get finished with this stupid software project i've yoked myself to. i've already written over 80,000 lines on this thing. in case you're not a programmer, i'll tell you that 80,000 lines is a LOT. i'm not as close to being finished as i'd like to be, i'm sure i'll have to write at least another 20,000 lines. i could have picked a much smaller project and achieved most of my goals, but no, i have to be hard-headed and hit ALL my goals. i'm turning myself into the klaus kinski of software.